Chincoteague and Assateague Island Fishing Year Round
by Sam Serio
The Parking Lot. The Lumpy Bottom. Blackfish Banks. Winter Quarter Shoals. The Sub Wreck and the Ammo Wreck. The Four Mouths.
Pay attention to those names if you want to enjoy some of the best fishing on Virginia's Eastern Shore, They belong to just a few of the rich fishing areas around Chincoteague and Assateague Islands, waters frequented by both salt and freshwater fish from hammerhead sharks and marlin to trout and black drum. The fish you may catch will depend on the time of year you schedule your trip, but here's an idea of what to expect each different season:
Spring is flounder season in the waters around Chincoteague and Assateague. The shallow backwaters of the islands' channels and tidal creeks are the first to warm in the spring. Flounder, as early as April, are drawn to these waters to feed on the baitfish which congregate in them. One of the best places to fish for Chincoteague flounder is at The Four Mouths, where four tidal creeks converge. The Four Mouths, off Wallops Island just south of Chincoteague, draws flounder from early April until June. The only way to fish for flounder at The Four Mouths is by boat.
While the northeast spring winds off Chincoteague and Assateague Islands can muddy the waters and discourage the flounder from biting, the locals can guide you to spots where the wind and tide neutralize each other. Calm days are great for anglers in search of good striped bass and tautog (blackfish) angling around the area wrecks and artificial reefs.
As both the weather and the water calm for the summer, a few flounder remain in the islands' waters, where they are joined by increasing numbers of croakfish and trout. Summer is deep sea fishing season around Chincoteague and Assateague, with bluefin tuna and bluefish arriving in June. A wide variety of sharks, including blues, threshers, tigers, and hammerheads, also appear in June. Surf fishing is one of the most popular summer pastimes for visitors to Assateague.
Yellowfin tuna show up in early July. Late July sees marlin, bluefish, dolphinfish (Mahi Mahi), and the solitary but delicious wahoo. Midsummer also brings hurricane season, which can either discourage fisherman or encourage them by driving normally open-sea fish closer to the shoreline.
Autumn is shoal fishing season around the islands. Between Labor Day and the end of October, the arrival of colder currents will send the summer fish like red drum and striped bass in search of more comfortable Southern waters, but the inlets and inshore shoals of Chincoteague and Assateague Islands will often have a second run of flounder, along with tautog and sea trout.
Autumn is a great time to head for the deep water and fish for white marlin, yellow fin, and skipjack tuna. Fishing for striped bass will continue throughout the winter, but the frigid winds and waters of November usually spell the end of the offshore fishing season.
The fun of island fishing isn't restricted, however, to those who have boats to reach the out-of the way inlets or open ocean. The Town of Chincoteague's veteran's Memorial park has a public pier which is usually lined with angles and crabbers when the weather permits.
Whether your idea of a perfect day of fishing is to stand on a sunny pier and wait for a nibble as you watch your line bobs lazily below, or to head for the open Atlantic in the hopes of spending hours dueling with a blue marlin or other magnificent game fish, Chincoteague and Assateague Islands have the right " fishin' holes" for you!