Coastal Mid-Atlantic Fishing Report, January 2021

Coastal Fishing Reports presented by Intrinsic

Coastal Mid-Atlantic Fishing Report, January 29 Update:

High winds and cold temperatures made fishing off the coast downright dangerous much less comfortable most of this week, and as a result, our Coastal reports are quite thin. We’re hoping that the tog and sea bass bites will hold up after the crazy windy, cold weather this weekend passes and anglers are able to make their way away from the coast. That said, Captain Monty has been reporting decent if not hot action on the tog when he’s been able to get out. We had no reports from Delaware and none from Virginia Beach this week.

coastal tautog fishing
Tog are just about the only game in town. Photo courtesy of Capt. Monty Hawkins, the Morning Star.

We realize that this week's reports are unusually thin, but that sometimes happens in the middle of the winter. The following is a public service announcement that has nothing at all to do with us trying to come up with more than a single sad paragraph for the entire Coastal report. Nothing at all (ahem): Please remember as we’re experiencing frigid temperatures, wearing a life jacket and paying attention to boating safety have an incredible level of importance. Make sure your life jacket is suited for your size and the appropriate buoyancy rating for your excursion. Additionally, always, always, always go fishing with a buddy and make sure that someone is aware of your plan for the day. in low-40-degree water temperatures, individuals who fall in generally have only 10 to 20 minutes depending on their age, gender, weight, and submersion level before losing all coordination and muscle strength. It’s important to be able to spot the signs of hypothermia: sleepiness, clumsiness, confusion, slurred speech, shivering, a weak pulse, low blood pressure, and a body temperature below 96 degrees. Stay safe out there - and we're hoping you'll find some fish.

Coastal Mid-Atlantic Fishing Report, January 21 Update:

From Delaware down through Virginia, tog have become pretty much the only game in town for the moment unless you want to catch dogfish. Capt. Monty on the Morning Star is getting out on the days that allow and reports a decent but not red-hot bite, generally speaking. Difficult conditions have been keeping boats at the dock, much of the week.

fishing report for the coast
Bending a rod along the coast will mean going tog fishing, for most anglers these days. Photo courtesy of Capt. Monty Hawkins

We had one more report of oceanic stripers off the DE/MD coast this week, but not in the legal zone. The story is pretty much the same in VA waters, where fish seem to be above the slot or inside the demarcation line and finding legal-sized fish in the open waters a tall order.

Remember, Virginia’s special sea bass season opens up on February 1st but to partake in it, you need to get the extra sea bass permit. If you hope to head out to the wrecks and enjoy those winter bass, get your VA permit here.

On the beach, all is quiet.

Coastal Mid-Atlantic Fishing Report, January 15 Update:

We continue to get non-site-specific reports of very large stripers being caught off the coast between Delaware and Maryland. However, we have no reports of of fish inside the three-mile limit for federal waters, where striper fishing isn't prohibited. North of the mouth of the Bay we have zero reports of fish within the legal zone, and this week we didn't get any reports of success on slot fish from VA coastal waters, either.

false albacore with angler
The Big Worm found some action on the troll, off the VA coast.

Captain Monty Hawkins on the Morning Star checked in to let us know that despite a slow start to the day, the tog bite picked up after the Morning Star switched spots. The Big Worm has also been finding fish while running out of Virginia Beach, including a pretty epic day early this week that included some blackfin tuna, yellowfin tuna, false albacore, and a smattering of ribbonfish. Meanwhile, Virginia’s special sea bass season opens up on February 1st for anglers who choose to obtain a sea bass permit. If you’re interested in the February sea bass season, you do need to get your VA permit here.

On the beach and in the inlets, all was quiet this week. That said, there should be a fair to middlin' shot at finding a speck or two in the VA inlets and throwback stripers around the bridges, at OC.

Coastal Mid-Atlantic Fishing Report, January 7 Update:

Captain Monty Hawkins checked in to let us know that the waters were a bit tough off the coast this week. There were some scup caught, but not as many as he’d hoped for, and now he’s prepared to focus on the tautog fishery. Hawkins also noted that there has been a humpback whale with a rope around it spotted off the coast of OC. If you choose to go out this week and spot the whale, please follow NOAA guidelines regarding entanglement of marine life and contact the appropriate agency. Off Virginia Beach some nice flounder, a few trigger fish, and porgy are still being reported at the wrecks and reefs, but with sea bass closed for the time being, fewer anglers are headed in that direction. More are fishing outside the Bay demarcation line but close to home, looking for slot stripers (28- to 36-inchers). Eeling and trolling (Mojos and Mann’s Stretch 25s both got a mention) are both catching fish and at times jigging has been effective, but if you’re hoping to take home dinner, note that many of the fish are over-slots and have to go right back over the side after a snapshot or two is taken. There have also been some stripers reported off both Indian River and Ocean City, but well beyond the limit at seven miles out. NOTICE: Saturday looks to be blustery, so if you'll be near Ocean City consider laying down the fishing rods and lending a hand as the OC Reef Foundation preps a concrete sailboat for reef deployment. Show up at the Morning Star (in the Ocean City Fishing Center) at 9:30 a.m. with gloves, work boots, and a desire to help restore the underwater reef environment.

reef building with sailboat
In a few short years you could be plucking sea bass and tautog from this sailboat-turned-fishing reef.

We have zero intel from the surf this week, but there’s always the odd possibility of a rockfish and good potential for dogfish. Reports have also dropped off from the inlets for toggers, as water temps have declined enough that most fish have moved out or gone inactive. The only bite we can confirm outside of open waters comes from the CBBT, where anglers dropping crab baits are still catching some keeper-sized fish.

As we move into 2021, we’d like to thank all of our readers who have contributed their reports to FishTalk and those that have supported us by reading them. We love hearing from you and featuring the photos and reports from our readers who make FishTalk possible. If you’d like to send in your own reports, feel free to email [email protected]!

Coastal Mid-Atlantic Fishing Report, January 1 Update:

Welcome to 2021 anglers! We at FishTalk would like to wish everyone a happy new year and we hope you have some fabulous fishing adventures as a new season dawns. This week saw reduced reports thanks to weather, the holidays, and reduced tackle shop hours. Closing out the 2020 season, stripers were intercepted swimming down the coast last week, ranging from Indian River down to the CBBT. Schools of fish have at times been marked by birds but more often are located by trollers pulling Stretch 25s, tandems, and Mojos. There are also (small) rockfish at the Rt 90 and 50 bridges in OC, and middling to large fish at the CBBT. The only reports from boats heading farther out come from Captain Monty Hawkins on the Morning Star, who checked in to let us know that the sea bass bite closed out the year and starting off for 2021 tautog will be the target. A trip to the wrecks this week produced fair numbers of fish, although no limit days. Capt. Drew on the Big Worm reports that running out of Virginia Beach produced good bass right up to the last day of the year plus some other species including nice flounder, trigger fish, and porgy, and says that in 2021 he’ll begin by targeting swordfish when the weather allows. With the exceptional sea bass fishing we saw in 2020, we’re hoping that in 2021 we see a repeat.

surf fishing for sharks
Scott Murray and Neal Cohen had fun bending their rods on sand sharks.

Back on the beach, we had one report from a lone pair of surf casters who took advantage of a nice day to toss cut mullet from the Delaware beaches, and had fun reeling in plenty of dogfish.