The beauty of a Rudee Inlet sunrise
Editor’s Note: Happy Fall! The clocks fell back last night & you got an extra hour…….now it’s time to get up & fish!
For fishermen seeking to maximize the fun factor and test their skills, Virginia Beach is the place to be in November! Why? Let’s just say false albacore, speckled trout, and striped bass.
False albacore, premier light tackle game fish, are blitzing bait in a feeding corridor extending from Chesapeake Light Tower to the beach. These mini-tuna and speedy game fish are famous for blistering runs, typically traveling in schools, and making great targets for fly-casters. So try small boat angling at its best!
Speckled Trout by Duane Raver
Speckled trout, on the other hand, while not as fast as false albacore, make a good first run while their soft mouths test every angler’s drag-setting and fish-playing skills. Best of all, speckled trout make for delicious eating and there is probably not a more colorful fish available to inshore anglers. While plenty of sub-keeper-size specks are available inside Little Creek, Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets, Rudee is the best place to make a 5 lb. Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament citation catch. Mullet, artificial clams, and cut bait along with Gulp jigs have proved productive for specks.
Striped bass by Duane Raver
Striped bass, Thanksgiving favorites since colonial times, are now in early season. Good numbers of 18- to 28-inch slot limit fish are biting around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnels. Action is normally best at night and can be non-stop when stripers are holding along tunnel light lines. This is perfect fly fishing sport.
Top bass lures include MirrOlures, swimming plugs and Gulp on a jig. Larger rockfish are holding over tunnel tubes with numbers and sizes traditionally growing from Thanksgiving weekend through January. Stripers to 35 inches have already been caught by anglers using live spot bait. Also in the “island” mix are bluefish averaging 1 to 3 lbs. with many ocean charter boats returning with limit (10-fish) catches of bluefish.
Captain’s Tip: Reminder – one of the two-fish daily striped bass limit may exceed 28 inches. By only keeping one “slot” fish per angler for most of your trip, you will always be in compliance yet still prepared should that trophy fish swallow your lure!
Now is probably the last chance to enjoy the end of the spot run. Although not a year for 16-oz. citations, spot have been plentiful and good sized. Many fish in the 10- to 14-oz. category have provided lots of sport and great eating. As an added bonus, spot also provide tremendous live and cut bait for species such as king mackerel, stripers and red drum. A spot head soaked in the southern Virginia Beach surf can quickly get an angler hooked up with a monster red drum!
Some fine spot from Rudee Inlet
To the delight of boat and beach fishermen alike, large red drum continue to make their final migratory journey down the coast and out of our region. In addition to catches around the CBBT islands, night fishermen in Sandbridge are still intercepting trophy release fish. Many 50-inch range fish have been recorded for citations. While inlet and beach “puppy” drum catches have not been quite as numerous as their larger siblings, many smaller drum will likely winter over providing winter sport as trophy drum fishing wanes.
Flounder, while still exiting the bay, can possibly provide a late bite any time water clarity improves. In the interim, try near shore wrecks. The wrecks hold numbers of flatfish up to and over 7-lb. citations. Mouth of the Bay channel edges and the High Rise Bridge area can also be worth exploring.
Capt. Skip Feller with an impressive tautog
Find rock rubble, wrecks or tunnel pilings and you will find tautog and sheepshead. Tautog fishing has improved in direct lockstep with falling water temperatures. Anglers soaking crab have returned with plenty of tautog and some sheepshead. Green, fiddler and blue crabs will get you in the game. Bay tautog are averaging 4 to 5 lbs. with limits not hard to find.
In addition to flounder and tautog, mid-depth and offshore wrecks are holding sea bass, triggerfish, and bluefish. Most triggers average 4 lbs. with one citation triggerfish registering 4 lb. 8 oz. Sea bass are averaging 5 lbs. with one of the largest catches weighing 5 lb. 10 oz. A most exciting way to sample wrecks for blues is to place live bait on a float rig. If bluefish are there, you won’t have long to wait!
Private and charter boats running south from Rudee Inlet are intercepting a variety of tuna including yellowfin, bigeye, false albacore and blackfin. Although dolphin appear to be declining and white marlin finished for the season, several boats have returned with multiple wahoo catches up to 60 lbs, including one boat with four wahoo! Troll Sea Witch ballyhoo baits on wire leaders for wahoo.
Golden tilefish, blueline tilefish, barrelfish, yellow bellied rosefish, wreck fish and large sea bass are all available to deep-drop fishermen. The best way to enjoy this fishery is to make a reservation on a large, long- range Virginia Beach head boat. Why not let a highly experienced captain take you right to the fish!
Fresh rosefish taste even better than they look!
Golden tilefish from a 2013 deep-drop trip
Inlets & Surf: Norfolk spot and red drum
Chesapeake Bay: Striped bass and tautog
Offshore Wrecks: Blueline tilefish
Noteworthy Catches: Red drum release citations
WAHOO & a tag-along tuna
See you on the water! Tight lines and hard strike to all, Capt. Mike