Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, March 2024

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, March 29 Update:

Early spring has brought cooler temperatures which has slowed down many of the bites we are anticipating to kick off. Persistent wind and a few shots of rain of have made fishing conditions unfavorable on many days. The reports have reflected the poor weather with many anglers working hard for just a few bites. Puppy drum are still showing up in Rudee Inlet, Lynnhaven Inlet, and Little Creek. Long Bay Pointe Bait and Tackle let us know that more speckled trout are making an appearance in Lynnhaven Inlet on the shallow flats. Chunks of crab and shrimp on fish finder rigs are working well for both the trout and drum. Most anglers we heard from this week reported under-slot puppy drum as the primary catch in most locations. Slot fish are out there, but the weather is making it tough to find them.

small redfish
Most puppies we've been hearing about recently have been under-slots, but larger fish are around.

Flounder fishing is still slow but a few more have been caught inside the inlets. The wind has stirred the water up which always makes flounder fishing tougher. If you plan on chasing these fish during rough weather, do your best to find the cleanest, warmest water. The outgoing tide usually has the warmest water from being heated up on the shallow flats. This can trigger the bite once the tide gets going.

Once the weather gets back in order and a warming trend returns, we should see black drum catches surge. A few fish are trickling in but we can expect a big push once we get into April. Anglers should be able to catch drum on both the seaside and in the Bay. We saw reports that red drum are starting to be caught in the surf down in the Outer Banks, so it won’t be long before the bulls make their return into the Bay.

Virginia Beach Sport Fishing reports that water temperatures around Thimble Shoal have climbed to around 50 degrees. These are great water temperatures for tautog fishing and they should be gathering around the CBBT structure. Crabs are becoming more readily available and are usually the bait of choice for tog. The offshore wrecks have provided good tog fishing, too, but the wind has made it tough to consistently get out to them. Let’s hope the weather breaks soon.

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, March 22 Update:

Spring has arrived and we are about to experience the start of many exciting fishing opportunities in this region of the Bay. The tidal tributaries will become very diverse with an abundance of fish once we reach the pivotal 60-degree water temperature mark. Water temperatures are in the low to mid 50s right now and various inshore fish species have already arrived. The puppy drum bite has really turned on in recent weeks at Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets. On warmer days, the drum are cruising the shallow mud flats searching for bait. One angler reported catching slot sized fish in only two feet of water this week. Another angler fishing in Rudee Inlet caught over a dozen pups using jigs and shrimp. Speckled trout will soon be moving into these same areas where anglers can use similar techniques to catch them. Small soft plastic paddletails are universal lures that catch just about all these inshore gamefish.

catching black drum
The first black drum have showed up in the surf, and the new edition of FishTalk hitting the streets right now has a feature on how to catch 'em in the surf - be sure to check it out! 

The first black drum of the season have shown up in the ESVA surf this week. This is just the start of the drum run in the surf and we can expect a lot more fish to show up in the coming weeks. Black drum are scent feeders and prefer crab baits. Fresh or frozen blue crab is very effective. Popular alternatives include sand fleas, cut mullet, and shrimp. Virginia Beach Sport Fishing let us know that anglers who enjoy catching tautog can now find them moving into areas with hard structure in the Bay. Notable locations include the CBBT pilings, the surrounding rock islands, the concrete ships near Kiptopeake, and the Cape Henry Wreck. These fish also enjoy crab baits. If you can find blue crabs, green crabs, fiddler crabs, or sand fleas, you’ll be in good shape to target them.

The flounder bite is already starting to pick up momentum around Wachapreague, Chincoteague, and Folly Creek. A few flounder have even been caught inside the inlets already. Live bait in the form of mud minnows or silversides are particularly enticing to flounder. Drifting along channel edges and oyster bottom with live bait is a common tactic. Anglers will also use soft plastics or Gulp! baits and bounce them along oyster bottom trying to entice a bite. The fishing opportunities are expanding in the Bay and it is an exciting time of year to be on the water, so pick your desired species and go catch them up.

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, March 15 Update:

It has felt like summer at some points this week and every angler should be out taking advantage of this amazing weather. The warm temps have the fish very active this week in the southern tributaries. Multiple anglers checked in after successful trips into the Elizabeth River targeting speckled trout. Fish are starting to stage in 10 to 15 feet of water. The reliable baits are jerkbaits, paddletials, and any other of your favorite inshore options. We even heard a report of an angler catching a 37-inch rockfish while night fishing on the river.

speckled trout in spring
It's been a while since multiple speckled trout reports came in, but spring seems to have sprung and the fish are responding.

We also had a report of success on some slot drum from a kayak angler fishing late one afternoon last weekend in Lynnhaven, though he didn’t provide any additional details beyond saying it “took a lot of looking” to find the fish. Shallow mudflats will be heating up quickly now that we are getting more sunlight and warmer air temperatures. Red drum and speckled trout will be moving into these areas to feed on bait. If you can fish in the afternoons during the warmest part of the day, it can lead to more active feeding patterns. Virginia Beach Sport Fishing let us know that tautog enthusiasts should be gearing up as we approach the end of March. Fisha re already being caught at the CBBT rock piles and they will continue to move into areas with structure as water temperatures rise. We may even start to see a few flounder show up by the end of the month as some are already being caught in the coastal bays. Black drum are another opportunity that will soon return to this region. If temperatures remain on the milder side, we could start to see the first black drum show up in the surf and they should be here by the end of the month. A simple fish finder rig with chunks of cut bait or sand fleas work well. Make sure you have some heavier gear to use because these fish can get well over 50 pounds. It’s time to get out, enjoy the weather, and maybe catch a fish or two!

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, March 8 Update:

Warmer days are signs of Spring arriving soon which will bring many more fishing opportunities with it. A reader checked in with tepid redfish action on the southern Western Shore, but between three anglers, five puppy drum did hit soft plastics. He noted that a lot of casting went unrewarded all day long, and all of the fish came from a single lucky pier. The inlets and other tidal tributaries have speckled trout and puppy drum in them right now. As the days get warmer, more fish will move into the area and their activity level should pick up. One of the best ways to find redfish right now is to fish on warm sunny days and search for them in shallow mud bottom areas. The water in these locations tends to warm up quickly which attracts fish. Recent reports are showing that anglers are finding them as shallow as three to 10 feet of water.

tautog in the bay
As the temps creep up the tog will begin to stir once again.

The various wrecks, rock structures, and reefs in the southern Bay will also begin to see the awakening of more tautog as water temperatures slowly climb. Crab baits work great when targeting the tog, which are a hard fighting fish known for their delicious white meat. Surf anglers should also start preparing their gear because the black drum should be arriving at the end of the month along the oceanfront. We have had some very mild days this month and if that pattern continues we could see some of the Spring runs of fish kick off early too. Many exciting opportunities are on the way. Don’t forget that clocks spring forward this weekend meaning that sunset will finally be after 7pm. After work fishing trips are back on the table!

Way South Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, March 1 Update:

Days are getting longer, and temperatures are warming up. This means spring is approaching and the fishing action will soon start to heat up. Virginia Beach Sport Fishing let us know that the inlets should be prime locations to target puppy drum in March. Some fish are already being caught in less than 10 feet of water. These fish will move into the shallows on warmer days to search for bait. Areas with large mud flats will warm up the quickest and can be productive area's this time of year. One angler fly fishing from their kayak this week reported catching two puppy drum that were just under slot in Rudee Inlet. Another angler reported catching a few drum up to 30 inches on artificial lures but didn’t specify their location. They did say that the fish were caught in the shallows.

winter specks in the bay
Get ready for the speck bite to pick up as the weather warms! (Old photo).

Speckled trout action should also be on the rise this month as water temperatures warm up. The same area's that produce puppy drum should begin to have trout show up as well. The Elizabeth River is still one of the most reliable bodies of water to target trout in right now. The key lately has been working lures VERY slowly as the fish are lethargic. We had a report that very light jigheads with three-inch paddletails were getting bites this week. VBSF also mentioned to us that March should be a good month for tautog. As water temperatures rise towards the 50-degree mark, more tog will show up at the CBBT, wrecks, and reefs in the southern Bay. More options are becoming available, and as always, it should be an exciting Spring in the Chesapeake.