Posts Tagged ‘puppy drum’


One Good “Bill” Deserves Another!

Sunday, February 1st, 2015 by Mike Halperin

Bill Gooch practicing his love of fly fishing

Bill Gooch practicing his love of fly fishing

Editor’s Note: All of our Shorelines posts in February will be themed around things we  LOVE in Virginia Beach. Enjoy!

FOR THE LOVE OF FISHING

Meet Virginia Beach resident and angler Bill Gooch. Although Bill is truly “hooked” on marlin fishing, he has been an avid angler since age four who enjoys pursuing multiple species while also participating in tagging programs.  Most people fish for enjoyment, yet others, like Bill Gooch, work to save pelagic species so future generations can always enjoy ocean fishing as a recreational sport from coastal cities like Virginia Beach.   His efforts, along with those of other taggers, help determine travel patterns that can optimize predictions of where and when to expect best fishing success.

As if the circle hook was not beneficial enough, Bill Gooch is also the architect of the “Observer Program” where knowledgeable anglers are placed aboard tournament boats to promote proper care, identification and release of fish. As a practice dating back to 1999, observers are now standard in most billfish tournaments. Additionally, in 2000, Bill founded the local Wine, Women and Fishing Tournament that benefits breast cancer research.

When not out fishing on his 36-foot center console “Chaos”, Bill works hard to help achieve the main goal of The Billfish Foundation (TBF), conservation of billfish and associated species such as bluefin and yellowfin tuna. As a current board member and past Chairman of the Board of TBF, Bill is passionate about saving these magnificent game fish including white and blue marlin, swordfish, sailfish, and spearfish. During Virginia Beach marlin season, typically August and September, Bill fishes regularly for white marlin.

Bluefin logoAs our local “link” to the international efforts of TBF, Bill, along with Captain Ron Hamlin, was responsible for the start of the circle hook approach to maximize mouth hook ups that ensure healthy releases. This revolutionary technique, first employed on the charter boat “Capt. Hook” in Guatemala in 1996, has since spread throughout the globe and is now a federal law and tournament requirement when ballyhoo or Spanish mackerel are used as billfish baits in all U. S. tournaments

In a recent interview Bill shared his thoughts and tips on Virginia Beach marlin fishing:

Question: Where does Virginia Beach rank internationally for billfishing opportunities?

Answer: In August and September, we have as many white marlin as anywhere in the world. In other words – a world-class fishery bar none.

Q: What makes Virginia waters so productive for marlin fishing?

A: Our canyon structure (Norfolk Canyon) holds an extraordinary amount of bait.

Q: Why aren’t more blue marlin caught off Virginia Beach?

A: They are out there, even some granders (1000 lb. plus fish). Most captains troll smaller baits which attract mostly white marlin. Bigger baits are needed for large blue marlin.  Try the 50-fathom curve for the biggest marlin.

Bill Gooch fighting a released 800 lb. plus blue marlin

Bill Gooch fighting a released 800 lb. plus blue marlin

Captain’s Note: As proof of  local grander possibilities, anyone visiting the Virginia Beach Fishing Center can see a taxidermy mount of Ed Given’s 1093 lb. blue marlin, caught in Virginia Beach waters in 1978.

Q: If you were looking for marlin, where would you fish?

A: The areas 50 miles north and south of Norfolk Canyon and then look for temperature breaks.

Q: What rod, reel, and line is your favorite for white marlin fishing?

A: I like a TLD 30 Fin Nor reel coupled with a 6-foot rod with Fuji speed guides.  Monofilament line of 30 lbs. and 50- to 100-lb. leader is preferred as insurance against the always possible blue marlin or tuna.

Q: What else would you share with readers?

A: Always be conservation minded.  We really need to protect species such as white marlin, bluefish and striped bass.  When conservation measures are followed, species have an amazing ability to rebound from low numbers.

Billfish anglers everywhere should rest easy knowing that people like Bill Gooch have taken up the cause to preserve and protect premier game fish like yellowfin tuna and blue marlin. Our thanks go out to Bill for a job well done – and we are proud to claim him as a Virginia Beach resident.

Wishing you tight lines, following seas, and hard strikes!

Capt. Mike

Captain’s Log: The March fishing blog will be a summary of the highs and lows of the 2014 Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, typically a strong predictor of the year to come.  Regular every two-week fishing reports will resume as of April, 2015.

Why not take advantage of the mild weather and plan a fishing trip to Virginia Beach? Our shoulder season of October through May is the perfect time to save on many types of accommodations. Hope to see you soon!


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There’s Gold in Those Canyons!

Thursday, January 15th, 2015 by Mike Halperin

A 33 lb. golden tilefish citation catch

A 33 lb. golden tilefish citation catch

A getaway to Virginia Beach for some cool season fishing is one way to Live the Life!

Proving that all that glitters may be gold, golden tilefish continue to provide amazing offshore fishing. Anglers making the 60-mile trip to the edge of the Continental Shelf near Norfolk Canyon have been rewarded with 7-fish limit catches of golden tiles up to 33 lbs., including citation fish.  Golden tilefish are mostly in the 3 to 20 lb. range with blueline tilefish, black bellied rosefish and grouper rounding out the deep-water possibilities.  Out-of-season seabass may also bite, but must be released.

The Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, which opened January 1, 2015, and runs throughout the year, has added a new fish, golden tilefish, to the list of species eligible for citation awards. Citation fish must meet a minimum weight of 30 pounds.  Unfortunately, tilefish do not qualify for release awards as this deep-water species is subject to high mortality when released due to extreme pressure differences from the surface to a habitat typically over 200 feet deep.

Dr. Ken Neill & his 24.22 lb. state record tautog

Dr. Ken Neill & his current Va. record 24.22 lb. tautog

Tautog, always delicious and also known as blackfish, are hitting at offshore wrecks and in the Bay. Togs ranging from 3 to 10 lbs. with occasional fish to 15 lbs. can be tricked with crabs or clam.  Hermit or frozen green crabs will have to serve as crab bait this time of year.   A new 28 lb., 8 oz.  Maryland state record tog has our local anglers dreaming of besting the current Virginia record 24 lb., 3 oz. fish caught by Dr. Ken Neill.  The Triangle Wrecks should be holding plenty of tautog.

The 12th annual Rockfish Shootout was a success with anglers working the northern sections of Chesapeake Bay for trophy bass. “Team Legrande Slam 1” triumphed with a three-fish total of 125.80 lbs. of rockfish closely followed by Team “Smooth Move” and Team “Marlin Maniac 1” at 125.15 and 120.50 lbs. respectively for 2nd and 3rd place.  In addition to sizable cash awards, this tournament donates thousands of pounds of fish filets to area food banks, sponsors scholarships, and is helping to build a family room at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.

New Year, New Rule: As a result of an overall decline in fish population numbers, striped bass regulations for 2015 only permit recreational anglers to keep one striped bass over 28 inches per day. While recent catches have included acceptable numbers of larger 30- and 40-lb. class bass, federal regulators made this change to allow rockfish to begin a biomass recovery cycle, particularly for smaller fish that will become breeders.  East Coast fisheries managers will meet this spring to determine what slot-size, daily limit or season changes may be necessary to safeguard the future of this prized game fish. Stay tuned.

Striped bass from waters at northern end of Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

Striped bass from waters at northern end of Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

Anglers looking to fight a large striped bass should consider fishing with live eels in the area from Plantation Light to the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. This is now strictly a catch-and-release zone, but may provide the best bass access as the hoped for ocean fishery has been slow to develop.   Schools of ocean-run bass have been sighted by tuna trollers, but so far have stayed well outside the 3-mile limit.

Rudee Inlet and Lynnhaven Inlet are still providing action for quality speckled trout and some puppy drum. Gulp with a jig will catch both  species but MirrOlures have recently enticed specks as large as a Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament 29-inch release citation.  Successful MirrOlure colors have been lures with brown backs and orange bellies. For swim baits, chartreuse is typically the top soft plastic choice.   Specks and pups normally feed better following a few days of warmer sunny weather.

Bluewater trollers working Norfolk Canyon have enjoyed some success with yellowfin and blackfin tuna. So far, bluefin tuna have only been available to Rudee Inlet captains making the long run to the region south of Virginia Beach waters.

Hot Spot: Continental Shelf

Best Bites

A nice catch of speckled trout & puppy drum from Lynnhaven Inlet

A nice catch of speckled trout & puppy drum from Lynnhaven Inlet

Inlets: Speckled trout

Chesapeake Bay: Striped bass (release fishing)

Offshore Wrecks: Tautog

Continental Shelf: Golden tilefish

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

Capt. Mike


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Start 2015 with a Striped Bass!

Thursday, January 1st, 2015 by Mike Halperin

"Jet Ski" Brian Lockwood & his 14.80 tourney winning striper

"Jet Ski" Brian Lockwood & his 14.80 tourney winning striper

As bay and ocean water temperatures drop, ever larger striped bass are arriving. Rockfish in 40- and 50-lb. class sizes have been drawing trophy hunting anglers to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.  Beginning January 1st, the bay season closed and legal bass waters shifted to Virginia’s near coastal waters from the beach out to the north-south 3-mile limit line. But not to worry as January is THE month and these are the same waters that two years ago produced the current Virginia state record striped bass – Corey Wolfe’s enormous 74 pound rockfish!

Bass are swallowing a variety of offerings including Storm lures, Stretch lures, umbrella rigs, bucktails, mojos and live bait. It is worth noting that many of the largest recent catches, including tournament-placing fish, have been made by fishermen using live eels for bait.

Captain’s Tip: If fishing live eels, be sure to cover the entire water column. Position one bait just off the bottom, one at mid-depth, and another just below the surface. Once the “hot” zone is apparent, shift the other rigs to that depth.

Corey Wolfe with his citation Virginia striper

Corey Wolfe with his citation Virginia striper

Captain’s Log: Humpback whale viewing provides an added bonus for bass hunters this month. The whales, with a history of annual return to Virginia Beach, have been sighted in the waters just off  Cape Henry. The humpbacks are here to feast on the same schools of bait that striped bass are enjoying.

On the inshore scene, speckled trout continue to attract attention. Artificial Gulp swimming minnows coupled with fairly light jig heads as well as mullet baits are triggering strikes.   Although this bite has slowed a bit, some better trout catches, including several 5-lb. Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament citations, were recently made by fishermen working MirrOlures.  Puppy drum also remain in our inshore waters, but the bite is not as strong as during last month.  These mini-drum will still fall for cut bait.  Try Rudee Inlet for trout and drum on a warmer, sunny day.

Dr. Ken Neill & his 24.22 lb. state record tautog

Dr. Ken Neill & his 24.22 lb. state record tautog

Tautog are the other inshore bite that remains strong. To the delight of tog lovers, most fishermen are concentrating on striped bass, leaving little or no fishing pressure for tautog.  Crab of any sort is a ticket to success here with limit catches available once fish are located.  Mid-depth wrecks up to 30 miles out have been top producers.

Offshore success with blueline tilefish plus a 21 lb. citation bluefish!

Offshore success with blueline tilefish plus a 21 lb. citation bluefish!

Offshore, bluefin tuna are now running and will soon be challenging striped bass fishermen for their attention. Until the tuna arrived, ocean trolling had been mostly hit or miss since water temperatures dropped causing most captains to run south from Rudee Inlet.

Clearly the best offshore bet has been deep-drop fishing in water up to 50 fathoms along the Continental Shelf. This fishery remains consistently strong for bottom dwellers that include blueline tilefish, trigger fish, and black bellied rosefish, all of which make excellent table fare.

Speaking of excrellent table fare, what better way to enjoy striped bass than with a recipe from local chef Patrick Evans-Hylton:

Poached Rockfish with Homemade Tartar Sauce

Poached Rockfish:

4 (6-ounce) rockfish fillets, 3 cups water,

1 cup white wine, 1 lemon (sliced), 2 sprigs tarragon

In a large pan, add water, wine, lemon and tarragon. Bring to a boil and reduce heat so water is slowly simmering. Add fish fillets to water bath carefully with a spatula. Cook until heated through, about 6-8 minutes.

Remove each fillet with a spatula and serve.

Tartar Sauce:

1/2 cup mayonnaise,1-1/2 teaspoons finely chopped bread and butter pickles,

1-1/2 teaspoon minced sweet onion (such as Vidalia),

1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon salt, garlic powder

freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes

In a medium bowl, add the mayonnaise, pickles, onion, lemon juice, salt and mix well. Add garlic powder, black pepper and red pepper to taste.  Mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least three hours.

Plate fish with a spoon of tartar sauce atop and garnish with a few chopped tarragon leaves. Serve with roasted vegetables. Yields 4 servings.

Thanks go out to Chef Patrick for sharing this great local catch preparation.   A senior editor of food & wine for Coastal Virginia Magazine (formerly Hampton Roads Magazine), Patrick is also a member of the  Shorelines team.

Hot Spot

3-mile zone between Cape Charles and

Cape Henry for striped bass

Dr. Julie Ball with a beautiful tilefish

Dr. Julie Ball with a beautiful tilefish

Best Bites

Inlets & Surf: Speckled trout

Chesapeake Bay: Tautog

Offshore Wrecks: Tautog

Continental Shelf: Blueline tilefish

Noteworthy Catches: 7 lb. 5 oz. speckled trout, 8 lb. 10 oz. flounder, 49 lb. striped bass, 37-inch bluefish release

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


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A Fish for Every Angler

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 by Mike Halperin

Striped bass fishing should peak over the next several weeks with the Chesapeake Bay season running through the last day of 2014. School-size 18- to 28-inch fish are feeding in lower bay waters with numerous schools of 16- to 18-inch bass revealed by flocks of diving sea birds. Larger trophy fish are present along northern portions of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and along Virginia’s “Eastern Shore” side of the bay.

Caroy Wolfe & his 74 lb. Virginia state record striped  bass

Corey Wolfe & his 74 lb. Virginia state record striped bass

Bigger rockfish, to 30 or more inches, are available around the 3rd and 4th islands of the CBBT with the best chance for finding a trophy fish in the area from Plantation Light southeast to the CBBT High Rise Bridge area. Fifty pounders have already been taken including a recent 58 lb. 5 oz. striped bass. Fish like that create dreams of landing the next monster bass that will best Corey Wolfe’s state record 74-lb. striper. Soft plastics, lures, bucktails, cut bait and wirelining have all been productive.  Live eels, however, not only offer exciting hits but also the absolute best chance for a real trophy catch!

Tautog by Duane Raver

Tautog by Duane Raver

Tautog continue to put smiles on the faces of anglers with many boats returning with limit catches of fish averaging around 3 lbs. but some as heavy as 10 lbs. Togging has heated up on the Triangle Wrecks and other wrecks up to thirty miles offshore. Tried and true clam baits as well as available crab species are all getting good results.  Don’t skimp on tackle as stout rods and terminal hook-rigs are needed to crank these powerful fish up from their structure homes of rubble, wrecks and pilings.

Rudee Inlet speckled trout citation earns a smile!

Rudee Inlet speckled trout citation earns a smile!

Speckled trout enthusiasts are catching plenty of quality fish with many keeper-size trout exceeding 20 inches. Trout approaching the 30-inch mark have also made an appearance as the winter run is now in full swing.  Wade fishermen, shore fishermen and small boat anglers are all enjoying a strong run including exciting action inside Rudee Inlet.  Live bait, cut bait, soft swim baits and jigs, and MirrOlures are all producing with live minnows always a sure bet. Chartreuse is a hot color for soft plastics while MirrOlures tend to attract “gator” trout. 

Puppy drum are still inside Rudee Inlet. Falling water temperatures have slowed the bite considerably, but keeper-size fish remain available for patient anglers.  Finger mullet, shrimp and cut menhaden are all good baits.  Although not as appealing as fresh bait, soft plastics also work on these Color Me Gone Fishing at Sunrise!mini-red drum.

Ocean anglers holding secret wreck GPS numbers should expect a mixed bag of large black seabass, flounder and triggerfish. Finding a lightly fished or unknown wreck can quickly turn into a bonanza for tasty species at this time of year.  Squid and cut bait strips quickly let you know who is home at the wreck.

Virginia Beach long-range head boats have been returning with banner catches from deep-drop Continental Shelf trips. Species caught include golden and blueline tilefish, large seabass, grouper, black bellied rosefish, and wreckfish.  Large 10 lb. class bluefish with some as large as 18 lbs. offer a true bonus on the Shelf trips.  Be sure to bring a BIG cooler!  Blueline tiles offer a great opportunity to earn a handsome citation award from the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament.

Big bluefish brings big smiles to Capt. Skip Feller & Dr. Julie Ball

Big bluefish brings big smiles to Capt. Skip Feller & Dr. Julie Ball

False albacore are now making runs through our offshore waters, often close to wreck sites. Although not a favored catch for the dinner table,  “albies” provide maximum fun and sport, particularly on a fly rod.  A sporadic yellowfin tuna bite has been within southbound charter boat range and bluefin tuna have been spotted swimming beyond the 30-mile break.

Hot Spot: Chesapeake Bay Buoy 42 – drift live eels for stripers

Best Bites

Inlets & Surf: Speckled trout

Chesapeake Bay: Striped bass and tautog

Offshore Wrecks: Tautog and black Seabass

Continental Shelf: Blueline tilefish

Noteworthy Catches: 7 lb. 14 oz.  speckled trout, 12 lb. 6 oz. blueline tilefish, 58 lb. 5 oz. striped bass

Tournament Trail:

Header1

12th Annual Rockfish Shootout

December 28-29, 2014

For more info:  Call 757.319.5146 or visit:

http://www.midatlanticrockfishshootout.com/


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


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Much To Be Thankful For

Saturday, November 15th, 2014 by Mike Halperin

Striped bass by Duane Raver

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 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?

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.

Braving the high seas has its rewards - like this tuna!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

An outstanding catch of tilefish & black sea bass

Best Bites

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!

Capt. Mike


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Fish a Fly Rod!

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014 by Mike Halperin

The beauty of a Rudee Inlet sunrise

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 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 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

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

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!

Fresh rosefish taste even better than they look!

Golden tilefish from a 2013 deep-drop trip

Golden tilefish from a 2013 deep-drop trip

Best Bites

Inlets & Surf: Norfolk spot and red drum

Chesapeake Bay: Striped bass and tautog 

Offshore: Wahoo

Offshore Wrecks: Blueline tilefish

Noteworthy Catches: Red drum release citations

WAHOO & a tag-along tuna

WAHOO & a tag-along tuna

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


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Cool Winds & Hot Bites

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 by Mike Halperin

Some fine spot from Rudee Inlet

Some fine spot from Rudee Inlet

Recent cold fronts have brought weather changes needed to accelerate fall runs of  spot, speckled trout and striped bass. If that alone isn’t enough to make you wet a line – consider the flounder, bluefish, red drum and king mackerel that are all still here and feeding.

Striped bass season opened October 4th featuring ample numbers of school-sized bass. Favored locations include pilings and light lines along the 17-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel with the areas around the 1st rock island of the CBBT  and between the 1st island and the beach tending to concentrate fish.  Also try the small boat channel and the Yancey Wreck.   Larger rockfish are typically found along the northern part of the CBBT from the 3rd island to the Eastern Shore.  Fishing live spot over the tunnel tubes tends to attract larger bass in the early season.  This is only the beginning as more and bigger bass will continue to enter the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay to gorge on bait.

Captain’s Tip: Remember to net all striped bass. It’s the regulation and it is also the right way to handle stripers and protect the fishery. The bass you safely release today will thrill someone else in the future!  Anglers may keep up to two bass per day.  One of those two fish, however, may exceed 28 inches.

Red drum fishing continues red hot! Adult red drum are feeding at the 3rd and 4th islands of the CBBT and south along the beaches including Sandbridge, False Cape and beyond.  With multiple Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament release citations up to and exceeding 50 inches already on record, it is the best time to target a huge trophy fish from the surf.

Juvenile red drum, also known as puppy drum, are hitting cut and live bait inside Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets. The pups give a strong accounting, particularly if hooked on light tackle.  While most Lynnhaven puppy drum average around 24 inches, some inshore catches have been larger than the 28-inch upper slot limit. Consider releasing drum to help maintain this special fishery!rudee_inlet

Croaker, bluefish, speckled trout, flounder, puppy drum, and spot are keeping inshore and inlet fishermen busy.  Spot are by far the hottest current bite. Spot, as heavy as 10 to 12 ounces, are providing non-stop action once a school appears.  Double-header hookups are frequent. Blues trolled up near the beach and around the 1st and 2nd islands of  the CBBT have averaged 3 lbs. although a few fishermen have landed bluefish up to 30 inches!

Flounder catches have been strong during clear water periods. Accordingly, knowledgeable flounder fishermen have waited several days after a blow to target  flatfish.  Flatfish up to 3 and 4 pounds have been biting in the Lynnhaven entrance channel with fish up to 22 inches coming from further inside the inlet.

A beautiful speckled trout!

A beautiful speckled trout!

Speckled trout are steadily increasing in number. While most Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlet fish are well below 14-inch keeper size, enough keepers and the occasional citation fish have been in the mix to maintain angling interest.  This run should only get better with each passing cold front.

Wayne Seymour's king mackerel

Wayne Seymour's king mackerel

King mackerel are making a modest comeback this season evidenced by the landing of several 30-lb. class fish caught while trolling in sight of the beach. Another great place to try for mackerel is around Chesapeake Light Tower.

Yellowfin tuna, white marlin, wahoo and scores of dolphin are making offshore trolling trips worth the run. One recent charter trip returned with 75 dolphin including fish up to 15 lbs.  Wahoo are an added blue water bonus with many fish in the 40-lb. class. 

Triggerfish are providing citations in the 4-lb. range at the Triangle Wrecks while large (out of season until October 18th) sea bass are also hitting offerings. Tautog and sheepshead are still available to anglers fishing structure and near shore wrecks with crab baits.  While some sheepshead have exceeded 7 lbs., tautog will steadily increase in size and number as waters cool.

Blueline tilefish are the top catch on deep drop trips to the Continental Shelf. Most  tilefish are in the 4 to 5-lb. range but have weighed as much as 18 lbs.  Barrelfish, black bellied rosefish and grouper round out the offerings on these long range trips.

Rachel Hibberd with dolphin galore!

Rachel Hibberd with dolphin galore!

Best Bites:

Inshore: Norfolk spot

Chesapeake Bay: Striped bass and red drum

Offshore: Dolphin

Offshore Wrecks: Blueline tilefish

Noteworthy Catches: Red drum release citations

Not sure who's more excited here..........big guy or little guy?!

Not sure who's more excited here..........big guy or little guy?

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


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