Tangier, Pocomoke, and Lower Shore Fishing Report, May 2024

Tangier, Pocomoke, and ESVA Fishing Report, May 31 Update:

The Eastern Shore of DelMarVa is a special place to fish and it is really coming to life as we approach the start of summer. Captain C.L. Marshall of Tangier Sound Charters has been having a heck of a spring chasing both drum species in the Tangier and Pocomoke sounds. Anchoring up and drifting chunks of crab in 15 to 30 feet of water near areas with hard bottom has led to screaming drags on many occasions. He had to dodge some thunderstorms this week, but his trips during the breaks in the weather produced multiple big black drum and some bull reds. He is even starting to see some hammer bluefish show up. The big bluefish were a nice surprise in the Bay last year and it would be great to see them return in the same numbers. The Smith Island Classic fishing tournament was held over the weekend and the members of Team FishTalk describe a tough bite fishing the shallows at Smith Island, but much better action fishing the waters around the Annemessex River on the eastern side of the Tangier. There they encountered specks and plenty of slot-sized rockfish, and one of the speckled trout hit an impressive 26”. Four- and five-inch paddletails did the trick.

tangier sound speckled trout
Fish Crushin' Kaylie found some specks in the Annemessex.

Sea Hawk Sports Center says that the seaside flounder bite is still going strong this spring and the more consistent warm weather has led to more productive trips for anglers. Flounder rigs in pink, chartreuse, and white paired with Gulp! baits or minnows has done the trick for the flatties. Both tide swings have been producing fish, so as long as you can find clean water, it should lead to decent results. Remember that while the minimum size for keeper flounder is 16 inches right now, that will change on June 1st when the minimum size will increase to 17.5 inches. On the beaches, the surf is still offering a good bite for anglers casting out into the suds. Fish finder rigs tipped with sand fleas or peeler crabs are still enticing black drum, red drum, and striped bass. One angler pulled in an impressive 46-inch black drum during an evening trip this week. Another welcomed sight has been the arrival of nice sized kingfish which are being caught in the troughs near the breakers. Smaller tackle such as bottom rigs are doing the trick for these tasty fish.

Tangier, Pocomoke, and ESVA Fishing Report, May 24 Update:

Fishing has been good in both the Pocomoke and Tangier sound as the bayside drum fishery is still a good option. The best luck has come from areas with shell piles in 15 to 30 feet of water. Chunks of peeler crab on fish finder rigs fished during a running tide has led to some big fish being caught. Captain C.L. Marshall of Tangier Sound Charters has been partaking in the great drum action and is also finding plenty of specks, reds, and rockfish in the shallow grass flats. With most of the Sound now open for rockfish the toughest part should be finding fish inside the slot (see the DNR map for details on which sections of the Tangier and its tributaries are open, open to catch-and-release, and are closed). 

rockfish in the shallows
There's a mix in the shallows, and for rockfish anglers the toughest part is finding fish inside the 19" to 24" slot.

Down the ESVA closer to Cape Charles, larger schools of red drum are pushing into the Bay with cobia starting to show up too. Anywhere from Fisherman’s Island up to the Tangier Sound offers a chance to run into the big reds right now. Cobia will be pushing north once June arrives and cobia season will officialy start on June 15th in Maryland and Virginia.

Seaside flounder fishing has been good this year, but last weekend's weather led to mixed success for anglers. A reader checked in after spending last week flounder fishing in Chincoteague. They said that stiff northeast winds and rain made for tough fishing conditions in the coastal Bays. Two days of fishing only produced a handful of keepers along with a few throwbacks. Boats fishing in the same area reported similar results with undersized fish far outnumbering keepers. The coastal beaches are still offering a mix of rockfish, black drum, red drum, and bluefish, but the surf was big at times this week making it tough on anglers. There were some better days and Sea Hawk Sports Center let us know that a few members of their crew capitalized on a good weather window and beached a combination of over 30 rockfish and black drum on Assateague. Chunks of peeler crab on modified hi-lo rigs did all of the catching. The fish are still running along the beaches, but be ready for larger crowds if you plan to head down now that Memorial Day is upon us.

Tangier, Pocomoke, and ESVA Fishing Report, May 17 Update:

Chesapeake Bay anglers can rejoice as the long anticipated 2024 striped bass season is finally here. As of May 16th, striped bass season is open in the Maryland and Virginia portions of the Chesapeake Bay. Anglers will be allowed to keep one fish per day within a slot of 19 to 24 inches. The stripers are already up in the shallows and have been offering good action in this region of the Bay. The shallow grass flats and shoreline points have been holding a mix of speckled trout, puppy drum and stripers. The recent cool down has slowed the bite for specks, but the stripers haven’t seemed to mind. Topwater plugs and spooks have enticed bites in the early morning hours while paddletails and jerkbaits are getting bites throughout the day. A running tide has been when the best bite is occurring, and clean water has led to more fish. Search out areas with these ingredients and you should set yourself up for a good day.

slot sied striper
They've gotta be in a tight slot this year, but 19" to 24" rockfish are out there.

The sounds have been holding some very big drum this spring. Both black drum and red drum are running up the Bay and are being enticed by chunks of crab bait. Captain C.L. Marshall of Tangier Sound Charters has been fighting the wind this week, but his efforts have rewarded his anglers with some true trophy fish. Black drum over the 50-pound mark have made their way into his net and more red drum are pushing their way north. These fish are hanging out around oyster bottom and other hard structures. When the wind kept Captain C.L. off the big water, the shallow water striped bass bite made up for it.

Over on the seaside, flounder are still drawing in a lot of anglers to the shallow bays and deep cuts. Sea Hawk Sports Center reports that they have had fish checked in over the six-pound mark this week. White Gulp! shrimp worked well. As always, clean water has been most important for getting bit.   

Tangier, Pocomoke, and ESVA Fishing Report, May 10 Update:

The bayside has really come to life this week as water temperatures in the 60s and many fish have moved into the shallows. We are also starting to see some of the first softshell crabs of the year. As the Sea Hawk crew says, if the crabs are shed’n, it’s time to go fish’n. Speckled trout have moved into the grass beds along Maryland and Virginia’s eastern shore tributaries. Anglers have been catching them on soft plastic paddletails and suspending baits worked just over the top of the submerged grasses. Captain C.L. Marhsall of Tangier Sound Charters has had some really great trips recently targeting black drum in the Pocomoke Sound. He is catching these brutes by drifting crab chunks of fish finder rigs. One morning trip produced six black drum in deeper water before moving in shallow and finding a bull red and some speckled trout. The beautiful thing about this region is that you never know what you are going to catch, and there are a lot of species that will make our drags scream and have us smiling from ear to ear.

speckled sea trout on a jig
The summer species are in town - and they're biting!

Seaside flounder fishing was good through April and continues to be good through the first part of May. The flatties are being caught from Ocean city down the coastline of Delmarva. Sea Hawk Sports Center let us know that they have had the best luck on baits displayed with pink teasers in water depths of 10 feet or less. They have even caught fish in as shallow as two feet of water. Chincoteague and Wachapreague have been very productive lately. A boat fishing out of Wachapregaue last Sunday caught their limit of flounder including a big fish measuring 26 inches and weighing just over 6 pounds. As always, clean water has been the number one factor for successful trips. After that, water temps play a big role, so fishing during the outgoing tide will typically lead to more action.

Tangier, Pocomoke, and ESVA Fishing Report, May 3 Update:

It was a beautiful week around the Chesapeake region, and the fish responded well to the summer like temperatures. The shallows are warming up quick with the warm weather and light tackle guide Pete Dahlberg of Four Seasons Guide Service reported that the speckled trout are showing up on the Eastern Shore. He was out a few times during the hot days this week and found multiple areas with specks. No huge fish or huge numbers of fish, but solid catching for this early in the year. The speck bite should only continue to improve through May. A reader report came in of a nice species mix while fishing in the Pocomoke early this week, including a gorgeous 26” speck, a redfish, and multiple white perch and stripers. Captain C.L. Marhsall of Tangier Sound Charters made the trek into Virginia waters in search of bull reds without any luck earlier in the week. Instead, him and his anglers caught over a dozen trophy-size striped bass up to 50 inches, which were all safely released. Although they weren’t the target species, I don’t think anyone would complain about that.

Spring sea trout on the eastern shore
Brian tied into a beautiful speck — as well as a red, white perch, and rockfish — in the Pocomoke.

Many anglers went over to the sea side to target the flatties this week and good fishing was reported from Wachapreague up to Ocean City. A boat fishing behind Assateague landed three keeper flounder up to 21 inches during a mid-week trip. Anglers looking for a better chance at catching their limit should consider heading to Chincoteague and areas south as that zone has been a flounder hotspot. Sea Hawk Sports Center let us know there have been a number of fish in the four-pound range caught in depths of less than 10 feet and some fish have even hit the six-pound mark. Fishing the outgoing tide is still best as water temperatures are on the cooler side. Flounder rigs with Gulp! baits and silversides have been the ticket with a heavy emphasis on pink and chartreuse teasers.