Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, April 2024

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, April 26 Update:

Days are getting longer, and temperatures are warming up as fish continue to arrive in the mouth of the Bay. Black drum fishing is going along on schedule right now with some very big fish running. The shallow channel ledge from Fisherman’s Island to north of Cape Charles is seeing good action. Schools of red drum are also beginning to show up at the mouth of the Bay and their numbers will continue to increase over the next few months. Griffins Guide Service has been fishing out of Kiptopeake and is having good luck locating the drum on the shallower side of major channel edges. They did mention that last week the cooler weather slowed down the bite some. Temperatures are looking much warmer as we approach this weekend and next week. If the forecast holds true, more fish should continue to push north into the Bay offering anglers the chance at a true Chesapeake trophy.

puppy drum biting jigs
Puppy drum are biting in better numbers now that the temps are up a bit.

The Elizabeth River has been very productive this month and is usually a good place to fish for inshore gamefish such as red drum, speckled trout, and striped bass. A few fly fishermen hit it this week and had a great day catching five puppy drum between 24 and 26 inches. They also managed to put six speckled trout up to 19 inches in the cooler and released a bunch of undersized specks and pups. We also had a report from an angler fishing in an unspecified inlet who caught five under slot puppy drum and lost another two fish. The fish were biting on soft plastic shrimp and electric chicken colored paddletails. All the southern Bay inlets are good options to fish right now with the action picking up as water temperatures move into the 60s.

We have heard reports of some bluefish showing up at Rudee Inlet and with the big ones running along the beach up and down the coast (see the Coastal Reports), it is no surprise some are making the turn into there. Many of the blues running up the coast are topping 10 pounds so this is a great opportunity to tie into a serious chopper.

Virginia Beach Sport Fishing let us know that tautog fishing is close to peak right now in the southern Bay areas. They are hanging out around underwater structures, wrecks, reefs, and the CBBT. An angler fishing the CBBT bridge pilings this week pulled four keepers while dropping down crab bait on sweeper jigs. The tog season will close in Virginia on May 15th, so get out for them now while the fishing is good.

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, April 18 Update:

The shallows are starting to come full of life as we approach the magic 60-degree mark for water temperatures. Puppy drum, speckled trout, and even some striped bass are making a showing in the tidal tributaries and inlets. A fly fisherman reported in after fishing in the Elizabeth River this week with a lot of success. They put five puppy drum between 24 and 26 inches in the cooler and released several under 17 inches. They also caught and kept six speckled trout up to 20 inches and let go a few smaller fish under 14 inches. Another angler fishing inside Rudee Inlet had success catching speckled trout using soft plastic shrimp baits. If you want to catch some puppy drum, the shallow flats with mud bottom are great areas to search since they will be heating up the warmest on warm sunny days. A few big striped bass are being caught with even a few up to the 40-inch mark. These fish are likely starting to make their way out of the Bay and will soon start their journey up the coast to their summer staging areas. Big fish will be filtering out of the Bay over the next few weeks, so time is running out to catch and release a trophy fish until they return next winter.

red drum in the elizabeth
Mark caught a pretty - very pretty! - slot fish this week.

Virginia Beach Sport Fishing let us know that drum are the big talk right now with black drum and red drum showing up in the Bay. Black drum are being caught along the seaside beaches and are running along the shallow channel edge from Fisherman’s Island to north of Cape Charles. Good places to fish for them include Kiptopeake, the Cabbage Patch, and the Concrete Ships. The best bites usually occur during a running tide, in the early mornings or late evenings, and on full moons. Bull red drum are also starting to filter into the Bay and bigger schools are starting to show up. Anglers fishing around the CBBT, Fisherman’s Island, and the York River are starting to have more success chasing these fish. Those who chase the drum are usually tight lipped about when and where they are showing themselves, but anywhere in the open water of the southern Chesapeake could have these big fish cruising around right now. Numbers will continue to increase as we head into May and will peak around June.

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, April 12 Update:

Water temperatures in some of the smaller creeks have reached 60 degrees on warm days this week. As the temperatures move more consistently towards this mark, inshore saltwater species will become more abundant in the shallows. With some (finally!) warmer days when the wind wasn’t howling, the reports of success on redfish picked up a bit this week. One reader reported catching one on a silver-flecked paddletail (plus catching some blue catfish) up the Nansemond, and another caught three pups plus a nice slot near Dix Creek. Knot Wish’n Custom Charters has been targeting specks and reds in Rudee inlet and found both willing to bite this week, along with some bluefish. The trout are also being more cooperative for anglers and are making appearances in various locations including Rudee Inlet, Lynnhaven Inlet, and Little Creek. There are some striped bass around and the best fishing for them has been at night. The areas illuminated by dock lights or nearby buildings are great places to target them. The baitfish are attracted to the lights and will bring with them hungry predatory fish like striped bass and a few others. Soft plastic paddletails, jerkbaits, and shrimp imitations worked under popping corks are all popular baits to throw.

red drum in the nansemond river
Those redifsh are biting with a bit more regularity, now that the weather is warming up.

Tautog are continuing to make their way into the Bay hanging out on deep structure. Popular areas to target them include the islands around the CBBT, The Cell, and the concrete ships near Kiptopeake. These fish fight hard for their size and are known for their delicious fillets. If you plan to target them, bring plenty of bait because tog are known bait stealers with an impressive ability to pick your offering without getting hooked. Crab baits are their favorite and are regularly caught by using fiddler crabs, sand fleas, green crab, or blue crab.

Another fish migrating into our region right now is the black drum. There has been a good amount being caught around Fisherman’s Island and the high rise of the CBBT. Chunks of blue crab or bunker on fish finder rigs has enticed the bites. Big fish upwards of 50 pounds have been caught in the Pocomoke Sound, so the big fish are passing right by this zone. It is a great time of year to hit the beaches in the surf too. A smaller class (fish in the 20- to 30-inch range) of fish are running along the beaches right now. Bluefish and red drum are being caught in North Carolina, so the northern migration is coming our way!

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, April 5 Update:

The spring diversity of species is really starting to show itself now that we are into April, and now that water temperatures are in the low 50s tautog are making their presence known at the deeper structure around the mouth of the Bay. Tog are an April favorite and they will stack up on wrecks, reefs, and rock piles. These fish are known for fighting hard and having delicious fillets. The Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay is full of inshore spots that offer good tog fishing. Some of the more popular locations include the CBBT, the concrete ships, The Cell, and the Chesapeake Light Tower. There was a report from an angler who was out fishing last weekend at the third Island of the CBBT and caught some keeper fish. They were fishing around the pilings using shrimp in about 50 feet of water. The bite wasn’t hot, but the fish are there and can be caught with enough persistence. If you need a tog fishing refresher check out our how-to video:

There were some impressive catches this week that we saw reports of. Perhaps the most impressive was a fish checked in and certified by Long Bay Pointe Bait and Tackle. Angler Jonathan Hughes caught a whopping 52-inch black drum at Fisherman’s Island earlier in the week which was safely released after a few pictures. There was an uptick in drum reports this week and we are expecting more fish to move in with next weeks’ forecast looking warmer with less rain. The Virginia coastal beaches offered a good bite in the surf this week with a lot of drum being caught on sand fleas. These fish will soon also show up near the concrete ships, the Cabbage Patch, and the high rise of the CBBT. Big fish are out there and it’s a great time of year to target them. If you haven't targeted black drum from the surf it's a ton of fun, here's the lowdown on how to get the bites:

The inlets and rivers are warming up which means that inshore gamefish species are becoming more active. Rudee inlet was productive for anglers targeting puppy drum this week and we even saw some nicer fish caught. We saw a fish that was 31 inches, but they did not specify where inside the inlet it was caught. A lot of anglers are focusing their attention on the shallow mud flats where they are throwing soft plastics or drifting soft crab. Lynnhaven Inlet also offered good pup fishing this week and speckled trout action is picking up too. One angler caught and released a 27-inch speck inside Lynnhaven this week and plenty of other anglers found success targeting the specks with paddletails. As water temperatures warm these fish will begin to move into shallower areas. We all know that once the water temps make it to 60 degrees, these shallows can become a magical place to fish.