Virginia Fishing Reports – May 2008
The lastest Northern Neck Chesapeake Bay Saltwater Fishing news and advice from Capt Rick Lockart plus Missy Fike's Freshwater Fishing Report for the Neck and Northern Virginia. Also available are the archived reports back to 2006 for those wishing to track or review trends.
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Northern Neck Charter Boat Directory
Virginia Saltwater Fishing Reports
By Captain Rick Lockart
May is the month that striped bass fishing returns to the Bay; however, of the thousand or so citations that are given each year for striped bass, less than one percent are given in May. Yes, tons of money will be spent catching the striped wonder, but the quality fish will be your red and black drum. From the middle of the month on, depending on water temperature, these fish, along with flounder, spadefish, speckled trout, croaker, and even togs (early in the month) will far out-number the striper in paper.
Nevertheless, the rockfish will be the species of choice for at least the upper portion of the Bay. Tuna will be the primary target offshore. Sea bass will have returned to the inshore wrecks, though their size does not rival the offshore wrecks of February, March, and April. Tilefish will still be available to those who venture offshore on nice days. Bluefish will be making a showing, and some will even sneak out to be the first to catch a cobia, but that could be pushing it.
I made an error last month when I slipped and reported the legal size of flounder was 19 ˝ inches, instead of the actual 19 inches. It’s nice to know that someone caught this error and reported it. It leads me to remind all state fishermen to have size and creel limits in possession while fishing. I often hear fishermen asking others over the radio what the legal size is for fish they just caught and wonder why that is. It’s nice to have others willing to share that information, but it’s better to have that information with you and not have to depend upon others
Capts. Len Buchta (757-824-4427) and Bill Letora (888-389-5603) will concentrate their efforts offshore for the yellowfin and the occasional bluefin. Later in the month, dolphin might show, and there’s always a chance that a white marlin might show in your spread. Trolling continues to be the preferred means of fishing. Inshore, Capt. Rob Savage (757-678-0063) will fish for red drum on the ocean side. Capt. Michael Quade (804-694-9052), Capt. Neil Lessard (757-678-0966), and Capt. Dale Ballard (757-678-7717) will be fishing for both red and black drum (black primarily), though fishing for flounder, croaker, and striped bass is not out of the question. Capt. Mike Handforth (757-336-6861), a light tackle specialist from Chincoteague, is looking forward to a successful month of fishing for flounder. Croaker of size, generally show in June, but that’s not to say that Mike won’t be trying.
Virginia’s Tidewater region will be extremely busy this month. Many captains pulled their boats during the month of April, so they are raring to go. In all likelihood, so will the fish.
Inshore, Capt. Ron Bennett (757-588-4198) will be fishing for striped bass, red drum, flounder, croaker, and the occasional trout until later in the month when he will turn his attention to spadefish. Capt. Nolan Agner (757-200-0200) and Capt. Steve Wray (757-481-7517) will venture offshore when the weather allows, fishing for tuna. Inshore, each will target striped bass, flounder, and drum. Capt. Jim Brincefield (410-867-4944) wants everyone to know that even though he is going to be working on a tug, he is not giving up his chartering business. Just not working as much as he usually does. He may not be working as much with his deep drop trips, though he has been experiencing a great deal of success, but he will continue to seek out the striped bass, black sea bass, and flounder. He will be out there fishing for spadefish as soon as they make their appearance, as well.
Capt. Jerry Olson (757-288-1081) is looking forward to a banner year. He will start off the month fishing for stripers, flounder, red and black drum, and be willing to make the switch to spadefish, if that is the choice of his customers. Capt. Chandler Hogg (757-876-1590) is also looking forward to a great summer. He and his new boat will venture offshore when the opportunity affords itself, but will also concentrate his efforts on the striped bass, drum and flounder. Capt. Bill Mershon (757-870-7265) has experienced a lot of time away this winter but is looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. He will be trolling for striped bass and bottom fishing for the tasty croaker. Don’t be surprised to hear of a drum, flounder, or trout coming aboard Bill’s 30 foot Island Hopper during the month of May.
The month of May finds the captains of the Middle Peninsula having some success finding flounder of the eastern side of the Bay. Many will now concentrate on large striped bass the first two weeks of this month, then return their thoughts to the flounder. Spadefish are on the minds of many, as well, but their appearance may not be until June. You can expect to see several captains trying to be the first to connect, however. Capt. Don Bannister (804-776-0629) truly looks forward to fishing for the trophy rockfish. He always seems to know the best spots. Capt. Jerry Thrash (804-725-3889) and Capt. Glenn Hubbard (804-337-6357) continue to seek flounder, but will be out there with Don if their customers choose to chase the striped behemoths. The Virginia Charter Boat Association welcomes a new captain, Capt. Ed Lawrence (804-693-5673), who fishes almost exclusively for spotted trout. We are having more interest shown in the area of light tackle fishing; therefore, more captains are coming on board that concentrate in this field.
For the Northern Neck fishermen, trolling is generally the ticket during the early part of May. Many will have been fishing for large striped bass since the Maryland trophy season opened in April. Chumming for the smaller, more numerous fish does not start in earnest until the middle of May. Depending on water temperature, many a trolling rod will be put away until November once the trophy season comes to an end. Capt. Jim Deibler (804-580-7744) and Capt. Billy Pipkin (804-580-7292) fish out of the Reedville area and are likely to concentrate their efforts in Virginia waters. Each will seek their limits of rockfish and then concentrate on catching some croaker, particularly the second half of the month. Capt Ryan Rogers (804-453-5812) out of Smith Point has had an exciting and productive start to the 2008 Season with the Midnight Sun. Check out the new Talk Fish forum on his website.
Though many in the southern reaches of the Bay have been fishing in earnest for more than a month, for many of us, May is the beginning of our salt water fishing season. For those that fall into this category, it has seemingly been a long wait. Gentlemen, start your engines.
Virginia Freshwater Fishing Report
By Missy Fike
Northern Virginia and Northern Piedmont Report
Near D.C., May brings the bass anglers to the post spawn phase of fishing. Start fishing the weedlines with plastics to get good results. Crappie will still be available in the very backs of creeks and some striper action can be had downriver.
Local lakes such as Burke will also produce some nice bass action but the lake does get pressure. Fish slower and try midweek for better fishing.
Lake Orange, Lake Curtis, Motts Run and Hunting Run anglers will have to switch over to deeper crankbaits, live bait and plastics to catch bass. Topwater is good early in the morning or late in the evening. Bream action will be hot this month in all lakes. Crickets and red wigglers will take some nice fish. Keep the same ideas in mind for pond fishing.
The upper Potomac River and Rappahannock River will be prime for a float trip. Smallies will take jerkbaits, spinners and live bait with gusto. Try live bait such as crayfish and hellagramites for both sunfish and smallmouth. Some redeye can also be caught. Fish log jams and eddies behind rocks.
On the middle Potomac and tidal Rappahannock the catfishing is going to be touch and go. I would say mostly a go but keep in mind that some fish will begin spawning this month. If you are after a trophy use fresh caught bait and be patient. The smaller eating size fish are easy to pick up on live bait.
Largemouth bass are up and coming on the lower Rapp. Fish the tidal tribs and the mouths of these with crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Look out for Mr. Bowfin too!
RW’s (804-529-5634) reports that generally in May the largemouth bass respond well to buzz baits and crappie should respond well to beetle spins or small minnows in the ponds.
Surfside Bait and Tackle (804-730-2238) on the James River reported that the largemouth bass will be hitting on top water baits. The crappie will be off the beds and be biting. The best way to catch crappie is to first find them using small minnows and then can switch over to jigs. The big catfish will be biting well using herring, shad or eels. The smallmouth will be biting well if the water stays up on the river. They will hit well on deep diving crank baits like the Bandit 300 or Bandit 200 in the perch color or the crawfish pattern. The fishing in May usually follows this pattern. Sometimes during these spring transition months it hard to predict because so much of the fishing depends on the weather, water temps and depths of the river. If anglers have any questions Surfside Bait and Tackle welcomes their calls.
Mike at Riverside Camp Grounds (804-966-5536) on the Chickahominy reports the largemouth bass will be moving off the beds and should be biting well on artificial worms, night crawlers and small minnows. They like structures like duck blinds, cypress roots, brush piles and the lily pads. The bream and bluegill will be hitting really well on night crawlers. Pan size catfish in the 2lb – 5lb range will hit well on night crawlers. The crappie will be doing well on small minnows and small grubs.
In the Virginia Beach area, Walter from Little Creek Reservoir Park reports the chain pickerel will be biting well on minnows, spinner baits and soft plastic type baits in the back coves early in the month and moving out to the points as the water temperature goes up. The Largemouth will start to hit on top water lures such as, crank baits and plastic worms. Water temperatures and the low-pressure systems passing through the area effect how the fish respond. As the water temps warm up the fish become more active, if a cold spell falls on us then they may slow down. The full moon in May generally marks the beginning of the best shellcracker fishing. Anglers are successful using nightcrawlers, red wigglers and can catch fish in excess of a pound. In past years anglers have caught as many as 25 citation shellcrackers in less then half a day.
Rusty from Buggs Island Bait and Tackle (434-374-8934) reports that largemouth bass will be moving to the shallows. They will be biting well on spinner baits, plastic worms and grubs. The crappie will be in the shallows on brush piles and will respond well to small minnows. The blue catfish will be biting well on cut bait and the flatheads will hit live bait. Striper will be returning from spawning up river and will be biting well at the upper part of the lake on live shad, buck tales, Red Fin lures and plugs work well.
Marvin from The Tackle Box (434-239-1710) at Smith Mountain Lake reported the walleye and stripers usually go up Stanton River when the dogwoods bloom.
Largemouth is biting well on jigs, Hopkins spoons, jerk baits and deep diving crank baits. The bass will be in the shallows and generally go on their beds for spawning towards the end of May. When the water temps get to 50 degrees then a lot will move onto their beds. The crappie should be in the shallows for spawning also when the dogwoods are in bloom. Stripers will be biting well on Hopkins spoons, lead heads with flukes and crank or jerk baits. Bluegill as it warms will be moving up into shallower waters and will be easier to catch on small spinner baits and night crawlers.
Good luck and happy fishing!!