The Beach Report – September 5, 2014

September 5th, 2014 by Sherry Friel

This week in The Beach Report we’re treated to the fruits of others getting up with the sun – amazing dawn sunrise shots! Thank you, Sherry & Nathaniel, for the pics and the post.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Good morning sunshine!

And when the morning light comes streaming in, I’ll get up and do it again. Amen.

-Jackson Browne, The Pretender

blue sunsetOkay, I should admit this right off the bat: I like to sleep in. Late. The idea of venturing out to watch the sun rise has never been at the top of my list of fun things to do in Virginia Beach, but somehow, by some divine miracle, I found myself awake before dawn a couple weeks ago. After gazing up at the starry sky and noting the time, I realized if I woke up my 11-year-old son Nathaniel (who also enjoys sleeping in), we’d have just enough time to walk the beach and see the day’s first rays of sunlight. Nathaniel was happily snoozing away when I whispered in his ear, “if we go right now, we can see the sun rise.” And guess what? He rose immediately! After hastily dressing and grabbing my camera and some coffee, we headed out, arriving at the oceanfront beneath a dark and hazy sky. We could still see stars.

After slipping off my sandals, and walking the path to the water, I quickly realized I wasn’t going to be able to juggle both camera and coffee. So I stowed my cup behind a bench and wandered out into the darkness. We were completely alone. Just my son, my camera, and the sky. Within minutes, the sky started lightening up, and a pink/orange haze emerged. Those same colors reflected in the rippling water and waves. And then slowly, ever so slowly, the pink turned more orange and deepened. The clouds took on an other-worldly quality with vibrant colors, layers, depths and surreal dimensions that had me hypnotized. So I started snapping photo after photo after photo. After 1,000 shots (yes, 1,000) I decided it was time to head back sunset

As I hesitantly took the path toward home, I looked over my shoulder, hoping for one more glimpse of that luminous sky. But the sun wasn’t finished with its show. It had more beauty to reveal, more magic to share with me, so I heeded its call. I am so happy I did not give up and go home too soon, because what happened next was amazing. The sun, partially obscured by clouds, peeked out and shone like a brilliant orange globe onto the water below.

Some days, when life feels especially chaotic, I pull up my sunset photos and remember how it felt to be powerfully compelled, called, and drawn to the water and sky in a way that suspended every single fear, every single worry, and every single anxious thought. And now I am pleased to have some sun rise portraits to reflect on. I think if I could head to the beach every morning, and meditate on the beauty of this extraordinary gift lapping at my feet over and over and over and refusing to let me go, then perhaps it would be easier to let go of the things that worry me. I continue to believe living the life truly does mean basking in its beauty in a way that inspires inner reflection and a deeper peace. In Virginia Beach, it’s waiting for you every morning. Sometimes you just have to set down the coffee and let the sunlight do it’s magic.


Bookmark and Share

A Walk at Owls Creek

September 4th, 2014 by Katherine Jackson

PaddleboardSome people say Owl Creek; some call it Owls or Owl’s Creek. By whatever spelling, Owls Creek and its public boat ramp are vital resources for Virginia Beach residents and visitors. In the early days, this part of Virginia Beach was comprised of marshlands with a narrow channel that conveyed rain and tidal waters into the ocean. Attempts were made to drain the marsh for development, but it wasn’t until the 1950s, when the area was mined for sand to replenish the beach, that the linked water bodies of Owls Creek, Lake Rudee, Lake Wesley and Rudee Inlet were dredged. Neighborhoods sprang up along the waterways, but woods and wetlands here continue to provide habitat for birds and animals, including foxes, herons, pelicans and eagles. Depending on the season, speckled trout, flounder, striped bass and a host of other saltwater species cycle through the waters between the creek and the mouth of the inlet.

Since the public boat ramp was renovated in the 1990s, flocks of sportsmen and women have taken advantage of the access it provides to inland waters and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. Motorized boats are launched from the ramp and head out for deep sea and inshore fishing. Kayakers and paddleboarders tour the basin or leave through the inlet to catch waves. The Rudee Inlet II, a small dredge that works to keep the inlet open, motors into and out of the creek, as do Navy vessels that are launched nearby. Some of the wooded property that lines the creek is privately owned, and some belongs to the Navy. Fortunately, approximately 100 acres are being preserved for recreation in the City’s new Marshview Park, where construction of trails and other facilities began in June.

Kayak Fishing 2On a recent Friday afternoon, I walked the mile from my house to Owls Creek to see what was going on. The boat ramp was hopping with activity. In one lane, a young man and woman were putting kayaks – tricked out with fishing poles – into the water. In another lane, a water sports outfitter was loading paddleboards into a van at the end of a group excursion. In the parking lot, a jet ski owner was securing his watercraft to its trailer. Out on the water, a fishing boat was returning from the ocean, and a small skiff was floating along the bank, its occupant casting a line. Before long, a kayak powered by pedals and adorned with a pirate flag slipped up to the dock. As the sun set across the water, two beautiful golden retrievers on leashes appeared to be enjoying the fresh air. Owls Creek is adjacent to General Booth Boulevard near the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, approximately half a mile from the resort area. It’s a worthwhile destination, with or without a boat.

Owls Creek 2

Photo credits: Katherine Jackson

Bookmark and Share

Our summer was fabulous!

September 2nd, 2014 by Sherry Friel

Nat back to schoolIt has certainly been a fast-paced, fun-filled summer! It’s hard to believe Fall is almost upon us. Where did the time go? Those who live the life in Virginia Beach tend to deny summer is over well into November because the Virginia Beach weather is so mild. With school having officially started, I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on the season and recap a few of its highlights:

The Adventure Park. I cannot rave enough about this newest attraction in Virginia Beach. It’s an aerial park in the forest custom-built for tree-climbing, adventure-seeking adults and children. This unique park features 170 tree platforms, ziplines, and 13 different color-coded aerial trails for novice as well as advanced climbers. It was such a hit with my 11-year-old son Nathaniel that we’ve already made plans to return.laughter

Sublime Relaxation. When I reflect on the moments that gave me the most pleasure over the summer, my mind always goes back to that 86-degree day I spent in a beach chair, finishing up the mystery novel Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. It was the most relaxed I had been in quite some time and I allowed myself to sink heavy in the chair and alternate between reading, sleeping, and enjoying the sights, sounds, and relaxed rhythm at the shoreline.

Surfing. We’ve maintained a hectic pace this summer, and while it wasn’t easy getting up early for swim team practice or martial arts classes, I have to appreciate the muscles and increased strength my son gained through his commitment to these activities. He is now able to keep paddle out and surf right alongside his Dad, and I even witnessed them catching the same wave together! It warms my heart to see them bond this way. When a father and son share a passion, it’s a beautiful thing to watch unfold.

surf buds

Now that he is officially a pre-teen, (or is he a tween?), it’s obvious Nathaniel will continue seeking greater challenges. Watching him swim with ease, scale tall trees, and surf bigger and bigger waves has been a huge leap of faith for me as a parent. Of course I worry, but I can’t help but feel grateful we live in Virginia Beach, a city that seems to continuously grow and change in ways that excite his spirit and make family life all the more fun. It’s a wonderful place to live the life, a fabulous place to call home.

Photo credits: Sherry Friel

Catch patio

Bookmark and Share

Marlin Mania

September 1st, 2014 by Mike Halperin

Leader board on the final day of the VB Billfish Tournament
Leader board on the final day of the VB Billfish Tournament

A white marlin struts his stuff prior to release

A white marlin struts his stuff prior to release

With a field of 75 boats, including charter and private boats, anglers participating in the Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament enjoyed an outstanding fishing event. In just three fishing days, 432 billfish were released, including 357 white marlin, 15 blue marlin and 61 sailfish.   Releases were complemented by catches of dolphin and wahoo.   As a conservation measure, blue marlin needed to weigh 500 pounds to be brought to the dock. The VBBT is part of the Virginia Beach Billfish Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving back to the community through youth and marine related charities. This year’s tournament raised significant money for Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs, the DARE (anti-drug program), and Achievable Dream as well as other worthwhile charities while offering $424,000 in cash awards.

Similarly, the recent local Wine, Women and Fishing Tournament was a resounding success with its tournament and events raising more than $100,000 for breast cancer research at Eastern Virginia Medical School.  This one day ladies tournament featured strong results. Thirty nine total billfish with 2 blue marlin, 35 white marlin and 2 sailfish were released from 35 competing boats.  Congratulations to all who participated to raise money for charity.

These cobia created huge smiles
These cobia created huge smiles

Cobia continue to be the “hot inshore bite” with fishermen needing to choose between sight-casting, chumming and live-baiting to hunt their fish. Calm weather and sunny days are allowing sight-casters to toss lures to cobia averaging 40 to 50 pounds.  Even larger fish are available with many anglers choosing a live eel to entice big strikes.  Keeper cobia of 55 lbs. or 50-inch release fish qualify for free citation awards from the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament.

Captain’s Tip: Find a school of rays and you are likely to find cobia as these brown bruisers love to dine on food stirred up by rays as the rays scour the bottom.

Flounder offer plenty of action in Chesapeake Bay as well as inside Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets. Boat anglers have returned with nice limits (4 flatfish of 16 inches) with some fish pushing close to 7-pound citation size.  While inlet flounder trend smaller (up to 23 inches), there is no wrong place to flounder fish if you are near structure. Bridge pilings, wrecks, channel edges, inlet rock revetment, and shoreline edges all hold flatfish.  A Gulp/jig combo continues to be a winning combination, with white and chartreuse baits getting results.

Norfolk Spot by Duane Raver
Norfolk Spot by Duane Raver

Inside Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets, puppy drum, flounder, croaker, bluefish, and spot are keeping fishermen busy. Attention is about to turn to Norfolk spot as this run is due to gear up in earnest. Half pound spot are already here with bigger fish hoped for as fall Nor’easters accelerate schooling and drive fish out of Chesapeake Bay. Lynnhaven Inlet is best for puppy drum while Rudee Inlet offers prime opportunity for inshore flounder.  Speckled trout fishing should improve daily in the Bay and the inlets. 

Spadefish, triggerfish and sheepshead are also drawing anglers to the 17-mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Crabs and clams attract these mollusk eaters– just be sure to get the bait as close to the structure as possible. 

Other fish offering Bay opportunities are red drum, bluefish, black drum, croaker and Spanish mackerel. Keep an eye out for schools of red drum near the mouth of the Bay.  Fishing has remained steady for both blue fish and Spanish mackerel with many mackerel weighing 2 to 3 pounds. Tide rips at Cape Henry are a good starting point for hunting Spanish mackerel.   Anglers trolling inshore continue to be treated to occasional catches of small dolphin and jack crevalle.

King mackerel are now hunting bait in the Sandbridge area. Try slow trolling live baits while enjoying the Virginia shoreline view.  You won’t get a lot of strikes, but  the ones you do will be “Air-Jaws” experiences coupled with sizzling reel-screaming strikes! Setting a light drag should help keep you in the game.

A great Spanish mackerel charter!
A great Spanish mackerel charter!

South of Rudee Inlet, amberjack remain available around the South Tower for anglers willing to make the run. Weather changes in the next few weeks could send the amberjack on their way.

In the deep: Tilefish continue to be a top draw for offshore trips to the Continental Shelf. There is a real chance here for a saltwater fishing citation coupled with some great fishing. Other typical catches on these trips are large seabass, barrelfish, black-bellied rosefish and grouper.

Noteworthy Catches: Among recent weight citations: a 26 lb. dolphin, 77 lb. wahoo, 66 lb. 4 oz. cobia, 33 lb. king mackerel, and a 7 lb. 8 oz. flounder.

Multiple marlin release flags say it all!
Multiple marlin release flags say it all!

Best Bets

Offshore: White marlin

Inshore: Cobia

Inlets: Flounder and spot

Deep Drop: Blueline tilefish

Captain’s Log: We are entering the transitional fall fishing period with many species now schooling and starting to move.  If usual haunts don’t produce, try a change of location or even target a different species.  Remember: “Don’t leave fish to find fish,” but certainly don’t remain in the same old spot with no bites!

Tournament Trail:


Virginia Beach Anglers Club Summer Fishing Tournament

September 14

Lynnhaven Fishing Pier

Open to all with awards for croaker, roundhead, bluefish and spot

For information:

Call 267.994.7423

or visit

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

Capt. Mike

Bookmark and Share

The Beach Report – August 29, 2014

August 29th, 2014 by Teresa Diaz
End of summer? Maybe. End of fun? Not if you’re lucky enough to be in Virginia Beach! September is a fantastic month to get out and enjoy this terrific city, especially since it’s the time of year we pay tribute to the Ruler of the Sea, King Neptune.  Here are just a few things we’ve got going on starting tonight with the American Music Festival. Happy Labor Day!

AMF 2012 (316)

Friday 8/29 through Sunday, 8/31

21st Annual American Music Festival presented by Chevrolet – Rock out at the Beach this weekend with more than a dozen bands of just about every genre, most of them free!

Saturday and Sunday, 8/30 & 31
Rock ‘n’Roll Half Marathon

RNR banner VB

Blues 2012 (44)

9/5 – 6 Blues at the Beach

My subjects adore me all year long!

Neptune by Pasquale

Virginia Beach’s reigning King Neptune, King of the Sea, invites you to celebrate sun and fun throughout September. Kick it off with the 18th Annual Neptune’s Fall Wine Festival (Sept. 6-7), where visitors can sip and savor chardonnays, merlots, rieslings and more from Virginia’s leading vineyards. Enjoy delicious food, live entertainment and take home a bottle of vino or two, while enjoying the oceanfront views.

med9/12 – 14
Mediterranean Weekend (new this year: two great locations – Town Center & the Oceanfront!)

Aerial of Beach Look North AUG_1523-X3 (2)If you prefer your art served up with fresh salty air, then head to the Neptune Art and Craft Show (Sept. 26-28), held against the unbeatable backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. The show will feature more than 270 artisans displaying handmade works, from paintings and sculptures to photography and glasswork.  Browse the tents and displays on your way to the International Sandsculpting Championship (Sept. 26- Oct. 5), where you’ll see world-class sculptors from around the globe creating incredible, towering works of art out of Virginia Beach sands.

Bookmark and Share

Music Extraordinary

August 26th, 2014 by Katherine Jackson

31st stageOn a recent Thursday evening, hundreds of Virginia Beach residents and I biked to the Boardwalk for the Free Summer Concert Series at 31st Street Park. The headliner was Carbon Leaf, a national recording artist and, more importantly, a local favorite. The quintet pumps out a blend of indie rock, pop-bluegrass, Celtic rootsy folk with a decidedly maritime edge. Imagine acoustic and electric guitars jamming to a steady drumbeat, then add a fiddle, an upright bass, a penny whistle, and a songbook of haunting melodies. Carbon Leaf has what it takes: a unique sound. Gathered at the outdoor stage for a free taste of the band’s extensive catalog were dads with toddlers, eighty-year-old grandparents, teens on neon skateboards, pony-tailed surfers, crewcut sailors, those with tattoos or not. People from across the human spectrum swayed to the beat and sang along. Some sat in beach chairs, some lounged on blankets, and some sipped cocktails on the terrace of an adjacent restaurant. As the sun set and the moon rose, the massive King Neptune statue that rises over the park seemed as entranced by the lyrical tunes as were the flocks of people snapping photos with him.

Afterwards, the lyrics of a Carbon Leaf song kept running through my mind: “Live a life less ordinary. Live a life extraordinary.…” Extraordinary is the perfect word to describe the moveable concert that is Virginia Beach, especially in the summertime. As we biked to the park and back home, I counted nine musical acts, including performances on the five stages on the Boardwalk. I also heard live music from four open-air cafes. There were even three buskers — musicians playing impromptu: a harmonica player, a guitar player and a trombone player. And that was just on the Boardwalk.Carbon Leaf

The music continues through the fall and includes headliners like Trombone Shorty and Delta Rae. A highlight of the music scene is The American Music Festival on Labor Day weekend, this year featuring Train, Hunter Hayes, Creedence Clearwater Revisited and Blues Traveler, all of whom will play ticketed shows on a gigantic stage built on the beach at 5th Street. In addition, festival-goers can choose from among dozens of free concerts by local, regional, and national acts such as Rusted Root and Vertical Horizon. On the first weekend in September, Blues at the Beach will feature two days of beloved Blues acts. And at the end of September, The Neptune Festival will host its share entertainers on the Boardwalk. The concert calendar is impressive. Suffice it to say that Virginia Beach has become synonymous with live music accompanied by the sound of waves breaking on the beach. There aren’t many places in the country where you can hear so much music by bike. It’s simply extraordinary.

Bookmark and Share

Summer Fishing Sizzles

August 18th, 2014 by Mike Halperin

Bigeye tuna caught by visiting anglers Vincent & Gary Warzecka

Bigeye tuna caught by visiting anglers Vincent & Gary Warzecha

Summer flounder by Duane Raver

Summer flounder by Duane Raver

The largest flounder are feeding in the strongest current areas where Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament citation flatfish up to 10 pounds have not been unusual. Moreover, limits of four 16-inch flounder have been attainable on most bay fishing trips.  Fishermen using small live spot as bait near tunnel pilings, channel edges and wrecks are returning with catches of huge flounder.  Anglers working Little Creek, Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets from shore, kayaks and small craft have similarly enjoyed success with flounder using jigs and plastic swim baits, cut bait, squid and minnows.

Spot action has been anything but “spotty” with accommodating medium-sized fish hitting on blood worms and artificial Fishbites. Spot offer the perfect way to introduce children to the joy of saltwater fishing as these tasty and aggressive biters will definitely maintain a child’s attention. Croaker are also serving up plenty of action for anglers fishing around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.  Croaker fishing has been best in the bay while spot are well established in all three area inlets.  

Small red drum up to 23 inches, also known as juvenile channel bass or “puppy drum”, continue to cooperate inside Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets. Anyone seeking a “fair fight” with great action should use light tackle to fish for puppy drum. Try any oily cut bait or a Gulp-jig combination.

Sight casters continue hunting red drum and cobia. This is great sport as schools of red drum are now well established while patrolling the lower bay for food.   Cobia, on the other hand, are normally solitary cruisers.  Both species typically show interest in large bucktail jigs with swimming tails.

Spadefish, triggerfish and sheepshead are other species on the fishing “menu” during August and early fall. As in real estate, location is the key to success with these great eating fish.  Location here means structure such as bridge pilings or wrecks.

A great Spanish mackerel charter!

A great Spanish mackerel charter!

Bluefish and Spanish mackerel are still biting inside the bay and along Cape Henry and the oceanfront. For best catches, troll tide lines and areas of swift current.  Bluefish are also feeding inside Rudee Inlet and attacking baits intended for other species.  Surprisingly, a recent catch has been the unusual presence of some dolphin (mahi) around the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.

This is prime time to hunt king mackerel. Anglers slow trolling live baits just beyond the surf line are hoping for dramatic air-borne strikes from king mackerel at this time of year.  These lightning fast torpedo-like fish provide thrilling strikes while testing any fisherman’s fighting skills to the limit.   King mackerel may also be caught from our two southernmost piers.

Speckled trout season is now open! This beautiful spotted fish enjoys almost a cult following in the local angling community.  And why not as “specks” are a challenge to catch, must be played on light drag due to soft mouths, and are delicious dinner fare.  Some small trout are already being landed inside area inlets with peak season yet to come in September and October.

Multiple marlin release flags say it all!

Multiple marlin release flags say it all!

Blue water action is dominated by white marlin and dolphin with tuna occasionally crashing the party. In addition to the whites, some anglers have hooked into blue marlin, spearfish, wahoo, sailfish, or bigeye tuna.  Yellowfin tuna, the most common tuna caught, have ranged up to 70 pounds with most yellowfin larger than 40 pounds.

When long-range head boats make the trip, fishing on the edge of the Continental Shelf has been phenomenal. Fishermen on these trips have hit the dock with splendid catches of large tilefish, sea bass, wreckfish, barrelfish, grouper and black bellied rosefish.  Anglers heading to the Southern Tower are still assured of a monumental tussle with amberjack with attitude. Bring live bait and be prepared to be worn out by these powerful sport fish.

Noteworthy: Among recent weight citations: 29 lb. 11 oz. dolphin, 68 lb. 12 oz. cobia, 9 lb. flounder and 10 lb. sheepshead.  Red drum up to 48 inches along with numerous white marlin releases have also been recorded.

Captain’s Tip: Cleaning fish in an indoor location? Place the fish inside a large paper shopping bag.  Then scale the fish completely inside the bag.  Most scale waste will be contained within the bag for easy disposal.

Captain’s Red Drum/Cobia Tip: Pick a calm day for sight-casting and fish from 10 to 2 at mid-day using the sun at your back for sight advantage. Should cobia spurn your offerings, try dropping live baits under bay buoys in tandem with an egg sinker.   This will get the bait down to the strike zone.

Yellowfin tuna & dolphin from Virginia waters

Yellowfin tuna & dolphin from Virginia waters

Best Bets:

Offshore – white marlin

Chesapeake Bay – cobia, flounder

Oceanfront Trolling – Spanish mackerel, bluefish

Deep Drop – blueline tilefish

Inlets – croaker, flounder

Tournament Trail

VBAC Banner

Virginia Beach Anglers Club Summer Fishing Tournament

September 14

Lynnhaven Pier

Open to all with awards for croaker, roundhead, bluefish and spot.

For information: 267.994.7423

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

Bookmark and Share