Fish News: Winter Fishing

Fish News
Winter Fishing

The waters have warmed back up and so has the striped bass fishing. Big fish are being caught in the bay and along the oceanfront. With warm water and all of the bait that is around, fish can be anywhere, which has made it a challenge to decide where to go. Plantation Light, the High Rise, ocean side of the 3rd and 4th islands, Smith Island Flats, Cape Henry, Corolla, and Sandbridge have all been producing big fish. It should also be noted however, that all these places have produced the dreaded skunk as well. The hot spot seems to be different each day. Big fish are here and fishing is fantastic...once you find them. Tautog are active on the nearshore structures. Sea bass are on the offshore wrecks. Some speckled trout are being caught at the Hot Ditch. Yellowfin tuna are being caught out of Oregon Inlet. Bluefin Tuna are available out of Morehead City. Both yellowfin and bluefin can be caught out of Hatteras.
Dec. 27, Mac McCormick fished the Hot Ditch in his kayak. He caught a couple of speckled trout to 19 inches.
Dec. 26, I went back out for a repeat of Christmas Eve. The weather was a bit different. Christmas Eve was warm, sunny, and calm. The day after Christmas was cloudy and windy. Small craft advisories were posted with gale force winds predicted by the evening. I suggested to my crew that we might just want to fish along Virginia Beach and come in early. Unlike my Christmas Eve crew, this group has no common sense. Up north we ran. When we got to Ship Shoal Inlet, where we had caught the fish two days before, there was nothing going on. So we kept going, nearly to Wachapreague. Still nothing and we were just burning a lot of fuel. We worked our way back down the coast. We found some fish at Ship Shoal. We picked at small fish for most of the day. The wind was really whipping now. We decided to hug the shore and run for home, hoping to find something on the way. We did, right at Smith Island Lighthouse. Jorj Head, Stephen Powell, and myself had already registered at least 6 citation fish this year to earn the Expert Angler Award. Charles Southall and Matt Rinck were both stuck at 5. Matt and Joey Stratton had never caught a citation rockfish before. Joey, Charles, and Matt were our crankers and crank they did. Until dark, it was non-stop action. Joey got the first citation, a 45-inch fish that he released for his first ever rockfish citation. We thought Charles had one but she only measured 42 inches so into the cooler she went. Later, Charles did catch a 45.5 inch fish that he released for his 6th citation of the year. Matt caught the fish of the day, a 46 pound 9 ounce slob that earned him his 6th citation of the year and his first ever rockfish citation.
Dec. 24, I took my dad and son on our annual Christmas Eve trip. We ran way north, past Ship Shoal Inlet. Over the radio, I heard of good bites in the waters we had run over. Big fish were at the high rise, off the 2nd and 3rd islands, up at Cape Charles and at Sandbridge. It looked like I had messed up. We stopped running and started trolling back south. Caught fish here and there--a total of 10 fish--4 little dinks and 6 bubbas. My son got his first 2 rockfish citations, a 45-inch release and a 46-inch fish that weighed in at 41 pounds. My dad released 3 citations. Two 44-inch fish were on the same rod. He tested out his ticker on those. He later released a 44.5 inch fish. I caught one, a 50-inch fish that weighed in at almost 49 pounds. Did not find many fish but the ones we did find were nice ones. Scattered birds and scattered marks. We got lucky.
Our next monthly meeting will be on March 21. We will have board meetings in January and February. The January board meeting has been moved to the 17. Club members are welcome at the board meetings. Our Awards Banquet will be held on February 24. We need you to let us know who will be attending by February 15 so we do not end up paying for extras this year. Costs are $30 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under.

Dr. Ken Neill, III writes a weekly column for The Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman's Association (