Chesapeake Bay: It’s catch and release only for Rockfish inside the bay right now. Among the fish still being caught, are mostly coming from the CBBT at night on eels. However, some die-hards are finding them in the rivers still, especially the Potomac. Bridge structures will hold fish. Tautogs are available to those who seek them by fishing structure like the CBBT and wrecks both in the bay and the ocean. Probably the best bite inside the bay is again, the Speckled Trout bite inside the Elizabeth River. Numerous fish 24” and above are caught every week. Many are throwing small Mirro lures with a jerk and pause cadence, while others prefer to troll slowly with suspending jerk baits. If you can find fresh bait, cut Mullet almost always works.
Ocean: Seabass are biting well on ocean wrecks. Techniques that work for Flounder often work for Seabass, and these fish are extremely tasty. Many are targeting Blue Fin Tuna now, as many reports state that most of the Rockfish are 6-10 miles out. Tuna over 200lbs have been caught recently. Know the regulations though, for the authorities are boarding many vessels in search of illegal fish. Rockfish are not to be targeted outside 3 nautical miles. Deep dropping is a stable option when weather allows the traveling. Tilefish are usually the main target, and are also quite tasty. Jumbo Seabass can also be encountered while deep dropping too.
Freshwater Rivers: Noteworthy weights of Bass continue to be brought into Sturgeon Creek Marina on Lake Anna during their Winter Bass Series. 17+lbs took 1st and 2nd, while 16+lbs to 3rd and 4th. Anglers are catching good Bass on spoons, jigs, jerk baits, and swim baits. A lipless crank bait is also a good winter bait. The Striper action slowed a bit this week on Anna, but that may be due to less participation. Live Herring and Shad are the best bets, but blade baits and swim baits should not be overlooked. The tidal Chickahominy and James have been getting the attention of Crappie anglers right now. Some impressive stringers of Slab Crappie are being caught, especially on the Chick. Small jigs are probably used more right now, but minnows will not be ignored. Bass can be caught up on flats as well as the channel drops. Jigs and lipless cranks are used quite a bit. Chain Pickerel are another species targeted on the Chick River now, and the Chick Lake is also receiving good attention for Pickerel. Blue Cats are targeted in all the tidal rivers now, but the James usually receives the most attention. The Potomac has been becoming popular lately also. Fresh Shad and eels are what you want to use. The upper James is another alternative to be considered now. River levels should be the first consideration before launching a boat. Low water is usually ultra-clear, which can make big Smallmouth finicky feeders when approached by boats. Overcast days can often be more productive, even in the winter. Local ponds are always a good choice, whether you’re after Bass, Crappie, or Pickerel. Live bait can produce some unforgettable catches during the winter. A good idea is to take several sizes of minnows to ensure success, no matter what you’re after.