Coastal Mid-Atlantic Fishing Report, June 2023

Coastal Fishing Report, June 30 Update:

Fishing opportunities are abundant along the coast this time of year now that fish have returned to their summertime hangouts, but conditions have not been ideal for most of the late spring and early summer. Northeast winds during this time have made fishing difficult, but it looks like that pattern may be starting to change. Unfortunately, the surf fishing hasn’t been all that great recently but kingfish, bluefish, and plenty of rays have been reeled in this week. One angler fishing Assateague on a trip this week reported finding a pretty good kingfish bite. He caught his fish on pieces of calm and bloodworm flavored Fishbites. He also mentioned catching clearnose skate on pieces of shrimp.

flounder and crabs
Cameron and Ryan had a great time on the Get Sum with Capt. Nick.

In Ocean City, the route 50 Bridge has been productive for anglers lately. Rockfish and nice sized bluefish have been the main catches, but other species have been putting a bend in rods as well. Jigs with soft plastics and gotcha plugs are catching the most fish and the hotspots seem to be the south jetty, bridge pilings, and dock piers. Scott Lenox from Fish In OC got out to the 50 bridge this week and reported catching a nice bluefish, under slot rockfish, small flounder, and even a tautog. Live mullet caught most of their fish.

The offshore grounds have been very productive, and many boats returned to dock with filled fish boxes this week. The OC Fishing Center let us know that boats are catching a mix of black sea bass and flounder at the nearshore wreck and reef sites. Farther offshore at the canyons, yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, wahoo, and tilefish are making up most of the catches. Charter boat Reel Current did some offshore trolling this week and boxed some very nice wahoo and yellowfins. The Crew of the Fish On had a great late week trip and boxed eight yellowfin tuna while trolling deep. We did hear a report from the fishing center of a boat who fish around nine miles off the beach and found good fishing for sea bass, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and a few flounder. Whether you stay at the inshore grounds, or head offshore, there are good bites happening up and down the coast.

Coastal Fishing Report, June 23 Update:

It looks like the pattern of windy conditions is returning to our coastal areas along with some shots of rain. Not exactly the most ideal fishing conditions, but if there’s one thing about us anglers, it’s that we will find a way to fish. Before the wind and rain blew in, fishing at the tuna grounds was hot this week. Captain Alex Beane with the Boss Hogg had a great trip earlier in the week where they boated six bigeye tuna up to 130 pounds, 13 yellowfin tuna, and two mahi. Many other offshore boats found quick success at the canyons with lots of yellowfins and reports of bigeye tuna. Most of the reports are coming out of the Wilmington and Poorman’s Canyon.

fishing for black sea bass
Sea bass fishing has been up and down recently, but some nice fish are certainly being caught. Photo courtesy of Capt. Monty Hawkins.

Captain Monty with the Morning Star reported that the sea bass bite has been challenging this past week and it took a lot of moving around to put his anglers on fish. Most spots would mark fish but only produce a few bites. He did mention that one day last week was crazy good at the sea bass grounds but that seems to be an outlier.

Coastal correspondent John Unkart reports that there was a dip in the surf action on Assateague last weekend, when tiny nibblers moved in and stripped his hooks of bait before any “real” fish had a chance to eat it. Similar reports of lackluster action came in from the OSV areas with one angler reporting no bites over two full days of fishing. Luckily, the OC inlet and back bay areas are proving to be more productive right now. David Moore from Shark Whisperers hit the Ocean City inlet before the bad weather moved in and reported nonstop action on tautog, a few under-slot stripers, and some triggerfish that hit sand fleas. He even mentioned seeing some Spanish mackerel jumping around. Fish In OC let us know that they are getting reports of good fishing for rockfish and bluefish near the Route 50 bridge. Blues into the mid 30s have been landed by bridge and boat anglers throwing soft plastics and Gotcha plugs. Get ready for some drag screaming if you hook into one because the blues like to fight hard.

Coastal bay anglers are still picking up a few flounder but the biggest challenge is finding clean water, and in OC, getting away from boat traffic. Sea Hawk Sports Center hosted the first annual Mike Taylor Flounder Frenzy tournament and the top three places all cleared the four-pound mark with the big fish weighing in at over four and a half pounds. Flounder rigs tipped with Gulp! baits, minnows, or silversides have done the trick for getting fish in the boat.

Coastal Fishing Report, June 16 Update:

Fishing opportunities are abundant along the coast this time of year with plenty to catch in the shallows and out deep. The Ocean City Fishing Center let us know that boats heading offshore are finding luck trolling for tuna and that the marlin fishing is picking up as well. We also had multiple reader reports come in this week of success at and inside of the Poormans, where yellowfin tuna in the 30- to 50-pound class were chewing on spreader bars and rigged ballyhoo. There was one reader who checked in after running to the Rockpiles, where a strong bite was reported but over by the time he got there. Fortunately, tilefish were more than willing to fill the space in the fishbox. We also had a report of a mix of 50-pound-class yellowfin and gaffer dolphin just south of the Norfolk.

mahi and spadefish off virginia beach
Chase and Todd enjoyed some fine multispecies action running the Dream Maker, fishing out of Virginia Beach.

Inshore fishing at the wrecks and reefs has produced decent fishing off Virginia. Charter boat Reel Fish’n Va. has been putting their anglers on both spadefish and sea bass even when conditions are choppy and the bite is slow. It may take checking a few spots, but there are fish to be caught. A reader reported in from Virginia Beach to say they enjoyed a great bite from multiple species, including some nice spadefish at the Light Tower (on clam bits). Another angler fishing the Light Tower said that when they were there it was “like a Walmart parking lot on Christmas Eve” with over 35 boats fishing within short distance of one another. The bite was slow and they managed to catch a few sea bass and a skate. They noted that a few boats reeled up spadefish, but most were small. After leaving the crowds, they found some more sea bass at the Santore.

At the Ocean City Inlet, there are still nice sized rockfish and bluefish being caught near the Route 50 Bridge. Fish In OC reported one angler who caught a 33-inch bluefish and a 34-inch rockfish in the same night fishing from the bridge. Anglers targeting flounder have picked up some fish in the Thoroughfare and East Channel lately, but the better bites have come where there is clean water. One boat was able to pull up a couple keepers from the East Channel this week using Gulp! baits and minnows. As always, the fishing is better when the wind isn’t howling, so make sure to keep a close eye on the weather when planning your next trip.

In the suds on Assateague, Coastal Correspondent John Unkart reported some slow days with dirty water this week and just a few blues, kingfish, and skates to show for his efforts. Shark Whisperer Dave Moore said much the same, and that after last Sunday an upwelling and cold water shut off the bite. Prior to that, however blacktip sharks were around.

Coastal Fishing Report, June 8 Update:

We have been dealing with some wacky weather lately folks. Unseasonably cool temperatures have been coupled with persistent northeast winds, and now we are dealing with a thick smoky haze from Canadian wildfires. Nonetheless, there are fish to be caught and anglers with a true fishing addiction will find a way to make that happen. The OC Fishing Center reports that the tuna grounds have been producing a mix of yellowfins, bigeyes, and marlin. They had one boat check in this week who released a blue marlin and boxed two yellowfins in 100 fathoms of the Poorman’s Canyon. The reports are much the same from Virginia Beach, although the inshore options there have expanded rapidly with the arrival of Spanish mackerel, more blues (mostly snappers), and spadefish. A few cobia have also popped up, only adding to the anticipation as the 15th creeps closer.

sea bass on the morning star
It may take some moving around, but ambitious anglers can find some sea bass on the inshore grounds. Photo courtesy of Capt. Monty Hawkins.

Captain Monty with the Morning Star was excited to find favorable weather earlier in the week and headed out to the sea bass grounds. He expressed that these trips were a test of his anglers work ethic with some of his stops producing skunks or undersized fish. The afternoon produced a better bite after moving around and some folks boxed up into the double digits. Overall, the sea bass fishing at the wrecks and reefs has been decent when the weather has allowed boats to get offshore. Fish In OC reported that more boats have been catching flounder at the wrecks with multiple boats bringing some flatties back to the docks this week.

From the Assateague surf, Dave from Shark Whisperers reported a better mix of species this week with kingfish and spot “not thick but steady,” as well as a few bluefish in the 15- to 20-inch range. At night the sharks came out and a seven-footer was the largest for the week.

At the OC inlet, bluefish and rockfish are still the main target. The best bite has been at the jetties or near the Route 50 bridge and there are still some big fish to be caught including slot sized rockfish and chopper blues. Throwing Gotcha plugs or jigs with soft plastics has been producing on most days. The coastal bays have been quiet for the most part recently as wind has increased the turbidity in most areas. Captain Steve’s Bait and Tackle in Chincoteague let us know that most fish have been in shallower water during whichever tide offers the best water clarity. They had a boat came back to the dock this week with three keeper flounder, the largest measuring 19 inches. Anglers fishing from Wachapreague up to Ocean City have had to grind for their fish. During brief periods of clean water, the flounder have been biting silversides or minnows paired with Gulp! Swimming Mullets or Shrimp. Most fish have been in shallower water during whichever tide offers the best water clarity. One reader reported going to the coast to target flounder last weekend and discovered the water too churned up to even justify making the attempt. Another angler fishing in the OC Thoroughfare found better luck and was able to catch a nice 22-inch flounder on an orange Deadly Tackle Deadly Double. It seems like the wind is finally beginning to drop back a notch, so hopefully it will have settled out enough by the weekend for the bite to crank back up.

Coastal Fishing Report, June 2 Update:

Persistent northeast winds have made fishing difficult for just about everyone along the coastal areas, ranging from those surf fishing to those trying to take a boat through an inlet. Dave Moore checked in to let us know that the striper run on the beach seems to be a done deal, and now sharks have moved in. One evening he had 15 sandbar sharks in a two-hour timespan, hitting cut kingfish baits. Around dusk the sand tigers arrived and took over with the biggest being just over seven feet. Coastal Correspondent John Unkart noted a similar transition while on Assateague, catching a nice flounder and some kingfish. Better numbers of kingfish (roundhead) are being reported from farther south, in Virginia Beach. Unkart also mentioned that conditions have been very tough at times and it took a whopping 12-ounces of lead to hold bottom when some very breezy weather moved through.

sea bass anglers on the mornign star
Anglers aboard the Morning Star celebrate a nice catch, and the fact that they managed to sneak out through the inlet during a very windy week.

At the nearshore wrecks and reefs, Captain Monty of the Morning Star was able to sneak a sea bass trip in last week despite the wind. He reported having to move around a lot to find fish due to sloppy sea conditions. It took nine different locations before he threw the towel in, but all his anglers were able to box some fish. The most keeper sized fish by one angler on the trip was eight. We checked in with the OC Fishing Center who told us that the tuna fishing out at the canyons has been good when boats have been able to make the run offshore. Charter boat Primary Search Sportfishing headed out this week to the Baltimore Canyon and found some stud bigeye tuna. Their boat went seven for nine on the bigeyes and returned home before lunch. Another boat, the Fish ON, returned from a trip with 18 yellowfin tuna. Deep dropping for tilefish is still a good option and some mahi-mahi are around for the taking too.

At the Ocean City Inlet, anglers are catching a mix of rockfish and bluefish near the jetty rocks, bulkheads, and bridge pilings. Some of the top lures to throw right now are gotcha plugs and jigheads paired with soft plastics. Most of the rockfish are below the 28 – 31-inch slot limit but there have been a few slot sized fish caught recently. At the south jetty, there have been a few 40-plus inch rockfish and some big bluefish moving through. Fish In OC reported one angler catching a 42-inch rock on a crankbait, another boat catching a 43-inch rockfish, and an 11-pound bluefish all caught this week. Flounder are also a good option when the wind isn’t blowing. Clean water has been the key to catching fish. A few keepers have been caught in the Thoroughfare and East Channel this week. If you want to get on more steady flounder action, however, heading south to one of the Virginia inlets will be your best bet. A reader checked in from Quimby with four keeper flatties in the boat this week; Sea Hawk reports that finding clean water at the beginning of the outgoing has been key.