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

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The Beach Report – August 1, 2014

August 1st, 2014 by Mike Halperin

We are pleased to start August off on Shorelines with a fantastic post by our in-house angling expert and author, Capt. Mike Halperin. Enjoy!

Summer Species Shine!

Photo courtesy of George Poveromo
Photo courtesy of George Poveromo

Hordes of premier game fish visit Virginia Beach waters and attract some of the best fishermen on the planet who come here to challenge their skills and enjoy world-class fishing. One such returning angler is George Poveromo, host of  television network NBC Sports Network’s “World of Saltwater Fishing”.   George has already been to Virginia Beach to film television specials on flounder and striped bass.  While visiting the first week in August to get exciting action footage for an upcoming show, Poveromo will hunt cobia that can exceed 100 pounds!   As soon as the show date is released, we will post it on the blog.

Captain’s Tip: Blog readers wanting to learn more about battling cobia and other local game fish  are invited to read True Tales of the Tide: An Angler’s Lifelong Quest, a book by this blogger that fully explores all that Virginia Beach fishing offers.

White marlin struts his stuff prior to releaseBlue Water Action: Charter and private boats are enjoying the front end of the white marlin run as well as red hot dolphin fishing. Several boats have returned after scoring up to 5 marlin release citation awards from the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament.  That fishery typically only improves  as September arrives!  Mahi mahi, also know as dolphin, have arguably been the most predictable offshore catch.   Dolphin of bailer to medium size comprise the bulk of most catches with the occasional large bull dolphin in the mix. Tuna have also been pouncing on trolled ballyhoo lures, but not as reliably as the dolphin. A bigeye tuna of 211 pounds is one of the larger tuna to date while yellowfin tuna are averaging 20 to 40 pounds.

Golden tilefish & yellowfin tuna from a Virginia Beach offshore adventure
Golden tilefish & yellowfin tuna from a Virginia Beach offshore adventure

On the Shelf: Deep drop anglers journeying to the edge of the Continental Shelf have enjoyed outstanding fishing for tilefish. Many citation tilefish in the 10 to 15 pound range have been landed including a recent 44 lb. 8 oz. monster golden tilefish. Squid bait has brought these brutes to the hook along with large sea bass, wreckfish, barrelfish, grouper and black bellied rosefish.  These trips always afford the chance of not only a citation catch but a possible world-record fish.  

Local angler Fletcher Rawls reveals what swims inside Rudee Inlet: flounder of 19", 21" & 22" along w/a 17" gray trout & 24" puppy drum
Local angler Fletcher Rawls reveals what swims inside Rudee Inlet: flounder of 19″, 21″ & 22″ along with a 17″ gray trout & 24″ puppy drum

Inlet Fishing: Folks soaking baits in Rudee, Lynnhaven and Little Creek Inlets can expect a mixed bag of small croaker, spot, gray trout, speckled trout, puppy drum, and flounder. Although still in season, the inlet puppy drum and flounder bites have slowed considerably. Spot and croaker numbers are on a steady increase while two-hook bottom rigs fished with bloodworms, Fishbites, or squid should produce steady action.

Pier, Surf and Inshore: Bluefish and Spanish mackerel continue to be the hot inshore pick. Spanish mackerel have been thick, good-sized and ready to attack a small trolled spoon.  Spot, croaker, bluefish, flounder and sea mullet round out the close-to-shore offerings with pompano now showing in the Sandbridge surf.  King mackerel are due to follow.

A typical catch of spanish mackerel
Typical catch of Spanish mackerel

Captain’s Tip: Bluefish and Spanish mackerel do not store well – they taste best when served fresh rather than frozen. This is due to their oily nature.

Anglers John Forbes, Ricky Powell & WA Lee with Lee's record catch in 2013

Anglers John Forbes, Ricky Powell & WA Lee with Lee's record catch (2013)

Chesapeake Bay Fishing: One word says it all – FLOUNDER! Flounder catches have been off the charts with many fishermen regularly returning with limit catches of four 16-inch flatfish.  Savvy anglers fishing live bait have upped the game to lure citation doormats of nearly 8 pounds!  Sheepshead as large as a 17 lb. 14 oz. citation are biting along pilings and tunnel tubes of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.   Triggerfish and spadefish offer additional quarry for fishermen.

Red drum and cobia are maintaining their summer feed in the bay. Red drum have been sighted in large cruising schools but are prone to scatter once sight-fished.  So make that first cast count!  Reds to 54 inches have been registered for citations.

Cobia are luring anglers who desire the thrill of a sight-fishing hunt. Most cobia are in the 30 to 50 lb. range, but larger fish may be effectively targeted by sight-casting.  Buoys “36 A” and “13” along with the inner middle ground shoals are great starting points for locating drum and cobia.   Rods and reels should be in top repair before taking on a hard fighting red drum or cobia.

Best Bets:

Offshore – dolphin

Inshore – flounder

New walkway from Fishing Center to the Boardwalk: Kudos to city work crews for progress on constructing a wide concrete walkway running from Rudee Inlet and the boardwalk to the fishing center.  The walkway meanders along the canal edge and will provide a pleasant walk for anglers seeking bait without moving their vehicle.  The project is rapidly moving to completion.

On the Tournament Trail

Virginia Beach Anglers Club Summer Fishing Tournament

August 10 and September 14 on Lynnhaven Pier. Open to all with awards for croaker, roundhead, bluefish and spot. For information: 267.994.7423 and

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

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The Beach Report: July 25, 2014

July 25th, 2014 by Katherine Jackson

Crape Myrtle

This week in The Beach Report, Blogger Katherine Jackson is hot on….

Another New Trail

Hooray to the City of Virginia Beach for adding three more miles to its inventory of multi-use trails, bringing the total to well over 100 miles of bikeways and trails in the city. A new shared-use path was built as part of the widening of Princess Anne Road from the Virginia Beach Municipal Center to the Farmers Market. To access the trail, we unloaded our bikes at the municipal center, an ideal starting point for biking in the southern section of the city. There’s plenty of free parking, especially on the weekends, and this time of year, hundreds of pink crape myrtle trees are impressive in full bloom.

PA BikeThe new asphalt path is separated from the roadway and is wide enough for two bikers to ride comfortably abreast. Along the way, the city’s Meadow Management program is taking hold. Native plants, including wildflowers, are growing literally like weeds: Indian Blanket, Queen Anne’s Lace, Coreopsis, and lots of other yellow and periwinkle flowers. Meadow management areas like this are cropping up in parks, near waterways, and on roadsides all over the city. This landscape design encourages indigenous plants to grow, provides stormwater filtration and wildlife habitat, and reduces manpower costs.

In addition to the riot of wildflowers along Princess Anne Road, there are plenty of sites to see in this vicinity. The Farmers Market bursts in July with tomatoes, peaches, blueberries, corn, watermelon and butter beans. One vendor sells homemade ice cream, a cool Farm Markettreat on a summer ride. Across from the market, Dale Eldred’s Light Garden, a massive sculpture of light sensitive panels enclosed in glass frames atop steel columns, shimmers with prisms of color.

We continued our ride on the Princess Anne Road path until we reached the entrance to Tidewater Community College. Here, we turned right and pedaled east through the campus to pick up another bikeway on South Rosemont Road. When Rosemont ends, a paved path continues along the utility right-of-way. After passing through grassy fields between two neighborhoods, the path intersects Winterberry Lane, where we turned right for a short jaunt through the neighborhood. Returning to Princess Anne Road, we headed south to complete a P-shaped loop, but not before stopping for picnic supplies at a nearby grocery store. Back at the Municipal Center, we ate lunch in the deep and breezy shade of a giant magnolia tree in the Mary Russo Volunteer Recognition Garden. In addition to picnic tables and benches, the garden has a large charcoal grill and several paths through flower-filled beds, a perfect place to wind down after a ride. As described, the route we took was approximately ten miles, an easy cruise for families with older children. Stronger riders can expand the route by touring through the Princess Anne Athletic Complex, the Hampton Roads Soccer complex, and the Farm Bureau Live amphitheater, which lie to the west of Princess Anne Road.Rosemont Bike

According to the City of Virginia Beach’s Bikeways and Trails plan, “the citizens of Virginia Beach have shown and stated consistently over the years that they want to be able to bike and walk around the City, both for recreation and transportation alternatives.” This comprehensive plan, overseen by a citizen advisory committee, establishes a process for considering the feasibility of including multi-use paths whenever new roadway projects are designed and when existing facilities are renovated. In fact, the plan is working, as evidenced by the new Princess Anne trail. Stay tuned to ShoreLines for information on new bikeways and walking trails coming online soon.

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Summer Fishing – A Fish for Every Angler

July 20th, 2014 by Mike Halperin

Courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

Courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

Good riddance to Hurricane Arthur! Virginia Beach anglers may now return to what they love best – catching fish!  While the storm’s passing seems to have momentarily slowed down tuna fishing, post-storm bill fish action has proved worthwhile with returning boats registering several citation  awards with the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. One released white marlin measured 80 inches with most hookups taking place at Norfolk Canyon.  Dolphin (or mahi) remain available with many school-sized fish surpassed by the occasional “Who’s Your Daddy?” dolphin in the mix.

A nice catch of Spanish mackerel!

A nice catch of Spanish mackerel!

Bluefish and Spanish mackerel are leaving huge smiles on the faces of fishermen on both private and charter boats fishing inshore. This year is quickly turning into a top year class for numbers as well as size of Spanish mackerel.  A 6 ½ lb. citation mackerel recently caught off Rudee Inlet  highlights the success of our mackerel fishery.  Cape Henry is normally a reliable starting point for Spanish mackerel trolling, especially along tide lines.  King mackerel could also make an appearance anytime now.

Fishermen plying local saltwater inlets (Little Creek, Lynnhaven and Rudee) may expect mostly small to medium spot, croaker, sea mullet, speckled trout (release for now), puppy drum and bluefish. Flounder, while also in the surf and inlets, are trending larger this year with 16-inch keepers not unusual.  Even though the flounder and puppy drum bite has slowed somewhat, it should pick up once waters fully clear from recent storm runoff.

Chesapeake Bay, also recovering from Arthur, continues to offer cobia, sheepshead, spadefish, triggerfish, and flounder along with red and black drum. Cobia in the 30 to 40 lb. range are numerous. Trophy fish exceeding 50 lbs., however, remain a challenge.  For best cobia results, try cut menhaden at locations like buoys 16, 13 and the “Middle Grounds”.

Black drum by Duane Raver

Black drum by Duane Raver

Black drum, sheepshead, triggerfish and spadefish are holding around structure of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and certain offshore wrecks. In addition to a great fight, sheepshead weighing up to 11 pounds offer distinct “plate appeal” due to a diet of tasty mollusks.

Red drum still patrol bay shoals and will fall for crab baits. Big reds to 57 inches have been reported for citation awards.  Black drum are in schools around the four rock islands of the CBBT and can be coaxed to swallow bucktail lures.

Croaker by Duane Raver

Croaker by Duane Raver

A mix of gray trout, croaker, sea trout, bluefish, and flounder is waiting for boaters running to Kiptopeke on the northern side of the bay. Flounder are also well established in the “Ditch” running from Fisherman’s Island to Magothy Bay as well as the 4th island area of the CBBT.

Deep drop fishermen working the Continental Shelf should find a wide variety of fish including black seabass, black bellied rosefish, grouper, barrelfish, wreckfish and tilefish. The tilefish have averaged around 15 pounds while all of these species are excellent on the dinner plate.  Long-range comfortable head boats are ready to take you in comfort to this exciting fishing.

A typical Virginia Beach tilefish

A typical Virginia Beach tilefish

Captain’s Tip: When cobia fishing – keep a live eel rigged on a rod and ready to pitch in case a monster cobia shows up.

Captain’s Tip: First Impressions Matter.  Fluorocarbon (invisible) leader is money well spent as it will maximize bites.  This is particularly important for fish with keen eye sight such as mackerel or tuna.

Captain’s Log: Visiting trailer boaters should note that the free Owl’s Creek boat ramp near the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center affords easy access to Rudee Inlet fishing as well as a quick entry to the Atlantic and all the bounty it can offer.  Go to Owl’s Creek for information.

Best Bets:

Spanish mackerel, white marlin, cobia, flounder, and tilefish

Tournament Trail:

Virginia Beach Anglers Club Summer Fishing Tournament:

August 10 and September 14 on Lynnhaven Pier. Open to all with awards for croaker, roundhead, bluefish and spot. For information: 267.994.7423 and

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

Capt. Mike

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The Beach Report – July 18, 2014

July 18th, 2014 by Sherry Friel

Local blogger and mom Sherry Friel is definitely in tune with all the latest outdoor fun in Virginia Beach. She and son Nathaniel took on our newest attraction and her post gives us all the details – enjoy this fun read!

adv park 3 (3)

Virginia Beach gives “adventure” two snaps, a twist and a ZIP!

We did it ! My 11-year-old son Nathaniel and I spent an afternoon and evening at Virginia Beach’s newest attraction-The Adventure Park. There’s been a great deal written in local newspapers and on the city’s tourism web site about this aerial tree park at Virginia Aquarium. I even wrote a column myself in anticipation of what we were about to experience. But truth be told, the park exceeded any expectations I had by such a long shot that I am hesitant to even attempt to describe the fun we had. You just have to go there. I can say that the park was much larger than I expected. It also was more challenging for the mind, body and spirit than I imagined. In addition, experiencing it when the sun was low in the sky until after sunset made the time even more special. The park is open until 11 p.m during the summer so we timed it just right to enjoy the unique appeal of it at night.

When I say The Adventure Park was larger than I expected, I am not only referring to scale, but the varying levels of difficulty it offers to kids and adults. The 170 tree platforms, ziplines, and 13 different color-coded aerial trails were challenging enough for novice as well as advanced climbers. When I first entered the park, I felt a bit overwhelmed as I tried to take in all the options. Fortunately, the staff does a fantastic job at gauging your level and leading you through the courses accordingly.

To say the Adventure Park is a challenging experience for the mind and body is an understatement. After observing people of all ages for several hours, I now believe it to be a phenomenal growth experience for anyone. I watched my son and his friend, in the course of just three hours, go from being timid and unsure about navigating their way through the trails to wanting to tackle harder courses. Their words as we exited the park, “We will be back.” As a parent I am always searching for ways my son can grow and build confidence. Our climbing adventure was definitely time well spent and we look forward to returning really soon.

Summer is a crazy busy time for active families, and there never seems to be enough time during the day to do everything. When I started planning this special birthday outing for my son, I had to work around not only his summer schedule, but his friend’s plans as well. When I realized the park was open until 11 p.m., I was so relieved. Yes, I thought, we will be able to proceed with any plans we had during the day and do the Adventure Park too. But I worried that the kids wouldn’t be able to see the trails very well in the dark. I also was concerned they would be too tired. Of course I worried needlessly. They were able to work through the trails just fine at around 7 p.m., and after it got dark, the entire forest is beautifully illuminated with twinkling lights strung through the trees. It took on a truly magical quality after dark, and only enhanced what was already a wonderful experience.  We stayed until 10 p.m. and practically had to drag them out. The boys were just getting started!

I wholeheartedly recommend The Adventure Park for active, outdoors-loving kids and adults. In fact, when a 20-something neighbor asked my advice on an interesting place to take his girlfriend, I told him about this amazing aerial park. After they went, he was excited to tell me it was PERFECT and they had the best time! Do I foresee an Adventure Park wedding theme in their future? Why not!? I can’t think of a more exciting way to start Living the Life together!

Photo credits: Sherry Friel

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