Posts Tagged ‘puppy drum’


Summer Fishing – A Fish for Every Angler

Sunday, 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

http://lynnhavenpier.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/LynnhavenFishingPier:

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

Capt. Mike


Bookmark and Share

So Many Fish, So Many Choices!

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 by Mike Halperin

Capt. Mike Halperin is featured this week in The Beach Report – his timely post offers the very latest happenings in the Virginia Beach fishing scene. Happy Independence Day & Happy Fishing!!

Inlets and Beaches:  With so many species to choose from, Virginia Beach fishermen will need to select a target fish. Inshore anglers can pick from a nice mix of sea mullet, Norfolk spot, croaker, speckled trout (release only), puppy drum, bluefish and flounder.  Bloodworms, Fishbites and squid will all fire up the action.

Spanish mackerel & bluefish catch - typical day's work in VB!

Spanish mackerel & bluefish catch - typical day's work in VB!

Mack Attack: Looking for some July 4th aquatic fireworks? Try trolling for Spanish mackerel off Virginia Beach. These speedy, torpedo-shaped gamefish provide drag-screaming runs only to top that performance by handily gracing the dinner plate. Best spots for an encounter include the 30-foot Cape Henry ledge, tide lines, channels of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and the entrances to Little Creek and Rudee Inlets.  Mackerel will grow in size and number as summer continues.

Captain’s Tip: If catching bluefish rather than mackerel, simply increase trolling speed. Moreover, no leader is too long (30 to 40 feet is optimal)  with fluorocarbon leader maximizing catches.

Citation-size red drum are patrolling shoal waters along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel as well as the entrance to Chesapeake Bay. Night fishing has been hot, but these channel bass can be lured in the daytime as well.   In addition to chumming, try slow trolling a large silver spoon such as a Hopkins 550 over the shoals. A recent citation release measured 49 inches.

Local IGFA representative Dr. Julie Ball with her 74 lb. women's 20 lb. line class World Record cobia -

Dr. Julie Ball with her 74 lb. women's 20 lb. line class World Record cobia

Cobia are here in numbers off Hampton (Bluefish Rock area) and in the lower bay with more and bigger fish arriving daily. Many fish have been  in the 30 lb. range, however, some behemoths over 80 lbs. have been landed.  For a “reel” challenge, toss a bucktail/plastic swimming lure combination to a surface cruising cobia and hope your tackle is up to the task.   It will be tested!

Flounder are enjoying a banner year. Good numbers of flatfish are inside Little Creek, Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets.  Keeper fish of 16 inches have not been uncommon, with fish up to 23 inches being landed with increasing frequency. With citation flatfish up to 8 pounds already landed, it looks to be a great flounder season.  Flounder are also available around the four rock islands of the CBBT, along channel edges and at offshore wrecks.

va marine res commiss

Captain’s Tip: Best flounder baits include live minnows, strip baits, and Gulp Alive white swimming minnows. Landing a tagged flounder at Rudee Inlet prompted me to remind readers to check all “shorts” for tags before release.  Tagged fish should be reported at Virginia Marine Resource Commission or call 757.491.5160.   Anyone turning in tag data receives a reward choice of a pin, hat, T-shirt or tackle pack.   Do participate as the data is invaluable for managing the resource.

Spadefish by Duane Raver

Spadefish by Duane Raver

Structure Swimmers: Structure dwelling spadefish, triggerfish and sheepshead offer yet another exciting local fishery. Clam strips attract spadefish and triggerfish while crab is best for drawing sheepshead to the hook.   Work baits as close to structure such as bridge pilings and wrecks as you can.  A sheepshead of 11 pounds is already on record. Chesapeake Light Tower remains a premier spot for spadefish.  By live baiting, you may also experience the thrill of fighting a feisty amberjack at the wrecks. 

Deep Drop: Anglers bottom fishing the Continental Shelf can expect bites from blueline and golden tilefish, jumbo sea bass, grouper, wreckfish and black bellied rosefish. Most catches are made on large, comfortable long-range head boats leaving from Virginia Beach docks.

Vic Gaspeny (l) with Capt. Justin Wilson and the pending record 311 lb. bigeye tuna

Vic Gaspeny (l) with Capt. Justin Wilson w/ a 311 lb. bigeye tuna caught last year on a charter fishing expedition

Bluewater Trolling: Bigeye and yellowfin tuna along with dolphin, also known as “mahi”, dominate the trolling menu. Some bigeye have exceeded 100 pounds with the average yellowfin weighing 45 to 50 pounds.  Similarly, a 40 lb. dolphin is one of the larger mahi caught so far. Moreover, the opportunity to hook a marlin along with a chance for a handsome release citation plaque or certificate from the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament is ever-present during one of these deep water adventures.

As you can see, Virginia Beach offers numerous world class summer angling adventures. So if you’re already here or just planning your visit, there is plenty of reason to join us to wet a line to enjoy some fishing fun!

Captain’s Log: Lynnhaven Inlet beach on the western side of the inlet is closed. The beach is closed for 3 years while being used to stage construction of a new inlet bridge.    Boating anglers may continue to launch boats and park trailers.

Best Bets: Flounder, croaker and spot (inlets), cobia and flounder(Chesapeake Bay), yellowfin tuna (offshore)

Tournament Trail:

Military Tournament: A free fishing tournament open to all active-duty military and dependents is set for May 15 through July 20. Participants in this Tidewater Anglers Club sponsored tournament only need a Virginia saltwater fishing license.  Prizes include cash awards, youth trophies, and a one-year club membership for each winner.   For information: 757.499.1834 or: www.tidewateranglersclub.org

Virginia Beach Anglers Club Summer Fishing Tournament:

July 13, 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

http://lynnhavenpier.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/LynnhavenFishingPier:

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

Capt. Mike


Bookmark and Share

Celebrating the 100th Fishing Blog

Sunday, June 15th, 2014 by Mike Halperin

Editor's Pick - Congrats to your 100th post, Capt. Mike

Editor's Pick - Congrats on your 100th post, Capt. Mike!

As I pen my 100th article for this fishing blog, it remains a pleasure to share Virginia Beach as one of the premier angling destinations anywhere in the world. Whether your preference is surf, inlet, bay or ocean fishing, our angling options are consistently world-class. From spot and croaker to striped bass, blue marlin or tuna, our waters have it all. As summer approaches, now is a perfect time to plan that Virginia Beach vacation that will offer the enjoyment, fun and challenge of a wide variety of fishing opportunities.

Surf Zone: Puppy drum in the 18- to 26-inch slot class have been pleasing anglers in the surf near the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier. Other crowd pleasers in that arena have been striped bass along with feisty bluefish, many of which have measured well over 30 inches.  The same big blues have been frequenting Rudee Inlet, apparently feasting on schools of bait fish.

Rudee Inlet: There is a good mix of fish available inside the inlet. Anglers soaking blood worms and squid are likely to encounter spot, croaker, sea trout, puppy drum, bluefish and flounder.  Many croaker have been good size of a pound or more.  Small flounder remain plentiful, with some anglers enjoying fair success in enticing keeper 16-inch flatfish.

Lynnhaven and Little Creek Inlets hold the same species, but with less likelihood of large bluefish. I just had my own brief encounter with a big bluefish in Rudee – following a line-sizzling run, the fish cut me off, happily allowing me to return to flounder fishing. For the largest flounder, try jigging white Gulp minnows or fish fresh cut strip baits.  

A Rudee Inlet flounder tags along with Lee Hughes, Sr. prior to release

A Rudee Inlet flounder tags along with Lee Hughes, Sr. prior to release

If a friendly smiling gentleman approaches and asks to “borrow” your fish, you will help the ecosystem by loaning your catch. Lee Hughes Sr. is a well-known fish tagger who has been tagging fish for years at Rudee Inlet. Lee has hundreds of tags to his credit.  He will measure your catch, record the data and then carefully release it.  The data is used to monitor growth and travel at recapture and provide information to support sustainable harvest. Best of all – it will feel great to see your fish set free. 

Chesapeake Bay: Cobia are here in force with many weighing up to 70 to 80 pounds. Try fishing the shoals, channel edges or the Bluefish Rock area. For an extra challenge, try sight fishing and tossing a bucktail lure in front of a cobia – and then hold on! Spadefish as well as sheepshead are in the bay around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel; however, neither species is on a strong bite yet. Similarly, bay flounder catches have not been as reliable as inside the inlets.  Sporadic flounder bites may be due to freshwater runoff following rain storms.  On a high note, several flounder of 7 lb. citation size have already been taken in bay waters.  Stripers remain available, although many anglers are concentrating on large cobia for now.  Croaker are the other strong bay presence.

Most red drum coming from bay shoal areas have been 46 inches or larger. This bite has remained consistent and is still one of the best opportunities for earning a release citation award from the free Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament program.  Schools of black drum are moving from the shoals to take up summer residence around the islands of the CBBT.

Offshore: In addition to large black sea bass, good size flounder are available at the Triangle Wrecks some thirty miles offshore. Also, Virginia’s offshore fishing is ready to heat up as reported by one of our best local charter captains.  His boat returned with a blue marlin release, a mahi mahi (dolphin), and a 25-lb. class yellowfin tuna.  That is the type of action local and visiting anglers can’t wait to get in on!

Drop Deep for Big Success: Deep drop enthusiasts are returning to the dock with black bellied rosefish, large seabass, grouper, and blueline and golden tilefish. On a recent 17-hour trip, one fisherman hooked and landed a 43-inch, 57 lb. golden tilefish.  That fish has already qualified for a citation award and is currently pending approval as a new state record fish.

Captain’s Tip: When planning a bay or inlet fishing trip, try to allow a few days following heavy rains for fresh tides to clear the waters. Also, incoming tides tend to provide cleaner water as we approach summer.

Tournament Trail

Military Tournament:

taclogoA free fishing tournament open to all active-duty military and dependents runs through July 20. Participants in this Tidewater Anglers Club sponsored tournament only need a Virginia saltwater fishing license.  Prizes include cash awards, youth trophies, and a one-year club membership for each winner.   For information: 757.499.1834 or visit www.tidewateranglersclub.org.

VBAC Banner

Virginia Beach Anglers Club Summer Fishing Tournament: July 13, August 10 and September 14 on Lynnhaven Pier. Open to all with awards for croaker, roundhead, bluefish and spot. For information, call 267.994.7423 or visit http://lynnhavenpier.blogspot.com/ or  https://www.facebook.com/LynnhavenFishingPier

VB tournament logo

Virginia Beach Tuna Tournament, June 25 – 28 Marina Shores, 2190 Marina Shores Drive, Virginia Beach, VA. Call (757)  496-7000 or visit http://www.vbtuna.com


Captain’s Note: Lynnhaven Inlet beach on the western side of the inlet is closed. The beach is closed for 3 years while being used to stage construction of a new inlet bridge.    Boating anglers may continue to launch boats and park trailers.

Best Bets: Flounder and croaker (inlets), cobia (Chesapeake Bay)

Tight lines and hard strikes to all!

Capt. Mike

front cover Mike

Editor’s Note:
Capt. Mike’s book – True Tales of the Tide: An Angler’s Lifelong Quest - includes 13 true saltwater action-adventure fishing stories mostly set in Virginia Beach. The book shares stories about local catches ranging from citation “spot” up to several state record fish. I’ve read this book myself and highly recommend it. Talk about getting the story from a local’s perspective…….it doesn’t get any better than this!


Bookmark and Share

Fishing Heats Up with the Weather

Sunday, June 1st, 2014 by Mike Halperin

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

Increasing flounder catches are creating angler excitement in Virginia Beach! Keeper flatfish over 16 inches are in all three area inlets with Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets yielding a number of fish up to 20 inches or more.  One happy angler boated a 7 ½ lb. citation flounder drift fishing in Long Creek inside Lynnhaven Inlet!  Flounder up to 5 pounds are hitting in the “ditch” near Fisherman’s Island.  Try squid, minnows and artificial baits on a falling tide.

Puppy drum, smaller versions of adult channel bass or red drum, are being caught inside Rudee Inlet. Oily cut bait, such as finger mullet, should quickly attract the attention of any cruising puppy drum. Puppy drum have a 3-fish limit in the 18- to 26-inch slot class. Small spot, croaker, and gray trout are also biting inside Rudee.

Red Drum by Duane Raver
Red Drum by Duane Raver

A school of large adult red drum surprised a group of ocean kayak fishermen  with some amazing action just south of Rudee Inlet. Hooking one of these bronze monsters is always a battle but especially in a kayak!   Schools of red drum have been feeding inside Chesapeake Bay along Latimer Shoals, between buoys 13 and 16, with several 30-pound class cobia feeding along with the reds.  Some reds measured up to 50 inches.  Sea mullet have been a nice bonus catch on the shoals for drum fishermen. 

Black drum by Duane Raver
Black drum by Duane Raver

Black drum, mostly in the 20 to 40 pound range with some larger drum mixed in, have been feeding heavily around buoy 13. Clams continue to be the “hot” bait with best catches taking place after sunset.  One boat amazingly hooked 70 black drum in one night!

Striper fishing has been best in the early morning along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Striped bass are also biting in the seaside surf and occasionally inside Rudee Inlet.   Striped bass season runs through June 15 with two fish allowed in the 18- to 28-inch slot.  One of those two fish may measure over 32 inches but must be reported.  Fish deep and try wire line or live bait around the two CBBT tunnels and the High Rise Bridge if seeking the largest bass.

Bluefish by Duane Raver
Bluefish by Duane Raver

Chasing the Blues? Come to Rudee Inlet and fish near the Virginia Aquarium. Bluefish of 12 to 14 pounds have been landed here by some very surprised anglers.

Black sea bass are a popular target for anglers who enjoy returning with a cooler full of mouth watering fillets. Sea bass season is open through September 18 when it closes for a month and reopens October 18. Fishermen may keep 15 sea bass of 12  ½ inches.   Additionally, grouper, tilefish, wreck fish, barrel fish and black bellied rosefish are now on the deep-drop menu for offshore anglers.  Many of these deep-drop fish are large enough that one or two can literally fill your cooler!

Captain’s Tip: Two fishing rods I just bought came without hook keepers. Solution:  Large barrel swivels were re-purposed with a rubber   band looped through a loop to attach them just above the rod handle for safe transport of ready-to-fish rigs. Securing a hook in a line guide support may weaken the guide prematurely.

Captain’s Log: All anglers should take advantage of the free Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament angler recognition program. Just bring a qualifying fish or release information to any area weigh station (most tackle shops).

Tournament Trail

*  Military Tournament: A free fishing tournament open to all active-duty military and dependents is set for May 15 through July 20. Participants in this Tidewater Anglers Club sponsored tournament only need a Virginia saltwater fishing license.  Prizes include cash awards, youth trophies, and a one-year club membership for each winner.   For information: 757.499.1834 or www.tidewateranglersclub.org

*  Free Fishing Weekend: June 6, 7, and 8 are designated as Free Fishing Days in Virginia. Anyone yet to sample our world class fishing should take advantage of this opportunity.    No fishing license of any kind will be required for rod and reel fishing in saltwater or freshwater (with the exception of stocked trout streams).   Sample some world-class fishing in Virginia Beach and learn why people love to fish here year-round. For information:  http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/fishing/free-fishing-days/

*  Virginia Beach Anglers Club Summer Fishing Tournament: June 8, July 13, 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 http://lynnhavenpier.blogspot.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/LynnhavenFishingPier:

Captain’s Note: Lynnhaven Inlet beach on the western side of the inlet is closed. The beach is closed for 3 years while being used to stage construction of a new inlet bridge.    Boating anglers may continue to launch boats and park trailers.

Best Bets: Flounder (inlets and CBBT), red and black drum (Chesapeake Bay)

Tight lines and hard strikes to all!
Capt. Mike


Bookmark and Share

Fish Arriving!

Thursday, May 15th, 2014 by Mike Halperin

Puppy drum caught on recent charter trip

Puppy drum caught on recent charter trip

Reports are confirmed that red drum, black drum, striped bass, puppy drum, croaker and flounder are all on scene and taking baits in Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets. Sunshine coupled with water temperatures climbing into the 60’s seem to be keys to getting inshore saltwater fishing started. Anglers seeking results will need to target certain specific areas as fish are being selective about where they feed in the early going.

Red and black drum have moved into shallow shoal water at the northern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. The “ditch” near Fisherman’s Island and the surf off Smith Island have both been hot for red drum and black drum.  Several reds, also known as channel bass, have been in the 50-inch range with black drum averaging between 28 and 32 pounds. Don’t forget to register your catch for a courtesy Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament citation award should your catch meet a qualifying release length or keeper weight.

Striped bass are feeding at sunrise and sunset along rocks of the 1st (southernmost) island  of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Anglers throwing lures such as Windcheaters and poppers are enjoying strong action from school-size stripers with an ever present chance of landing a much larger fish.   Bigger bass hooked have measured up to 40 inches!

Puppy drum have been cooperative inside both inlets with a 3-fish limit in the 18- to 26-inch slot a real possibility, particularly inside Rudee Inlet. Croaker remain small, averaging two to a pound.  Speckled trout, although currently in a closed season, are the other species biting inside the inlets with small bluefish and sea mullet rounding out the inshore offerings.

flounder

Nice flounder catch!

For more and larger flounder, Lynnhaven Inlet is the better bet. Some Lynnhaven flatfish have been in the 4 to 5 lb. range with 16-inch keeper fish also available.  Flounder inside Rudee are mostly undersized with some few keepers in the mix. Flounder will also be available at usual locations along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

Virginia Beach offshore waters are beginning to come alive. Two of our best local charter captains took an “exploratory” captain’s trip and were rewarded with six mahi or dolphin and four beautiful yellowfin tuna.  The dolphin were gaffer size, but the tuna averaged around 40 pounds.  On the  same trip, an estimated 300 lb. bluefin tuna broke off right behind the boat.   Sounds like time to make charter reservations before they fill up!

Deep Drop Trips: Fish available here are golden and blueline tilefish, black bellied rose fish and grouper. In spite of the longer boat ride, this tends to be one of our most reliable fisheries.

Red drum by Duane Raver

Red drum by Duane Raver

Tournament Trail:

Military Tournament: A free fishing tournament open to all active-duty military and dependents is set for May 15 through July 20. Participants in this Tidewater Anglers Club sponsored tournament only need a Virginia saltwater fishing license.  Prizes include cash awards, youth trophies, and a one-year club membership for each winner.   For information: 757.499.1834 or: www.tidewateranglersclub.org for catch registration.

Free Fishing Weekend: June 6, 7, and 8 are designated as Free Fishing Days in Virginia. Anyone yet to sample our world class fishing should take advantage of the “Free Fishing Days” offered by Virginia.    No fishing license of any kind will be required for rod and reel fishing in saltwater or freshwater (with the exception of stocked trout streams).   Sample some outstanding fishing in Virginia Beach and learn why families and anglers love to fish here year-round. For information: http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/fishing/free-fishing-days/

Virginia Beach Anglers Club Summer Fishing Tournament: June 8, July 13, August 10 and September 14 on Lynnhaven Pier. Open to all with awards for croaker, roundhead, bluefish and spot. For information: call 267.994.7423 or visit one of these sites:

http://lynnhavenpier.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/LynnhavenFishingPier

or send an email to: vbanglersclub@yahoo.com


Captain’s Log: Lynnhaven Inlet beach at Crab Creek (western side of the inlet) is now closed. The beach is closed for the next 3 years (for safety reasons) while it is used as a staging area for constructing a new inlet bridge.    Boating anglers may continue to launch trailer boats and park trailers.

Captain’s Tip: When taking your fishing trip, be sure to stop by a Virginia Beach bait and tackle shop and ask for an up-to-date fishing report. As fishing conditions can change daily, this is an ideal way to fish armed with current information, including the “hot” lures and baits.

Upcoming: As of May 19, anglers may again fish for black sea bass.  A 15-fish limit with a minimum length of 12 ½ inches applies.

Best Bets: Red drum (shoals), croaker and puppy drum (surf and inlets) and flounder (inlets).

Tight lines and hard strikes to all!

Capt. Mike


Bookmark and Share

First Arrivals Please Anglers

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 by Mike Halperin

Phil Fowler & his citation
Phil Fowler & his 2013 prize striper courtesy of Victoria Jones

Editor’s Note:  Capt. Mike received updated info on the Lynnhaven Inlet beach closure; please see the “Captain’s Log” section of his post for this new information.  Thanks for keeping us current, Capt. Mike!

Anglers fishing for tautog in the early spring fishery have been thoroughly rewarded with catches of “tog” ranging from a few pounds up to double-digit size fish. Five-fish limits were not uncommon with deep water wrecks providing some of the largest fish. Reminder: Tautog season closes May 1. Tautog fishermen will now shift attention to other in season inshore species such as striped bass, croaker, puppy drum, red drum and flounder that are steadily arriving.

Striped bass season is now open. Coastal trophy season runs from May 1 through May 15 while Chesapeake Bay trophy season is May 1 through June 15. Trophy bass must be at least 32 inches with a 1 fish limit.  Regular Chesapeake Bay striper season is from May 16  through June 15 with a possession limit of two bass of 18 to 28 inches.  However, one of those two fish may be larger than 32 inches.   Confused yet?  If so, just check out the regulations at http://www.mrc.state.va.us/regulations/swrecfishingrules.shtm

Early catch-and-release fishing has revealed hordes of small striped bass in the 18 to 24 inch slot class around the Eastern Shore side of the bay, particularly at the Concrete Ships in Kiptopeke, an easy run by boat (or trailer) from Virginia Beach.

Croaker are being caught from lower Chesapeake Bay beaches and piers, including the pier on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. While these are not yet  Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament citation-size fish of 5 or more pounds, enough croaker are available to maintain angling interest.  Larger croaker, also known as hardheads, will be here soon.

Small red drum or “puppy drum” have provided cold weather sport while wintering over in our backwaters. Fish that remained inside Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets will soon be joined by migrating adult schools.  Some of the biggest drum, up to 70 or 80 pounds or more, will be taken in the Sandbridge and Eastern Shore of Virginia surf zones as they migrate north.  Keeper slot size for smaller drum is 18 to 26 inches with a daily limit of 3 fish per angler.

Black Drum

Black Drum by Duane Raver

There is no better feeling than releasing a puppy drum knowing it has a good chance to return fully grown to offer future sport. Adult red drum are already taking baits just south of Virginia Beach in North Carolina – it shouldn’t be long until they enter Virginia waters.  Black drum, providing yet another large strong angling adversary, are similarly due to arrive in bay waters any day now.  Black drum have a minimum size of 16 inches with a 1 fish per day limit.

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 in 2013

Flounder are the other big local fishing news. With inlet and bay waters warming, flounder began feeding a few weeks ago in traditional first run areas.  This action, however, has temporarily slowed as high winds have muddied local waters affecting the bite.  Once waters clear, flounder seekers should try area inlets or the lower Chesapeake Bay.  Rudee Inlet is normally a top bet.  Similarly, the First Island area and the curve of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel near the 8-mile marker could be especially productive locations while  strip baits fished in tandem with live minnows will optimize chances of scoring a nice flatfish.  A number of first run fish have approached 20 inches. Flounder must measure 16 inches with a limit of four fish per day.  Flounder citation awards remain unchanged at 26 inches for a released fish and 7 pounds for a weighed flatfish.

Small bluefish have been attacking baits inside Rudee Inlet with oily cut bait or shiny lures giving best results this time of year. Speckled trout are also present in the inlets but remain a strictly catch-and-release fishery as that season is currently closed.

Fishermen seeking larger fish in combination with ocean adventure are opting to board large, comfortable long-range head boats to deep drop along the Continental Shelf. Fish available in the deep water are golden and blueline tilefish, black bellied rosefish and grouper.  Be sure to call ahead for available trip dates and to reserve trip space.

Captain’s Log Updated 5/13/2014: Lynnhaven Inlet beach at Crab Creek (western side of the inlet) is now closed. The beach is closed for the next 3 years (for safety reasons) while it is used as a staging area for constructing a new inlet bridge. Boating anglers may continue to launch trailer boats and park trailers.

Captain’s Tip: Get rid of that old frayed line from last season and don’t risk the loss of a good fish.  Minimally, at least cut off the last 15 or 20 feet to get down to better line.

May Best Bets:

Croaker, puppy drum  and tilefish

Croaker by Duane Raver
Croaker by Duane Raver

Blueline Tilfefish by Duane Raver
Blueline Tilfefish by Duane Raver

Tight lines and hard strikes to all!

Capt. Mike


Bookmark and Share

A Fish for Every Season Up Close with Lonnie Longtin

Saturday, February 1st, 2014 by Mike Halperin

Lonnie Logtin and his prize catch

Lonnie Longtin and his prize catch

What better way to share the story of our world-class fishing than to talk with avid local angling expert Lonnie Longtin about his passion for Virginia Beach fishing. Lonnie has been successfully fishing our waters from beach and boat for twelve years.

A Conversation with Lonnie Longtin

Q: What makes Virginia Beach a premier fishing destination?

A: The wide variety of fishing waters, including inlets, jetties, wrecks, beaches, piers, and inland waters as well as the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. This provides year-round fishing as several species are always biting.

Q: What are the best places for visitors to fish?

A: The surf at Sandbridge, the three piers (Lynnhaven, Va. Beach, and Sandbridge), inland back waters by canoe or kayak, First Landing state park, and the Rudee Inlet sea wall.   There are also half and full day fishing trips on head and charter boats.  Other than the charter trips, most opportunities are at little or no cost.

Q: How would you describe Virginia Beach fishing?

A: Exceptional, ever-changing by season, featuring a wide variety of species.  There are normally several species feeding in our waters each season of the year.

Lonnie Longtin & his flounder catch

Lonnie Longtin & a recent flounder catch

Q: What are your favorite species?

A: Flounder and speckled trout from the beach and mostly striped bass but some cobia and flounder by boat.    These fish are available seasonally and offer a good bite.

Q: Can you share why you’re partial to light tackle?

A: I grew up fishing light tackle in fresh water and I decided to adapt the technique to the local fishing.

Q: What was your best or most unique day fishing?

A: One January day I saw flocks of gannets diving just south of the Rudee Inlet jetty.  I quickly went and found my son and we launched our boat.  Within a few hours we had caught and released 70 to 80 rockfish up to 40 pounds!

On another January day, we were catching stripers off Cape Henry when a group of five humpback whales started feeding all around us.   Suddenly one of the whales surfaced just five feet from our boat. As the whale swallowed a mouthful of menhaden, he looked my fishing partner right in the eyes from maybe five feet away and then slowly slid beneath the surface.

Q: What would readers be amazed to know about your fishing?

A: That I catch surprisingly large fish on light tackle and have been known to be out in my open center console boat “On the Rocks” in strong winds, rough seas and below freezing temperatures.

Many thanks to Lonnie for inspiring fishermen to visit Virginia Beach this year. Following is a representative sample of fish available by season.

Blueline Tilfefish by Duane Raver

Blueline Tilfefish by Duane Raver

At the start of the year in February and March, our bottom fish typically include tautog, blueline and golden tilefish, grouper, and yellow bellied rosefish, all top attractions for fishermen. These fish happen to be “all stars” in their own right on the dinner plate.  Bluefin tuna approaching 300 pounds or more have also excited anglers in February during recent years.

As area waters begin to warm in April, flounder will join the party from their offshore winter grounds. Chesapeake Bay blue crabs begin to emerge from the mud in May to provide one of our tastiest combos: crab stuffed flounder!  By the end of May, sea bass normally arrive on offshore wrecks along with chopper bluefish.

Norfolk Spot

Norfolk Spot by Duane Raver

With the start of summer weather patterns and predictable southwest winds in June, Norfolk spot, cobia, red and black drum, and Spanish mackerel are normally on the scene. All three species are great eating with the drum and cobia providing epic battles from fish that can easily top 50 pounds!

Blue Marlin release - estimated @ 300 lbs.

Blue Marlin release - estimated @ 300 lbs.

Once students are out of school, premier game fish including white and blue marlin, yellowfin tuna, swordfish and king mackerel show up. Trigger fish and spadefish are an added bonus during the summer.

Fall brings the added bonus of much larger fish that have fed all summer on Chesapeake Bay fish and crabs.  On top of that, many species tend to “school” in large groups just prior to fall migration, thereby offering easy pickings for fishermen. What more could an angler ask for!

In case you think I totally forgot, I have saved the best for last — Striped Bass! This revered game fish, which also manages to delight the palate while appearing in small to extra-jumbo sizes, is pretty much with us year round.  Anglers just need to check size and creel limits as well as changing locations that are permitted for catching rockfish.   With spring and fall offering the best shot at a trophy bass, and due to year-round striper presence, Virginia Beach enjoys the title of Rockfish Capital of the World.  By example, note Corey Wolfe’s 74-pound state record striper that was caught in the month of January.  And the size of our state record striped bass just seems to get bigger and bigger every few years.

With beaches, inland waters, fishing piers, boat ramps and charter boat facilities, the many fish species in Virginia Beach waters can be easily accessed in a variety of ways. A trip awaits that should fit almost any vacation budget.  So while planning that vacation visit to the Beach, don’t forget to save some time for a family fishing outing.  There is much fun to be had and great fishing memories to be made, no matter when you visit!

Captain’s Log: The March fishing blog will summarize catch trends and citation results from the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament for 2013. This can help to decide when and where to fish to target specific species as well as trophy fish in 2014.

Captain’s Tip: Now is the perfect time to clean and lubricate reels, make any needed repairs and spool fresh line for the coming season.  Then you’ll be ready to battle citation-worthy fish on short notice.

Wishing all tight lines and hard strikes!

Capt. Mike


Bookmark and Share