November 21st, 2014 by Teresa Diaz
Like always, Mother Nature is right on point as she ushers in cooler temps this week. She knows Virginia Beach is welcoming a new attraction in a few days that’s going to offer a winter sport which requires it to be a bit chilly outside. Have you heard?
Early this morning, I drove to the end of the Strip to check on the status of the new Oceanfront Ice Park at Rudee Loop. I was delighted at the progress made in the last few weeks. Work crews were busy at the site and things are shaping up nicely as you can see by my amateur - but fun – attempt at Pic Collage.
Look at the kid-size working train – aren’t the little ones going to love it? This is going to be so much fun; we can’t wait. You can even set up your own private, winter wonderland skate party.
Will you be here to join in the fun? Opening day is 11/26. Come on, let’s Live the Life this winter skating at the Beach!
November 15th, 2014 by Mike Halperin
Striped bass by Duane Raver
Awesome fight. Delightful taste. Yes, we’re talking fall striped bass fishing in Virginia Beach! By all reports good numbers of slot-sized rockfish, 18- to 28-inches, are biting in lower Chesapeake Bay. Fishing has been best at first daylight and at night along bridge and bridge tunnel light-line shadow edges. Darker baits should draw more strikes at night. Beach fishermen are also getting in on the bass action from the shores of area inlets.
Anglers are scoring bass by trolling or casting swimming plugs, soft plastics and even flies. Some of the largest early season stripers have been caught by trollers working wire line rigs along edges of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel channel tubes. Clearly, many bass fishing options exist.
As Thanksgiving approaches, so do migratory bass from the upper Bay and New England regions. With some rockfish as large as 40-inches already caught, stripers should be on a steady increase in numbers and size now through Thanksgiving weekend and beyond. Many a Virginia Thanksgiving table is shared by a turkey and a striped bass!
Captain’s Tip: Top wire line bass catches can be made using 1/8 ounce white or chartreuse bucktails with similarly colored pork rind split-tail trailers. From a three way swivel tie a 3-foot dropper to a 12-oz. sinker and a 20-foot leader of 60 lb. monofilament to a bucktail bait. Heavy monofilament is not needed for a solid hookup, but will provide better fish control in the current.
Tautog by Duane Raver
Tautog are on the upswing with many anglers returning with limit catches. Tautog fishing is steadily improving as water temperatures fall. Fiddler crabs are THE best bait; however, any crab or clam should coax togs to bite. Most tog weigh 3 to 5 lbs. with Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament citation fish of 9- to 11- lbs. available. Fish the CBBT for numbers and offshore wrecks for largest togs. Tog hot spot: The Concrete Ships.
Rudee Inlet speckled trout for dinner anyone?
Speckled trout are now feeding inside area inlets and in Chesapeake Bay. Fish a moving tide with the lightest jig and plastic lure that will get to the bottom. Catch one trout and you’ve typically found a school. While chartreuse is the color of choice, MirrOlures are preferred for large “gator” trout. While most trout are below 14-inch keeper size, a 5 lb. speckled trout earns a free state-sponsored citation award. Expect more fish, more keepers and bigger trout with every passing weather front.
Puppy drum continue to be inshore targets as winter approaches. This bite has slowed considerably, but shrimp or cut bait will get you in the game. Soft plastics and jigs work, but nothing tops fresh bait. These mini-red drum must be in the 18- to 28- inch slot size. Puppy drum should still be in all three Southside inlets.
Inshore bottom fishermen using bloodworms may still encounter late-leaving spot, particularly in Rudee Inlet. Flounder present a possibility on inshore channel edges but offer a better bet at wrecks in deeper water.
Captain’s Tip: Give the ledge around Chesapeake Light Tower a try around Thanksgiving weekend. You may be pleasantly surprised by flounder and/or bluefish.
Deep-drop fishing on the Continental Shelf offers some of the very best fishing this time of year. Typical species caught include tilefish, barrelfish, black bellied rosefish, grouper and large sea bass. Each of these fish makes for excellent table fare.
Bluewater trollers have enjoyed strong success with wahoo and yellowfin tuna. Wahoo have averaged 40 to 50 lbs. while yellowfin have mostly been in the 30 lb. class-size. Wire leaders coupled with big Islander lures and big ballyhoo have tricked wahoo. The Cigar Seamount has been the go-to spot for both species. Add large bluefish and codfish as potential “wildcards” on offshore wrecks. Triggerfish in the 2 to 4 lb. class are also biting on many wrecks.
An outstanding catch of tilefish & black sea bass
Inlets & Surf: Speckled trout
Chesapeake Bay: Striped bass and tautog
Offshore: Wahoo and yellowfin tuna
Offshore Wrecks: Blueline tilefish
See you on the water. Tight lines and hard strikes to all!
November 14th, 2014 by Sherry Friel
This week in The Beach Report, local mom Sherry Friel shares a preview of the winter excitement for those lucky enough to be in Virginia Beach this holiday season!
Virginia Beach kicks off its most popular seasonal events in November and introduces a new one for December: Ice Skating!
The skating rink at Rudee Loop is new this season!
We are so excited! My 11-year-old son and I are making big plans for the holidays here in Virginia Beach. I got a glimpse of the calendar for the season and realized that it all starts happening this month! Here’s a rundown of the events and activities we plan to participate in:
Ice Skating. The brand new Oceanfront Ice Park at Rudee Loop is slated to kick off the winter season Dec. 1, and we are certainly looking forward to it. Located at Rudee Loop (3rd & Atlantic), the Ice Park will boast 7,200 square feet of ice skating surface. A perfect family plan might include a relaxing drive through the Holiday Lights at the Beach afterward. This night is going to be a special one!
100 miles of lights!
McDonald’s Holiday Lights at the Beach. (presented by Liberty Tax) kicks off Nov. 21 from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Sun.-Thurs. and 5:30-11 p.m. Fri-Sat. Driving through this popular light show has become an annual holiday tradition for many Virginia Beach families, which features ongoing as well as new displays of light all along the boardwalk. If you’d rather walk through the lights, you can do so Wednesday, Nov. 19 for Ronald McDonald House Charities. Simply bring a donation to the entrance at 2nd Street and enjoy the show by foot before cars are allowed through.
Hunt Club Farm’s Annual Country Christmas. If you’re looking for a very special family night out complete with bonfires, s’mores and hot apple cider, this is the best deal in town. Christmas at Hunt Club Farm is truly a local holiday tradition-one that features 5,000 square feet of animated holiday displays, a full Christmas tree market, and petting farm. Take the kids to see Santa and visit the new Peddler’s Village featuring local vendors with a variety of goods for sale. The fun begins Friday, Nov. 28.
Hunt Club fun!
So what are your plans for the holidays? I hope they include many warm memories and lots of special time with family and friends. I know mine will, and I plan to share my experiences with you in future blogs as we try oceanfront ice skating for the first time, drive through our fabulous boardwalk light show, and take in the warmth and tradition of Hunt Club Farm.
Tis the season to live the life!
November 3rd, 2014 by Katherine Jackson
Virginia Beach just keeps on getting better for walkers and bicycle riders. According to the 2014 Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation Annual Report, citizens and visitors enjoy 254 miles of bikeways, trails and wide sidewalks in the city. Recently, two more miles were added to that total, due to the opening of an eight-foot wide asphalt path that parallels a new section of Nimmo Parkway. I recently walked the route, having parked at the Princess Anne Recreation Center near General Booth Boulevard and turning around at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center on the corner of Nimmo Parkway and Princess Anne Road. It’s a good place to walk, flat and freshly paved. It’s flanked in some areas by woods filled with fragrant pine and hardwood trees. In other areas, it runs adjacent to neighborhoods. Pastureland abuts one stretch, and on the day I walked it, several horses grazed peacefully in the autumn sun. The path traverses a long bridge over the slow-moving West Neck Creek and the wetlands adjacent to it. A shorter bridge crosses Hunt Club Tributary. With the leaves on the trees changing colors and the fall wildflowers in bloom, it was a satisfying walk. I wasn’t the only walker who thought so.
In addition to being an easy place to take a stroll, this new section connects several bikeways, significantly increasing the number of miles that can be covered on two wheels. For example, the Nimmo segment makes it possible to bike from the Princess Anne Recreation Center to the Farmers Market. After completing the two miles on the Nimmo path, turn right on the bikepath adjacent to Princess Anne Road and it’s a straight shot to the Farmers Market. I described this route in a post last summer. The new Nimmo segment also connects with the Nimmo Trail and Greenway, which I wrote about last spring. The distance from the Nimmo Trail and Greenway to the Farmers Market is approximately eight miles, a challenging sixteen-mile workout on a safe and pleasant route.
Along with the multi-use path that is separated from the main road by a grassy strip, this part of Nimmo Parkway has what Virginia Beach Senior Planner Wayne Wilcox describes as “wide outside lanes…a type of bike facility for on-road riders. Cars can pass the bikes more safely and easily without changing lanes.” Facilities like this one are making it easier to walk and pedal as alternate means of transportation in Virginia Beach. In fact, more and more people are biking to work at the Municipal Center via pathways on Nimmo Parkway and Princess Anne Road. The Parks and Recreation annual report outlines a number of priorities, and I’m happy to report that trail development is at the top of the list. Walking and biking are year-round activities in Virginia Beach, thanks to our temperate climate and our ever-increasing inventory of trails.
Photo credits: Katherine Jackson
November 2nd, 2014 by Mike Halperin
The beauty of a Rudee Inlet sunrise
Editor’s Note: Happy Fall! The clocks fell back last night & you got an extra hour…….now it’s time to get up & fish!
For fishermen seeking to maximize the fun factor and test their skills, Virginia Beach is the place to be in November! Why? Let’s just say false albacore, speckled trout, and striped bass.
False albacore, premier light tackle game fish, are blitzing bait in a feeding corridor extending from Chesapeake Light Tower to the beach. These mini-tuna and speedy game fish are famous for blistering runs, typically traveling in schools, and making great targets for fly-casters. So try small boat angling at its best!
Speckled Trout by Duane Raver
Speckled trout, on the other hand, while not as fast as false albacore, make a good first run while their soft mouths test every angler’s drag-setting and fish-playing skills. Best of all, speckled trout make for delicious eating and there is probably not a more colorful fish available to inshore anglers. While plenty of sub-keeper-size specks are available inside Little Creek, Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets, Rudee is the best place to make a 5 lb. Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament citation catch. Mullet, artificial clams, and cut bait along with Gulp jigs have proved productive for specks.
Striped bass by Duane Raver
Striped bass, Thanksgiving favorites since colonial times, are now in early season. Good numbers of 18- to 28-inch slot limit fish are biting around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnels. Action is normally best at night and can be non-stop when stripers are holding along tunnel light lines. This is perfect fly fishing sport.
Top bass lures include MirrOlures, swimming plugs and Gulp on a jig. Larger rockfish are holding over tunnel tubes with numbers and sizes traditionally growing from Thanksgiving weekend through January. Stripers to 35 inches have already been caught by anglers using live spot bait. Also in the “island” mix are bluefish averaging 1 to 3 lbs. with many ocean charter boats returning with limit (10-fish) catches of bluefish.
Captain’s Tip: Reminder – one of the two-fish daily striped bass limit may exceed 28 inches. By only keeping one “slot” fish per angler for most of your trip, you will always be in compliance yet still prepared should that trophy fish swallow your lure!
Now is probably the last chance to enjoy the end of the spot run. Although not a year for 16-oz. citations, spot have been plentiful and good sized. Many fish in the 10- to 14-oz. category have provided lots of sport and great eating. As an added bonus, spot also provide tremendous live and cut bait for species such as king mackerel, stripers and red drum. A spot head soaked in the southern Virginia Beach surf can quickly get an angler hooked up with a monster red drum!
Some fine spot from Rudee Inlet
To the delight of boat and beach fishermen alike, large red drum continue to make their final migratory journey down the coast and out of our region. In addition to catches around the CBBT islands, night fishermen in Sandbridge are still intercepting trophy release fish. Many 50-inch range fish have been recorded for citations. While inlet and beach “puppy” drum catches have not been quite as numerous as their larger siblings, many smaller drum will likely winter over providing winter sport as trophy drum fishing wanes.
Flounder, while still exiting the bay, can possibly provide a late bite any time water clarity improves. In the interim, try near shore wrecks. The wrecks hold numbers of flatfish up to and over 7-lb. citations. Mouth of the Bay channel edges and the High Rise Bridge area can also be worth exploring.
Capt. Skip Feller with an impressive tautog
Find rock rubble, wrecks or tunnel pilings and you will find tautog and sheepshead. Tautog fishing has improved in direct lockstep with falling water temperatures. Anglers soaking crab have returned with plenty of tautog and some sheepshead. Green, fiddler and blue crabs will get you in the game. Bay tautog are averaging 4 to 5 lbs. with limits not hard to find.
In addition to flounder and tautog, mid-depth and offshore wrecks are holding sea bass, triggerfish, and bluefish. Most triggers average 4 lbs. with one citation triggerfish registering 4 lb. 8 oz. Sea bass are averaging 5 lbs. with one of the largest catches weighing 5 lb. 10 oz. A most exciting way to sample wrecks for blues is to place live bait on a float rig. If bluefish are there, you won’t have long to wait!
Private and charter boats running south from Rudee Inlet are intercepting a variety of tuna including yellowfin, bigeye, false albacore and blackfin. Although dolphin appear to be declining and white marlin finished for the season, several boats have returned with multiple wahoo catches up to 60 lbs, including one boat with four wahoo! Troll Sea Witch ballyhoo baits on wire leaders for wahoo.
Golden tilefish, blueline tilefish, barrelfish, yellow bellied rosefish, wreck fish and large sea bass are all available to deep-drop fishermen. The best way to enjoy this fishery is to make a reservation on a large, long- range Virginia Beach head boat. Why not let a highly experienced captain take you right to the fish!
Fresh rosefish taste even better than they look!
Golden tilefish from a 2013 deep-drop trip
Inlets & Surf: Norfolk spot and red drum
Chesapeake Bay: Striped bass and tautog
Offshore Wrecks: Blueline tilefish
Noteworthy Catches: Red drum release citations
WAHOO & a tag-along tuna
See you on the water! Tight lines and hard strike to all, Capt. Mike
October 31st, 2014 by Sherry Friel
- A.R.E. Health Center
Tomorrow begins a new month – already! We think it’s a perfect time to feature a post about being good to ourselves by taking care of our health. Sherry Friel shares how she did just that this week at the fabulously renovated Edward Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment.
Fall is a Fabulous Time to Focus on Health and Visit Virginia Beach-Home of the Historic A.R.E. Health Center and Spa
The transition from summer to fall almost always gets me thinking and contemplating changes I want to make in my life. Today, I started with one small change to what I drink after the morning coffee has worn off. Instead of my usual caffeinated, carbonated Diet Coke, I opted for a heavy mug of Egyptian licorice tea. The flavor is spicy and sweet, and the warm liquid has a way of lingering in the chest and abdomen in a very soothing and satisfying way. It’s my favorite tea and I rarely indulge the sensations and comfort of this simple pleasure. It’d certainly be a more healthy choice than soda, but without thinking, I routinely pop open the icy pick-me-up first because it’s fast, and somewhere along the way I led myself to believe that unless I am going full throttle every second of the day, I won’t be as productive as I need to be. So while drinking my tea, and allowing the quiet of the morning to influence my thoughts rather than the mountains of tasks before me, I realized that by not slowing down and enjoying the tea more often, I was short-changing the health and quality of my life. As much as I like to pride myself on having the ability to see the big picture of matters, the one area in which I fail miserably and consistently is my health. I am guilty of either eating what is close at hand, or even skipping meals. My choices in drink seem to be soda, soda, and more soda. Water and tea take too much time, I tell myself. The way I rationalize my poor choices is really quite ridiculous. I guess I’m just a normal human being, complete with a mash-up of healthy, unhealthy, and the usual balance of poor and wise decisions.
- This is one amazing porch!
But earlier this week I was pretty proud of a decision I made regarding my health. I paid a visit to the A.R.E. Health Center and Spa, located at 67th Street and Atlantic Avenue in Virginia Beach. The Health Center recently underwent an extensive renovation and while I had been excited to see the changes to a building erected in 1928 from an architectural standpoint, I was also curious as to the health services currently offered there. According to the A.R.E website, when the historic building was first constructed—for the then staggering sum of almost $200,000 (including state-of-the-art hospital equipment), the hospital employed doctors, nurses, osteopaths, and physiotherapists who carried out treatments recommended by Edgar Cayce’s psychic readings. In fact, for many individuals the hospital was seen as their last ray of hope. Although he drew upon the wisdom of every school of medicine, Cayce would come to be called “the father of holistic medicine.” Today the A.R.E Health Center and Spa offers an extensive selection of holistic therapies, including massage, bodywork, and energy work. Additionally, visitors to the health center have access to a number of hydrotherapies, including warm epsom salts baths and steam/fume baths. While any of the therapies offered would have been good choices, I started with a massage, followed by craniosacral therapy. The whole experience was utterly relaxing. I began the morning by wandering through the meditation garden and exploring the grounds of the health center. Walking up the hill to the main building, I glanced back and realized there would be a pleasant view of the ocean and surroundings from the fabulously renovated wrap-around front porch. My overall impression is this is an ideal destination for one to get pleasantly lost in thought and tranquility. The caregivers were fully focused on my comfort and well-being. The healthy effects of my visit continue as I write this, and I intend to return very soon. If you’re looking for a place to unwind and embark on a healthy path, the A.R.E. Health Center & Spa is an excellent starting point.
October 24th, 2014 by Teresa Diaz
Although 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!
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 is completely underwater!
Oysters, clams, mussels & other sea life now thrive in the Lynnhaven River
Chris shared many tips on buying & eating oysters. For instance, they should be pouty, like this one.