Capt Billy's Fishing Report
from
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  Check out CAPT. BILLY's reports in the following:

  • In the newspaper: "THE FISHING LINE" Weekly in the Rappahannock Record
  • On the radio: "RIVERNECK FISHING REPORT Thu - Sat. 6:40 AM and 6:40 PM on WIGO country 104.9 
  • On FACEBOOK: CAPTAIN BILLY'S CHARTERS 


CAPTAINS NOTES
:    Note:  Below fishing report are magazine articles I write each month.

Now booking  - On the bay - (SUMMER)  Bluefish, Cobia, Spanish Mackerel and Bottom fishing trips.  
Call now @ (804) 580-7292 or On Line

 ~ CHESAPEAKE BAY FISHING REPORT... June 22, 2019

COBIA fishing is outstanding.  We are landing fish up to 55" and having a blast. The fish are a short run from our dock.   There are more coming up the bay every day so Cobia should be around into August. This is fun, light tackle action. Come and get some! 
RED DRUM have been moving up the bay since May. The larger fish continue to be available in the open water of the bay. We have started to see a few smaller 'puppy drum' lately. This fishery is best in our smaller inshore boat. We catch a mix of puppy drum and speckled trout inshore
SPECKLED TROUT are picking up nicely inshore.  Our small boat (up to 3 passengers) is the perfect setup for skinny water light tackle action.
BLUEFISH have been moving through our area for a while. We are getting a mix of small bluefish and SPANISH MACKEREL while trolling small spoons this week.  I expect that action to pick up in the next two weeks.

Give us a call at (804) 580-7292 to book 
your trips now....we are filling up fast.
     -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My monthly fishing columns for the RIVAH Magazine are below.... Enjoy!
<Scroll down for stories in past issues>
  
  

Capt. Billy Pipkin
"The Rivah" July edition
June 17, 2019

July fishing … It’s Full throttle!


With the variety of fish available this month, if you’re not excited about fishing, check your pulse.

The COBIA bite is hot. Since mid-June, the conversation among anglers has been centered around “The big fish wearing brown suits”. Local waters resemble the 1800’s California gold rush as boats, big and small, congregate along the shores of the western bay.

Cobia have blanketed the region as they make their northern trek into the bay. They
are without a doubt the most aggressive fighting fish in the bay and can reach lengths of over six feet and a weight pushing 100 pounds. Anglers may keep one fish, minimum 40”, with a max of three per boat each day. Only one fish per boat may exceed 50” each day.


This month you can find them from Windmill Point up to the Great Wicomico River and from Smith Point up into Maryland waters as well as in the lower Potomac River. Most are found in relatively shallow water of less than 20 feet on or near contour lines dividing the shallow bars from deeper water.

Early in the season, Cobia prefer live bait to artificial lures. The best live offerings are soft shell crab, live eels, spot and croaker. The best way to present your bait is on a stout, sharp 7/0-8/0 circle hook on a 40-60 lb test leader. Both fish finder rigs as well as free floating baits will entice bites. Chumming is normally incorporated with live bait fishing and produces surprisingly rewarding results. My charters have landed several cobia in excess of 50 inches this season with live baits.


We deploy artificial lures after the spawn when single fish are found prowling top water during late July. Bucktails are effective near structure and around buoys such as those along the "cut channel" located outside of the Rappahannock river. On many occasions the fish can be found cruising the surface away from any visible structure. Cobia caught by sight casting with spinning gear is a light tackle dream.


With summer in full swing, July offers excitement for all anglers. Variety is key as both shallow water and bay waters offer up an abundance of species for your enjoyment.

Many of the same species available last month are also obtainable in July. They include BLUEFISH, CROAKER, TROUT, SPOT AND FLOUNDER. Additionally, SPANISH MACKEREL will be available.


Croaker populations remain below average, yet the persistent angler can find larger fish among the smaller more abundant ‘pinheads’. Nighttime fishing is always very productive as they move out of the deep channel areas into the shallows. A variety of baits may be used including squid, shrimp, and bloodworms.


Spot fishing continues to improve throughout July. These fish will continue to increase in size and number into August and September. Hard bottom locations with oyster beds are the preferred structure for spot. Bloodworms outperform other baits by far and due to their small mouths, a #4 hook is recommended.

Speckled trout are found in locations boasting skinny water (3’-5’) with grassy structure or protection. Mobjack Bay, Piankatank river, Gwynn’s Island, and the creeks between Windmill Point and the mouth of the Great Wicomico River are all traditionally good locations to find these fish. I find that small jig heads sporting rubber shad or worms are very productive. You may prefer drifting a live minnow under a bobber.

Gray trout are making a slow comeback yet sizes remain small. Regulations remain quite limited with a creel of one fish per person each day with a minimum length of 12 inches.


Flounder
have made a fair showing this season and should continue to pick up this month with larger fish being available along the channel edges near the Cell and inshore at the mouths of creeks where a sharp drop-off is present.


Good production can be realized by slow trolling or drifting bucktails and beaded rigs dressed with bucktail skirts and minnows or squid. They have a creel limit of four with a 16.5 inch minimum.


Spanish mackerel should be in full swing by months end and peak in mid-August. They have a potential size of three feet in length and a weight of nearly 9 pounds. The local catches average between 16 and 24 inches in length.


Mackerel often school along with Taylor blues. As with Bluefish, they can be found feeding along the flats leading to, and atop the edges of channel areas. Spanish mackerel prefer a quickly trolled spoon at speeds of 5-7 knots. Size #0 Drone and Clark spoons are deadly.

When trolling for Mackerel, a 2-4 ounce sinker will keep your line just below the surface. A 6 or 10 ounce sinker will carry the lure 4 to 8 feet deep respectively. A #1 planer placed out 50-80 feet will attain depths of roughly 15 feet.

Bluefish average 1-3 pounds. Trolling with the same lures as mackerel will bear good results as will surgical tube eels.


Spend some quality family time out on the water. Fishing is more than ‘catching’ it’s about the whole experience. Practice up this month and join in on the fun in the 4th annual Bay Bash Family Fishing Tournament being held at Ingram Bay Marina on August 10th. It is a 10 species contest that definitely puts the "Fun" in Fishing! For more information on that event, go to BayBash.com


Until next time…Fair winds.

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THE RIVAH MAGAZINE
May 15, 2019
JUNE ISSUE


Changing Fisheries
Embrace them and enjoy the journey

During my cognitive years between a budding teenage waterman and a well seasoned charter captain, I have seen many changes in the Chesapeake Bay region – particularly in its estuaries and fisheries.

Some locations with years of abundant, seemingly never ending resources have become barren wastelands, while other forgotten areas have seen a swelling of fish populations. What causes these changes and how to deal with them has been on the minds of watermen and scientists alike.

Regions suffering decreasing numbers have been hit with increased regulation, which of course also includes a variety of blame from over harvesting to pollution to even climate change. What the talking heads sometimes fail to take into consideration is the holistic view.

Most watermen who have spent a lifetime harvesting the waters of the Chesapeake Bay have a deep understanding of the factors impacting our natural resources. In my reflections, I find that Mother Nature and Man each have a firm grip on the helm.


MOTHER NATURES INFLUENCE- In general, we have experienced warmer temperatures over the past several years. That has certainly encouraged many species to extend their migration further north than in past seasons. That explains why the upper bay and Potomac river are holding larger numbers of striped bass during the spring and early summer months. Couple that with the excessive amounts of rain over the past few years, and now catfish have migrated down river into the bay waters. Water temperature and salinity play a major part in migratory patterns of fish. Just because the fish are not in the same location that you caught them when you were a kid, doesn’t mean that they are all gone.

Other fish are becoming summer residents locally. Cobia, known as a Florida to Carolina traveler, are a huge draw among local anglers as we catch some in excess of 60 pounds. Red Drum have made a strong showing in the bay and we have even seen Triple fin and Gag Grouper mixed in catches at times.


While some claim that this is the result of global warming, a closer look and keen memory suggests that it is in fact a change in the climate. In the past 50 plus years, I have seen comparable swings in temperature and rainfall amounts resulting in similar migratory patterns.
The key is to follow the migration patterns of the fish.


MAN’S INFLUENCE on the equation can never be discounted. By human nature, people tend to want to over harvest. This is particularly evident when fish are abundant and, in the case of watermen, when there’s money involved. I have never been a fan of government regulation. But I have found that most folks will not self regulate without sensible catch limits.


Prior to setting new regulations, it is imperative that both Mother Nature (influence of weather) as well as Man (harvest) is taken into consideration.


JUNE FISHING...

As we head into summer, anglers are afforded a diversity of species. Striped bass, Bluefish, Croaker, Spot, Trout, Flounder and Cobia are among the many fish that will be available this month


BLUEFISH have become more abundant and offer good action this month. The small ‘Snapper’ size blues arrive on scene first and should be joined by the larger 3-5 pound 'Taylor' blues by the end of June.


CROAKER and SPOT have already begun to filter into the region. They can be found feeding on oyster beds and channel edges throughout the bay, rivers and creeks.


SPECKLED TROUT are making a comeback and are expected to be good as the summer matures. The trout average from 1-5 pounds and can be found along drop-offs of creeks and grassy flats outside of marsh areas. This fishery with its close proximity to shore, lends itself well to kayak and small boat fishing. Rentals are available from Ingram Bay Marina in Wicomico Church.

COBIA
are arguably the best fighting fish on the bay. They offer fantastic opportunities for light tackle action with live bait such as tiny spot, croaker or eel in the chum slick. They arrive in June and become more abundant as summer matures.


On a productive day of fishing, remember to save a few for the next outing.


June is one of my favorite times to fish. Variety and action are plentiful and the weather is pleasant. Whether you prefer trout fishing in the shallows or fishing in the bay, I am available for advice and charter.

Until next time….Fair winds.
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RIVAH MAGAZINE

MAY 2019 ISSUE

April 12, 2019

Maintaining our fisheries
- a conservation tug-of-war

With spring in full swing, attention is now focused on fishing. One of the most popular species locally are rockfish (striped bass). The spring recreational fishery offers the opportunity to catch large post spawn fish as they exit the upper bay and rivers on their way back the ocean.

As of this writing, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) is considering banning recreational fishing for trophy-sized striped bass this spring in the state’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay, tributaries and its coastal waters due to concerns that the species has been overfished.

Current regulations for Virginia’s spring trophy season, which is set to run May 1 through June 15, allow anglers to keep one striped bass 36 inches or longer per day.

The commission will discuss the proposed ban at its April 23 meeting. The rationale for the moratorium is an expected final determination in May by the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board that the spawning stock of larger, mostly female rockfish are being overfished.

A preliminary assessment clearly shows that spawning stock biomass has dropped beneath sustainable levels. The 2017 female spawning stock biomass (the estimated total weight of all spawning-size females coastwise) was 151 million pounds, significantly below the 202 million pound threshold.

Female striped bass mature and begin spawning at 6-7 years of age (roughly 26” in length). A 36 inch female will lay one million eggs each spring.

On the surface this sounds reasonable, but let’s review all the data first.

The number of striped bass harvested recreationally in Virginia has declined markedly in the past ten years with 368,000 striped bass landed in 2010 and less than 52,000 fish 2018. Recreational landings coast wide are 40% less on average since 2007

The VMRC wants to implement drastic measures even before the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission works through its deliberations in May. The ASMFC coordinates conservation and management of 27 nearshore fish species.



A closure of the trophy fishery in Virginia will have a minimal impact at best.
Keep in mind that this reduction only affects recreational anglers. The commercial watermen have already harvested their full allotted poundage of ‘
pre-spawned’ fish for the spring.

Additionally, Virginia’s recreational catch totals are minuscule compared with the estimated catch of other coastal states.

According to the most recent 2017 ASMFC fishery management records, Virginia only landed 5 percent of the total recreational coastwise catch. Maryland landed the most at 52 percent , followed by Massachusetts (16 percent), New York (10 percent) and New Jersey (8 percent). These statistics reflect total fish, not just breeding-age females.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission are expected to wait for the final ASMFC report and recommendations in May. Their recreational trophy striped bass seasons open April 20 and end May 15. The limit is one fish greater than 35 inches in length per angler each day.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

I don’t expect Virginia to change the current 2019 trophy season regulations. The economic impact would be too great with marinas, charter boat captains and recreational anglers relying on a season that has already been set forth.

Is there a problem with the spawning stock? Absolutely. All of the coastal states that harvest striped bass need to be pro-active and implement plans to restore the larger fish population coastwise. A few weeks prior to the season is not the time to do it.
I feel that with the new data available this summer, a responsible plan that includes ALL user groups (commercial and recreational) should be implemented as of January 1, 2020.

I have seen the rise and fall of striped bass populations over the past 50+ years. I hope we never experience a stock depletion like in 1980.

A reasonable solution for all user groups would be to put a moratorium on striped bass over 28 inches for a period of 2-3 years – both recreational and commercial. That would eliminate the spring striped bass fishery for both hook and line as well as netting.
Would a moratorium hurt financially? Sure it would, but only for a short time. The long range benefits are too great to ignore. A fully recovered fishery will have a ten fold economic impact in the future. Just look at the booming 1990’s!

Take a child fishing and teach them to be responsible stewards to our resources.

Until next time….Fair winds.

===============================================================================================

The Rivah
FALL EDITION
By: Capt. Billy Pipkin
October 10, 2018

Autumn fishing...
   from Catchin’ to Cookin’

With water temperatures gradually retreating back to seasonal levels, an abundance of fish are now available for our fishing pleasure.


This has certainly been an anomalous year for fishing. A cool spring found the fish arriving late to the party and record amounts of rain left salinity levels so depleted that even nettles didn’t show in local waters. Yet, despite the potential for disappointment this year, we found a strong presence of Cobia, excellent populations of Spot, Spanish mackerel, Bluefish and a healthy mix of other species.


IN-SHORE fishing provides good action through early November. Speckled Trout are increasing in numbers in local creeks as well as in shallow protected river locations. Most anglers prefer to cast artificial lures but live offerings such as minnows are working well this month. The trout are averaging 12-16 inches in length. They are limited to 5 per person with a minimum size of 14 inches (only one may exceed 24 inches).

It’s amazing how popular the in-shore fishery has become. We are running many more small boat charters this year. Casting light tackle in the shallows offers a nice alternative to our bay charters on our larger boat. With miles of shoreline holding a favorable environment, options are endless.
Kayaks and canoe rentals are also available at Ingram Bay Marina for folks who want to experience fishing solo in a natural environment along the shorelines. Access to the great fishing action is only a short distance away from the marina.


Red Drum (puppy drum, redfish) continue their fall run throughout October. These fish tend to school with the trout in shallow water and are often landed while casting lures inshore for speckled trout. This year sizes are reduced somewhat, but sustained numbers have kept anglers busy. Restrictions include a bag limit of 3 per person between 18 and 26 inches in length.
We are also catching and releasing large drum in bay waters where migration continues this month as they head out of the bay.


Spot fishing, which is currently mixed with Whiting and Grey Trout, gradually slows with the close of October.

Striped bass fishing has begun in shallow water but bay action is likely to be delayed until late October and I don’t expect many large rockfish to show until late in the year. Casting, trolling and chumming are all effective methods of landing these fish.


Virginia’s Striped bass (rockfish) season began on October 4th and continues until December 31st. Regulations state that anglers may keep 2 fish/person 20-28 inches, but allows one to exceed 28 inches.


BAY WATERS continue to provide excellent action on Bluefish up to 7 pounds, beefy spanish mackerel and due to slower migration, an occasional cobia or drum. With bluefish so plentiful, it is a shame not to incorporate them into your next seafood meal. Many folks shy away from eating bluefish due to misinformation about the taste. Bluefish is not only a healthy choice- it is delicious.

There are many ways to prepare bluefish. One of my favorite methods is to smoke them. Then they freeze very well, especially when vacuum packed. I have a simple, yet proven smoked fish recipe that works well with bluefish and mackerel. It may be used for other fish like striped bass with a few minor changes to lighten the marinade. I have more of my favorite recipes available on my website at captbillyscharters.com.


Fish hard, but most importantly have fun!
Until next time….Fair winds.



===================================================================

RIVAH Magazine
September Issue
August 21, 2018
By: Capt. Billy Pipkin

Fantastic fishing,
The September transition

This month brings tremendous opportunities for anglers. As water temperatures moderate, fish stage for a fall exit out of the rivers and down the bay. September presents anglers with a variety of methods to land some of the Northern Neck's finest seafood.


Inshore


We refer to ‘inshore’ as shallow water locations like creeks, marshes and inlets along the bay and major rivers. During the transition into fall, these areas often hold fish that are not available in the deep water of the Bay. This inshore fishery consists of Speckled Trout, Puppy Drum, Striped bass and a variety of smaller species.

What makes the shallow water fishing so special is that it's commonly found in protected areas that are well suited for small boats, kayaks and even for those anglers who prefer wading. Fishing interest has swelled among naturalists and fitness enthusiasts who choose to explore nature and catch a fresh dinner at the same time.

SPECKLED TROUT fishing is one of the staples of skinny water. Quantities have been down due to the freeze last winter, but action is improving and should continue into October. Grassy flats in and around creeks are great areas to catch trout. Casting artificial baits has become the norm rather than the exception when seeking these tasty fish. Mirrolures, surface poppers and jig heads rigged with twister tails are among the many baits used to entice shallow water action. Other methods include live minnows and small bunker baits.

On many occasions, anglers find puppy drum (redfish), striped bass, small snapper bluefish and croaker mixed in with the shallow water action. I also offer in-shore charters aboard a 20ft boat for small groups. Folks enjoy top water action for trout, redfish, and striped bass. To inquire about both inshore and trips in bay waters, call (804) 580-7292.


Bay and River action


There are a few top water species that can be found in the big water of the bay and the mouths of major rivers this month. Fish drawing the most attention are; Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish and Red Drum although Cobia are often found in the mix as well.


Anglers should find plenty of trolling action along the channel edges throughout the region. Trolling produces good results with simple lures. The only difference is varying speeds for each species. Clark and Drone spoons (#0 and #1) are the baits that closest resemble the shiners and peanut bunker that are the main menu for all three species this month.
An average trolling speed of 5-6 knots will entice some bites of each species, yet will likely land a majority of bluefish in your coolers. A slightly faster speed will entice more mackerel as a slower moving bait will attract more drum. Note: Set drags loose because the drum are tackle busters!

I have found that #1 planers are the best means of taking the lures to the right depths of 12-15 feet. As the fall progresses, it seems that the fish school a bit deeper in the water table. When this is evident, using a #2 planer will work best. If planers are not part of your tackle repertoire, you may utilize 6-16 oz in-line sinkers.


This trio of fish often feed together. They will continue to school in southern Maryland waters, in the lower Potomac River, and from Smith Point down to the mouth of the Rappahannock. These fish will be feeding along the shipping lanes as well as on the flats. They will come in waves as they continue to move southward in migration. This fishing should last for the majority of the month.


BOTTOM FISHING will peak this month and should continue to provide good action into October. Spot have been very plentiful this year and are getting fat with the typical yellow bellies of fall. Whiting and Grey Trout are tasty species also becoming more plentiful at summers end.

Whether you fish big water or skinny, charter boat or kayak, this month promises to be memorable. Come out and join us for great fun among family and friends.

Be safe and until next time…fair winds.


 

====================================================================

 Rivah magazine AUGUST 2018 issue
August Fishing offers variety and competition

By: Capt. Billy Pipkin


This is a great time for fishing! Multiple species are now available in both the bay and rivers. The fish have grown in both size and number all summer and fishing will peak this month. August offers a wide variety of species including Cobia, Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, Spadefish, Flounder, Whiting, Speckled Trout, Red Drum, Spot, Croaker and more. There's no better time to have an event that incorporates a variety of species than now.

TOURNAMENTS


The 3r
d Annual Bay Bash Family Fishing tournament and benefit Concert is being held on August 11th at Ingram Bay Marina. (baybash.com) This one-of-a-kind competition offers prizes in 14 categories including; 10 different species of fish, a Grand Prize, and divisions for Ladies, Youth and for entrants with Special needs. There are over $3,000.00 in cash and prizes.

This tournament has a unique Grand Prize. The Grand Prize winner is determined by the aggregate total length of their catch. An angler measures in the longest of each of their species and competes for who has the longest total catch. Yes, size does matter!
Other unique features of this tournament are 1) anglers can fish anywhere in the bay and its tributaries, 2) the competition begins at sunrise from location of anglers choice, 3) fish are measured, not weighed and 4) catches may be checked in by
land or sea
.
This family friendly tournament offers an opportunity to fish from your own dock, kayak, canoe or boat in your favorite fishing hole. Entry fees are very affordable, making this the most ‘inclusive’ tournament on the bay.

The fish check-in will be run by Fish Dispatch USA, a first class organization with a state-of-the-art system that records fish that are physically checked in as well as photos sent in for the most fish caught categories. The up-to-the-minute results on the leader board are available for viewing throughout the day via internet.


The BAY BASH ‘18 Concert featuring the award winning Tom Euler Trio will follow. Food and drinks will be available with a moon bounce and games for kids of all ages. Northumberland Association of Progressive Stewardship (NAPS) is partnering with Bay Bash to promote good stewardship of our land and waters as well as to give profits from this fundraiser to Children with disabilities in the Northern Neck and assist with medical expenses and integrate them in the community.

The Bay Bash fishing tournament is a great way to both fish and compete as a family. This is truly a "Don't miss" opportunity. To register or more information visit
BayBash.com


After you hone your fishing skills in the Bay Bash, the following week, August 18th, the
Dream Fields Spanish Mackerel tournament will be held. This tournament benefits the Lancaster County Little League. Spanish mackerel is the only species in the competition but like the Bay Bash tournament, it also has ladies, youth and special anglers divisions. For more information go to dreamfields.org .

SO WHERE ARE THE FISH??

Many of the species available during August are found in shallow waters of rivers and creeks. For the small boat owner, the shorelines and creeks offer ideal locations to find S
pot, Croaker, Perch, Trout, Puppy drum and a multitude of other species.

The rivers and tributaries are all holding good numbers of fish. This has been a bumper year for spot. Both size and number are very high.


Trolling action will land mackerel and blues this month. There’s been a strong showing of mackerel since mid-July. The blues and mackerels are often found schooling together in close proximity. This offers an opportunity for small boat anglers to get into the action. Locations holding these fish are; Windmill Point, outside of Ingram Bay, Smith Point, along the edges of the shipping channel and the lower Potomac river.

Chumming is popular for gathering catches of Bluefish, Cobia and Spadefish. For blues and cobia, the standard grind of menhaden chum works well, yet spadefish prefer a clam offerings. Blues can be found a the mouth of the Rappahannock river up to the S.W. Middle grounds in Maryland. Spadefish frequent structure such as lighthouses, wrecks and reefs. Cobia are more free swimming and can be drawn to the boat with chum and prefer live offerings such as tiny croakers and eels. A strong run of cobia have arrived in our region with big numbers being caught locally.

Sign up for the tournaments, get the family aboard your boat and enjoy some friendly competition. In the Northern Neck, salt water creates great memories!
Until next time…Fair winds.

==========================================================================================

Capt. Billy Pipkin
"The Rivah" JULY EDITION
June 18, 2018

Fantastic Fishin’ and Great Grillin’



Fishing in "Rivah" country should prove to be very exciting in July. During this month, anglers can look forward to a greater variety and abundance of species.


Many of the same species caught during June are also available this month. They include SPOT, CROAKER, SPECKLED TROUT, BLUEFISH and COBIA. Species such as SHARK and SPANISH MACKEREL will also bend poles. Between shallow creeks and deeper bay waters, there’s plenty of action to keep anglers excited.

Bottom fishing has been great, and SPOT have been the hottest fishery to date. Populations are running large and sizes are fantastic. Simple bottom rigs donned with bloodworms is all you need for a full day of family fun. Oyster beds in and around the mouth of the rivers are all holding fish at this time.

The species stirring the most excitement is COBIA. These large, aggressive fish provide a strong fight as well as a great meal. Their maximum growth reaches a length of over six feet and a weight of nearly 100 pounds. They can be found in many of the Chesapeake's southern reaches including the bay bridge tunnel Latimer shoals and bluefish rock. Locally we are catching these big brown suited creatures along contour lines from Windmill Point to the Great Wicomico River, on the bar at Smith Point, in the lower Potomac river and as far north as the Southwest Middle Grounds. Many of these fish are found in relatively shallow water of 8-15 feet just above the drop off to deeper water.

Cobia respond to live bait and artificial lures. The baits boasting the best results are, live eels, spot and croaker. The best way to present your live bait is on stout, sharp circle hooks on a 40-60 lb test leader. Both fish finder rigs as well as free floating baits work well. Chumming should be incorporated with live bait fishing and produces surprisingly rewarding results. We have landed cobia in excess of 50 inches this season with live baits.


For using artificial lures a casting rod with heavier action is preferred. Cast bucktails when fish are found cruising the surface.


SPECKLED TROUT are inshore fish that seek areas of heavy structure or protection. They can be found in shallow 3-5 ft water where sea grasses are plentiful. Feeder creeks of the Rappahannock, Great Wicomico and Potomac rivers hold these fish. Other near shore locations hold trout as well. Artificial lures like small jig heads rigged with a twister tail are productive.


BLUEFISH action is picking up nicely with a large number of small fish available over structure and in the rivers. Sizes remain relatively small at 1-2 pounds, but as the summer matures, sizes will double that.


SPANISH MACKEREL actually began showing up in late June. July sees a gradual increase but they peak in August. These beautifully marked fish lend themselves well to grilling, smoking, and even salting. Mackerel grow to three feet in length with a weight of up to 9 pounds. The local catches average between 16 and 24 inches in length.


Mackerel feed along with Taylor blues. As with Bluefish, they can be found along the flats leading to, and atop the edges of channel areas. Spanish mackerel are very fast fish and prefer a quickly trolled spoon at speeds of 5-7 knots. Size #0 Drone spoons and Clark spoons are working well when trolled on an eighteen foot long leader behind a size 1 planer placed out 50-80 feet.


Spend some quality family time out on the water. Fishing is more than ‘catching’ it’s about the whole experience. Practice up this month and mark your calendars for the 3rdAnnual Bay Bash Family Fishing Tournament being held at Ingram Bay Marina on August 11th. It is an affordable, multi species contest that definitely puts the "Fun" in Fishing! For more information on that event, go to BayBash.com


Until next time…Fair winds.


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

            

THE RIVAH MAGAZINE
JUNE ISSUE
By: Capt. Billy Pipkin
May 16, 2018


Reelin’ in a Great Time!
June offers ‘Fin’tastic fishing!

The title of my column was inspired by my appreciation of pun as well as a boat name I saw while out fishing. So what’s in a name? Well, anyone who has spent time at local marinas is aware of the “catchy” names on boats. Many of which incorporate some reference to our favorite pastime- Fishing.
The month of June is going to be a “Reel Thrill” and you are sure to “Hook ‘Em.” Meanwhile, on the “No Net” you may be challenged to land the “Pole Bender.”


SO MANY FISH...

As we head into summer, anglers are blessed with a diversity of species. Striped bass, Bluefish, Croaker, Trout and Cobia are among the many fish that will be available this month.

An unusually cool spring finally yielded to warmer temperatures. Local water temperatures finally reached normal levels by breaking into the upper 60’s by the end of May.


STRIPED BASS, (rockfish) offered mixed results this spring. The post spawn migration provided large fish, yet the population was once again less than the previous years catches. Sizes during the spring season averaged in the 37-44 inch class with several fish exceeding 50 inches in length. We had a few fish aboard our charter boat that weighed between 40 and 48 pounds- earning citations for our anglers.


During June, you can expect abundant schools of rockfish 18-28 inches. They will continue to bend the poles in Virginia waters until the season ends on June 15th. Anglers are allowed two fish between 20-28” until that time. (One fish 36” or greater can be substituted for one of the two fish limit) Anglers still wishing to catch striped bass after the Virginia season concludes may venture into Maryland or Potomac waters for summer long action.


BLUEFISH offer good action during June. They have become more plentiful in recent years. The small ‘Snapper’ size blues arrive on scene in late May and should be joined by the larger 3-5 pound 'Taylor' blues as they continue to please anglers with their aggressive fights until late summer. Both chumming and trolling will produce action this month. The one to three pound bluefish lend themselves well to smoking.


CROAKER, have already begun to filter into the region. They are first caught in shallow waters from docks during the morning and afternoon hours. As the month progresses, they feed along the deeper channel edges of rivers and bay waters. Bloodworms, squid and shrimp make enticing offerings.


SPECKLED TROUT suffered a setback last winter when the extreme cold hit with a double whammy of single digit temperatures and snow during the same week. The fish that wintered in local waters actually froze as they couldn’t adjust to the quickly declining temperatures fast enough.
I expect a slow return this spring, yet the numbers are expected to be good as the summer matures. The trout range from 1-5 pounds and can be found along drop-offs of creeks and grassy flats outside of marsh areas. This fishery with its close proximity to shore, lends itself well to kayak fishing. Kayak rentals are available on-site and by delivery from Ingram Bay Marina in Wicomico Church.

GREY TROUT have been slowly returning in number over the past few years. Sizes remain relatively small but careful catch and release will yield a few keepers. Bottom fishing and jigging are both popular methods of landing trout.


-The Men in Brown Suits-

COBIA, due to their size and color, are referred to as “The men in brown suits.” They have provided a real boost to local fishing in the past few years. They are back to the abundant numbers they had in the 1970’s. Anglers in local waters resemble the excitement of the great gold rush in California. offering fantastic opportunities for inshore enthusiasts to enjoy light tackle action on arguably the best fighting fish in the bay.

They can be caught while fishing live bait such as tiny spot, croaker or eel in the chum slick. Prepare yourself with able equipment when seeking these brown suited powerful swimmers. They arrive in June and become more abundant as summer matures.


June is one of my favorite times to fish. Variety and action are plentiful and the weather is pleasant. Whether you prefer trout fishing in the shallows or fishing in the bay, I am available for advice and charter.

Invest in quality family time on the water- The rewards are great.

Until next time….Fair winds.

 

   =================================================================================
April 2018

Dust off your gear….
Spring is finally here!


A long winter, seemingly never willing to yield to spring, left anglers anxiously waiting for fish to arrive. As has become the norm over the past two years, slowly rising water temperatures delayed the migration of many species up the coast.

Never fear, my fellow anglers, the pendulum has begun to swing back and the fishing outlook is improving nicely.

STRIPED BASS

Even though these fish arrived at the spawning areas near their normal time, they were forced to wait until both the water temperature and salinity levels were optimal for dropping the eggs. Fish biologists with the Maryland DNR joked that the fish were circling in holding patterns like airplanes over Chicago during a snowstorm.

The Virginia trophy striped bass season runs from May 1 through June 15. Possession limits are 1/person over 36 inches per day. Both the Maryland and Potomac river seasons opened on April 21 and run through May 15. Anglers in those jurisdictions are allowed to keep one fish over 35 inches in length per day.

In late April and early May, striped bass head back down the rivers and bay from the spawning grounds. This gives anglers an opportunity to catch the larger fish during their post spawn migration. This is a win-win for the species, as they are given the opportunity to reproduce without harm. Although populations of juvenile striped bass remain strong, the number of mature breeders continue to decrease. There is increasing pressure to make the commercial fishermen also wait until after the spawn to harvest these fish. Currently they are allowed to catch them during the late winter run up the bay to the spawning grounds. A mature striped bass produces between 750,000 - 1.5 million eggs. Even if the survival rate was only 1 percent, simple math suggests that it may be wise to only allow post spawn harvesting.

Transition to smaller fish...

The regular spring season in Virginia begins on May 16 and continues until June 15. During that time, anglers are allowed 2 fish/person between 20-28”. One of the two may be over 36”.
Maryland and Potomac spring seasons are a little different, as they allow anglers 2 fish/person between 20-28” with one being allowed over 28 inches. Those seasons run all summer long.
There is a nice mix of striped bass in the upper 20 inch class that remain from the banner 2011 spawn. Stocks resulting from that year class are now mature six year old fish and are now migratory in nature. The last very successful spawn was just 3 years ago. Those fish should be very plentiful but only 16 inches in length – well below the minimum legal limit.

Methods to the Striped Madness

While the larger fish are available, the best method is trolling. Planer boards with 8-9 inch profile offerings at shallow depths is very productive.
As the month progresses, smaller fish will enter the mix. Lure sizes will be reduced to accommodate the appetite the smaller fish have for baby bunkers. Trolling efforts can also be supplemented with chumming as the smaller fish begin to school and hold over structure. All signs are now pointing to a very productive May fishing season in the lower Potomac River and middle bay area. Good fishing will carry well into June, so get ready for a fun time!

Variety of species

Many of the species that frequent our region in the spring, migrated south along the southern Atlantic states during the winter months. Some remain local and others find a desirable climate somewhere in the middle. I guess the fish are much like retired snowbirds seeking temperate environs.

We did experience a particularly cold winter that lingered deep into the spring. This is not particularly harmful to the fishery, but the hard freeze coupled with snow that hit suddenly in early winter took its toll. The sudden drop in water temperature shocked the fish that remained local and resulted in a large kill from Virginia beach up to the Rappahannock river. The species most affected was Speckled Trout.

Speckled trout is a very sought after species this month. There is a ‘cult-like’ following of anglers that pursue these tasty gamefish. We may find less of these fish during the spring due to the freeze. Unfortunately, many that died were large breeders. We had a healthy stock of fish last fall so I fully expect to have good fishing this summer as well. It may just take longer to get the migratory stock up into our region. As shallow water fishing heats up, Mobjack Bay, the Piankatank river, tributaries of the Rappahannock, the mouth of the Great Wicomico River, and many creeks in between also hold these fish.

Since the best results are found in skinny water of less than six feet in depth, small vessels are used for light tackle action. Center console boats are the norm, but Kayaks and canoes will allow you to experience that natural, purist feeling of sneaking up on the fish and casting lures at them. They, along with jon boats can be rented at Ingram Bay Marina. For those anglers having their own boats, access to the hot trout action is only a short distance away from the deep water ramp at the marina. I do well with groups of 1-3 anglers on my small boat charters for light tackle inshore trips where a mix of trout, drum, rockfish and bottom feeders are found during the spring and summer months. Puppy drum will begin to frequent many of the same locations that hold speckled trout. That action will linger into the fall as well. Many of the drum are now within the 18-26 inch slot limit.

Bluefish have ranging in the 1-3 pound class during the spring/summer months. These fish are caught by trolling or jigging small bucktails and spoons and various other baits. They are also found inshore while fishing for trout and redfish, but when blues are around, remember their toothy grins wreak havoc on rubber bodies.

Cobia show up in the region at the end of May and provide great live bait action well into the summer months. These 40-60 inch fish give an amazing fight and offer a flavor that will dazzle your taste buds. Live baits such as eels, spot and tiny croaker offer irresistible temptation for the cobia who will engulf your baits. I have been taking more cobia trips than ever before. Action has been excellent over the past few years.

Share the fishing experience with friends and family. If you don't have a boat, book a charter with me at (804) 580-7292

Until next time, Fair winds.  



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THE RIVAH MAGAZINE
JUNE 2017 ISSUE
By: Capt. Billy Pipkin

Chesapeake Bay Fishing
-The Ebb and Flow

Folks like myself, who have lived on the bay for 50 years or more, have seen around 80,000 tide changes. They are not the only ebbs and flows that our generation of fishermen have experienced. The populations of species available in the bay also rise and fall over the years in a cyclical manner.

There are many factors involved in fishery cycles- weather, water temperature, pollution and harvesting to name a few. That is a full feature in itself, but until then, I will discuss available species this month and their current cycles.


Cycles of fish

Striped Bass fishing was in poor shape back in the late 1980’s. Populations got so bad that both Maryland and Virginia put moratoriums on them. The recovery was tremendous and we enjoyed a long, fruitful run of catching striped bass up to 50 inches in length. With the popularity of the fishery growing exponentially, the populations took a hit. Now 17 years later, we find ourselves in a situation where the spawning stock has been reduced and productive recruitment years are much lower in frequency.
Yet currently, the smaller 15 inch class fish are very abundant due to a near record spawn in 2015. This gives hope for the next two years. There is currently a shortage of fish in the mid-20 inch class. The majority of them are holding in upper bay and river locations during June but should find their way to the bay waters mid month.

Bluefish have shown up early this year. There have been several caught last month that weighed north of ten pounds. This is the first sign that I’ve seen in over a decade that gives me hope of a comeback to the grand ole days of chopper bluefish. The last time we had any numbers of the big blues during the summer months was 1989. I was catching plenty of 2-3 pound bluefish in mid-May. Get those spoons and surgical eels out and prepare for an exciting summer!

Croaker populations swelled to huge proportions in 2001. They were abundant for a couple of years and grew in size up to 23 inches in length. Heavy pressure, both commercially and recreationally, took it’s toll on these fish in local waters. In recent years, there have been good numbers of these fish found in deeper waters along the east coast. This year, there were a large number of croakers found in the lower bay during May. They have made a strong showing and should offer a good fishery this month in the middle bay and rivers. I expect sizes to range in the 10-12 inch class.

Grey Trout fishing has shown hope over the past few years. Large schools of fish showed up last year in June and lingered into the fall months. Most were in the 9-12 inch range but this year there should be good numbers that exceed 12 inches and push up to 15 inches in length. This is a far cry from the five pound trout that took up residence here in the 1970’s and 80’s, but we are glad to have them rebounding once again.

Speckled Trout are also rebounding nicely from the freeze a few winters ago. The Rappahannock river and its tributaries have been holding small trout all winter and we are now seeing more 14-16 inch fish being caught in the shallows and inlets along the bay. I have noticed a lot more grass beds returning to the shallow waters. This is a great sign and promotes both better fishing and crabbing.

Cobia have been the real source of excitement recently. They were strong in the 1970’s, showed a slight comeback in the early1990’s and now are offering fantastic opportunities for inshore enthusiasts to enjoy light tackle action on arguably the best fighting fish in the bay.

There are many signs leading me to believe that this is going to be a very productive year for fishing in the bay. I expect a variety of species to be caught this month. Practice up on your fishing and mark your calendars for the August 12
th BAY BASH Family Fishing Tournament. It is a multi-species tournament offering light competition for Boats, Kayaks, and shore fishermen. Go to BayBash.com for more information or call 580-7292.

I remember the time my neighbor asked her grandson if he wanted to go fishing. He said, “No grandma, I want to go catching!” Now that’s what I call optimism! That’s the kind of positive attitude spreading this month.

Until next time, Fair Winds.

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RIVAH Magazine
September Issue
August 24, 2016

By: Capt. Billy Pipkin

Quantity, Variety and Taste,
....More is better.

When it comes to fishing, variety is the way to a fisherman's heart. August closed out with a vast number of species bending the poles yet September opens the door to the best variety of the year.

There are many reasons to be excited about fishing this month with Quantity, Variety and Taste heading the list.

August finished up strong as inshore fishing became very productive on a variety of species including Puppy Drum, Croaker, Spot, Perch and Whiting. Juvenile Red Drum (puppy drum), have been plentiful this season. A large percentage remain below the 16 inch minimum size to keep, but they are a blast to catch on light tackle. Croaker and Speckled Trout were late arriving last month but Croaker are now showing in fairly abundant numbers. Spot also began to show life as September approached.
Bluefish made a late, but heavy run into the region with 1-3 pound samples. Mixed in with the blues were good numbers of Spanish Mackerel which are averaging 16-20 inches in length.

In all, the handoff into September was as smooth as the U.S. Olympic track relay team.


Going Catchin'not Fishin'

 I remember when one of my neighbors asked her grandson if he wanted to go fishing. He replied, "No, I want to go Catching!"  You gotta love the attitude.
Early September offers a swelling of species in the region. All of the species found in August are joined by larger species such as Red Drum and Cobia as they begin migrating south. Mix that with a nice influx of shallow water fishing, a diverse menu ensues, and it makes "catching" a whole lot easier.

We should find plenty of trolling action.  This will consist mainly of bluefish and Spanish mackerel but cobia, drum and even rockfish make guest appearances from time to time.

SPANISH MACKEREL will continue to school at the mouth of the Potomac river, along the western shores and edges of the shipping channel from Smith Point down to the Rappahannock River mouth.  These fish may be found feeding on the shallow bar between Smith Point and the lighthouse while they continue to move in their migration.  Another area holding good numbers of mackerel and bluefish is between Ingram Bay and Dividing Creek. This action packed fishing should last throughout the month and well into October.  Another area that should not be discounted is the eastern channel edges from Smith Point to the Cut Channel. There are sizeable schools of drum cruising that deeper corridor as well. The use of Drone or Clark spoons with flash scale will surely improve your trolling landings. If you enjoy casting and jigging, I would recommend a Gotcha plug. Combinations of silver, gold and/or chartreuse will work well.

BLUEFISH  are usually found mixed in schools of mackerel, but chumming also provides good numbers of these 2-5 pound fish during the late summer months. The Southwest Middle Grounds in Maryland and Virginia's, the Northern Neck Reef and Buoy 62 area provide good chumming action.

BOTTOM FISHING should be great this month.  CROAKER will head south by month’s end yet SPOT may linger into late October. The spot will increase in size to three quarter pounds up to a whopping one pound apiece. 

SPECKLED TROUT fishing will pick up this month and continue deep into October. Grassy flats and the deeper edges near shallow bars are great places to find them. Our clients have had great success catching speckled trout on our inshore light tackle charters.  

FLOUNDER have been generally slow this year, but some nice hauls have come from the middle to lower bay along the channel edges. The flat fish found in the river are abundant yet predominately undersize.

One of my favorite parts of fishing is partaking in the bounty.  I've included a Ceviche recipe that's perfect for warm weather.

Overall, this will be a very exciting month as we step into our traditionally hot fall fishing. Enjoy your catch, be safe and until next time…fair winds.

  GOOD EATS......  Try this Ceviche Recipe!!

If you want a simple, light, tasty and altogether different way to eat your mackerel, then you have to try this!
Ceviche (pr. ser-vee-chee) is a South American dish that has many variations, but essentially it’s a kind of salsa with the addition of fish. Raw fish. You may be hesitant at first, and think that eating of raw mackerel should only be done by seagulls and other fish, but believe me when I tell you it’s not how it first seems. the mackerel isn't actually cooked but technically it's not raw either. Allow me to explain by sharing this gem of a recipe.

Preparation time: 50 mins

Cooking time: 10 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

·         2 chorizo sausages, skin removed, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

·         ½ small red onion, finely chopped

·         Thinly sliced chilli and coriander leaves, to garnish

·         Lime wedges, to serve

·         CEVICHE (2 large boneless/skinless mackerel filets)

·         500g Spanish mackerel fillets, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

·         1/2 cup lime juice

·         1/2 cup coconut milk

·         ½ small red onion, cut into 1/2 inch dice

·         1 vine ripened tomato, seeded, cut into 1inch dice

·         seeds from ½ pomegranate

·         1 long red chili, thinly sliced

1.     Trim fish of any skin or sinew and cut into small cubes.

2.     Cook sausages in a frying pan over medium heat until fat starts to render (melt). Drain on absorbent paper.

3.     To prepare ceviche, combine fish and lime juice in a bowl. Set aside for 50 minutes. Drain and discard lime juice.

4.     Add coconut milk. Toss to coat. Add remaining ingredients. Toss to combined.

5.     Divide mixture among serving bowls. Garnish with chilli and parsley. Serve with lime wedges.


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One Fish, Two Fish,
         
Red Fish, Blue Fish...

It's "Tournament Time!"

  
The RIVAH Magazine
August 2016 edition
By:  Capt. Billy Pipkin


Even Dr. Seuss would be impressed with the large variety of fish this month. August offers a wide variety of species including Spanish mackerel, Bluefish, Cobia, Spadefish, Flounder, Whiting, Trout, Red Drum, Spot, Croaker and more.  There's no better time to have an event that incorporates a variety of species than now. 

The Bay Bash Family Fishing tournament and benefit Concert is being held on August 13th at Ingram Bay Marina.   The one-of-a-kind competition has three entry levels; Boats $50, Kayaks $25 and Pier/Shore fishermen $10. It's both Fun and affordable.
The event, benefiting the Northumberland Mid-County Rescue Squad, offers prizes in 14 categories including 10 different species of fish, a Grand Prize, and Ladies, Youth and Special needs divisions as well. There will be 42 prizes, valued at over $2000.00.
One really cool aspect of this tournament  is the Grand Prize (made by Truth Reels).  The Grand Prize winner is determined by the aggregate total length of  their catch. An angler measures in the longest of each of their species and competes for who has the longest total catch. Yes, I guess size does matter.
Other unique aspects of this tournament are 1) folks can fish anywhere in the bay and its tributaries,  2) the competition begins at sunrise,  3) fish are measured, not weighed and 4) catches may be checked in by land or sea.
This family friendly tournament offers an opportunity to fish off your own dock, kayak in your favorite shallow water creek, or fish around the productive waters outside of  Ingram Bay.  On shore, there will be a moon bounce for the kids all day and demonstrations by the Northern Neck Anglers Club and the USCG auxiliary.  Parents may bring their kids to the tournament and compete from the dock, then take breaks to hit the moon bounce.
The fish check-in will be run by Fish Dispatch USA.  It is a state-of-the-art system that records fish both physically checked in as well as photos sent in for the most fish caught categories. The instant updates to the leader board  are available for viewing throughout the day via internet.
Live music by the band "BEER MONEY" will follow the awards ceremony at 7:30pm.  There is a cover of five dollars to enter concert (tournament participants enter free). Food and drinks will be available.  Profits will help purchase much needed equipment for the rescue squad.
This is truly a "Don't miss" opportunity. For more information visit IngramBayMarina.Com  

The Bay Bash fishing tournament is a great warm up for the single species tournament the following week.  The Dream Fields Spanish Mackerel tournament is being held on August 20th.  It is benefiting the Little league and Youth club. Spanish mackerel is the only species in the competition but like the Bay Bash tournament, it also has ladies, youth and special anglers divisions. For more information go to DreamFields.Org

SO WHERE ARE THE FISH??

Many of the species available during August are found in shallow waters. For the small boat owner, the shorelines and creeks offer ideal locations to find bottom feeders as well as Trout and Puppy drum.  Simply fishing with a bottom rig using squid strips, shrimp or bloodworms will produce these species as well as spot and croaker. 

For those anglers preferring to jig and cast lures, the Berkley Gulp baits are producing results on a variety of species. Mirrolures and other similar presentations are also working. Grass beds in skinny water are the home for Speckled trout, puppy drum and larger Croakers. Locations holding the best populations are Mobjack Bay, both the North and East river, the Piankatank river,  Windmill point, Dividing Creek and Ingram Bay.

 

Trolling action will land mackerel and blues this month. There have already been several mackerel in our catches since mid-July. The blues and mackerels are often found schooling together in close proximity. This offers an opportunity for small boat anglers to get into the action. Locations holding these fish are; Windmill Point, outside of  Ingram Bay, Smith Point, along the edges of the shipping channel and the lower Potomac river.

Chumming is popular for gathering catches of  Bluefish, Cobia and Spadefish. For blues and cobia, the standard grind of menhaden chum will suffice, yet the spadefish prefer a clam chum. Blues can be found on any of the numerous artificial reefs including Windmill Point, Asphalt Pile and Northern Neck reef. The S.W. Middle Grounds off of Smith Island holds good numbers as well. Spadefish frequent structure such as lighthouses, wrecks and reefs. Cobia are more free swimming and can be drawn to the boat with chum and prefer live offerings such as spot and eels. The strong run of cobia in the bay this year translated into huge numbers being caught locally.

Sign up for a tournament, get the family aboard your boat and enjoy some friendly competition.  Remember, "Fishing is not a spectator sport." 
Until next time…Fair winds.


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Capt. Billy Pipkin
"The Rivah" July edition
June 22, 2016

From skinny water to Deep,
     July offers many species to keep.


With summer in full swing,  July offers excitement for all anglers. Variety is key this month as both shallow water and Bay waters offer up and abundance of species for your enjoyment.

One species that has been abundant in recent years is COBIA.  These large, aggressive fish provide a strong fight as well as good table fare. Cobia are without a doubt the most aggressive fighting fish in the bay during July. Their maximum growth reaches a length of over six feet and a weight of nearly 100 pounds. They can be found in many of the Chesapeake's southern reaches including the bay bridge tunnel Latimer shoals and bluefish rock. Local hot spots include the Cut channel, lower Tangier sound along contour lines from Windmill Point to the Great Wicomico River and as far north as the Southwest Middle Grounds. Many of these fish are found in relatively shallow water of 8-15 feet just above the drop off to deeper water.  

Cobia prefer live bait to artificial lures. The baits boasting the best results are soft shell crab, live pencil eels spot and croaker. The best way to present your bait is on a stout, sharp circle hook on a 40-60 lb test leader. Both fish finder rigs as well as free floating baits will entice bites. Chumming should be incorporated with live bait fishing and produces surprisingly rewarding results. We have landed several cobia in excess of 50 inches this season with both live and artificial baits. 

For using artificial lures a casting rod with heavier action is preferred. Bucktails and jigs are worked near structure and around buoys such as those along the "cut channel" located outside of the Rappahannock river. On many occasions the fish can be found cruising the surface away from any visible structure. When cobia are caught by sight casting with spinning gear, a good time is sure to result.  

Many of the same species available last month are also obtainable in July. They include BLUEFISH,  CROAKER, GREY AND SPECKLED TROUT, SPOT AND FLOUNDER. Additionally, SPANISH MACKEREL will begin to increase in numbers this month.

CROAKER, locally can be found throughout the region in the shallow creeks to the deeper areas of the bay. They prefer locations with a hard sandy bottom with low profile bottom structure like oyster and grass beds. This is the second year in a row that, although abundant, sizes are below average.  A variety of baits may be used including strips of squid, shrimp, and bloodworms. Nighttime fishing is always very productive as they move out of the deep channel areas into the shallows. 

SPOT fishing continues to improve throughout July. These fish don't really hit their peak until August and September, but they do offer diversity of catches in many of the same areas as croaker are found.  Basically you can find them over hard bottom locations with oyster beds and in areas of structure.  Although narrow strips of squid will work, bloodworms outperform other baits by far. Due to their small mouths, a #2 or #4 hook is recommended. A standard store bought bottom rig works just fine for these tasty fish. 

TROUT fishing consists of both gray and speckled trout.
Gray trout have made a nice comeback this year. Sizes remain small yet they are very plentiful in the bay and rivers. Regulations are quite limited with a creel of one fish per person each day with a minimum length of 12 inches.
When trout are schooling, jigs such as the Sting Silver, Diamond, Braid Slammer and Deadly Dick will work well. Keep in mind that a swinging single hook on a jig will do less damage to a trout than a treble hook.  If you prefer bottom fishing, a double hook bottom rig with squid will do well.
 

SPECKLED TROUT are inshore fish that seek areas of heavy structure or protection. They can be found in shallow 3-5 ft water where sea grasses are plentiful. The Piankatank river, Gwynn’s Island, Windmill Point and Dameron’s Marsh at the mouth of the Great Wicomico River are all traditionally good locations to find these fish. Anglers find that artificial lures like small jig heads donned with a twister tail are productive. Others find that drifting a live minnow under a bobber will attract the attention.

FLOUNDER fishing has made a slow start this season but should pick up this month with larger fish being available along the channel edges near the Cell and inshore at the mouths of creeks where a sharp drop-off is present.

These fish can be caught by trolling or drifting. Trolling has become more popular in recent years. Among the many trolling rigs, most of them consist of a slide sinker with one or two baits being suspended and one bait skimming along the bottom behind the sinker. Bucktails, doodle bugs and other jigs dressed with live bait such as minnows or squid are sure winners when slow trolled at a speed equivalent to a fast drift. They can also be jigged along during a drift. 

SPANISH MACKEREL are showing up during July but they peak in mid-August. These beautifully marked fish lend themselves well to grilling, smoking, and even salting. Spanish Mackerel  have already begun to bite and will provide good action into September. These sleek swimmers have a potential size of three feet in length and a weight of nearly 9 pounds. The local catches average between 16 and 24 inches in length.  

Mackerel are schooling fish which in many cases feed along with Taylor blues. As with Bluefish, they can be found feeding along the flats leading to, and atop the edges of channel areas.  Spanish mackerel are very fast fish and prefer a quickly trolled spoon at speeds of 5-7 knots. Size #0 Drone spoons and Clark spoons are working well when trolled on an eighteen foot long leader. For jigging, a chartreuse, gold or chrome Gotcha Lure will drive 'em crazy when fished with a quick, jerky retrieve.

When trolling for Mackerel, a 2-4 ounce sinker will keep your line just below the surface. A 6 or 10 ounce sinker will carry the lure 4 to 8 feet deep respectively. A size 1 planer placed out 50-80 feet will attain depths of roughly 15 feet.  

BLUEFISH have arrived and will be abundant this month.  Expect sizes ranging in the 1-3 pound class. Trolling with the same lures as mackerel will bear good results.

Spend some quality family time out on the water. Fishing is more than ‘catching’ it’s about the whole experience. Practice up this month and join in on the fun in the Bay Bash Family Fishing Tournament being held at Ingram Bay Marina on July 13th.  It is a multi species contest that definitely puts the "Fun" in Fishing! For more information on that event, go to Bay Bash Family Fishing Tournament on Facebook

 

Until next time…Fair winds.


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THE RIVAH MAGAZINE
MAY ISSUE

April 19, 2016

Stepping out of the Shadows,
    Shedding light on the Fishery.


Cat Stevens sang about a "Moon shadow", but the talk of the region is how the famous groundhog from Pennsylvania has a "Lying shadow".

Moderate winter weather left anglers hopeful for an early fishing season. Yet, as hopes increased, water temperatures during the cool spring decreased . Expectations for an early spring ebbed like a windblown tide. Chilly, breezy conditions in early April resulted in a delayed spawn with many striped bass (rockfish) waiting until the second week in April to find suitable temperatures to drop their eggs. Anglers were forced to readjust, so we fished in locations nearer the spawning areas. The good news is that the delays should offer good action on the larger rockfish into mid-May as they exit the rivers and migrate down the bay and into the ocean.

Marine biologists determined that last year's rockfish spawn was very strong. The 'Young of the Year' index was the fourth highest on record.  This will supplement the strong 2011 spawning class which are currently averaging 20 inches in length. During this month, trolling efforts will be supplemented with chumming as the smaller fish begin to school and hold over structure.  All signs are now pointing to a very productive May fishing season in the lower Potomac River and middle bay area. Good rockfishing will carry well into next month, so enjoy catching these tasty specimens all this month!

Bluefish didn't migrate as far south this year due to the warmer weather. With that in mind, I expect an earlier northbound journey. If salinity levels stay slightly above normal, we should see a strong run of taylor blues in the bay by late month.  Over the past several years, we have noticed sizes ranging in the 1-3 pound class during late spring. These fish are caught by trolling or jigging small bucktails and spoons, while chumming offers success with chunks of freshly cut menhaden.

Speckled Trout will be increasing in frequency toward months end. These fish are always a big hit among light tackle enthusiasts who prefer skinny water fishing in small boats.  I have set up a shallow draft boat to take groups into the grassy flats where the trout are found during the late spring and summer months.  These fish bite on both artificial as well as live bait presentations.

Cobia have shown up in the region at the end of May and provide great live bait action well into the month of June. These 40-60 inch fish give an amazing fight and offer a flavor that will dazzle your taste buds. It is well worth your efforts to seek these unique fish that hang near shore and in real skinny water as well.  Live baits such as eels and spot offer irresistible temptation for the cobia who will engulf your baits.

Croaker usually show up in the rivers during May and provide the first respectable bottom fishing action. During the past two years, we have experienced a noticeable drop-off in both size and quantity of these fish referred to locally as "Hardheads."  I have spoken to several  biologists and watermen regarding the recent decline of this species in the bay. There seems to be a common thread of thought, based on increased catches in ocean waters over 150 feet deep, that this species has changed its migration pattern to off-shore routes.  This theory, of which I subscribe, discourages thoughts of them being overfished.

Regulation of fisheries
It's best to push the pause button before casting stones of who's to blame for a declining fishery.  During my 50+ years living on the bay and 30 years as a licensed charter captain, I have come to realize that nature and natural weather events have as much to do with fluctuations in the fisheries as the user groups that harvest them. All too often regulations are implemented in a knee jerk reaction to data and/or reports without applying common sense in the process.  One example would be in the crab industry. Last year crab harvests were below average and there was mumbling about further regulating the resource.  Catches have been well above normal so far this year with stocks looking healthy.  Another disturbing situation is with Cobia. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) is requiring states to comply with a reduction in Cobia harvests this year due to a large number of landings last year.  Much of the data is based on assumptions because there is not enough hard data in each state to justify such a cutback in landings.  Data and statistics can be deceiving if not presented in the right light. I've often said that statistics are like bikinis, what they reveal is suggestive, yet what they conceal is vital.  Common sense and hard facts should always be factored into each decision, especially regarding the fisheries. With that said, I'm not a fan of excessive government regulation, but due to the inherent greed of mankind some regulations in the form of creel limits are necessary from time to time.

Enjoy your time on the water and remember to be respectful to the environment and the fishery while you take only what you can eat and leave only a wake behind you.

We are very fortunate to have such wonderful estuaries and plentiful fishery.  Share the experience with a friend or with your family.  If you don't have a boat, give me a call or one of the other quality captains available in our area.

Until next time, Fair winds.


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The Rivah
Fall Edition
By: Capt. Billy Pipkin
October 6, 2015

 

It’s ‘Rock-tober

    After the storm, the beat goes on!

 

The Northern Neck was blessed with exceptional weather over the summer. Calm seas and sunshine abounded throughout. Now that we have officially entered into the fall season, the weather has shown its other side.

Although we dodged the furry of Hurricane Joaquin, the slow moving storm bestowed upon us an unwanted dose of 30+ knot winds and heavy surf for the better part of four days. The bay and river waters were certainly aerated.  After a few days, the tides normalized and the fish began their normal feeding patterns. 

The fall season is a celebrated time here in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Although several species will bend the poles during October, the cooler weather enhances the migration of our bread and butter – Rockfish.

We call it “Rocktober” for a reason. Excitement fills the air as the trump card of the charter fleet arrives in full force. Nothing stirs the soul of a riverneck like the arrival of rockfish season.

October fourth marked the official start of Virginia’s Striped bass (rockfish) season. It is now that 2-5 pound schooling fish take over and are available for light tackle enthusiasts in the form of chumming, trolling or casting. There are several artificial reefs in the region that are productive. Chumming and live lining small spot are the preferred methods of landing fish over structure. Ground menhaden is the enticement as it is tossed overboard methodically. Traditionally cut bait has been used on the hooks, yet the latest method incorporates live offerings. Both are effective and will surely produce limits of fish.  

The Virginia striped bass regulations allow for two fish /person 20-28 inches in length. Anglers may substitute one of the smaller specimens with one over 28 inches long. 

The chumming season usually lingers well into November. At that time the larger migratory rockfish begin to make their trek into the bay from ocean waters. At that time emphasis shifts to the trolling scene. This fishery only gets better as it builds to a crescendo into December with the larger 15-30 pound specimens. Larger fish are likely to be in the mix as well. 

Trolling is performed mainly along the edges of the shipping channel where menhaden, the rockfish’s primary staple, head southbound out of the bay to winter off the Carolina coast.

 

Anglers use lures that resemble the menhaden mainly in the form of spoons and parachutes and present them with other ghastly contraptions. Considering the vast number of lures, colors, styles and rigging available, it is clear proof that man has an endless need to spend an absorbent amount of time and money to make the kill and drag his fish back to the cave. It’s all about the chase. Testosterone, you must have it to understand what I’m talking about. 

My abundance of testosterone carries me further south to Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach during the month of January. It is there that I run whale watching trips, tuna fishing and also pursue the jumbo rockfish along the coastline.

There is nothing like "Rockin' into the New Year. This is an exciting time.  Enjoy it!



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September Rivah Magazine article
By: Capt. Billy Pipkin

Skinny Water, Deep Water,
           Big boats and small...
September offers it All.

       

This month brings tremendous opportunities for anglers. Cooler temperatures will promote heightened feeding habits as fish stage for a fall exit out of the rivers and down the bay.  The diversity of fishing presents anglers with a variety of methods to land some of the Northern Neck's finest seafood.

 In the Shallows

Shallow water, or "skinny" water as we call it locally, presents opportunities that are not available in the deep water of the Chesapeake Bay. This inshore fishery offers such species as Speckled Trout, Puppy Drum, Striped bass, Bluefish and a variety of other small fish.

What makes the shallow water fishing so special is that it's commonly found in protected areas that are well suited for small boats, kayaks and even for those anglers who prefer wading.  Fishing interest has swelled among naturalists and fitness enthusiasts who choose to explore nature and catch a fresh dinner at the same time. We have seen a surge in kayak rentals at Ingram Bay Marina this year. With close proximity to Dameron's Marsh as well as several creek inlets, kayakers have found great success with light tackle while casting and jigging from the rentals.

SPECKLED TROUT fishing is one of the staples of skinny water. Action should pick up in September and continue into October. Grassy flats are great places to fish for these trout. Upriver creeks are also holding trout as anglers seek them deep into the fall months. Casting artificial baits has become the norm rather than the exception when seeking these tasty fish. Mirrolures, surface poppers and jig heads rigged with twister tails are among the many baits used to entice shallow water action.  Other methods include live minnows and small bunker baits.

On many occasions, anglers find puppy drum (redfish), striped bass, small snapper bluefish, croaker and even spot mixed in with the shallow water action. The only members of the above list that won't take an artificial offering are spot who prefer a bloodworm. 

Striped Bass feed heavily on minnows and peeler crabs during September.  This occurs along the shorelines and bar areas where access is limited to shallow draft vessels. As we approach months end, this fishery matures nicely with 18-26 inch fish available for light tackle action.

We've had several folks take fly rods out in the kayaks and enjoy top water action for bluefish and striped bass.  The choice of flies usually fall within a colorful variety of clousers and deceivers.

Kayaking from a "Mother Ship"

Ingram Bay Marina offers a unique service where groups of kayaks are transported on a "mother ship" to remote locations where paddlers can enjoy bird watching and fishing in several areas during a day trip on the water. Lunch is served aboard and a good, safe time is had by all. To inquire about those trips, call (804) 580-7292

In the Bay and Rivers

During this transitional period between summer and fall, there are a few top water species that can be found in the big water of the bay and the mouths of major rivers.  Among fish drawing the most attention, Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish and Red Drum are most popular.

Anglers should find plenty of trolling action along the channel edges throughout the region. Trolling produces good results with several different lures. The only difference is varying speeds for each species. Clark and Drone spoons(#0 and #1) are the baits that closest resemble the shiners that are the main menu for all three species this month. 
An average trolling speed of 5-6 knots will entice some bites of each species, yet will likely land a majority of bluefish in your coolers. A slightly faster speed will entice more mackerel as a slower moving bait will attract more drum.

I have found that #1 planers are the best means of taking the lures to the right depths.  As the fall progresses, it seems that the fish school a bit deeper in the water table. When this is evident, using a #2 planer will work best.  If planers are not part of your tackle repertoire, you may utilize 6-16 oz in-line sinkers. 


This trio of fish will continue to school in southern Maryland waters, in the lower Potomac River, and from Smith Point down to Mobjack Bay.  These fish will be feeding along the shipping lanes as well as on the flats. They will come in waves as they continue to move southward in migration.  This fishing should last for the majority of the month. 

The heaviest concentration of Mackerel and drum usually follow the western side of the bay past the Great Wicomico River down to Windmill Point where they disperse and continue toward the lower bay. Another area that should not be discounted is the eastern channel edges from Smith Point to the Cut Channel.

BLUEFISH  seem to be consistent on both sides of the bay with the larger samples found on the western flats and locations holding structure. They can be caught one of two ways during September.  Trolling is good in many of the same locations as mentioned for mackerel.  Bluefish and mackerel tend to school and feed together.  The schooling blues will continue to run in the 1-3 pound class. 

Chumming will provide bluefish up to 5 pounds in Maryland on the Southwest Middle Grounds.  In Virginia, the Northern Neck Reef and Buoy 62 area will provide nice bluefish hauls as well. These areas will gradually give way to striped bass as the month wraps up.

BOTTOM FISHING will peak this month and should continue to provide good action into October.  Croaker fishing will quickly fade but Spot will become plentiful over most hard bottom areas. Most of the rivers and creeks are holding half pound spot at this time.
Simple bottom rigs with bloodworms or FishBites will gather enough fish to feed a hungry family.  Croaker, although abundant, are running medium size at best.

Whether you prefer to fish from a sport fishing boat or from a kayak, this month promises to be memorable.

Be safe and until next time…fair winds.

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"The Rivah"
July edition
June 17, 2015

July Fishing Frenzy - The Fish and Fishing Holes

 

Fishing in "Rivah" country should prove to be very exciting this month. As July settles in, anglers can look forward to a greater variety and abundance of species available for the taking.  

Many of the same species available during June are also obtainable this month. They include CROAKER, SPECKLED TROUT, SPOT AND FLOUNDER. Additionally, such species as CO8IA, SHARK and SPANISH MACKEREL will bend poles during the month.

COBIA, otherwise known as ling, are without a doubt the most aggressive fighting fish in the bay during July. Their maximum growth reaches a length of almost 7 feet and a weight of over 100 pounds. They can be found in many of the Chesapeake's southern reaches including the bay bridge tunnel and bluefish rock. Local hot spots include the Cut channel, lower Tangier sound and atop channel edges from Windmill Point up to the Southwest Middle Grounds. Many of the edges are the same areas where bluefish and spanish mackerel are usually found feeding. Catches have been very good thus far and should continue to get better into July. With the water temperature having finally climbed to near normal levels there is good potential for the remainder of the summer. In order to receive a citation the fish must weigh a minimum of 45 pounds.

Cobia prefer live bait to artificial lures. The baits boasting the best results are soft shell crab, live pencil eels and small live spot. The best way to present your bait is on a stout hook and strong leader floating freely in the current. One preferred method is to float live bait under a balloon or bobber. Chumming is often incorporated with live bait fishing and produces surprisingly rewarding results. Often small sharks are found in the chum lines as well. We're not talking "Jaws" type of sharks, but the 2-3 foot long specimens provide a nice diversity while fishing.

For using artificial lures a strong casting rod is preferred. Casting large bucktails near structure and around buoys such as those along the "cut channel" located outside of the Rappahannock river results in good catches. When cobia are caught by this method a good time is sure to result.

SHARKS are not uncommon in the Chesapeake Bay. Each year in the late Spring and early Summer dogfish sharks which grow to a length of 5 feet and dusky sharks which grow to be as much as 12 feet in length are caught by anglers in the lower portion of the bay. In the middle bay area anglers can realistically expect these fish to run in the 2-3 foot range. The mouth of TANGIER SOUND, the CUT CHANNEL, The CELL, and other areas near the BAY BRlDGE TUNNEL are all good locations to experience the thrill of catching sharks. Because of their growing popularity among anglers, catches are limited to one shark per person each day and many species such as Dusky are illegal to keep.  Dogfish have no limits. I suggest visiting the VMRC website for specific regulations on each species.

Sharks are usually caught while fishing at or hear the bottom. In some cases, small sharks are caught while retrieving a small trout or spot on a bottom rig. This results in snapped lines and lost opportunities. When it is evident that sharks are in the area, it is wise to rig up accordingly. Shark rigs consist of  two feet or more of steel leader or extra strong 100# test monofilament line, which leads to a 4/0 - 7/0 hook depending on the size of sharks being found. Sharking has best results when coarsely ground bait fish is used as chum and large chunks of freshly cut or live fish are used as bait.

SPANISH MACKEREL have been plentiful in recent years. We landed a few while trolling for bluefish during late June.These beautifully marked fish lend themselves well to grilling, smoking, and even salting. Spanish Mackerel will most likely be our mainstay later this month and into the fall. These sleek swimmers have a potential size of three feet in length and a weight of nearly 9 pounds. The local catches average between 16 and 28 inches in length.

Mackerel are schooling fish which in many cases feed along with Taylor blues. As with Bluefish, they can be found feeding along the flats leading to, and atop the edges of channel areas. Top local mackerel fishing grounds include: At the mouths of the Rappahannock, Great Wicomico, and Potomac rivers; Smith point bar, off of Dividing Creek, Near the R2 buoy located a few miles east of Buoy "62", and in the lower Tangier Sound.  

Spanish mackerel are very fast fish and they prefer a quickly trolled spoon or fast moving jig. Consequently, trolling is the preferred method for catching these speedy predators. Size #0 and #00 Drone spoons and Clark spoons are working well when trolled on an eighteen foot long leader at speeds of 5-7 knots.

When trolling for Mackerel a 2-4 ounce sinker will keep your line just below the surface. A 6,8,or 10 ounce sinker will carry the lure 4 to 8 feet deep respectively. As for the use of Planers, they allow a greater depth to be obtained with a minimum amount of line extended. A size 1 planer is the most versatile for Mackerel fishing. Downriggers work well in taking your lure to the desirable depth but in shallow water can become snagged on the bottom.

If you are careful to cut your engine off and drift quietly into a feeding school, casting jigs with light tackle can be good entertainment. A quick, jerky retrieve should prove effective in that situation. A black and chartreuse Gotcha lure will drive 'em crazy when fished with a quick, jerky retrieve.

BLUEFISH will be mixed in with schools of spanish mackerel throughout the summer months. Trolling will land good numbers of these 1-3 pound specimens. Larger blues are traditionally caught by anglers chumming in southern Maryland waters on the Middle Grounds this month. They may also be found along the shipping channel near buoy "62" and on local artificial reefs.  

BOTTOM FISHING will continue to provide excellent action in the rivers and on the bay. Croaker have been abundant with numbers of larger fish becoming more available as the summer moves forward.  Areas of interest are varied. These fish can be caught from a dock or boat fishing over oyster beds or other hard bottom. Some areas include on the Rappahannock river up to Tappahannock, on the Potomac river up to Coles Point, and throughout the bay and local creeks.

Flounder fishing is picking up this month with signs of improved numbers this season. The Cell, most channel edges, and the mouth of creeks and the rivers are all good areas to drift buctails donned with strips of squid or cut bait.

Trout populations are definitely on the rise and should flourish again this year. As water temperatures rise and salinity levels increase our fishing will bust open. Fish shallow water locations holding underwater grasses.  These fish prefer the "skinny" water where crabs shed and minnows are abundant.  We have seen a tremendous number of anglers fishing from kayaks for the inshore fishing. The fleet of kayaks that are rented at Ingram Bay Marina stay busy with both fishermen and recreational bird watchers. Give it a try, it's a blast.

Enjoy this month of fishing and until next time.... Fair Winds.

 

"The Fishing Line", by Capt. Billy Pipkin, a weekly guide to saltwater fishing in the Northern Neck is currently being carried locally by the Rappahannock Record. If you want the best, most update fishing reports and tips pick up a copy each week.


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THE RIVAH MAGAZINE
JUNE ISSUE

By: Capt. Billy Pipkin

Fishing on the Rivah...
    Rockin' Fish and Playin' the Blues

As we head into summer and multiple species bend the poles, it's just like Christmas to fellow anglers like myself. We'll be Rockin' the rockfish and Playin' the bluefish, as both species will be available in good numbers during June.
 
Just as May brought us beautiful flowers, June brings us a blossom of opportunities in the fishing arena. A wide variety of species will lure anglers to the water this month: STRIPED BASS, BLUEFISH, SPECKLED TROUT, CROAKER, SPOT, FLOUNDER, and more.

STRIPED BASS, or “rockfish” as we call them locally, offered us a productive spring fishery. The post spawn migration was strong and allowed us to fill our coolers with limits of large fish. Although the majority of spawning fish have left the region, there will continue to be some filtering out of Maryland and the Potomac river waters through mid-month. Sizes during the spring season averaged in the 34-44 inch class with a mix of larger fish as well. We had a few fish aboard our charter boat that measured over 48 inches this spring.

As the month progresses, these larger fish will have moved into ocean waters. They head north to the New England states where they spend the warm summer months feeding on the plentiful menhaden on the cooler waters of that region. 

Rockfish less than 28 inches became more abundant towards the end of May. They will continue to bend the poles in Virginia waters until the season ends on June 16th. After that time anglers still wishing to catch striped bass may venture into Maryland or Potomac waters for summer long action. These smaller fish, are suited well to chumming or jigging with light tackle. I carry several fly fishermen out to enjoy the 3-5 pound fish as they bend five weight rods in a u-shape.

BLUEFISH will grace us with their presence in June as they arrive in large schools. Bluefish have become more plentiful in recent years and have beefed up a bit with fish as heavy as ten pounds being landed at the end of last season. The small ‘Snapper’ size blues arrived on scene in late May and should be joined by the larger 3-5 pound 'Taylor' blues as they continue to please anglers with their aggressive fights until late summer. Both chumming and trolling will produce action this month. The one to three pound  blues are high on my list of dinner fare from local waters.

BOTTOM FISHING is always a big hit during the month of June. You will find a vast array of bottom dwellers to whet your angling appetite.

CROAKER, otherwise called hardheads”, are tough fighters that range in size from just under a pound up to four pounds. They are in full swing this month and can be caught from a dock in the afternoon as well as along the channel edges of rivers and bay waters. Average sizes of 10-14 inches should be common this season. 

SPOT are a favorite among many anglers including myself. These fish rarely push a scale beyond the one pound mark, yet they are very tasty and fun to catch. Spot tug at the line in a repetitive manner like a hammer drill. They love bloodworms but if your wallet balks you can use night crawlers, short thin strips of squid or artificial worm fish bites- a top seller at our tackle shop.  

SPECKLED TROUT have become very popular among inshore anglers. These fish will be making strong showings this month and will continue to offer shallow water finesse fishing throughout the summer months. These ‘specks’ range from 1-5 pounds and can be found along drop-offs of creeks and grassy flats outside of marsh areas. This is one fishery that anglers spend a lot of time and effort on. A vast array of lures make up the purist’s arsenal, yet a simple bull minnow fished beneath a bobber will suffice in catching the tender trout. Tides, weather conditions and patience are all factors in successful speckled trout fishing. This fishery with its close proximity to shore, lends itself well to kayak fishing.  Kayak rentals and instruction are available at Ingram Bay Marina in Wicomico Church.

GREY TROUT have been less than abundant over the past few years. The best time to catch them is during their spawn this month.  The off-shore structures like target ships, lighthouses and wrecks will hold the large specimens as they ready for spawn. Because populations have been slipping, more stringent regulations have been set on these fish.  

FLOUNDER fishing began to mature in late May but in June should be available in better numbers. These fish frequent the CELL area near buoy 41 and 42 each season but the western shores from the Mobjack Bay up to the lower Potomac hold plenty of the flat fish along the drop-offs outside of creeks and along the  mouths of rivers. Both lower and mid Rappahannock River channel edges have been holding fair numbers recently.  

Among the many other species available in June, COBIA is also a sought after fish. They have a very lively fight that finds them traveling from one side of your boat clear across to the other side. They can be caught while fishing live bait such as tiny spot or eel in the chum slick. You better have able equipment if you seek out these sleek, powerful swimmers. Although they may begin to arrive in June, they are more abundant during July and August in local waters.

All in all, this is one of my favorite months to fish. The variety is wide, action is plentiful and the weather is just right for enjoying this wonderful God given resource that we have been afforded.

Whether you prefer trout fishing in the shallows, fishing in the bay or knocking down tunas in the ocean I am available for advice and charter.

Grab a rod, guitar or saxophone and join us as we Rock-Fish and Play the Blues on the bay this month. Until next month.... Fair winds.
 

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RIVAH MAGAZINE -
MAY ISSUE
By: Capt. Billy Pipkin
April 24, 2015

FISHING HEATS UP....
as memories of an icy winter fade.


For the second winter in a row, below average temperatures swept our region. Expectations of an early Spring faded as the cold weather worsened through February and lingered deep into March.   Several river and bay locations froze during the brutal February.  So what effect did this have on our fishing?  Let's explore some thoughts.

A year ago, during a cold yet milder winter, we experienced a huge speckle trout kill in the rivers. These fish had become accustomed to wintering in the bay and its tributaries due to several years of above average temperatures. The sudden drop in winter temperatures caught up to them as they literally froze and died in local tributaries. In 2011, we experienced a huge population of red drum in the bay due to one of the warmest winters in decades.  Although the drum didn't die, they too were dissuaded from taking early residence in the bay. This all brings focus to water temperature and effect it has on fishing and spring migration patterns.

STRIPED BASS
The most sought after fish during late fall and winter are the jumbo trophy size Striped Bass. These fish  presented themselves sparingly in the bay and inshore ocean waters last year.  The cold winter was a major factor in keeping the huge striped bass and their favorite food source(menhaden) well off-shore.  Yet  despite the frigid water temperatures, the instinctive desire to spawn brought them up the bay in a consistently timely manner during the second and third week of March.

Maryland opened its spring trophy season on April 19th which continues through May 15th. Anglers throughout the bay found very few fish on opening day. With water temperatures being substantially lower than in years past, there was a delayed spawn this year.  Striped bass prefer a water temperature of 58-60 degrees for spawning.  They do however begin to stage near the spawning locations when the water reaches 52 degrees.  Water temperature below 54 degrees is considered lethal to eggs and larvae.  Hence, there were large numbers of fish staging outside of the spawning areas waiting for the water temperature to become suitable for fertilization and survival. The rivers where cold water run-off from the mountains was a factor, such as the Potomac and Susquehanna flats, had later runs. The smaller western rivers and those on the eastern shore found conditions favorable up to 7 days earlier.  The overall spawning peak in the northern reaches occurred on or near the 18th of April this year.

Salinity also plays an important part in the annual spawning of striped bass in the bay. The fish seek a salinity level between 1.0 - 2.5 ppt for the spawn.  This is the range for optimal survival of the larvae. The lower the salinity, the better the chances of survival because the growth rate is enhanced by fresh water.  Generally, with salinity levels in the lower range, the larvae begin to actually feed within 5 days. By that time many of the female fish have left the area to migrate out of the bay.

 

Considering later spawn this year, the largest concentration of fish remain deep in Maryland waters as well as in many upper river locations.  We are currently catching fish up to 40 pounds and should continue through mid month.  During the trophy season anglers are each allowed one fish per day measuring 28 inches or greater (except in the 36-40"slot), then after May 16th through the end of the year, Maryland allows two fish per person each day between 20" and 28" in length. One of the two fish may exceed 28 inches.

The Virginia trophy rockfish season commences on May 1st and runs through June 15th. During that time, anglers are allowed to keep one fish over 36 inches in length per day. Beginning May 16th, anglers are allowed to keep two fish 20-28 inches in length with an option of only keeping one in that size range and adding one of over 36 inches to the total of two fish daily creel limit. After June 15th, Virginia striped bass season is closed until October.

During early May the preferred method of catching the large striped bass is trolling. Trolling in and around the upper channel edges will produce the best results. Look for schools of menhaden and you will likely find the large fish nearby.  The most widely used lures are parachutes donned with a double hooked 9 inch sassy shad.  The colors that are most productive remain white and chartreuse. I prefer a mix of color, sometimes  matching a white headed parachute with chartreuse hair with a white shad. Mixing colors can attract fish to an otherwise mundane lure.

During May, one striped bass tournament that I like is the multi-day tournament that the Northern Neck Anglers Club holds for its members.  For more information about joining the club go to:  northernneckanglersclub.wordpress.com. 

SPECKLED TROUT which are normally abundant in May should show up mid month and will provide good skinny water action.


CROAKER fishing is very popular during May. The rivers usually fill up with the good fighting bottom feeders.  The Rappahannock River provides ample opportunities for anglers to get their first taste of croaker. Other rivers in the region like the Piankatank, Great Wicomico and Potomac, will also hold croaker. Many of the local creeks and feeder rivers will hold them first and then as the month progresses the rivers and bay waters will swell with larger numbers. Bloodworms, shrimp and squid are all good baits to add to a standard bottom rig.

If you don't like the cold, extended winters that we've been having, either shoot "Phil" the forecasting groundhog or be patient, deal with a cooling trend that seems to be upon us and be happy to finally Go Fishin'.

If you have your own boat and want to know more about the local fishing, you may want to check out our weekly fishing reports in the Rappahannock Record.  For those folks without boats, and those wanting to learn more about fishing or charter opportunities, call me at (804) 580-7292.

Good luck fishing this month and until next time, Fair winds.


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The Rivah
Fall Edition
By: Capt. Billy Pipkin
September 19, 2014

~~ October and Beyond ~~

Turnin' the clocks,
                and Crankin' the reels.

The month of October offers a transition from the multiple species action of late summer and the fall Rockfish bonanza. As we head deep into the transitional period,  bottom fishing for spot and croaker will ease.  The hot trolling action for bluefish will also give way to a stronger striped bass population.

As we head into daylight savings and turn our clocks back, fishing heats up here in the Northern Neck. As an old fisherman once blurted, "Fishing is so fast, we won't know whether to scratch our watches or wind our butts."

Nothing stirs the soul of local fishermen like the arrival of rockfish season.

This is a celebrated time here in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Although other species will bend the poles during October, the cooler weather enhances the migration of our bread and butter – Rockfish. 

The Northern Neck was blessed with moderate weather over the summer. The month of August was one of the coolest on record, and September followed with seasonally appropriate temperatures.  All that translates to water temperatures that are nearly ten degrees below last year's figures.  As history shows, cooler water temperatures promote an early migration of Rockfish. 

October 4th marks the official start of Virginia’s Striped bass (rockfish) season. It is now that 3-8 pound schooling fish take over and are available for light tackle enthusiasts in the form of chumming or casting. There are several artificial reefs in the region that are very productive. Chumming and drifting live spot are both effective methods of landing fish over the reefs. Ground menhaden is the enticement as it is tossed overboard methodically. Traditionally cut bait has been used on the hooks, yet the latest method is drifting live spot.

The Virginia striped bass regulations allow for two fish /person 18-28 inches in length. Anglers may substitute one of the smaller specimens with one over 28 inches long. 

The light tackle action usually lingers well into November. At that time the larger migratory rockfish begin to make their trek into the bay from ocean waters. At that time emphasis shifts to the trolling scene. This fishery only gets better as it peaks in mid-December with the monster forty pound specimens.  

Trolling is performed mainly along the edges of the shipping channel. These edges are where menhaden, the rockfish’s primary staple, head southbound out of the bay to winter off the Virginia/Carolina coast.  

Anglers use lures that resemble the menhaden mainly in the form of spoons, plugs, parachutes and rubber shad. With the massive amount of lures, colors, styles and rigging available, it is clear proof that men will spend an absorbent amount of time and money to participate in Americas favorite pastime. It’s all about the chase. You must possess large amounts of testosterone to understand what I’m talking about. 

The rockfish will migrate up the bay in search of the food source. Fall action varies in location as the fish are constantly on the move. I've found consistent catches in the past between the Maryland/Virginia line and the mouth of the Rappahannock River. I fish out of Ingram Bay Marina, a convenient location at the mouth of the Great Wicomico River. There are two productive artificial reefs for light tackle action and a very nice stretch of channel near Buoy 62 that produces big trolling catches each year.

My abundance of testosterone carries me further south to Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach during the winter months. Last year, being extreemly cold, had an adverse effect on the ocean fishing. Historically, the ocean provides extended fishing throughout January and February. It is there that my 46 foot “Liquid Assets II” calls home while anglers needing a wintertime fishing fix join me for more world class rockfish action. 

One of the nice things about the winter fishery in the bay and ocean is that they are sometimes schooled up heavily and lend themselves well to jigging and casting with light tackle. Some folks like to live line eels, others prefer to jig with live bunkers or even with a simple bucktail donned with a large grub tail.  No matter what method you prefer, there are plenty of fish to provide a great time crankin' those reels. 

This is an exciting time.  Enjoy it!


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RIVAH Magazine
September Issue
August 17, 2014
By: Capt. Billy Pipkin

September:
        Top to Bottom
                   
It's THAT good!

September is an exciting month. It marks the start of the football season, but locally, what's  even more exciting is the robust fishing. This month offers superb action as most species begin to school up and feed heavy in preparation for their fall migration.

As the chapter of our summer season nears its close, it leaves us with a hot outlook on fishing.   September is a time when fish feed aggressively both top and bottom.

What's on Top? 

 During this transitional period between summer and fall, there are a few top water species that draw the most attention: Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish and Red Drum.

Anglers should find plenty of trolling action, consisting mainly of bluefish and Spanish mackerel with guest appearances of large drum.
Trolling produces a variety of species with the same lures. The only difference is varying speeds for each species. Clark and Drone spoons(#0 and #1) are the baits that closest resemble the shiners that are the main menu for all three species this month. 
An average trolling speed of five knots will entice some bites of each species, yet will likely land a majority of bluefish in your coolers. A slightly faster speed will entice more mackerel as a slower moving bait will attract more drum.

I have found that #1 planers are the best means of taking the lures to the right depths.  As the fall progresses, it seems that the fish school a bit deeper in the water table. When this is evident, using a #2 planer will work best.

This trio of fish will continue to school in southern Maryland waters, in the lower Potomac River, and from Smith Point down to Mobjack Bay.  These fish will be feeding along the shipping lanes as well as on the flats. They will come in waves as they continue to move southward in migration.  This fishing should last throughout the first half of the month. 

The heaviest concentration of Mackerel and drum usually follow the western side of the bay past the Great Wicomico River down to Windmill Point where they disperse and continue toward the lower bay. Another area that should not be discounted is the eastern channel edges from Smith Point to the Cut Channel.

There are sizeable specimens available during this time.

BLUEFISH  seem to be consistent on both sides of the bay with the larger samples found on the western flats and locations holding structure. They can be caught one of two ways during September.  Trolling is good in many of the same locations as mentioned for mackerel.  Bluefish and mackerel tend to school and feed together.  The schooling blues will continue to run in the 1-3 pound class. 

Chumming will provide bluefish up to 5 pounds in Maryland on the Southwest Middle Grounds.  In Virginia, the Northern Neck Reef and Buoy 62 area will provide nice bluefish hauls as well. These areas will gradually give way to striped bass as the month wraps up.

Who's on Bottom?

BOTTOM FISHING will peak this month and should continue to provide good action into October.  Croaker fishing picked up this year but Spot have been the most plentiful bottom feeders. Most of the rivers and creeks are holding half to three quarter pound spot, as are the channel edges where jumbo spot are lingering.
Simple bottom rigs with bloodworms or FishBites will gather enough fish to feed a hungry family.  Croaker, although abundant, are running medium size at best.

SPECKLED TROUT fishing will also pick up as fall progresses. Action should be hot in September and continue deep into October. Grassy flats are great places to fish for these trout. Locations up river are also holding the specks as anglers fishing out of canoes and kayaks are having a blast with light tackle action in the skinny waters of creeks. 

FLOUNDER  will linger into late month and can be found in the lower rivers and along channel edges.  We’ve had fair landings this year yet overall catches still remain below average. The Cell continues to offer the best results on the bumpy bottom near Buoys 41 and 42.  

STRIPED BASS will become the buzzword during late month when they become more plentiful while trolling in southern Maryland waters.  With the season not opening up in Virginia until October 4th, many anglers will be traveling north across the border for a warm-up. Many of these fish remain well to the north at this time with the majority being above Point Lookout.  We have a good population of these fish inshore as well.  There will be a gradual move out of the creeks and rivers into the bay waters this month and at the start of October. As water temperatures drop we will see a greater number following the baitfish into deeper waters. Numbers of 18-28 inch class striped bass are on the increase and promise to provide anglers with good action this fall. 

Whether you prefer Top or Bottom, the action will be memorable.
Be safe and until next time…fair winds.

September is an exciting month. It marks the start of the football season, but locally, what's  even more exciting is the robust fishing. This month offers superb action as most species begin to school up and feed heavy in preparation for their fall migration. 

As the chapter of our summer season nears its close, it leaves us with a hot outlook on fishing.   September is a time when fish feed aggressively both top and bottom.


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AUGUST 2014
RIVAH MAGAZINE
By: Capt. Billy Pipkin

CHILLIN' and  FISHIN'
        -Beating the heat of August

 by: Capt. Billy Pipkin


The month of August can be very hot and dry inland.  The best way to beat the heat is head to the water.

There's nothing better than catching fish at sunrise. Early morning offers good fishing and cooler temperatures.  Of course, nocturnal anglers find that sunset offers many of the same benefits.

 

Many fish find their way into shallow waters at night to feed. This offers great early morning and evening fishing for inshore anglers.

 

We have a wide variety of species available this month in the Northern Neck: Spanish mackerel, Bluefish, Cobia, Spadefish, Flounder, Whiting, Speckled Trout, Puppy Drum, Spot, Croaker and more.  

For the small boat owner, the rivers and creeks offer ideal locations to find bottom feeders as well as trout and small drum.  Simply fishing with a two hook bottom rig using squid strips, shrimp or bloodworms will work well in most cases. Bloodworm offerings are yielding good numbers of SPOT on in-shore oyster beds.  Spot are running larger and more plentiful this year.

 

For those anglers preferring to jig and cast lures, the Berkley Gulp baits are producing results on a variety of species. The swimming mullets and the jerk baits are most popular. Mirrolures and other similar presentations are working as well. Grass beds in skinny water are the home for Speckled trout, puppy drum and larger Croakers. Locations holding the best populations are Mobjack Bay, both the North and East river, the Piankatank river,  Dividing Creek and Ingram Bay. Due to a hard freeze that killed many Speckled Trout last winter, the season was closed  until August 1st.  The remainder of the summer months should yield good numbers of trout.  

Trolling action will land mackerel and blues this month. There have already been several mackerel in our catches since mid-July. The blues and mackerels are often found schooling together in close proximity. This offers an opportunity for small boat anglers to get into the action. Windmill Point, outside of  Ingram Bay, Smith Point and Coles Point are all locations that hold these fish. They are also found along the shipping channel as they travel up the bay. 

Just outside of Ingram Bay Marina folks are catching both mackerel and blues trolling at the mouth of the Great Wicomico River 

For best results, I recommend using a small #0 Drone or Clark spoon either in chrome, gold or a variety of colors including hot pink and chartreuse. Use a 15-foot long  20# leader with a good quality swivel in the center behind a #1 planer or light in-line sinkers to keep the baits down below the surface 12-15 feet.  For a deeper presentation, I use #2 planers which will place your spoons at depths of 15- 20 feet. 

Chumming is popular for gathering catches of Bluefish, Cobia and Spadefish. For blues and cobia, the standard grind of menhaden chum will suffice, yet the spadefish prefer a clam chum. Blues can be found on any of the numerous artificial reefs including Windmill Point, Asphalt Pile and Northern Neck reef. The S.W. Middle Grounds off of Smith Island holds good numbers as well. Spadefish frequent structure such as lighthouses, wrecks and reefs. Cobia are more free swimming and can be drawn to the boat with chum and take live offerings such as spot and eels. The strong run of cobia in the lower bay this year translated into good numbers making their way into local waters.

I offer a variety of trips aboard my charter boat. Everything from combination fishing and cruising trips to the popular night trips and the afternoon/evening  trips.  It's fun to add some variety to your fishing. If you want to book a trip give us a call at 580.7292.

August is a great month for fishing. Don't let the heat get you down. Temperatures on the water are always cooler than on land. Our gentle, refreshing Northern Neck breeze should be patented. During August the stinging nettles die off and many anglers split their time with other activities such as swimming, water skiing and just plain cruising. No matter what activity you prefer,  it’s great to be on the water.

I have included a Fish Cakes recipe out of my private collection for you to try.  Enjoy!

Until next time…Fair winds.

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By: Capt. Billy Pipkin
JULY 2014
RIVAH MAGAZINE

Fueling Your Fishing Pleasure....

       Raising Fish while Cutting Costs 

Fishing is a pastime, a sport and for some like myself, a livelihood.  Fishing is universal among all people. It bridges all nationalities, races, genders, education levels and more.  What could possibly dissuade anyone from fishing?

I remember when boats were so abundant on the Chesapeake Bay and it's rivers, they were like ornaments on a Christmas tree. Today activity on the water is a fraction of what it was a decade ago.  The decline can be attributed to a handful of issues, but the one that I feel is most divisive is the increasingly high cost of fuel. Anglers didn’t worry when fuel was $2.50/gal. but at over $4.00/gal. at the marina gas pump, they're threatening to quit their favorite pastime.
 

Ingram Bay Marina has some of the best fuel prices on the bay, yet while swapping fish stories at the tackle shop I hear grumblings of how it's too expensive to fish anymore. Well, to that argument I have an answer.  I typically explain to the customer that they cannot see the horizon through the few waves in front of them. (A fisherman’s take on the forest and trees) 

Let’s put this in perspective: The average angler will burn about 20 gallons of fuel in a full day of fishing. Over the past few years, the cost of fuel has risen roughly sixty cents per gallon. That is only $12.00 more per day - Not very much in the big picture. 

The following tips can also be useful in saving money throughout the fishing season.

 

Saving Bucks while having Fun

 

1)                  Reduce residual costs

2)                  Price shop

3)                  Carpool

4)                  Lose weight

5)                  Tune your boat

  

RESIDUAL COSTS

In one case there was a guy from Richmond who just backed his late model fishing boat worth $50,000 loaded with nearly $2,000 in rods, reels and the latest tackle down the ramp with his Ford Excursion.  The two fishing buddies unloaded a large cooler of food and beverages fit more for the "Queen Mary" cruise boat than a day of fishing.

What’s wrong with this picture? He could save $50 in fuel spent towing, by storing the boat at the marina.

The food these two guys brought could have easily fed a Boy Scout troop. I estimated the three Ukrops bags lightened the wallet another seventy bucks.  Two modest sandwiches, a bag of chips and a gallon of water would suffice.

By the time they bought ice and bait, I figured that they had spent $150 before the boat got wet.

SMARTER BUYING

All marinas are not created equal (Prices vary as much as .50 per gallon). You could save big bucks, particularly on large quantities, if you shop around. Make sure that you are comparing similar qualities such as Brand and octane levels. Branded fuels are a better “Dollar for Dollar” value due to their superior additive packages.

BOAT US members realize further savings at facilities like Ingram Bay Marina, who offer additional fuel discounts.

SHELL and some other credit cards give cash back on fuel purchases.  This adds to the savings. Another big benefit to buying your fuel dockside is that Virginia rebates the road tax of 17.5 cents per gallon with a mail-in form available from (www.dmv.state.va.us/).

SHARE A RIDE

Instead of individuals heading out alone, gather a few folks from the marina and go together. Rotate boats each week so the cost is shared. This not only saves fuel but also builds friendships.

LIGHTEN THE LOAD 

Many of us find that our boat becomes a storage unit as the season progresses. The added weight of unnecessary gear will reduce your fuel economy and ultimately cost you money. Depending on the size of your boat, this gear can add up to hundreds of pounds.   

If you're taking short trips keep your water and fuel tanks at half full. Water weighs just over 8 pounds a gallon and gas exceeds 6 pounds. Depending on the size of your tanks, the benefit may be 1000 pounds or more. A lighter boat is a more efficient boat.  

BOAT MAINTANANCE 

Barnacles are a fuel killer. Whether they are on your bottom, shaft, rudder or propeller, you will lose precious speed and efficiency. If your propeller is dinged or out of pitch, your boat will be less efficient as well. 

Find your most efficient running speed. At the correct speed, your boat engine(s) will run smoothly and free. For most boats, this is at a speed just over the point when it begins to plane. If you are not on plane, your engine strains and burns fuel inefficiently. After reaching planning speed, higher rpm’s may get you there faster but your fuel consumption will likely take a hit. 

Yes, excessive fuel costs are taking a toll on the consumers’ disposable income, yet smart choices and minor sacrifices can reduce its bite.  

For updated fishing reports check out the" Fishing Line" in the Rappahannock Record each week and check out Captain Billys Charters on Facebook.

Start your engines, catch fish and enjoy this summer season.

                                                 

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MAY ARTICLE IN THE RIVAH MAGAZINE


Anglers
blossom
with hope,
                                      Spring
catches
our attention.

RIVAH Magazine - May Issue
By: Capt. Billy Pipkin

 For the past six months, anglers have tasted humble pie with a side of surprise. Through a chilling winter and an unpredictable spring, even educated fishermen like myself were left scratching their heads pondering the next move. 

STRIPED BASS
The main source of action throughout the late fall and winter is Striped Bass fishing. These fish  presented themselves sparingly in the bay and inshore ocean waters during that time. Yet , just when folks were jumping to the conclusion in January that the fishery was wiped out and rockfish were nearing extinction, massive numbers of these 40-60 pound fish were found feeding on mile long rafts of menhaden 25 miles off-shore the Virginia coastline. By mid-March, a considerable number of those fish had migrated into the bay en route to spawn. This was substantiated by how quickly and easily the commercial watermen landed their quotas. All signs point to a productive striped bass season this year.  The bay is also swelling with menhaden which provides 95% of the striped bass' diet.
Maryland opened its spring trophy season on April 19th and continues through May 15th. Considering the slightly late spawn this year, the largest concentration of fish remained deep in Maryland waters as well as in many upper river locations. During the trophy season anglers are each allowed one fish per day measuring 28 inches or greater, then after May 16th through the end of the year Maryland allows two fish per person each day between 18" and 28" in length. One of the two fish may exceed 28 inches.

The Virginia trophy rockfish season commences on May 1st and runs through June 15th. During that time, anglers are allowed to keep one fish over 32 inches in length per day. Beginning May 16th, anglers are allowed to keep two fish 18-28 inches in length with an option of only keeping one in that size range and adding one of over 32 inches to the total of two fish daily creel limit. After June 15th, Virginia striped bass season is closed until October.

During early May the preferred method of catching the large striped bass is trolling. In Maryland waters anglers are only allowed two lures per rod (as in tandem rigged baits).  Virginia has no restrictions on how many baits or rods may be used.  Trolling in and around the channel edges will produce the best results. Look for schools of menhaden and you will likely find the large fish nearby preparing for dinner.  The most widely used lures are parachutes donned with a double hooked 9 inch sassy shad.  The colors that are most productive remain white and chartreuse.

During May, there are two tournaments that are held locally for the striped bass.  The first is a 9-day tournament that the Northern Neck Anglers Club holds for its members.  For more information about joining the club go to:  northernneckanglersclub.wordpress.com.  Another good tournament to participate in is the Smith Point Sea Rescue Rockfish tournament being held May 4-5. For more information on that tournament go to; smithpointsearescue.com .


SPECKLED TROUT is a species that's become very popular during the month of May.  They are found in shallow waters of creeks, inlets and marsh areas.  Last winter, being extremely cold, caused many of these fish in shallow locations to die. The Virginia Marine Resources Commission decided to close the fishery until July 31st in order to allow a recovery through the spawning period.  Catch and release remains an option for this fishery but there are plenty of other options for anglers to choose this month.

During the past two years we have noticed an abundance of PUPPY DRUM, also called redfish. These fish are found in many of the same locations as speckled trout.  They are tremendous fish to both catch and eat. Their preferred meal is soft crab, so they usually are found after the first molting of crabs in the spring.  This month will kick off another great year for these fish. Anglers are allowed three fish per day measuring between 18 and 26 inches.

CROAKER fishing is very popular during May. The rivers usually fill up with the good fighting bottom feeders.  The Rappahannock River provides ample opportunities for anglers to get their first taste of croaker. Other rivers in the region like the Piankatank, Great Wicomico and Potomac, will also hold croaker. Many of the local creeks and feeder rivers will hold them first and then as the month progresses the rivers and bay waters will swell with larger numbers. Bloodworms, shrimp and squid are all good baits to add to a standard bottom rig.

If you have your own boat and want to know more about the local fishing, you may want to check out our weekly fishing reports in the Rappahannock Record.  For those folks without boats, and those wanting to learn more about fishing first hand, stop by Ingram Bay Marina or give me a call for a charter at 580-7292.

Good luck fishing this month and until next time, Fair winds.



 


Now booking :

In the Bay.....
TROLLING for Rockfish ( December)
In the Ocean (Va Beach) 
STRIPED BASS TROLLING/ SEA BASS / DEEP DROP trips ( January and February)

Now taking reservations
Call 804.580.7292 or On Line
eMail Capt Billy

Copyright © Ingram Bay Marina and Capt Billys Charters 2013.