July, throughout the Bay region, is a month of catching, not just fishing. From offshore to the upper regions of Virginiaís tidal rivers, July produces fish. Claud Bain of Virginiaís Saltwater Fishing Tournament reports that offshore fishing out of Virginiaís ocean ports really heats up in July. In 2006, 22 release citations were issued for blue marlin, 44 release citations for white marlin, 60 citations for bluefin tuna, 14 citations for yellowfin tuna, 11 citations for sailfish, 12 citations for wahoo, and 30 citations for dolphin. Inshore, 62 citations were awarded for amberjack, 15 for shark, and 7 for tarpon. Inshore including the Bay, 115 citations were awarded for sheepshead, 86 citations for red drum, 121 for cobia, and 24 for croaker. However, with all of the large and diversified species mentioned, July in Virginia is the month for large flounder. Last season, an incredible 339 flounder fishermen were awarded citations. Be certain to try your favorite channel edge, wreck, sunken island, or bridge structure. July is often a hit or miss month for both Spanish mackerel and spotted trout. The former is dependent upon both salinity and water temperature. The latter is generally dependent upon numbers and the growth of submerged grasses. Numbers last year were good, and many are looking for this to be a banner year. Again, July is a month for catching, so take advantage of Virginiaís great fishing potential.
Capt. Mike Handforth (757-336-6861) reports that the month of July is flounder and croaker month. Capt. Charlie Koski (757-336-3528) adds that sea mullet, particularly oceanside, provide fast action for those vacationing the eastern peninsula. bluefish in the 3-4 pound class should continue to be prevalent all throughout the month, while jigging of trout will command certain captainís attention. Their numbers have not been what many have hoped for during the past few years, but they are great fun on light tackle and delectable eating. Blowfish, or sugartoads as they are affectionately called, are also found in many creels during this month. This summer has started out on the warm side, so donít be surprised to hear of tarpon showing up inside the BarrierIslands during this month. There are not many anglers that are prepared to assume battle with this often large gamefish, but those who do are often rewarded in Virginia waters during July and August. Offshore, Capt. Bill Letora (301-898-5603) is looking forward to the return of the billfish. Yellowfin tuna continue to provide good action during the month of July, though their size is not on average as large as June. Bluefin tuna and bigeye tuna generally provide the bulk of the citation fish. Wahoo, though no stranger to the canyons during July, generally increase in number as the waters warm in August and September.
Capt. Kenny George (757-548-6991/757-373-8530) will be targeting flounder, sheepshead, spadefish and cobia during the month of July. Capt. Steve Wray of Long Bay Pointe (757-237-7517) will be fishing for much the same inshore, but will put his new boat to the test offshore as well, fishing for tuna and marlin. Capt. Max King (757-650-3176) will be fishing for spadefish at the Tower early in the month and will concentrate on large red drum, trout, sheepshead, and cobia throughout the month.
Capt. Jim Brincefield (410-867-4944) will offer fishing for trout, red drum, flounder, and cobia inshore while fishing for tuna offshore. Jim will again be offering the opportunity to fish at night for swordfish. Capt. Skip Feller of the headboat Rudee Angler (Virginia BeachFishingCenter, 757-287-4153) will concentrate on sea mullet, spot croaker, and trout. Recreational fishermen will be fishing around the numerous towers, wrecks, and artificial reefs looking for amberjack and triggerfish, as well as inside both Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets for spotted trout. Their numbers were very good last year, and with the word out, you can expect fishing pressure to increase this year. Much of the inshore fishing will center around the Bay Bridge Tunnel.
Capt. Bill Bailey (804-776-0255) will be fishing primarily for croaker, spot, and trout. He says, however, that he will go after flounder if his party desires. He expects a strong showing of large flounder throughout the month of July. Capt. Mike Quade (804-694-9052) will be taking his parties out for red drum, spadefish, and flounder, while Capt. Jerry Trash (804-725-4055) will be flounder fishing, spadefish fishing and cobia fishing, as well as bottom fishing for croaker and spot. Recreational fishermen of the MiddlePeninsula will be fishing for spotted trout, and small sharks will often be caught by bottom fishermen. Please be aware of shark regulations, and know your species. Very few shark caught in either the MiddlePeninsula or the Northern Neck are legal to possess.
Capt. Fred Biddlecomb (804-4533568) and Capt. Ferrell McLain (804-453-9069) will be fishing for croaker and trout principally, though an occasional sea mullet, flounder, red drum, or bluefish will be caught. Later in the month bluefish and mackerel could become prevalent. The croaker and trout are found wherever there is a concentration of snails and/or small mussels, usually along the channelís edge from Smith Point to the Cut Channel. Bluefish can make a showing within the chum lines or found surface feeding on silversides or anchovies. Though few charter boaters target spotted trout within the MiddleBay, many recreational fishermen will be fishing the grass beds from Windmill Point to the mouth of the Great Wicomico. Flounder will be targeted by recreational fishermen at the mouth of the Smith Point jetty. Right outside the jetty is Maryland waters and the 18 ĹĒ does not apply. Capt. Leroy Carr (804-453-4050) and Capt. Jeff Gurr (540-825-2804) continue their fishing in Maryland waters during the month of July. The success of this fishery often depends upon the amount of rain that falls during our summer months. It appears that the less rain received, the less nutrients that enter the waters of the upper Bay; therefore, there is less algae growth and fewer dead zones. This promotes better fishing. Each will also target croaker and trout upon limiting out on stripers. Remember that once a striper is caught and possessed in Maryland waters, you cannot stop and fish legally in Virginia without having first unloaded your striper catch. Spot fishing should start to improve in the upper portions of the Bay during the month of July.
Freshwater fishing is rapidly moving to a traditional summer pattern with deep, late and early being the top three words.
In northern Virginia the bass bite is good on the Potomac River. Try the edges of the weedline in creeks. Then switch to ledges and drop offs as the sun climbs high. Early morning and late evening anglers are taking bass on weedless baits in the vegetation too. Crappie are still being found in the creeks on structure with minnows and feather jigs. Catfish are always biting on the river but have switched to a deeper pattern now. Cut shad and eel are top baits.
The lakes in northern Virginia are good for bream now with poppers and flies or live bait. Bass are moving deeper during the day. Kenís Tackle (540-898-1011) in Fredericksburg told us that pond fishing is great for bass and bream. Crickets are producing, as are plastic baits. Try bubble gum colors. Catfish are hot on the Rapp now but the larger fish are hitting at night. Bass anglers are doing well too with crankbaits and jigs on wood structure.
Motts Run (540-786-8989) has had some very nice bass being caught on plastics and the bream fishing has been awesome around the docks and piers. Some nice catfish are coming out of the coves on chicken liver too. Smallmouth bass are hitting upriver on topwater in the morning and soft plastics later in the day in eddies.
LakeOrange fishing has been good for crappie in deeper water over brushpiles and bass have moved to a summer pattern. Try plastic baits worked slowly to catch bass. CurtisLake has produced some nice bream lately and plenty of small bass are being caught too. Small crankbaits are effective.
At Lake Anna the striper fishing has been HOT according to guide Jim Hemby (www.jimhemby.com). He has been taking clients out and catching more than 50 striped bass by midmorning. Check out his website for details. Topwater baits will entice some explosive strikes early in the morning hours. Good baits to throw are Berkley Frenzy Poppers, Pencil Poppers, Redfins and Spooks. The absolute best way to catch the Stripers this month is with live bait. Run Water Bugz planner boards early in the morning in the shallow waters and once the sun gets bright pull back to the adjacent flats and put down lines in their faces baited with Herring, Gizzards or Jumbo Minnows and be ready for constant and ferocious action. Bass will start feeding on the points, humps and flats hitting chugger and popping baits with vengeance. Work your baits in clear water with slow, rhythmic chugs. The bass will come up out of 20 feet of water to take advantage of your offering. When they are not chasing baits the bass can be caught in main lake brush, rock piles and on primary points using large Berkley Power worms in the cover and Carolina rigged worms or lizards elsewhere covering as much water as you can. Drop shooting over rocky flats with smaller offerings and shakey jigs around bridge pilings will produce this month. The bass will also ambush spinner baits and twitch baits around the grass beds in the North Anna.
Ricky at RWís (804-529-5634) reports that the fish in the ponds will be down in deeper water. Mornings and evenings are the best times for a more successful fishing trip. The bass generally hit good on Yamamoto artificial baits as well as Booyah jigs. The crappie like the small beetle spins. Remember to fish the points of the ponds and the deeper holes. As the water heats up the fish will go deeper.
Marvin at the Tackle Box (434-239-1710) reported that the bass fishing at Smith Mountain Lake has been great. Casey Ashley won a recent four-day tournament with 57.3 pounds of bass. The striper bite has been good and crappie are still biting and will continue to bite well in deeper water on structure. Marvin specializes on topwater baits for bass and he reports that the topwater bite is incredible right now. Shellcracker and sunfish are biting well on area ponds and lakes too. Catfishing on the James River is very good and will continue to pick up with a nighttime bite.
At Riverside (804-966-5536) on the Chickahominy we snagged Walt from his semi retired job of catching fish to find out that a lot of 3-4 pound bass were hitting and being brought in. Bream should be hitting very soon and Walt is awaiting them with his ultralight in hand. The catfishing scene is good now and customers are buying bait right at the campground and doing very well. Crappie are hitting very good but mostly in the headwaters of the river creeks. www.riversidecamp2.com.
At Surfside (804-730-2238) Robert had plenty of tips for anglers. The topwater bite for bass on the Pamunkey and James is hot on Zoom Horny Toads, Pop Rs and Buzz Baits. The same holds true for the Chickahominy too. Smallmouth action on the upper James is great on cranks, topwater and jigs. Crappie are biting very well in the river in deeper water on small minnows and jigs. The catfish action will continue to improve on the James but is already good in the late evening and night. Fresh shad and eel are top baits.
Bob at Buggs Island Bait and Tackle (434-374-8934) told us that the crappie are just incredible around the lights at the old bridge. They are also biting well in deeper holes over brush piles. Bass fishing has been a bit slow but is steadily picking up and will be good on points with cranks and Carolina Rigs as the summer warms up. Catfish are also picking up. Cut shad are the best baits. White bass are schooling at the creek mouths now and anglers are taking some home. Stripers are hitting at Nutbush Creek and around the dam.
Bobby from Dashiells down at VA Beach (757 -539-79854) reports that the bass will be suspended over deeper water chasing shad. They will be most active early in the mornings and late in the day and that is the best times to use top water lures around points and fallen trees will increase your chances of a successful trip. If you will be fishing in the hotter hours of the day then using artificial bait around tree stumps and in deeper waters is your best alternative. Panfish will move down into deeper waters in July. Using red wigglers or crickets in 8 Ė12ft deep water is where the bigger ones can be enticed. The smaller panfish will hug the shoreline most of the summer and is great fun for fast action. Younger children enjoy the fast action of panfishing.
Northern Neck Fishing Report is Prepared by the free