Chesapeake Bay – There was a small flurry of Rockfish action the last few days of the bay season from the Cape Charles area to Buoy 40. Several 40lb class fish were reported. Most were eeling. There was also a report of big fish caught inside the York River, including one that weighed 58lbs. but the bay season is over now and Rockfish anglers are turning towards the ocean for legally kept fish. Most reports are coming from those out past the 3 mile limit targeting other fish. Hopefully, Rockfish will move inside legal waters. The Elizabeth River remains an excellent option for Speckled Trout. Trophy sized fish are being caught almost daily if you can tolerate the crowds. Many folks troll jerkbaits and drift live bait. Smaller Mirr-o-lures work very well twitched slowly as the water temps decline. Long pauses are often the ticket for success. Tautog are still available on bay structures and wrecks. Crabs and clams are preferred.
Ocean – As mentioned earlier, some Rockfish have reportedly been encountered as far out as 16 miles. There have also been rumors of fish at Cape Henry, but we haven’t had any confirmed reports. A few Bluefin Tuna hook-ups have trickled in lately, so hopefully this will increase. Some very good reports of Puppy Drum are coming from the Outer Banks surf. North of Oregon Inlet has been best.
Freshwater – The upper James came up quickly as recent heavy rains caused a dramatic change. At normal levels, the James can produce outstanding catches over the winter, particularly on nasty, miserable days. Die hard Smallmouth anglers know this. The tidal Chickahominy River is almost always an option during winter as it rarely muddies. Bass and Crappie usually remain quite active through the cold months. Silver buddy lures, jigs, and small to large minnows are the most commonly used. The Blue Catfish are another species readily available to tidal anglers. The James has become a world class fishery for these giants, especially in winter time. Stripers up to 12lbs were caught this past week at Lake Anna. The Splits area is heavy with bait right now. Jerkbaits, blade baits, and swim baits are the go-to baits, along with live shad and herring. 18+lbs won the recent Winter Series Bass Tournament out of Sturgeon Creek Marina on the 29th. The lunker pot was won with a 7.35 pounder. Small spoons, jigs, and small minnows work well for Crappie on bridge structures and deep brush. Bass and Chain Pickerel remain active on Swift Creek Reservoir. A gold jerk bait works well on both.