Coastal Fishing Reports

Coastal Fishing Report, September 13, 2019 Update:

Fortunately for all of us along the Mid-Atlantic region, the hurricane’s impact was limited and the farther north you went, the less of an impact it made. Offshore there are decent numbers of marlin being caught at all the canyons but the fall run of insane catching really hasn’t kicked in just yet. Tuna, meanwhile, have been rather difficult to locate in any good numbers since the storm passed through. Mahi have been a target of meat-fishermen and bailers hitting the floats can put a decent load into the cooler on weekdays, but we’ve heard from several readers that recently these fish have become skittish by late morning on crowded days due to fishing pressure. Daytime sword-dropping has also been an option, with most boats getting at least a bite or two if they work at it. We also talked to an angler who returned from the Baltimore yesterday and reported slow action, with a white raised but not hooked, one yellowfin, and a dolphin in the box.

marlin fishing
Jenna reeled in this beautiful white marlin last week aboard the Double J with the help of Capt. Jerry Judge and mate Kyle. Photo courtesy of Hanley Kyger.

Inshore anglers were quite happy this week off both Delaware and Maryland, where the sea bass bite was extremely good (squid chunks did the trick) on the wrecks and reefs and anglers drifting between structure caught solid numbers of flounder as well. Captain Monty on the Morning Star reported many anglers reaching into the double-digits or hitting the legal limit. The Spanish mackerel bite inshore has been good as well, on shoals close in for boats trolling small Clark and small Drones, though many anglers in this area are looking for cobia. Mass schools of large bunker are all over the place, often shadowed by these fish. Angler in Chief Lenny Rudow suggests casting with lures for them. After taking a shot at the shoals off Ocean City with live spot he said he discover that there are also hordes of snapper blues around these menhaden – and they’re perfectly happy to chomp off a live spot’s aft end moments after you send it into the water. A bit farther down the coast off Virginia, kings are added into this mix and near Virginia Beach big ribbonfish are still chewing as well.

In the surf, small bluefish, croaker, and kingfish are present up and down the coast. The blues are tempted by metal lures or spoons, and although many have been small, the occasional dinner-worthy fish is popping up. The croaker and kingfish will take bloodworms on a bottom rig, and croaker are prone to eating squid, as well. A few anglers throwing squid in the surf also reported scattered flounder catches, although nothing to write home about. We didn’t hear about any verifiable pompano from Delaware nor Virginia this week but a few were surely caught, and as this report was being compiled our Coastal Correspondent John Unkart texted in a pic of one he pulled up out of the Assateague suds on bloodworm-flavored Fishbites.

Back-bay action was slowed a bit by dirtied water from the storm, but as of early this week had returned to form. A few blues and stripers are being caught in Indian River, with some (mostly small) flounder caught on minnow or Gulp! in the inlet and the Ditches. Flounder fishing is pretty much the same in Ocean City with most of the action in the Thoroughfare and the channel between Third and Ninth Streets, although there they’ve also been enjoying a nice bite on (throwback) rockfish along the Rt. 50 bridge with a few bluefish mixed in. We bumped into legendary local OC angler Big Bird Cropper last weekend and he reported getting into the stripers in a big way, late in the afternoon. We didn’t get any real-time intel from the VA inlets this week and Oceans East didn’t bring them up when we talked with them, but with the storm well past and cooler temperatures on the way, it’s a fair bet the speckled trout bite that kicked in a few weeks ago and then picked up will continue to gain momentum. Fingers are crossed…

Coastal Fishing Report, September 6, 2019 Update:

Make sure you check the weather before heading offshore – although the fishing is temptingly good, the area is expected to feel some impact from Hurricane Dorian. Offshore, this week saw plenty of yellowfin tuna hitting the docks as boats returned from the canyons. Many also had mahi in their fish boxes, and flew multiple white marlin flags. FishTalk team member Zach Ditmars reported an active bite in the Washington after an overnight foray aboard Tony Bonacci's Gone Phishin', and although there were lots of yellowfin under the legal size limit they also scored larger tuna, mahi, and a hammerhead just to make things interesting. In the Norfolk, reports of improving numbers of both white and blue marlin have been coming in – some boats logged catches of 10-plus billfish over the past week.

flounder caught aboard the morning star
A happy crew, aboard the Morning Star this week. Photo courtesy of Capt. Monty Hawkins

Inshore, sea bass are finnicky as ever on the wrecks. Although the fishing hasn’t been “bad” this week, it has been largely unreliable. Mixed in with the sea bass have been a fair amount of flounder, however, more than in recent weeks. They’re not doormats by any means, but the bite is picking up and Captain Monty on the Morning Star reported one day out of Ocean City that included some limits swinging over the rails. Still, the better flounder fishing has been had a bit farther north off the Delaware coast. They’ve been tempted by squid chunks drifted near bottom. There are also good numbers of mahi inshore, mostly being caught around the bass pots off the Delaware and Maryland coasts, though the incoming weather could shake that up a bit. A bit farther down the line, Virginia inshore anglers continue to be entertained by mackerel – both Spanish and kings. Trolling spoons is the ticket, with the Spanish close to home and the kings on the shoals.

In the inlets and back bays, reports were a bit better this week from points north with Indian River producing better numbers of flounder plus some blues. In Ocean City plenty of flounder are being caught, but a low percentage are keepers. This should change as the crowds thin and the water cools off in the next few weeks. In the Virginia Beach inlets the target is mostly flounder on white and chartreuse Gulp!, but some specks are being caught these days, too.

Surf fishing has held steady with kingfish chomping on bloodworms up and down the coast, some croaker and spot in the mix, and an occasional flounder now and then. Anglers tossing cut mullet or spot on Doodlebugs are also picking up snapper bluefish. The best reports have come from the VA beaches, where all of the above plus a few pompano have also been caught on sand fleas.

August 2, 2019
Coastal Fishing Report, August 30, 2019 Update: Let’s start offshore this week, because this part of the report will be brief: It was windy. A handful of boats escaped the inlets mid-week, and found a few yellowfin and respectable numbers of white… Read more...
July 5, 2019
Coastal Fishing Report, July 25, 2019 Update: Offshore action has slacked a bit for those in search of tuna but a few yellowfin are still coming in, mostly for those probing northern canyons. The marlin bite has continued to pick up, however,… Read more...
June 6, 2019
Coastal Mid-Atlantic Fishing Report, June 28 update: Yellowfin tuna continue to dominate the news along the coast this week, though there’s a lot to talk about at the inshore venues, as well. FishTalk's Angler in Chief joined the crew of the Heat… Read more...