The Beach Report – October 24, 2014

October 24th, 2014 by Teresa Diaz

PHO collageAlthough I’ve lived in Virginia Beach for well over 30 years, I’m still finding new things about my adopted hometown and each time, my love of this city is magnified. Like this week when I accompanied a visiting journalist and a few local ladies on a Oyster Farm Boat Tour with Chris Ludford of Pleasure House Oysters.

I had no idea that Virginia Beach is THE leading oyster farming community in the whole country. Nor did I know that East Coast oysters, farmed by Native American Indians, were the first food English colonists ate upon landing at Cape Henry. (And yes, the Colonists pilfered that meal from the Natives – another subject for another day.)

Chris is a local oysterman who takes oysters and the environment pretty seriously. His passion for the revival of the Lynnhaven River and the Lynnhaven Oyster is clear  - he almost gushes about the history, process and the current status of oyster farming in Virginia Beach. Chris gave us two warnings as we headed out in a boat toward his family-run oyster farm near Pleasure House Point Inlet:

Warning #1.  You’re not going to want to come in (meaning going back to shore).
Warning #2. When you see it, it’s going to blow your mind.

Was he right? Was he ever! It’s almost ridiculous to try to describe this experience in mere words. I swear this is one of those times when you HAVE to experience it to GET it. Did I ever think I’d eat something straight from the water? No. Did I? Uh, yeah, like a half-dozen times. After more than 30 years, I feel like I’ve “arrived….I had a Lynnhaven IN the Lynnhaven!  Thank you, Chris and Mr. Lee!

Seeing and tasting is believing.

Book your tour today and enjoy one of the most incredible outdoor experiences you’ll ever have!

www.PleasureHouseOysters.com

Baby oysters are called spat. Pleasure House Oysters will grow for about 1.5 - 2 years before being harvested.

Pleasure House Oysters (Chris is showing a handful of baby oysters, or spat) will grow for about 1.5 - 2 years before being harvested.

At high tide, this area where we were standing is completely under water!

At high tide, this area is completely underwater!

Oysters, clams, mussels & other sea life thrive now thrive in the Lynnhaven River

Oysters, clams, mussels & other sea life now thrive in the Lynnhaven River

Chris told oysters should be pouty, like this one.

Chris shared many tips on buying & eating oysters. For instance, they should be pouty, like this one.


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Fall Perfume

October 23rd, 2014 by Katherine Jackson

elaeagnusIn addition to cool temperatures and low humidity, October brings the fresh scent of blooming flowers to my running route. As soon as I walked out the door on a recent Sunday morning, I could smell the fragrance on the brisk air. The plant I always used to call Russian olive is more accurately called thorny elaeagnus, thorny olive, or silver thorn, and it was brought to the U.S. from China and Japan in the 1800s. By whatever name, it’s a large evergreen shrub with thick branches that twine into neighboring plants. New growth on the elaeagnus arches up into the air, and when mature, the tree-like form can reach more than twenty feet in height. Dense foliage makes the elaeagnus perfect for privacy hedges. In October and November, creamy white flowers hang like tiny pendants among dark green leaves that are covered with silvery scales.

I have a large elaeagnus shrub in my backyard, and when the wind is just right, it wafts the sweet fall perfume into the front yard and through the open windows. It reminds me of gardenia, jasmine and magnolia, only lighter and more ethereal. Across the street, my neighbors have a mature hedge of large elaeagnus plants running for fifty feet along their property line. At the peak of the blooming season, I can smell the flowers from down the block. As I hoof my way through the neighborhood, the sweet scent drifts out to meet me. The fragrance is so far-reaching that sometimes I can’t even see the shrub that’s scenting the air.

The elaeagnus is well-loved and often planted in Virginia Beach because it’s a hardy and aggressive grower that’s impervious to salt spray and useful as a windbreak. Years ago, when planning the landscaping for my new house, I said “absolutely nothing with stickers or thorns,” but fortunately, the thorns on the elaeagnus escaped my notice. In truth, the plant doesn’t require much maintenance and the thorns aren’t that bad. One thing I love about Virginia Beach is that there’s so much to look forward to when each season arrives. As the year rolls into autumn, pumpkins pop up everywhere, the leaves change to red and orange, and the blooming elaeagnus sweetens the air. Take a walk on Ocean Front Avenue at the North End of Virginia Beach and you’ll be sure to catch a whiff – or lots of whiffs — of this sign of autumn’s arrival.


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Cool Winds & Hot Bites

October 21st, 2014 by Mike Halperin

Some fine spot from Rudee Inlet

Some fine spot from Rudee Inlet

Recent cold fronts have brought weather changes needed to accelerate fall runs of  spot, speckled trout and striped bass. If that alone isn’t enough to make you wet a line – consider the flounder, bluefish, red drum and king mackerel that are all still here and feeding.

Striped bass season opened October 4th featuring ample numbers of school-sized bass. Favored locations include pilings and light lines along the 17-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel with the areas around the 1st rock island of the CBBT  and between the 1st island and the beach tending to concentrate fish.  Also try the small boat channel and the Yancey Wreck.   Larger rockfish are typically found along the northern part of the CBBT from the 3rd island to the Eastern Shore.  Fishing live spot over the tunnel tubes tends to attract larger bass in the early season.  This is only the beginning as more and bigger bass will continue to enter the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay to gorge on bait.

Captain’s Tip: Remember to net all striped bass. It’s the regulation and it is also the right way to handle stripers and protect the fishery. The bass you safely release today will thrill someone else in the future!  Anglers may keep up to two bass per day.  One of those two fish, however, may exceed 28 inches.

Red drum fishing continues red hot! Adult red drum are feeding at the 3rd and 4th islands of the CBBT and south along the beaches including Sandbridge, False Cape and beyond.  With multiple Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament release citations up to and exceeding 50 inches already on record, it is the best time to target a huge trophy fish from the surf.

Juvenile red drum, also known as puppy drum, are hitting cut and live bait inside Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets. The pups give a strong accounting, particularly if hooked on light tackle.  While most Lynnhaven puppy drum average around 24 inches, some inshore catches have been larger than the 28-inch upper slot limit. Consider releasing drum to help maintain this special fishery!rudee_inlet

Croaker, bluefish, speckled trout, flounder, puppy drum, and spot are keeping inshore and inlet fishermen busy.  Spot are by far the hottest current bite. Spot, as heavy as 10 to 12 ounces, are providing non-stop action once a school appears.  Double-header hookups are frequent. Blues trolled up near the beach and around the 1st and 2nd islands of  the CBBT have averaged 3 lbs. although a few fishermen have landed bluefish up to 30 inches!

Flounder catches have been strong during clear water periods. Accordingly, knowledgeable flounder fishermen have waited several days after a blow to target  flatfish.  Flatfish up to 3 and 4 pounds have been biting in the Lynnhaven entrance channel with fish up to 22 inches coming from further inside the inlet.

A beautiful speckled trout!

A beautiful speckled trout!

Speckled trout are steadily increasing in number. While most Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlet fish are well below 14-inch keeper size, enough keepers and the occasional citation fish have been in the mix to maintain angling interest.  This run should only get better with each passing cold front.

Wayne Seymour's king mackerel

Wayne Seymour's king mackerel

King mackerel are making a modest comeback this season evidenced by the landing of several 30-lb. class fish caught while trolling in sight of the beach. Another great place to try for mackerel is around Chesapeake Light Tower.

Yellowfin tuna, white marlin, wahoo and scores of dolphin are making offshore trolling trips worth the run. One recent charter trip returned with 75 dolphin including fish up to 15 lbs.  Wahoo are an added blue water bonus with many fish in the 40-lb. class. 

Triggerfish are providing citations in the 4-lb. range at the Triangle Wrecks while large (out of season until October 18th) sea bass are also hitting offerings. Tautog and sheepshead are still available to anglers fishing structure and near shore wrecks with crab baits.  While some sheepshead have exceeded 7 lbs., tautog will steadily increase in size and number as waters cool.

Blueline tilefish are the top catch on deep drop trips to the Continental Shelf. Most  tilefish are in the 4 to 5-lb. range but have weighed as much as 18 lbs.  Barrelfish, black bellied rosefish and grouper round out the offerings on these long range trips.

Rachel Hibberd with dolphin galore!

Rachel Hibberd with dolphin galore!

Best Bites:

Inshore: Norfolk spot

Chesapeake Bay: Striped bass and red drum

Offshore: Dolphin

Offshore Wrecks: Blueline tilefish

Noteworthy Catches: Red drum release citations

Not sure who's more excited here..........big guy or little guy?!

Not sure who's more excited here..........big guy or little guy?

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


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The Beach Report – October 10, 2014

October 10th, 2014 by Teresa Diaz

_sized_VMFAFlowesr-half_0Last week on Shorelines, I shared info about events and happenings across Virginia Beach this month. Hopefully you’ve got a game plan………..there’s a lot to do!  This week, I’d like to share about an event taking place in early November, a day trip organized by our awesome friends at the Virginia Contemporary Museum of Art or MOCA as we fondly refer to this cultural gem.

Not only does MOCA offer amazing art exhibitions, a studio school and educational programs for children, teens and adults, the staff is really smart about building their events and activities program in a way that’s appealing to their many different audiences. An annual trek to a fantastic museum in another Virginia city is one of their premiere fall events and this year, the trip happens on Thursday, November 6. I joined the staff on their last trip to see a Hollywood costume exhibit/photography display and it was one amazing day. If I close my eyes, I can still vividly see the fabulous green gown fashioned after the one made for Claudette Colbert in  the 1934 movie “Cleopatra” – it was incredible!  Read all about my trip right here.

For this year’s trip, MOCA has made it possible for local art lovers to experience a special exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VFMA). MOCA staff and patrons will help VMFA celebrate the 12th Fine Arts & Flowers, a four-day fundraising exhibition featuring floral interpretations of masterpieces. Fine art and floral mastery combine for a dazzling display of  beauty and creativity.

The trip details are below so read quickly and jump on the website listed to book your seat today. Better yet, call a BFF or two and make it a girl’s day out – that’s  my plan!

Hope to see you on the 6th, Teresa

Insider’s Tip:  Don’t wait to buy; this is bound to be another sellout!


MOCA’s 2014 Day Trip to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Thursday, November 6

8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

MOCA’s Bus Trip to VMFA includes:

  • Breakfast & coffee at MOCA
  • Roundtrip transportation aboard a luxury motor coach
  • Guided Tour of Fine Art & Flowers exhibit
  • Time to explore the permanent collection
  • Wine and snack on return trip
  • Trivia with prizes
  • Special gift

For more details and to purchase tickets click here: http://virginiamoca.org/bus-trip-vmfa-fine-art-and-flowers

Check back next week for a post from one of MOCA’s experts – they’ll share more about the “Fine Arts & Flowers” exhibit.


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The Beach Report – October 3, 2014

October 3rd, 2014 by Teresa Diaz

Cool Breezes and Changing Leaves Bring Brews, Bites and Boos to Virginia Beach in October

Treat Your Taste Buds and Celebrate Oktoberfest, Fashion and Halloween

Virginia Beach is ready to welcome fall with events celebrating the season. During October, the coastal city is hosting a restaurant week featuring fall flavors, two beer festivals, a fall fashion show and plenty of spooky Halloween fun. Here’s just a taste of what’s happening this month across Virginia Beach:

Green FlashJoin the inaugural Green Flash Brewing Treasure Chest Fest (Oct. 12) benefitting Tidewater Komen for the Cure. The Green Flash-sponsored event will include sampling of their rare and limited edition brews such as Treasure Chest 2014, Ristretto Cosmic Black Loger, Green Bullet, Citra Session IPA and more. Other featured area breweries will include Beach Brewing Company, Back Bay Brewing Co., Terrapin Beer Company, Port City Brewing Company and Smartmouth Brewing Company, with restaurants such as The Birch Bar, Dog Street Pub and Hearth & Peel providing the bites.

Retailers at one of Virginia Beach’s top shopping destination, Town Center, will showcase their cool-weather clothes at a Fall Fashion Show (Oct. 18). Free People, Anthropologie and Lululemon Athletica are just a few of the newest additions debuting their collections during the runway show held at the Town Center Fountain Plaza.TC fall fashion

Kick off your shoes and put your toes in the sand for the Virginia Beach Oktoberfest event boasting the best views of the oceanfront, the Virginia Beach Craft Beer Festival (Oct. 18-19). Sample more than 80 craft beers from over 50 breweries right on the beach at 30th Street, off the iconic three-mile boardwalk. Live music sets the stage forthe perfect outdoor setting for tasting some of the best beer brewed!

wicked10kjRun for your life! The ghosts and ghouls will be out to play at the 2014 Anthem Wicked 10K and Monster Mile (Oct. 25). The 10K course takes runners along the beautiful Virginia Beach Oceanfront and through a zombie zone past live thriller dancers before culminating in a post-race party on the beach. Complete with beer, cheese soup bread bowls from Baker’s Crust and live monster mash music from The Deloreans, this is one October event you won’t want to miss!

Get deals on meals at more than  20 Virginia Beach restaurants participating in Dine in VB Week (Oct. 20-26), serving up fresh, seasonal eats during two-course lunches for $10 and three-course dinners at $25 or $35. Savor dishes created from locally-sourcedinredients, such as produce from Pungo, local catches of tuna, waho and swordfish as well as clams and oysters – some which are harvested just steps from the restaurants!

Craft Beer 2012 (18)

Craft Beer 2012 (101)

trickortteratTown Center’s Halloween Town & Treat (Oct. 25) will host frightfully fun activities for the whole family, including pumpkin-decorating, face-painters, caricaturists, balloon artists and trick-or-treating. Families that include kids of the four-legged kind can bring their pet for the Howl-oween Pet Costume Contest at 1:30 p.m. in Fountain Plaza, then bring the pooch to dinner on the patio at one of the many restaurants to crown “Town Center’s Official Demonic Tonic” cocktail!

To learn more about Virginia Beach’s year-round offerings or to request a complimentary vacation guide, contact the Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau by calling 1-800-VA-BEACH.


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Extended! See the Virginia Beach Neptune Festival Sand Sculpture Exhibit Through Oct. 5

October 2nd, 2014 by Sherry Friel

sand2Procrastination is perhaps the worst of my many shortcomings. If there is a task or chore I don’t want to do, I’ll put it off until the bitter end. In fact, I can recall suddenly believing the oven HAD TO BE CLEANED just days before an important deadline for a job I dreaded. What’s worse is lately I’ve noticed a tendency to procrastinate even when it comes to planning pleasurable activities. While my prevailing motivation in life has always been to live it deliberately and passionately, there are still many missed opportunities because I’ll put them off for, you know, when I have time.sand face

For example, not long ago I missed a long-running exhibition of Marc Sijan’s hyper-realistic sculptures at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. I had marked my calendar, and was excited about seeing his work well in advance of the exhibition’s opening. Although I intended to go just about every week that summer, I never made it, and regret having missed this sculptor’s exquisite work.

So when I noticed the viewing time had been extended for the Virginia Beach Neptune Festival Sandsculpting Championship through Oct. 5, I was very excited. Excited, because I knew if I missed opening weekend, I’d at least have the next week to see this collection of work by some of the most talented sand sculptors in the world. I’m pretty proud of myself in that not only did I make time to see the works, I did it the very first night of the exhibit! The best part was viewing each of the 22 exquisitely-crafted sand sculptures at sunset, when the sun’s glow beautifully illuminated intricate details impossible to capture with the camera or describe with words. You simply must go there. And don’t procrastinate!

Here are some interesting facts about this signature event of the Virginia Beach Neptune Festival:

*32 of the world’s most talented sculptors compete for the largest prize purse in the country in this internationally-recognized championship. Read their biographies here.

*Each season, the sandsculpting championship gets better. New this year: improved lighting for viewing into the evening hours and expanded walkways offering intimate views of the artwork. I was able to photograph each work as a whole, as well as intricate details I wanted to study after I got home.

*This stunning gallery is located beneath a tent almost as large as a football field, protecting it from wind and rain, and improving accessibility in inclement weather.

Nat and sand 1

*Smooth walkways ensure wheelchair as well as stroller accessibility.

*While the admission is $5 for adults, it’s totally free for kids under 12. Hold on to your ticket stub too because each features a substantial coupon redeemable for lunch at one of four Oceanfront restaurants.

I am so happy to have experienced these sculptures-each possessing such profound, ephemeral beauty. I’d love to return once more before each piece is rendered back into sand and sea, but I know I will not be able to. Noting this impermanence is a bittersweet reminder that although much of the symbolism of these sculptures will stay with me and wash up from time to time, I will never see them again. No one will. It’s certainly a call to embrace the beauty of each new moment. Starting the weekend with these beautiful sculptures was a reminder that I need to stop procrastinating when it comes to rare opportunities such as this. I intend to make the Sand Sculpting Championship a family tradition that takes place regardless of how busy I might be or how much work awaits. There should always be time for beauty such as this.natskipsand

Photo credits:  Sherry Friel


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Pick Your Favorite Fish

October 1st, 2014 by Mike Halperin

Some fine spot from Rudee Inlet!

Some fine spot from Rudee Inlet!

A late September day turned into a perfect pick for this fishing blogger to enjoy a Rudee Inlet creel check. My day’s efforts provided a wide variety of fish including croaker, speckled trout, bluefish, flounder and spot.  Spot were the most cooperative species, with many spot as large as 12 ounces and most fish averaging 6 to 10 ounces.  An occasional double header even served to punctuate the action.   Spot fishing will only improve as more fall nor’easters concentrate more fish and put them on a huge migratory feed. The day I fished, Norfolk spot were responsible for many heavy coolers and big smiles.

Captain’s Tip: While spot love fresh bloodworms, try enhancing the offering with a small piece of Fishbites on the hook. For still more attraction, use small # 2 gold hooks with gold spinner blades.  This will maximize bites with the double benefit of sight and smell to draw fish to your hooks!

Local Int'l Gamefish Rep Dr. Julie Ball has plenty to smile about with this striped bass!

Local Int'l Gamefish Rep Dr. Julie Ball has plenty to smile about with this striped bass!

October spells striped bass! Fall striper season officially opens at midnight October 4th.  Anglers fishing CBBT structure have already reported plenty of 18 to 28-inch slot limit stripers.  Up to two bass may be kept per day, however, one of those fish may exceed 28 inches.   While many bass anglers prefer targeting monster rockfish in November through January, smaller bass offer great light tackle sport and superb table fare.   Bluefish and trout could also be in the mix around tunnel pilings and swift currents.  Try swim baits for top action in bridge light lines after dark.

Red drum fishing continues red hot! Juvenile red drum, better known as puppy drum, are lingering inside Virginia Beach inlets and back waters.  Bull or large red drum are on the move and actively feeding from the 3rd Island of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to inshore spots including the two southernmost Virginia piers.  Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament citation fish, up to 53-inch releases, have been caught from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay including the Concrete Ships region.  Buoy 36 “A” near Cape Charles has been a hot spot for large drum with “horse” croaker holding closer to shore in that same area.

Flounder are still here to help fill freezers before winter. Top October locations are normally the 4th Island and High Rise Bridge areas of the CBBT.  Some flounder as large as 26 inches still remain in the Lynnhaven basin and inside Rudee Inlet.  Some of the biggest and best flatfish hauls will come from inshore wrecks prior to the flounder departing.  Triggerfish are also still on the wrecks.

Wayne Seymour's king mackerel

Wayne Seymour's king mackerel

Cobia may still be available for a short period as they exit the mouth of the Bay and swim south out of our waters. Work the CB buoy line and also the shoreline along the southern beaches.

Speckled trout will be on the upswing in both size and numbers in October. Tackle as light as 10 lb. test will put your skill to the test while maximizing the fun factor! Fish area inlets and the CBBT.

Virginia Beach angler and state record holder (barracuda) Wayne Seymour hooked and landed a 25 lb. 8 oz. king mackerel while trolling a swimming plug. The mackerel was caught southeast of Rudee Inlet barely two miles off the beach!

White marlin have topped the offshore list whenever boats are able to fish between blows. The billfish have fallen for both trolled and live baits fished in the vicinity of Norfolk Canyon.  Blue marlin and wahoo continue to remain in this blue water mix while dolphin appear all but finished for the season.

Wreck fishermen are finding large sea bass averaging around 3 lbs. with some bass up to 5 or 6 lbs. Continental Shelf deep-drop trips offer a varied bonanza including blueline tilefish of mostly 4 to 5 lbs. but ranging up to 18 lb. citations.  Other species hitting the dock from these trips are barrelfish, black bellied rosefish and the occasional grouper.

Reminder: With all the fishing pressure now on top target species such as white marlin, striped bass and red drum, don’t forget about sheepshead and triggerfish as they continue to feed around pilings, wrecks and rubble.

Best Bites:

Inshore: Norfolk spot

Chesapeake Bay: Striped Bass, flounder, red drum

Offshore: White marlin

Offshore Wrecks: Blueline tilefish

Red Drum by Duane Raver

Red Drum by Duane Raver

Noteworthy Catches:

Multiple white marlin (Norfolk Canyon) and red drum (Chesapeake Bay) release citations.

New Rudee Walkway to the VB Fishing Center

New Rudee Walkway to the VB Fishing Center

Newsworthy: The long awaited walkway connecting Rudee Inlet Fishing Center to the fishing seawall and boardwalk is now functionally finished. Anglers can now walk safely to and from the fishing center to get bait without having to move their vehicle!

fishing-boatCaptain’s Log: This is the absolute best time of year to get outdoors and sample some world-class Virginia Beach fishing from surf, pier or boat while enjoying wonderful fall weather!

Don’t just watch football!

See you on the water.

Tight lines and hard strikes to all!

Capt. Mike


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