Beginning with this blog, from time to time, information will be shared about a seasonal featured fish.
Dr. Ken Neill & his 24.3 lb. state record tautog
Featured Fish – TAUTOG - One of the earliest spring species entering Virginia Beach waters is the tautog. Thick-lipped with homely faces, tautog come armed with strong molar teeth for crushing crabs, a staple of their diet. To the delight of fishermen, these mollusk-eaters have delicious firm, delicate white meat. Tautog, derived from the Native American term “tautaug”, additionally known as blackfish, oyster-fish, black porgy or tog, are found in the western Atlantic from Nova Scotia to South Carolina and average 1 to 3 pounds up to a Virginia state record 24-pound, 3-ounce monster caught in 2012 at the Morgan Wreck by Dr. Ken Neill. The world record stands at 25 pounds and was caught in 1998 off New Jersey.
Virginia’s tog inhabit wrecks and bridge pilings, making them a favorite of boaters using bait fishing methods. Best baits are fresh blue crab, fiddler crab and clams. It is said in jest that an angler should set the hook “just before a tog bites” as these fish are accomplished bait stealers. Rods require ample “backbone” to wrestle tautog away from structure where they are sure to head once hooked.
Launch your boat at Lynnhaven or Little Creek Inlet and enjoy immediate access to prime tautog grounds along the 17-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Launch at Owls Creek inside Rudee Inlet and it is just a short run to many offshore wrecks. Tog have started biting at offshore sites and will follow suit inshore as bay waters warm.
Captain’s tip: Thread the hook through a knuckle of the crab to combat bait stealing by tautog.
Offshore: Impressive numbers of black sea bass are also populating offshore wrecks. Check with local fishing centers for captains holding special pre-season fishing permits for the sea bass. Sea bass are great fun to catch as well as excellent eating.
Other current offshore offerings include tilefish, grouper, wreckfish, barrelfish and yellow bellied rosefish. Some golden tilefish have been well over 40 pounds. Much of this action is in 300 foot depths along the 50-fathom curve with most anglers opting to fish for these species in the comfort of a long-range Virginia Beach head boat.
Flounder- a fishing favorite – Word of the first flounder run is due any day now. Typically, flatfish first announce their presence inside lower Chesapeake Bay (try around the 8-mile mark of the CBBT) and inside Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets as shallower waters warm first. If your gear is not cleaned up from last season, do it now to catch the early bite!
Flounder by Duane Raver
Puppy drum continue to offer good sport to fishermen inside Lynnhaven, Little Creek and Rudee inlets. Speckled trout are available but only for catch-and-release action in the inlets. Speckled trout season remains closed until August.
Striped Bass – Here are dates to remember if planning a striper trip:
Spring Trophy season for Chesapeake Bay: May 1 through June 15. Fish must meet a minimum of 32 inches with a 1 fish per person possession limit.
Regular spring striper season overlaps trophy season, running from May 16 through June 15. The keeper slot limit is 18 to 28 inches with a limit of 2 fish per day. HOWEVER, 1 fish of the 2 fish limit may be larger than 32 inches and that catch must be reported.
Largemouth bass by Duane Raver
Attention Fresh Water Enthusiasts: Back Bay, just south of Virginia Beach, has been enjoying a huge recovery in largemouth bass stocks. This previous premier largemouth bass fishing destination is undergoing restocking with great results. The restock is now in year two of a three-year program. The bass are thriving as a result of this restocking coupled with the return of aquatic vegetation such as milfoil, pond weed and wild celery. Two bass over 8 pounds taken last fall bode well for a return to the “glory days” such as 1980 when 240 citation bass exceeding 8 pounds were caught. Back Bay is just a short drive from the resort area and can accommodate small boat launches. For more info go to: Back Bay fishing information
Wishing you tight lines, hard strikes and a memorable catch!