Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, January 2022

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, January 28 Update:

Reports from the inlets were scant this week, though there’s always a chance of finding a winter speck or red, and water temps at the CBBT are too low to have high hopes for tog action. Anglers working offshore wrecks will have a decent shot at ‘em though, when the weather allows. With the salty bite on the slow and chilly side, many anglers are headed inland and on the freshwater front, most inland lakes and ponds have been producing plenty of crappie and bass. Both are easily located from shore or by boat, taking everything from minnows to shad darts. Perch are also available in up-river tidal areas, mostly in channels and holes holding deep, where minnow fished on bottom rigs or behind shad darts will get 'em biting.

angler holds a yellow perch
The time for perch fishing has begun! (Photo from last year).

It's official - Virginia's special February season for sea bass is off for 2022. The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted 6-1-1 to close the season last Tuesday. Considering how great this fishery was and how many sea bass are out there many folks are wondering why the heck this happened. These fishing reports aren't really the proper venue for a huge discussion about fisheries management, but if you get bored while sitting inside thanks to the weather this weekend, Google "mrip black sea bass." The results will keep you busy for hours. The bottom line: the fish-counters say too many black sea bass were harvested last year coast-wide, and much as Virginia regulators didn’t want to shut this season down they didn’t see any other option. According to the rep we spoke with this week they do hope to bring it back in 2023 if possible but no promises can be made.

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, January 20 Update:

With the dropping water temps and often gusting winds, things have grown a bit quiet. At the CBBT the water’s bouncing between 43 and 44 degrees, so unsurprisingly, we heard zero reports from there this week (though we’d note that due to wind there have been plenty of tough days recently, which has surely hampered effort). That said, dropping crab baits on the structure there’s always the chance for a bite or two from refrigerated tautog. Same goes for fishing the inlets for specks and reds, but alas, again we were unable to find anyone with firsthand experience this week.

redfish tail
Yes, this redfish was caught this week!!! In... New Orleans. Ugh...

With the weather so abrasive and a fishing report this thin, it’s time for our yearly reminder that if you decide to head out on a boat keep in mind that wearing a life jacket and paying attention to boating safety have an increased level of importance during the winter. Additionally, 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. Stay safe out there — and we're hoping you'll find some fish.

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, January 14 Update:

In the “bad news” department, thanks to the weather and a severe lack of angling effort, this week’s fishing report will be just as lame as you were afraid it might be. In the “worse news” department, there’s scuttlebutt that the February special sea bass season won’t be happening this year. There’s been no official announcement from the regulators that we can find as of yet, but it’s alleged that overages in the recreational harvest are forcing the season’s elimination. As soon as they issue an official press release or make a public announcement, we’ll be sure to pass on the news.

sea bass on the ocean
Catching sea bass may mean waiting for summer - we'll pass on the news as soon as an official announcement is made.

Beyond that, folks, there isn’t much to talk about; there’s always a chance of finding a chilly speck or red in the inlets or the lower Elizabeth, and heading up the rivers should produce perch and catfish for those willing to brave the elements.

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, January 7 Update:

Welcome to 2022 anglers! As the new year comes in no doubt we will have plenty of fishing opportunities despite the chill in the air. However, between the precip and the chill there hasn’t been much fishing taking place since the holiday. Big stripers were still being caught — and released when inside the Bay demarcation line, of course — by eelers, trollers, and to a lesser degree jiggers, up until the storm. Water temps at the CBBT rose above 52-degrees last week but have reversed the trend since then and fallen right back down under the 50-degree mark, so catching tog should be difficult in the near term. Hunting for specks and/or reds in the inlets should also hold potential, though again, we can’t confirm and catches in the past few days.

record tripletail
It's official, Hayden's catch sets the bar.

Congrats go out to Hayden Head of Yorktown, who landed an eight-pound, nine-ounce tripletail while fishing near York Spit this summer. The catch was weighed and positively identified by a Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament committee member and now the state of Virginia has accepted the catch as a new official state record. Nice job, Hayden!