Tangier, Pocomoke, and Lower Shore Fishing Report, May 2022

Tangier, Pocomoke, and Lower Shore Fishing Report, May 27 Update:

Overall, the bite throughout the Sounds was picking up through the course of this week. Red drum, specked trout, and striped bass are providing a plethora of fishing opportunities. Sea Hawk reports that red drum fishing has centered around the shallows, where soaking chunks of crab in grassy areas with stumps is getting them to bite. Heading to deeper water, the channel edges are holding black drum. Fishing chunks of crab or clam on a hard-shell bottom is the way to go for them. For the speckled trout, Sea Hawk says paddle tails are working best. They’re hanging around grassy shallows, too, favoring white, pink, and rootbeer lures. Striped bass are mixed in with them and are more plentiful than the specks from the Pocomoke up, but are generally verging on the smaller size whereas the grade of speckled trout has frequently been pretty great including fish up into the mid-20s.

kaylie with a nice speckled trout
Kaylie picked up this nice 23-incher while casting a white bucktail dressed with an electric chicken paddle-tail.

The inaugural Smith Island Fishing Tournament drew the Angler in Chief, FishTalk’s Zach Ditmars, and PropTalk editor Kaylie Jasinski down to the water of the Tangier over last weekend, where the crew reported strong breezes out of the south and tough fishing while they were in town but some very nice specimens also being caught. The speck bite was difficult over the weekend but Kaylie still managed to catch one darn close to 23-inches on a white bucktail dressed with an electric chicken paddle-tail (a 25-incher was tops in the tournament), a fair number of rock up to 26-inches were in the shallows mostly at marsh island points with good drop-offs or riprap, and chartreuse was the hot color. The AIC also noted that skates were problematic and slinging jigs resulted in snagging five of them in a day of fishing. There were also a handful of monster reds in the 40-plus-inch range caught locally in the tournament on bait.

For larger stripers, anglers are heading to the channel edges and deeper water. Here, trolling chartreuse and white tandems or bucktails has been most common. Speaking of larger and deeper, we also had a reader report of a couple black drum in the upper 20s hitting clam baits at The Cell.

Any form of bait fishing in the Sounds is at risk of being compromised by skates. Anglers are encountering more of them by the day and this is the first week we’ve heard big news of them moving in massive numbers. We aren’t saying you shouldn’t bait fish here right now, just that if you’re going to, beware of the skates and stock up with extra bait before you head out. There’s nothing like running out of bait right when the bite turns on!

Tangier, Pocomoke, and Lower Shore Fishing Report, May 19 Update:

FishTalk’s own Wayne Young checked in after fishing with Walleye Pete, and reported a rockin’ cool bite with plenty of stripers plus some specks including trout up to 25-inches the shallows. He noted that metal and bucktails worked, but large paddle-tails took the cake. We also had readers checking in with mostly onsie-twosies on specks in the shallows of the Tangier and down the ESAV, with the first redfish in the Pocomoke reported this week.

wayne with a speckled sea trout
Way to go Wayne!!

Sea Hawk noted that the flounder bite on the sea side is still exceptionally good, so many area anglers are heading east rather than fishing in the Sounds at this point. And for area anglers on a snakehead hunt, the Blackwater zone was on-again/off-again this week depending on the day; sunshine levels and temperatures are the critical factor, and cool cloudy days have seemed to temporarily tranquilize the fish.

Tangier, Pocomoke, and Lower Shore Fishing Report, May 13 Update:

Reports of more specks from the Sounds and the ESVA continue coming in! Although conditions weren’t ideal for fishing this week, anglers who did get out to peruse the Sounds are reporting fair catches on the speckled trout front for this time in the season. Fishing grassy areas with four-to-six-inch curly tailed soft plastics in white, pink, root-beer, or chartreuse is popular. They’ve also been liking lures with some sparkle to them. A reader checked in after fishing the area near Janes Island, catching four specks plus one lost and very bewildered snakehead. Another hitting the salt marsh islands near the MD/VA boarder reported three specks plus some stripers. Striped bass are becoming more frequent throughout the Sounds and some boats continued trolling the Tangier channel north this week as Maryland anglers attempted to scoop up trophy stripers. Pulling tandem-rigged umbrellas and tandems behind planer board spreads was common, but the reports of skunks still outweigh the reports of success.

tangier sound speckled sea trout
Brian enjoyed a mixed species bag on the Sound, including specks, rock, and a very confused snakehead as well.

Blue and channel catfish reports came in this week from anglers scouring the tribs of the Sounds. Catfish weren’t too disturbed by the weather throughout this week, and remained a great target for anglers fishing from the shoreline and by boat when it was possible. They’re taking the traditional favorites: cut menhaden, chicken liver, and clam snouts.

White perch are available in the Sounds, as well as panfish in the upper reaches.

If you missed last night's presentation of The Past Present & Future of Striped Bass: A Chesapeake Perspective, remember, you can still watch it on YouTube!

Tangier, Pocomoke, and Lower Shore Fishing Report, May 6 Update:

Flounder along the coastal bays are still drawing many area anglers eastward — the bite for them this season has been welcome and wonderful, and Sea Hawk is reporting some great catches. The flatfish are finding minnow and silversides drifted along bottom favorable, but are also slamming Gulp! and other soft plastics bounced along bottom as well. Having a little in the sparkle in the lure hasn’t hurt; Salt Water Assassin’s Pink Ghost color is a top choice, alongside just plain white.

the specks are here!
Initial reports of specks are IN!

The first two reports of speckled sea trout in the shallows came in this week. Both were single fish and neither were impressively large (19- and 21-inches) but hey — the specks are HERE! As soon as the nasty incoming weather clears out, we expect that the speck reports will start pouring in so start planning those adventures now.

Speaking of adventures: if you’re up for a challenge, remember that next month the first-ever Smith Island Fishing Tournament kicks off. May 20 to 22 anglers will compete for the Smith Island Slam (the minimum $1,750 grand prize started at $1,500 and could easily continue to go higher depending on entries) and whoever catches the longest combined rockfish, redfish, speckled trout combo will win big, along with calcuttas for the biggest fish of each single species.

Back in the open water of the Sounds some striped bass are hanging along the main channel; trolling the Tangier channel north this week was popular for Maryland anglers getting in on the opening of striped bass season. Pulling tandem-rigged umbrellas and tandems behind planer board spreads was common, but the reports of skunks outweigh the reports of success.