Saltwater- The month of May is upon us and the saltwater fishing has taken off nicely! The Eastern Shore may be the hottest place for big fish right now, as the Drum have become quite active. Both the Reds and Black Drum are being encountered frequently, with the Reds being the heavier catches overall. However, it is not uncommon to see Black Drum weighing 80 lbs, which is rare for the Reds. Fresh cut Blue Crab is a great bait for just about anything, but is especially good for the Drum. There have been catches of Drum from the CBBT this week also. The Wachapreague area of the Eastern Shore has been giving up increasing numbers of keeper Flounder. Drifting with a minnow/squid combo has been excellent. Some catches of Flounder have been made on the western side of the bay in the rivers, but not the numbers and sizes that the seaside of the E.S. has produced. The western side of the bay has been good for Puppy Drum, Croaker, and Speckled Trout. The area of the HRBT has been better for the Pups, with good reports coming from the Elizabeth River also. The Specks have been found inside Lynnhaven, Rudee, and Mobjack Bay. Quality sized Bluefish are still being caught inside Rudee Inlet,along the surf at Sandbridge, and all along the OBX beaches. Also happening on the beaches of the OBX, are good catches of large Sea Mullet, Red Drum, and Puppy Drum. Trophy Rockfish season opened on May 1st and will continue through May 15th. Minimum size is 36 inches, and there is a 1 fish limit per day. Anglers must obtain a permit, which is free, and report their catches. Refer to the VMRC website for permits and regulations. The regulations will change again on May 16th. The charter boats out of Oregon Inlet have been returning with good numbers and sizes of Mahi, Yellowfin Tuna, and Wahoo up to 67 lbs. The inshore boats are already returning to the docks with sizable Cobia.
Freshwater- Things are starting to return to normal after heavy rains brought high water conditions throughout the state. Kerr Reservoir is at 310′ currently, which is 10 feet above normal. Fishing had been good for Bass and Crappie prior to the rain, but check ramp conditions around the lake before traveling down there. Gaston has remained at normal levels, but tournament weights were a bit lower than expected for this time of year. Weights were down in many places over the weekend however. The rivers should be in good shape this weekend, as May is typically one of the best months for Bass on tidal rivers. Many are still spawning, so conservation is critical. May is also excellent for trophy Blue Cats on our tidal rivers. Most of the tidal rivers offer trophy possibilities, but the James seems to lead the group for size and numbers. Night fishing for these fish will soon become more productive, but daytime action is still very good. The upper James is still a good option for trophy Smallmouth, however, they too can be going through the spawn, so they can be hit or miss right now. The Smallmouth action really picks up around the end of the month and early June. Topwater action can be outstanding. Expect topwater baits to excel in our lake and ponds soon, as post spawn patterns pick up. Topwaters can be especially good for landlocked Stripers right now. Anna, Kerr, Smith and Gaston, all have great populations of Stripers. The Bluegill and Shellcracker fishing has picked up dramatically and will continue to improve as the month progresses.
- Stan Cobb