Coastal Fishing Reports

Coastal Fishing Report, June 23 Update:

The winds shut down much of the coast over Father’s Day weekend, but aside from that the offshore fleets continue to report a decent tuna bite. We want to note that a Virginia boat and crew based out of Rudee, the Mercenaria, crushed it in the Big Rock Blue Marlin Open, taking home close to 3.5 mil with a 572.6-pound billfish. WTG, Mercenaria! We heard from a reader who seriously scored near the Washington, landing multiple yellowfin and a bonus mahi-mahi. Another reader checked in to tell us they caught a few tuna offshore in 70 fathoms near the Poor Mans. Inshore on the wrecks the sea bass bite continues to be good if not great, with both OC and VA boats reporting sea bass catches in double-digits and a limit here or there, plus flounder present in decent numbers in some areas but somewhat hit-or-miss from reef to reef.

anglers with yellowfin tuna
Jeff, Raymond, Will, Karey, and Jimmy had quite a day on the Restless Lady!

The ESVA flounder bite continues to be strong and is certainly one of the best in recent memory. This week we got word of a 6.5 pounder caught at Wachapreague. Overall, flounder reports have been very encouraging. We heard from another reader who reeled in five flounder, and another who found two in the Ocean City Inlet. Drifting squid or other bait chunks or bouncing soft plastics along the bottom is how most anglers are fishing for them. Pink and white soft plastics are working well, plus lures with some sparkle.

From the surf, Contributor John Unkart checked in after wrapping up an extended stay at Assateague and said tiny fish were nibbling off a lot of baits, and in his final casts the catch consisted of a kingfish, a small flounder, and a sandbar shark. Other anglers who checked in from the surf this week reported similar experiences— kingfish were biting alright throughout the week, and sharks were feeling feisty. Skate and bluefish catches were reported, too. Casting out a hunk of cut menhaden, soft sand fleas, or squid should draw an interesting mix of fish. Only one angler who we heard from recently reported catching croaker this week, but their numbers have been better than in recent years thus far this season.

Coastal Fishing Report, June 16 Update:

Offshore reports off the Virginia coast were excellent this week. Tune and mahi were biting, although we couldn’t get confirmation on specific locations. Same with tilefish and even some marlin. Seabass catches on the inshore wrecks were especially good, as they have been most of the season. The same can be said for the bass further north around OC. Although the number of limit catches has dropped, some are still hitting the ceiling and there have been some reports of large flounder around adding to the fishbox. Speaking of flounder, in the inlets along the coast, the flatties have been on fire. Anglers fishing for them in the OC inlet are drifting squid chunks and bouncing lures off bottom successfully and the ESVA inlets have been producing limits when the water's calm and clear. Small bluefish have also been caught, and at Virginia’s Rudee and Lynnhaven inlets, speckled trout and puppy drum are around as well. The specks are taking four- to five-inch soft plastics, and the puppy drum are primarily taking drifted baits.

lots of kingfish
Kingfish have been swarming in the trough off Assateague. Photo courtesy of John Unkart.

The latest check-in from Coastal Correspondent John Unkart on the beaches of Assateague included the croaker mostly moving on and extremely good numbers of kingfish (roundhead) taking their place. One morning early this week he encountered a bite so fast and furious he could barely keep up. Along with the kings he caught spot, snapper blues, and mostly small weakish but one keeper in the mix. He also noted that the fish weren’t out far and were feeding right in the trough. Dave Moore from Shark Whisperers reported aiming for sheepshead in the OC inlet, but instead catching a bunch of tog and short stripers on jigs and fleas.

Coastal Fishing Report, June 10 Update:

Offshore anglers will be happy to hear that the far-off warm water moved closer this week, and there are now temp breaks much close to home up and down the line. We still haven’t heard of any pelagics inside the canyons but the Wilmington and Poor Mans now hold potential and tuna catches in the five to 10 fish range were reported this week. Also of note, the first confirmed white marlin catch happened this week—congrats, Wrecker!

anglers with sea bass
Deborah and Vince enjoyed a great day of sea bass fishing, also reeling up a few tog and watching a six-foot shark chase up a bait, on The Angler with Captain Chris and mates Rich and Steve.

Inshore sea bass have been so-so with multiple OC and VA boats reporting decent but not limit catches as a norm, with some days tougher than others. Capt. Monty noted that there have been days this week where the meter was lit up and the current was roaring but the fish were thoroughly finicky. However, trips to the wreck and reef sites are already producing flounder along with the bass and in VA waters, Spanish mackerel are now along the oceanfront in force. Numbers still haven’t peaked but they were high this week and some very large over-25-inch Spanish were caught.

Dave Moore reports that in the surf, the bite has shifted into summertime patterns. This week the mix included kingfish, croaker, sand perch, rays, and sharks. Topping the charts was an eight-foot sand tiger, and sandbar and blacktip shark were also in attendance. Coastal Correspondent John Unkart noted that one morning this week he was inundated with croaker in the surf and although they weren’t huge, they were keeper-sized fish – it sure is nice to hear of some keeper size croaker swimming around these parts! Late this week he was also catching spot and snapper blues plus some small sea trout in the trough.

Anglers hitting the ESVA bays are still caching flounder, and in better numbers and sizes than hoped for. Sea Hawk reports steady action on the flatfish and the end of the incoming tide being best in the shallows while casting Gulp!.

Coastal Fishing Report, June 3 Update:

More yellowfin tuna reports came in from readers over the holiday weekend, as well as some mahi. The Maryland boats getting into them were making extremely long runs, though, as the warm water breaks have remained outside of the 1000 fathom line north of the Norfolk. The Virginia Beach fleet is closer to the action heading south and some boats enjoyed prime spring action in the past week including not only yellowfin (with a couple boats hitting double digit catches) but also the first few bigeye of 2022, plus mahi-mahi.

anglers with tuna and mahi
Capt. Zach, Ryan, and the entire crew got in on both yellowfin and mahi on the Hotline.

Closer to home the inshore boats enjoyed decent bass action this week with Capt. Monty on the Morning Star reporting fewer limits along the rails this week than last, but a good quality of fish. Virginia boats are also enjoying plenty of sea bass action, plus cutlassfish have invaded in full force, and area anglers are now also seeing cobia (which come into season on the 15th) arrive along the ocean front. The forerunner Spanish mackerel also began popping up in good numbers this week, though on that count the odd thing is that we also received a couple of Spanish reports from well inside the Bay this week. Could we be in for an epic Spanish invasion this summer? Fingers are crossed.

In the surf while the reports weren’t as red-hot as last week they’re still quite strong, and Coastal Correspondent John Unkart reported mostly snapper blues, kingfish (roundhead) and sharks on the sand of Assateague, but also caught weakfish and puffer fish. He noted that some of the kings were big and one came close to the 15-inch mark. The OC Fishing Center had good reports of bluefish in the surf this week as well, and as of last weekend Dave from Shark Whisperers was still pulling up some very nice oversized rockfish in the Assateague suds.

February 4, 2022
Coastal Mid-Atlantic Fishing Report, February 25 Update: Talk about a lame report… between the sea bass shut-down in VA and a number of breezy days deterring those intending to tog fish, we heard nothing from boats headed out through the inlets… Read more...
January 7, 2022
Coastal Mid-Atlantic Fishing Report, January 28 Update: Capt. Monty on the Morning Star says the weather finally allowed for some togging this week, and his anglers were enjoying bites when the current was running but the fish ceased feeding when… Read more...
December 3, 2021
Coastal Mid-Atlantic Fishing Report, December 31 Update: Welcome to the final fishing report of 2021! Here’s hoping that 2022 is a better year, both fishing-wise and otherwise. Note that as of the end of the year sea bass go out of season up and… Read more...