With large schools of rockfish working their way out of the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia Beach fishermen should be prepared for world-class striped bass action.
In addition to the stripers exiting the bay, numerous schools of big rock are established a few miles off the beach, temporarily just beyond the reach of a flotilla of anglers working inside the three-mile legal limit. Many of these “offshore” schools are likely from northern New England/New York fish stocks. “…The hunt for these larger stripers resumes…when large schools that have followed the bait north return to our area in November and December. A percentage of these winter trophy fish also owe their origin to river systems in the northeast. As long as schools of menhaden linger along the Virginia Beach coast, the larger stripers normally remain in our near offshore waters often through January, February and even into March…” (Excerpted from True Tales of the Tide: An Angler’s Lifelong Quest, Dorrance Publishing, 2009, an insider’s view of Virginia Beach sport fishing by this blogger).
Expectations are high that the “offshore” bass schools will merge with stripers exiting the bay to produce a “bass bonanza” throughout the three-mile fishing zone. Regardless, fishing within the three-mile zone can still be productive as evidenced by a recent 45-pound striper caught on a Mojo near the Cape Henry green can buoy. Chartreuse Mojos have been the “hot” lure of late.
As if all these striped bass were not enough, you may now speak the “T” word – TUNA that is. Big, bruising bluefin tuna have finally made their appearance. These monster tuna have dramatically gained the attention of anglers with many of these fish weighing hundreds of pounds.
Following several initial break offs, a bluefin of 198 pounds was weighed and certified at Rudee Inlet to open the door for catches now ranging up to 358 pounds! Since our waters are now teeming with rockfish and huge tuna, striper fishermen will be wise to “super-size” gear in addition to bringing their best “A” game to land a striper without being spooled by a runaway tuna. Best of all, the best bluefin fishing is yet to come!
Blueline tilefish, grouper, and giant sea bass are the reward for anglers taking local long range boat trips to the Continental Shelf. Check ahead for trip dates as they do not run every day and are weather dependent.
Big Bucks at the Beach: The recently concluded 10th annual Mid-Atlantic Rockfish Shootout hosted 180 fishing teams and was won by angler John Weber with a 30.55 lb. rockfish. The winning fish, caught onboard the Miss Susie II, was good for a $176,000 prize. The total tournament payout was $217,654. Clearly, Virginia Beach continues to hold the title of Rockfish Capital of the World, and is THE place to be for landing world class striped bass!
A 358 lb. bluefin tuna, a 55 lb. striped bass, a 15 lb. 14 oz. blueline tilefish (Continental Shelf) and a 5 lb. 8 oz. black sea bass (Continental Shelf) were standout catches above and beyond multiple citation fish from recent deep water head boat trips. Congratulations to these anglers who earned citations from the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament .
Captain’s Tip: With bay and ocean waters now in the 40’s, boating anglers should exercise weather caution in planning fishing trips. Moreover, additional precautions would include filing a float plan as well as carrying a life raft and Coast Guard survival suits. Remember, safe boating is no accident!
Captain’s Log: Mark January 19th on your calendar to attend the Saltwater Sportsman’s National Seminar Series in Virginia Beach. The seminar will feature local and national fishing experts. As a former attendee, this blogger can assure you it will be a great event and you will come away armed with many new fishing tips.
Come live the fishing life in Virginia Beach!
Wishing you tight lines and hard strikes.
See you on the water, Capt. Mike
Photos courtesy of the Virginia Beach Fishing Center