Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, September 25 Update:

Anglers: due to all the blustery weather the past week, we had a tough time getting our usual data dump. Reader reports were down and several of our usual sources simply said they haven't been able to get out. We've gathered what info we could, but have to warn everyone that this week's reports are on the thin side.

south chesapeake redfish
The slot puppies are out there, and bigger drum should only increase in numbers over the next few weeks. Photo courtesy of Eric Packard

If it weren’t for all this wind keeping anglers off the water much of the week, we’d be betting that reds and cobia would be headlining the reports. Both species are dwindling up north, and as those fish head south they’ll all be passing through the mouth of the Bay. Expect Cape Charles to be the epicenter of the action with schools of reds forming outside the CBBT and around the shoals. Meanwhile, we did have a reader report from one angler who opted to stay close to home and try bottom fishing in the Elizabeth, and he reported loading up on chunky eating-sized spot plus a few sea mullet, a keeper weakfish, and one 20-inch flounder.

Oceans East is prepping up for their Swordfish tournament, running the month of October. If 2020 is like last year, there should be some stellar daytime swordfishing action at the canyons—be sure to check out our feature on daytime swording in the new edition of FishTalk, which just hit the streets this week.

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, September 18 Update:

The stormy weather this week managed to throw a hitch in Virginia’s fisheries, still, Ocean’s East let us know that anglers who got out were catching. Sheepshead won star-of-the-week, with an absolute truckload hanging around near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel structures. Anglers hitting the CBBT were slamming them by dropping peeler and fiddler crab baits close to the structure, on bottom. From the tune Ocean’s East was singing, this week’s sheepshead bite was one of the best this season up to now. Hopefully, it’ll keep up during the turbulent weather moving up the coast.

redfish on a fishing kayak
Light tackle action on specks and reds should continue to improve in the coming weeks. Photo courtesy of Eric Packard

Aside from the sheepshead, the speckled trout bite has been picking up on the south side, aided by the increasing puppy drum bite in Lynnhaven. Specks are around the shallows biting four-to five-inch paddle tails. Pink and white colors with glitter remain the best bets. With the cooling weather, the time you’re heading out for specks isn’t mattering as much as it has in the recent past. Morning, afternoon, and evenings have all had great bites. The croaker bite has also picked up in the area, with plenty of fish ready to pick up bloodworms. Spot and a few kingfish (sea mullet) are also hitting baits on bottom.

What about the cobia and the reds? We're thinking that lousy weather and a lack of reporting, not a lack of fish, is the issue. Both species are still being found up the Bay so we certainly haven't seen the fall blast as they head south, as of yet. Stay tuned...

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, September 11 Update:

Cobia are back on the move, with an improving bite and a late-season peak probably in the near future. Two readers fishing Cape Charles reported good sight fishing early this week, although there are more undersized fish than keepers around and during the holiday weekend boat traffic made it bit more difficult than usual. We also heard from one reader who trolled a mix of spoons and (red) tubes, and caught both cobia and a big bull red.

trolling for cobia
There's a large percentage of throwbacks, but cobia numbers are picking up.

At the CBBT, flounder catches are improving if not spectacular for those jigging and slow-trolling a minnow-squid sandwich or Gulp!s on Fluke Killers. White and pink are the colors to try. We also hear from a reader who picked up two nice sheepshead while fishing fiddlers along the pilings and one who caught several redfish (over-slots) while fishing around the islands.

As with most of the Chesapeake right now, when birds are spotted in open water there’s commonly a mix of Spanish mackerel and bluefish underneath of them. As per usual, trolling small gold, silver, and silver/green spoons behind number-one planers is doing the trick. We also heard that fire-tiger was a good color pattern this week.

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, September 4 Update:

Oceans East let us know that the cobia bite is picking up again, with a couple more reported over the past week. Reports were thin this past weekend, most likely due to rough weather moving through the area. The same goes for the schools of large red drum that have been in the area, but it's impossible to know if the lack of reported catches is due to weather, or the fish leaving the area. Anglers who managed to get out this week reported that Spanish mackerel weren’t heavily influenced by the storms, and are staying put for now. Fishing just north of the CBBT has been common and trolling number One Clarks or Drones has been the most popular option.

angler holds up a cobia
Benny Dombrowski fooled this cobia with a bucktail. (Full disclosure: this pic's two weeks old at this point and we didn't have room for it last week, but we love the snapshot, Benny!)

Contributor Chuck Harrison also checked in after spending a day at the HRBT, and let us know that it was windy and the fishing was on the slow side but they did encounter a nice flounder, multiple speckled trout including a 21-incher, and some puppy drum up to 22-inches.