Fishing should prove to be exciting in July. 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, spot, croaker, speckled trout, bluefish and cobia. Shark, Spanish mackerel and red drum also will bend poles. Between shallow creeks and deeper bay waters, there’s plenty of action to keep anglers excited.
Bottom fishing has been great, with spot having a great showing to date. Sizes are running large and numbers are swelling. 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 and creeks are all holding fish at this time. The Rappahannock, Great Wicomico and Potomac rivers are all holding fish.
Cobia are stirring the most excitement. 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 traditionally were found in many of the Chesapeake’s southern reaches including the bay bridge tunnel Latimer shoals and bluefish rock, but now the heaviest concentrations of these big brown suited creatures are along contour lines from Windmill Point to the Great Wicomico River, on the bar at Smith Point, in the lower Potomac 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 6/0-8/0 circle hooks on a 40-60-pound 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 several cobia citations in excess of 50 inches this season with my charter customers.
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-foot water where sea grasses are plentiful. Feeder creeks of the Rappahannock, Great Wicomico and Potomac hold these fish. Other near shore locations hold trout as well. Artificial lures like small jig heads rigged with paddle tails 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 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 18-foot long leader behind a size 1 planer placed out 50-80 feet.
Upcoming events include the 10-species Bay Bash Fishing Tournament on August 13. Profits benefit folks with intellectual disabilities in the Northern Neck. Register at Baybash.com.
The Dream Fields Spanish Mackerel Fishing Tournament will be held August 20.
Proceeds benefit Lancaster County Little League and Dream Fields ball complex. Register at dreamfields.org.
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 fifth Bay Bash Family Fishing Tournament at Ingram Bay Marina on August 13. It is an affordable, multi species contest that definitely puts the “fun” in fishing! Register at BayBash.com.
Until next time…Fair winds.
Capt. Billy Pipkin owns and operates Ingram Bay Marina and Capt. Billy’s Charters at the end of Remo Road in Wicomico Church, 580-7292, ingrambaymarina.com.