Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, July 2021

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, July 30 Update:

The action at the mouth of the Bay is hopping, with plenty of options. Oceans East is noting that flounder fishing is on the upswing near the CBBT, and some very nice flatfish have been coming in to the scales. Several limit catches were in the reports, too. Spadefish are also present in good numbers with reports coming in of better catches this week. Cobia are of course the main attraction, but the presence of countless sharks and rays has continued to make chummers pull their hair out while trying to hook up the man in the brown suit. Sight casters have been doing better recently, tossing live eels or skirted jigs or bucktails with trailers.

night fishing for redfish
Tim started out the month's reports, and he closes them out too - night time is the right time, if you want to chase slot reds in the inlets at this time in the summer.

Reports from the inlets were on the thin side this week, as the summer doldrums and heavy traffic makes fishing tough. Some specks were caught and anglers night fishing are finding slot reds, but overall reader reports indicate that fishing inside the cuts is a bit tough right now especially during mid-day.

Bull red reports remain scattered with onsies-twosies mentioned by readers, mostly those fishing crab baits. No word yet on sight-fishing catches nor bigger numbers.

Mackerel, anyone? There are plenty in the vicinity of the CBBT, both inside and outside, mixed with snapper blues hitting spoons behind planers. Where you’ll find them has no rhyme or reason; break out the binoculars and look for flocks of birds.

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, July 22 Update:

Hampton Correspondent Chuck Harrison said that recently the second island of the CBBT was covered up with small blues, so much so that it became tough to target the spadefish on their most recent trip and they only managed one nice one (but “caught their weight” in bluefish). Flounder also proved hard to find and baits offered on bottom caught oyster toads and skates. This week, we heard that most flounder caught in Virginia waters were hanging around on the ocean side. Ocean’s East reported a few doormats this week, though, caught on drifted squid chunks.

chesapeake bay cobia fishing
While there are plenty of options for anglers in this zone, cobia remain a hot prospect.

Two readers targeting the Cape Charles area reported success on cobia, one while sight casting and the other with live eels in a chum slick. However, the chummers reported that lots of slashed eels and sharks were in the mix. We also heard from two readers who played the chumming game but only caught sharks and a few rays, plus some more sharks. Oceans East echoed that the sharks and rays have been an issue, and advised bringing extra, extra, extra eels on board. No one has ever said “there’s no such thing as too many eels,” but we’ll be the first. Right now, there truly is no such thing as too many eels.

Ocean’s East did mention that many of the cobia caught have been very large, and that they’re around in healthier numbers than we’ve seen in recent seasons and sight fishers getting out in decent conditions have enjoyed multi-sighting days. Y’all know we love cobia season, if nothing else for seeing all the wacky rigs guys come up with to sight fish. Ladders and stacked coolers have been sighted just as often as cobia have been — if your boat has a cool (and safe) cobia-spotting rig going on, shoot us a pic. So far the winner is a deer stand ratchet-strapped to the front of a T-top.

Also reported from the CBBT: sheepshead and triggerfish for bait anglers, and some Spanish mackerel mixed with blues for those trolling spoons. Neither species has disappointed this week and although Chuck was inundated with smalls, we did hear about a few chunky blues in the mix for trollers.

A mix of flounder, reds, and snapper blues provided most of the action in the inlets this week. The biggest problem is often the crowds… which are thinned out by windy days, which of course also makes the fishing tough.

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, July 16 Update:

The dog days of summer are providing some excellent fishing opportunities throughout Virginia’s waters. This week, the flounder bite enticed many anglers: we had multiple reports that the Cell and the CBBT were standout spots. With flounder in the box, few anglers who headed into Ocean’s East were complaining this week. Most guys reported drifting squid and minnow on Fluke Killers or slow-trolling double-bucktail rigs with Gulp! Swimming Mullets. Pink and white were popular colors, as usual. There are also spadefish and sheepshead around the CBBT’s structure to provide some action. 

nice cobia caught in the chesapeake
Parker Pearce caught this 57-inch cobia sight casting with live spot on the CBBT pilings. SWEEEEET!

We were also excited to hear that this week, Spanish Mackerel action picked up inside the CBBT for anglers trolling spoons behind planers. If you’re going after the mackerel, just remember to up your trolling speed for them. (See Finding the Ideal Spanish Mackerel Speed to nail it down pat). In addition to all of the above Ocean’s East is hearing reports of good bluefish caught mixed in with the Spanish Mackerel on the troll. A few anglers this week reported catching upwards of 10 keeper fish on spoons, within sight of the CBBT.

The Cell popped up again this week as another good place to try for cobia in the vicinity and spadefish on the structure. Readers report catching the cobia sight-casting there and all around the CBBT, but windows of opportunity have been short due to the frequency of windy days and picking your weather-window has been key. Otherwise eels and bunker in chum slicks are the move, however, sharks and rays make it a constant battle to keep good baits in the water while you wait for the big man in the brown suit to arrive. 

Some ribbonfish are also being caught on the Bay side now, but the fish on the ocean side have been notably bigger. There's also been an influx of round head (sea mullet/kingfish) moving from the ocean into the Bay, mostly being caught by bottom fishermen dropping bloodworms or Fishbites to the (mostly small) spot and croaker.

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, July 9 Update:

Hampton Contributor Chuck Harrison got out fishing “with the crowd” last Monday with John Erikson and they managed a couple of trigger fish, one baby spadefish, and several bluefish up to and just over four pounds — and lost a red drum that looked to be around 40 inches beside the boat. When we talked to Ocean’s East, they confirmed that all these species are hangin’ around and active. The spadefish and trigger fish are regularly being caught alongside each other at the CBBT islands and around the light tower. They also mentioned that Lynnhaven remained a hotspot for puppy drum this week, but that the speckled trout bite has shut down due to oppressive heat.

big bull redfish in va
Waller Whittemore caught this bull red on a Nomad chug Norris 120 top water plug about a mile and a half off of Cape Henry - that's one awesome looking fish held up by one happy looking angler!

We were glad to hear from Ocean’s East that the Spanish Mackerel bite is turning on nicely as they make their way from the ocean up into the Bay — right now, anglers trolling Number One Drones and tossing Gotcha plugs are enjoying the best of the bite. No areas have popped out as hotspots, but the main stem of the Bay has held the bulk of action.

We had a couple reader reports from The Cell early this week before the wind moved in, with a good cobia bite on fish to 50 inches (but most low-40-somethings) including some sight-casting. Those who dropped anchor and chummed clam bits also found lots of spadefish willing to bite. Many were on the small side but we did also get reports of nice-sized fish. Captain Cook of First Light Charters also visited The Cell this week, and confirmed the good spadefish action. Around the CBBT, there have been reports flying in from anglers catching sheepshead. There has been no shortage of them this year, and quite a few boats reported multi-catch days.

Ocean’s East also let us know that kingfish (roundheads) have begun moving up into the Bay, and this week produced the first solid catch reports for them aside from the ocean.

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, July 2 Update:

Cobia fishing is hot, say the folks at Ocean’s East, and both trolling and sight casting are doing the trick. The main impediment to sight fishing these days is the weather, not the cooperation of the target species. Unfortunately, that impediment has been an issue quite a bit recently. Plus, chumming is often made difficult thanks to all the rays and sharks. Sheepshead fishing is good at the CBBT, with steady catches reported and clam and crab being good baits. Spanish mackerel are also present in the area and are taking spoons on the troll. Nothing like the numbers compared to peak season the past few years, but they’re starting to run and numbers get better by the day. Speckled trout are mostly on the east side and some are being caught in the inlets, although reports have slowed down for them. The usual small soft plastics are working well, Salt and Pepper and Hot Chicken Saltwater Assassins were good choices this week. Drum fishing is excellent, excellent, excellent “all over.”

fishing in lynnhaven for puppy drum
Tim's been avoiding the crowd by fishing at night, with some excellent results. WTG, Tim!

Hampton correspondent Chuck Harrison reinforced the notion that the mackerel are in town, and he’s been catching them on the troll in the Fort Monroe area. Some have been sizable and he thinks he lost a PB at the side of the boat last weekend.