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Marsh Madness 2019 Fishing Almanac

Published on February 25, 2019 by Christian Barnes

Our partner Marsh Madness Charters on the Eastern Shore of Virginia was kind enough to provide their 2019 Fishing expectations. Opportunities are beginning for 2019 but will book up soon.

2019 Fishing Season Fast Approaching.

With the fishing season on the Eastern Shore of Virginia fast approaching, I am eagerly waiting for the early signs of life on the flats. I have spent quite a lot of time cleaning tackle and readying the boat.  I have even been out on the nice days just exploring looking around at potential new spots. Lots of areas have changed since the fall with shoaling and erosion. I have seen nice sea grass growth in and around south bay. I think I will be spending more time there this year than in previous years.

Traditionally around, mid-March bait fish and predators begin to show up. Each year is different, but that water temperature needs to be in the 50-55F range. You generally count on Bluefish to be the first arrival chasing schools of bait. I use a lot of white this time of year, whether the color of my fly or jig and paddle tail. The white color seems to be most effective fly.

When April arrives so do the Flounder and Speckled trout. The Flounder come in from offshore to the shallows and mainly set up shop at the mouth of tidal creeks. They ambush their prey in the tide. Several different Flounder jigs work and the most effective vary from year to year. I generally use live bait with my Flounder rigs. The Speckled Trout this time of year can be hard but rewarding. I have caught some nice size fish this time of year, but they are spread out and not in the larger schools we see later in the year. Bait colors used are still white with chartreuse as a second option. Fly Fishermen need a sinking or intermediate sinking leader.

May is the time when things start to heat up. While you still can catch Flounder, Bluefish and Speckled Trout, May also brings you opportunities at Black and Red Drum (Redfish). While most people in the area target the Drum with live and cut bait in the surf zone or Chesapeake Bay. I mainly target them in and around the barrier islands. I like to sight fish when I can with either Fly rods or spinning tackle. Some of the drum can be giants (50 inches) this time of year and you can also find the slot size guys (18-26 inches) and some small guys as well. The trick is finding them. The tides are a huge piece to this puzzle, as well as wind direction. The fish are aggressive eaters this time of year which make your choice of fly or artificial bait not as critical.

The hot summer months of June, July and August give you many different opportunities. On good weather day I can go sight cast for Cobia in the bay. I also search the flats and oyster bars for Drum. I can also take you to try and chase the illusive Tarpon. The summer months and all the way into the Fall is what I call the best sight fishing the Eastern shore has to offer. I love being able to see the take by the fish. You become more of a hunter. Good sunglasses and learning to spot the fish is vital to success.

As we get into the fall we get into the most magical time of year in my opinion.  September and October months are action packed. The Drum and Speckled Trout are getting into big schools and are actively eating. This is the time of year to catch big numbers of fish in a day. One hundred catch days are not unheard of and can happen more often than you think. Usually this time of year you see mostly slot size Red Drum. Once you get into the Fall the over slot sized Red Drum have usually left the flats. The Speckled Trout very from year to year. Last year 2018 we saw mostly small fish. Most were around 13 to 14 inches with a few big fish mixed in. But in 2017 the trout were much larger. It was not hard to limit out on 20 inch plus fish. I am hoping for a year much more like 2017 since we have not had such a cold hard winter thus far.

November and December are the time for stripers. While you can go after trophy size fish in the Chesapeake Bay, I had a nice year catching them in the backcountry on my flats boat. Lots of days had good catch totals and nice size. I caught fish all the way to 33 inches in the backcountry using Fly rod and spinning tackle. While the weather can be chilly the fishing can be hot. It is also not unheard of to catch Speckled Trout, Bluefish and Red Drum this time of year but mainly count on it to be mostly stripers.

I am very excited for the fishing to heat up. I would love to take you out and show you around. I keep my boat on a trailer I will leave from the ramp that is closest to the fishing spot I am going to target. Departure Boat Ramps are Oyster, Wise Point, Cape Charles, Red Bank.

Category: Fly Fishing

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