The Fishing Line
June is a happy month. Kids are out of school for summer, the landscape is once again a lush green and, most importantly, fishing is great!
Fishing is in full swing this month with a variety of species available. Some of the local favorites being bluefish, rockfish, spot, croaker, flounder and trout. Here are a few tips on how and where to catch them:
BLUEFISH used to be the mainstay in the bay. Menhaden would run scared along the channel areas as bluefish up to 20 pounds were considered the bullies of the neighborhood. After a lengthy hiatus they have made a comeback, yet remain much smaller in size than years past.
These voracious fish enter our area when the water temperature climbs into the mid 60s. The larger blues traditionally are the first to arrive, yet an influx of smaller fish are already on scene. Bluefish are a large motivation for the hundreds of anglers that enter the local Reedville Derby each year. This two-day tournament, one of the longest running tournaments on the Chesapeake Bay, will be held June 11-12. The tournament includes bluefish, rockfish and croaker. The larger blues can be caught throughout June as they continue northward to the upper bay.
Bluefish tend to feed on the upper edges of channels and on flats adjacent to deep channels. With this in mind, some of the most productive areas are: The MIDDLE GROUNDS, which are west of Smith Island just below the target ship.
Along the edge of the shipping channel at BUOY 62 there have been consistent catches for many years. This area is roughly 5 miles east of the Ingram Bay/Reedville area. The Northern Neck Reef, just north of Buoy 62, holds good numbers of fish as well.
The Asphalt Pile and Windmill Point reefs are good bets for blues throughout the season.
STRIPED BASS (ROCKFISH) should remain available until the end of June. This species has become the main target of both spring and fall fishing. The Virginia spring season continues through June 15. You may keep two fish per person 18-28 inches, one of which may be over 32 inches. Anglers may continue to fish for striped bass throughout the summer months in Maryland waters where limits are also two fish 18-28 inches but allow one over 28 inches. Anglers holding a valid Virginia saltwater fishing license may fish in Maryland and the Potomac River as the licenses are reciprocal.
SPOT and CROAKER have become the mainstay for summer bottom fishing. They can be caught just about everywhere. A store bought “bottom rig,” bloodworms or squid, and light tackle are all that you will need to have fun. The creeks, rivers and bay waters all provide good action. During the evening hours fishing is great off of docks and river banks.
FLOUNDER are a very tasty and much sought after species. Flounder feed on small minnows and baitfish which live on the shallow bars leading to deeper channel areas. The Cell, and Tangier Sound are noted for good sized specimens but the channel edges at Buoy 62 and Smith Point are productive locations as well. Don’t forget to try the entrances to the rivers and creeks on the western shoreline.
TROUT fishing consists of both grey and speckled trout. Grey trout continue to be scarce in recent years. SPECKLED TROUT on the other hand, are more plentiful and offer a fun inshore experience. They are most often found in shallow areas where sea grasses are plentiful. Mobjack Bay, Piankatank River, Gwynn’s Island, Windmill Point and in the creeks between there and Dameron Marsh at the mouth of the Great Wicomico River are among the best locations for this type of fishing.
Speckled trout run as large as six pounds in the area. They can be caught with “live” bait such as minnows and small menhaden, but the trend has shifted over to artificial baits when pursuing these tasty specimens. Small bucktails or lead heads rigged with twister tails or sassy shad and are among the most utilized baits among trout anglers.
Other species caught while bottom fishing include: black sea bass, porgies and whiting and an occasional surprise. Good luck fishing this month and until next time...fair winds.
Capt. Billy Pipkin, a charterboat operator and fishing columnist, owns and operates Capt. Billy’s Charters and Ingram Bay Marina in Wicomico Church. (804) 580-7292, http://www.captbillyscharters.com. For the latest up-to-date fishing information, read his column, “The Fishing Line,” in the Rappahannock Record.