A Fish for Every Angler

December 16th, 2014 by Mike Halperin

Striped bass fishing should peak over the next several weeks with the Chesapeake Bay season running through the last day of 2014. School-size 18- to 28-inch fish are feeding in lower bay waters with numerous schools of 16- to 18-inch bass revealed by flocks of diving sea birds. Larger trophy fish are present along northern portions of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and along Virginia’s “Eastern Shore” side of the bay.

Caroy Wolfe & his 74 lb. Virginia state record striped  bass

Corey Wolfe & his 74 lb. Virginia state record striped bass

Bigger rockfish, to 30 or more inches, are available around the 3rd and 4th islands of the CBBT with the best chance for finding a trophy fish in the area from Plantation Light southeast to the CBBT High Rise Bridge area. Fifty pounders have already been taken including a recent 58 lb. 5 oz. striped bass. Fish like that create dreams of landing the next monster bass that will best Corey Wolfe’s state record 74-lb. striper. Soft plastics, lures, bucktails, cut bait and wirelining have all been productive.  Live eels, however, not only offer exciting hits but also the absolute best chance for a real trophy catch!

Tautog by Duane Raver

Tautog by Duane Raver

Tautog continue to put smiles on the faces of anglers with many boats returning with limit catches of fish averaging around 3 lbs. but some as heavy as 10 lbs. Togging has heated up on the Triangle Wrecks and other wrecks up to thirty miles offshore. Tried and true clam baits as well as available crab species are all getting good results.  Don’t skimp on tackle as stout rods and terminal hook-rigs are needed to crank these powerful fish up from their structure homes of rubble, wrecks and pilings.

Rudee Inlet speckled trout citation earns a smile!

Rudee Inlet speckled trout citation earns a smile!

Speckled trout enthusiasts are catching plenty of quality fish with many keeper-size trout exceeding 20 inches. Trout approaching the 30-inch mark have also made an appearance as the winter run is now in full swing.  Wade fishermen, shore fishermen and small boat anglers are all enjoying a strong run including exciting action inside Rudee Inlet.  Live bait, cut bait, soft swim baits and jigs, and MirrOlures are all producing with live minnows always a sure bet. Chartreuse is a hot color for soft plastics while MirrOlures tend to attract “gator” trout. 

Puppy drum are still inside Rudee Inlet. Falling water temperatures have slowed the bite considerably, but keeper-size fish remain available for patient anglers.  Finger mullet, shrimp and cut menhaden are all good baits.  Although not as appealing as fresh bait, soft plastics also work on these Color Me Gone Fishing at Sunrise!mini-red drum.

Ocean anglers holding secret wreck GPS numbers should expect a mixed bag of large black seabass, flounder and triggerfish. Finding a lightly fished or unknown wreck can quickly turn into a bonanza for tasty species at this time of year.  Squid and cut bait strips quickly let you know who is home at the wreck.

Virginia Beach long-range head boats have been returning with banner catches from deep-drop Continental Shelf trips. Species caught include golden and blueline tilefish, large seabass, grouper, black bellied rosefish, and wreckfish.  Large 10 lb. class bluefish with some as large as 18 lbs. offer a true bonus on the Shelf trips.  Be sure to bring a BIG cooler!  Blueline tiles offer a great opportunity to earn a handsome citation award from the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament.

Big bluefish brings big smiles to Capt. Skip Feller & Dr. Julie Ball

Big bluefish brings big smiles to Capt. Skip Feller & Dr. Julie Ball

False albacore are now making runs through our offshore waters, often close to wreck sites. Although not a favored catch for the dinner table,  “albies” provide maximum fun and sport, particularly on a fly rod.  A sporadic yellowfin tuna bite has been within southbound charter boat range and bluefin tuna have been spotted swimming beyond the 30-mile break.

Hot Spot: Chesapeake Bay Buoy 42 – drift live eels for stripers

Best Bites

Inlets & Surf: Speckled trout

Chesapeake Bay: Striped bass and tautog

Offshore Wrecks: Tautog and black Seabass

Continental Shelf: Blueline tilefish

Noteworthy Catches: 7 lb. 14 oz.  speckled trout, 12 lb. 6 oz. blueline tilefish, 58 lb. 5 oz. striped bass

Tournament Trail:


12th Annual Rockfish Shootout

December 28-29, 2014

For more info:  Call 757.319.5146 or visit:


See you on the water ~ tight lines and hard strikes to all!
Capt. Mike

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The Beach Report – December 12, 2014

December 12th, 2014 by Guest Blogger

This week in The Beach Report, J&A Racing Communication Director Brittany Vajda guest blogs about a fun December event that offers a new twist: The J&A Surf-n-Santa 5 Miler.



Close your eyes and envision a nautical holiday wonderland of more than a million bright lights twinkling against the Atlantic as you’re lacing up for a run on the  Virginia Beach boardwalk. Now open your eyes and imagine no more! Local race management company J&A Racing has made that vision a reality with the debut of the first twilight Surf-n-Santa 5 Miler on December 20, 2014 presented by Bon Secours In Motion.

J&A is known for their themed, festive races. Participants are encouraged to have fun, be creative and often times, even dress the part. This year, the Surf-n-Santa will be held at twilight along the boardwalk so runners can enjoy the “McDonald’s Holiday Lights at the Beach” display, named by USA Today as one of the top ten best holiday light displays in the country!

All participants will receive awesome swag including a unique medal, a commemorative shirt, a finisher’s item and more. Best of all, all racers are invited to the post-race party inside the Virginia Beach Convention Center featuring live music by Audio Sauce, brew from Samuel Adams and other goodies. Prizes will be awarded for the best naughty and nice holiday costumes. As always, parking at the convention center is free.

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and join in the fun for an evening of joy and wonder at the Surf-n-Santa 5 Miler. Registration is open until midnight on 12/18. Click here to register!


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The Beach Report – December 5, 2014

December 5th, 2014 by Katherine Jackson

Marsh 2

Nature Trail is an Outdoor Classroom

People visit the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center for a variety of reasons: to see the fish and animals, such as the sea turtles and river otters; to attend special programs, such as the stingray feedings and the harbor seal training; to watch 3D movies in the six-story theater; to entertain their children on a cool and cloudy day. I went to the Aquarium specifically to take a walk on the Nature Trail. Measuring a third of a mile long, the Nature Trail traverses the Owls Creek Salt Marsh Preserve, a broad area of wetlands and woodlands which stretch between the Aquarium’s two large exhibition halls. The best feature of this walk is that signboards on the trail describe the birds, animals, fish and plants that inhabit the woods and the marsh. That makes it easy to learn about the natural environment while strolling through the woods and along the banks of the creek. It’s like an outdoor classroom for the self-motivated learner. For example, one area is preserved as a wildflower meadow, and signage describes the flowers that thrive in the sun. At this time of year, most flowers have finished blooming, but the Tall Coreopsis and the Goldenrod refuse to give up. Their yellow flowers are bright spots in the waning landscape.

CoreopsisAlthough there aren’t many flowering plants right now, the woods are alive with the colors of fall. On one loop of the trail, signs identify white oak, holly, beech, loblolly pine and other trees, and provide information about their function in the ecosystem. At one exhibit, I learned that butterflies enjoy the daytime while moths prefer the nighttime. And according to one sign, marshes are a source of food and shelter for a large percentage of marine fish and shellfish. One of the most interesting exhibits is a man-made osprey nest. I see osprey nests all the time in the tops of trees and on poles around Virginia Beach, but I was surprised to see how large these nests are. Osprey return to the same nest each year and continue to expand and improve the roost with sticks, grass, and feathers.

Treetop Tower

Nearby, I climbed the thirty-foot Treetop Tower for an osprey’s-eye view of Owls Creek. Placards on the staircase landings identify the birds and animals that live in the vicinity. Like many of the exhibits inside the Aquarium, the exhibits on the trail are not just static signboards. For instance, in one area the signs have illustrations of animal or bird tracks and give clues so visitors can guess which they are. One sign says, “My tracks show four long toes…I build big nests…and I am a fan of the daytime.” Open a panel to find the answer: Great Blue Heron. Speaking of which, look over there: a Great Blue Heron is wading through the marsh.
In addition to stopping on benches along the way to listen to the songbirds and enjoy a few minutes of quiet contemplation, I strolled through the indoor exhibits as well. A Komodo Dragon roamed around its exhibit case, stingrays glided along the bottom of their pool, and Lookdown fish floated in their habitat. The humans seemed content in their environment as well, ambling along with smiles on their faces. Indeed, people go to the Virginia Aquarium for any number of reasons — a walk on the Nature Trail followed by a cup of hot chocolate in the café is among the best.


The Virginia Aquarium is just one of the many exciting ways to experience Virginia Beach. To learn more, check out the official website for the Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau: www.VisitVirginiaBeach.com.

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They’re HERE – Where are YOU?

December 1st, 2014 by Mike Halperin

Phil Fowler poses with his 41 lb. winning striped bass from the

Phil Fowler poses with his 41 lb. winning striped bass

Striped bass in ever-increasing sizes are schooling in Virginia Beach waters and drawing anglers like a magnet! Rockfish currently range from slot-sized, 18- to 28-inches, up to large linesiders approaching 40 or more inches.  Catches are verified to 45 pounds with reports circulating that a few “stealth” catches in the 60-lb. class may have been made.  Bass locations center around bridge pilings, tunnel tubes, light lines, and inshore wrecks with top lure choices including plugs, flies, bucktails, plastic swim baits, and live baits, especially live eels.

Eels and live fish typically account for the largest stripers. As a rule, the faster the current, the better the bite!  Some better fishing locations have been the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel tunnel tubes as well as the CBBT High Rise Bridge at the tunnel’s north end.   Trailer boaters will gain fast access to these hot spots by launching at Lynnhaven or Little Creek Inlets.  It is clearly time to fish Virginia Beach, also known as the Striped Bass Capital of the World!

Captain’s Tip: We are in prime season for schools of feeding stripers to announce their presence through flocks of diving seabirds. Bring binoculars to locate bird activity signaling a bass bonanza.  Knowledgeable anglers deem it best to slowly approach these schools to ensure continued action without interruption.  

Tautog fishermen are returning with more limits including fish up to 8 lbs. Find underwater structure and you’ll find these mollusk eaters. Crab baits  worked next to bridge pilings, rock rubble and wrecks are getting top results with blue and green crabs leading all bait offerings. With bay water temperature now in the low 50’s, there is no more need to run to offshore wrecks to catch a nice batch of tautog.

Dr. Ken Neill & his 24.22 lb. state record tautog

Dr. Ken Neill & his 24.22 lb. state record tautog

In addition to tautog, anglers working near-shore and offshore wrecks have been finding ample numbers of black seabass and triggerfish. With these three tasty species as well as hungry bluefish hitting, what better time to fill the freezer with delicious fillets for the winter!

While puppy drum have been harder to come by, they are still present in all three Southside (Little Creek, Lynnhaven, and Rudee) inlets. Aromatic baits such as mullet or shrimp, offered on a warm sunny day, should ring the dinner bell.  While speckled trout anglers are having to cull through many shorts, increasing numbers of 14-inch keeper fish are showing along with the occasional 5 lb. Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament citation.  For numbers of specks – fish jig/soft plastic swim baits. For heaviest trout – fish MirrOlures.  Absent excessive water temperature drops, both fisheries should last several more weeks with Rudee Inlet providing the best action.

Anglers willing to fight fish from depths of 300 or more feet are being rewarded with a wide variety of fish. Species available from the Continental Shelf bottom are tilefish, barrelfish, black bellied rosefish, large seabass and grouper.  It is rare for our deep-drop head boat or charter trips to return with anything less than a banner catch.

Golden tilefish from a Continental Shelf trip

Golden tilefish from a Continental Shelf trip

Yellowfin tuna exceeding 50 lbs. have made an offshore appearance and remain a strong possibility for Norfolk Canyon and sea mount trollers. Moreover, recently reported catches also indicate wahoo action is likely not done for the season.  Boats running south from Rudee Inlet have good prospects for blackfin and bigeye tuna while bluefin tuna could be the next “visitors” to Virginia waters.

Best Bites
Inlets & Surf: Speckled trout
Chesapeake Bay: Tautog and striped bass
Offshore: Wahoo and yellowfin tuna
Offshore Wrecks: Blueline tilefish
Hot Spot: Plantation Light to the CBBT – drift live eels for striped bass

Noteworthy Catches: 5 lb. 14 oz.  speckled trout plus releases up to 27 inches, 135 lb. bigeye tuna, 5 lb. 2 oz. black sea bass, 4 lb. 8 oz. triggerfish,

17 lb. 4 oz. blueline tilefish, 43 lb. striped bass, 53 lb. grouper

Captain’s Log: At their December 10 meeting, the Virginia Saltwater Tournament Committee will give consideration to adding golden tilefish and grouper as species eligible for Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament citation awards. For more information, contact Lewis S. Gillingham, Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament Director at (757) 491-5160 or vswft@mrc.virginia.gov.

See you on the water. Tight lines and hard strikes to all!

Capt. Mike

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Upcoming Tournaments & Family Fishing Opportunities

December 1st, 2014 by Mike Halperin


Rockfish Tournament
December 5 & 6, 2014

Toys for underprivileged children will be donated to the

Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.
(757) 587-8000

catchin for kids rockfish tourney 2014

  • Virginia Beach Angler’s Club 23rd Annual Rockfish Rodeo & Bluefish Roundup, December 12th & 13th, 2014, Information:757-472-7183 or  757-802-2075

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The Beach Report – November 28, 2014

November 28th, 2014 by Sherry Friel

Today is the  perfect day to feature Sherry Friel’s post ” Treasure Hunting in Virginia Beach” ~ we’d love to see your finds.; SHARE them them with us on Facebook!

VictrolaI close my eyes and visualize myself delicately placing the Victrola needle on my favorite record, listening hypnotically to warped yet crisp sounds coming from the intricately etched vinyl. Yes. I am there. It’s 1921 and….Kerchunck,  Kerchunk, Kerchunk!…“Mom, how does this thing work? Where is the space bar? How do I get it to print?” My brief moment of nostalgia for a layer of life I’ve never truly experienced is interrupted by Nathaniel, my 11-year-old son. He’s just discovered a manual typewriter in one of the shops of Decoration Station, a Virginia Beach antique mall situated at the corner oftypewriter Diamond Springs Rd. and Wesleyan Blvd. I am marveling over a gorgeous Victrola talking machine (or record player as most people would refer to it). Thankfully, the kind owners of the store showed him how to wind in a piece of paper and type. Voila! “Wow, that’s cool,” he said. “We need to get one of those!”

I soon learned Decoration Station is one of many destinations for treasure hunters in Virginia Beach. This particular mall features a large selection of 19th and early 20th century furniture, porcelains, crystal, linens, collectibles, jewelry and home décor. I was especially drawn to the number of vintage books throughout the space, and my son was delighted to discover and purchase a pristine copy of Julia Child’s book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

chandelierJeanie Fuertes, the owner of Decoration Station Mall, gave me what I consider a gift-a wonderful brochure and map detailing close to 20 different stores specializing in antiques, consignments, and specialties. Titled, “2014-2015 Treasure Hunting in Virginia Beach,” the brochure can be easily found at the Virginia Beach Visitor Center at 2100 Parks Avenue near the oceanfront.

I cannot wait to visit the other stores in this wonderful compilation. Already, my son and I did some serious shopping this past weekend and brought home treasures we will cherish for a long time. My favorite purchase of the day was an Andrea Sadek porcelain magnolia, which I will display as a nod to one of my ancestors, Minnie Magnolia. I recently discovered Minnie while researching my family tree, and I believe she may be the inspiration for my passionate love of all things floral.

MMMy next hunt will be for a near-perfect vintage manual typewriter. Unlike the circa 1921 Victrola I was admiring, the typewriter truly represents a layer of life I am well acquainted with. I learned on a manual typewriter as a teenager and was happy for this recent reminder of just how beautiful they are. No touch screen, no internet connection, nothing but kerchunk, kerchunk, kerchunk and ding! Time to get shopping. The holidays will soon be upon us and I have a feeling if Santa shops in Virginia Beach he will find everything he needs!

xmas stockingPhoto credits: Sherry Friel

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Fall Euphoria

November 23rd, 2014 by Katherine Jackson
First Landing courtesy of Katherine Jackson

First Landing courtesy of Katherine Jackson

I’ve always enjoyed walking in the woods in any season, but I especially take pleasure in the fall when the sun electrifies the yellow and red and orange leaves. I always assumed the satisfaction that resulted from ambling in the forest was due to the natural beauty, the fresh air, and the musty-dusty smell of pine straw and crushed leaves. I was surprised to read an essay the other day that credited the euphoria I feel among the trees to the blanket of decaying leaves. According to Liza Field, a teacher and writer whose essay appeared in the Virginian-Pilot, “compost-dwelling bacteria…are one big reason that hours spent in a woodland or compost-rich garden profoundly elevates human mood.” She says that studies have linked the humus created by decaying leaves with elevated levels of serotonin, which is associated with emotional states, and “decreased depression, blood pressure, anxiety and stress hormones.” No wonder a few miles of hiking is so rewarding. Crackling down a leaf-strewn path in the woods is as much of a fall tradition for me as Thanksgiving and pumpkins and Winesap apples. It’s something I look forward to every autumn.

This time of year was called “Taquitock” by the Algonquin people who lived in the area prior to the arrival of the British colonists. “Late fall” was one of five seasons on their calendar, a time for harvesting and feasting, as it still is today. After the hot and languid days of summer, the cooler temperatures and brilliant autumn sun energize me. Although the trails at First Landing State Park were carpeted with leaves on a recent Saturday morning, there’s still a beautiful red-gold canopy aloft. Colors sparkle through the maritime forest like a million jewels. The Algonquin people must have appreciated the fall festival at First Landing as much as I do.

In addition to First Landing State Park, Virginia Beach has a number of other places for walking in the woods. The Lake Smith / Lake Lawson Natural Area is awash in color, and with its new paths, benches and other facilities, is worth a visit. The Nimmo Trail and Greenway is also painted with color right now, as are the wooded areas around Stumpy Lake. Walkers and runners flock to these popular parks year-round, but especially in the fall. For a solitary walk in the woods, False Cape State Park is the best bet. It’s one of my favorite places in Virginia Beach, and no matter how many times I walk or bike there, I always find it to be fresh and fulfilling. Entry to False Cape is limited at this time of the year because Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which provides access to the park, closes its interior trails for the annual waterfowl migration. However, it’s still possible to get the park by walking south on the beach or by boat. I urge you to head for the woods. It’s not too late to get a fix of fall euphoria.First Ldg 8

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