Posts Tagged ‘puppy drum’

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

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Bottom Fish Offer Best Bet

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014 by Mike Halperin

Viriginia Beach's amazing winter fishing. Dr. Ken Neill & his 24.22 lb. state record tautog.

Viriginia Beach's amazing winter fishing. Dr. Ken Neill & his 24.22 lb. state record tautog.

With extreme temperature swings during the past few weeks, anglers are now adjusting game plans to locate species willing to cooperate regardless of weather conditions. For the best chance to fill a cooler full of fish, fishermen are turning to reliable bottom dwellers living on the Continental Shelf as well as to structure-hugging tautog that inhabit wrecks and other structure such as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and the Triangle Wrecks.  One recent tautog citation tipped the scales at 10 lbs. 8 oz.

Golden tilefish by Duane Raver

Golden tilefish by Duane Raver

Blueline and golden tilefish along with grouper and black bellied rosefish comprise a variety of fish currently available during deep water drop trips. These species provide plenty of good eating and can be accessed aboard comfortable and heated Virginia Beach long-range head boats.  With any ten pound tilefish qualifying for a Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament citation award, there is added incentive to take one of these unique fishing trips.  Several recent tilefish catches have pushed the 12 pound mark.

Tautog, also known as blackfish or just “tog”, are another desired catch for the dinner plate.   Togs should remain on an active feed until water temperatures become too cold for them. Tautog chasers who are able to locate crabs (frozen crabs work fine) or clams this time of year are enjoying good success with their catches.

Tautog by Duane Raver

Tautog by Duane Raver

Some adventuresome fishermen have recently tried their hand at offshore swordfish trips. This specialized angling, normally done at night, demands a seaworthy boat and a captain who is very knowledgeable about swordfish.  Consider taking such a trip under the guidance of an expert Virginia Beach charter captain to both enhance your chances of hooking a trophy fish and also for reasons of safety.
Phil Fowler poses with his 41 lb. winning striped bass from the

Phil Fowler poses with his 41 lb. winning striped bass from the VB Angler's Club Rockfish Rodeo

Any angler worth his or her salt knows that fishing doesn’t always mean catching. The recent 2014 Mid-Atlantic Rockfish Shootout is a case in point.  While Virginia Beach continues to maintain its well-deserved title of Rockfish Capital of the World, striped bass simply did not cooperate during this early January tournament. Several theories abound, ranging from cold water temperatures to the less credible idea that the bass were smart enough to move beyond the “3-mile limit” to federally protected ocean waters where they could not be caught! With plenty of bait in the inshore waters, this could just be a temporary situation.   Ironically, January is the very month when our new state record 74 pound striped bass was caught in these same waters!

Rudee Inlet: Best bet here is speckled trout and puppy drum.  Colder water temperatures have slowed this bite considerably, but jigs with soft swim baits and finger mullet are producing quality fish for anglers willing to put their time in.

Captain’s Notes: Anglers may continue to catch and release stripers within the confines of Chesapeake Bay.  Any released bass 44 inches or longer qualifies for a Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament release citation award. Don’t forget to apply for that new fishing license for 2014!  Most area tackle shops and sporting goods stores can take care of this necessary item for you.

Captain’s Log: The word on the “dock” is that the first bluefin tuna have entered area waters.   One of our local International Game Fish Association representatives hooked but lost a bluefin tuna in the early part of January. Additional stories have been circulating about reels having all the line run off, leaving fishermen stunned and anxious to return to the grounds with fresh gear.

Wishing all tight lines and hard strikes!

Capt. Mike

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Specks and Stripers Rule

Sunday, December 1st, 2013 by Mike Halperin

ichard Clark with a recent catch of keeper speckled trout and puppy drum from inside Lynnhaven Inlet

Richard Clark with a recent catch of keeper speckled trout and puppy drum from inside Lynnhaven Inlet

The letter “S” denotes two fall favorites for Virginia Beach anglers: Striped bass and Speckled trout.  These two species have been on the scene for several weeks, but to the delight of fishermen, they are growing more numerous and larger with each passing weather front.

School-sized stripers are now well established in areas adjacent to structure and  fast current.   Best bites normally occur on fast moving tides and close to bridge pilings.  At night, when these swift predators hungrily feed on bait, hot action takes place in the shadow lines of lights on bridges and docks.  Soft plastic-lead head combinations are most productive as well as flies fished by fly casters.  Anglers using wire line trolling gear are able to present baits deep to larger rockfish that are often feeding just above the bottom in swift moving water.  Some of these larger stripers have been close to 40 inches!  Beach casters using heavy jigs at Lynnhaven Inlet have been able to land some nice medium-size stripers.

Schools of even bigger bass from the northern Bay and East Coast waters are due to arrive any day at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.  The tried and true freshwater technique of bait and bobber, bait being a live eel, works perfectly for the coming monsters, particularly at Plantation Light and the High Rise Bridge area of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

Know your bass regs: During Chesapeake Bay season, which closes December 31, fishermen may keep two fish per person per day.  Those two fish must be between 18 and 28 inches.  However, one of the fish may be longer than the upper slot limit of 28 inches should you catch a trophy fish.

The take away: If hunting trophy bass, keep only one fish per angler until the end of the day.  You can always add a second small fish, but you can never be in possession of  three fish.

Speckled trout is the other popular “S” fish this time of year.   Specks have invaded the back waters of Little Creek, Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets.  While small boat fishermen have the best access, shore bound anglers have also caught their fair share.  By culling through 9- to13- inch trout, patience has rewarded many casters with keeper trout over 14 inches.  Some anglers have even had bragging size catches of trout enhanced by multiple puppy drum.  We are now in the period when 5 lb. Virginia Saltwater Fishing Citation trout and even a few double-digit fish should begin to show up.  MirrOlures and soft plastics are top baits with white, gray and chartreuse top colors.


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The Beach Report

Friday, November 15th, 2013 by Mike Halperin

This week in The Beach Report, Capt. Mike Halperin shares his fishing expertise from a local’s perspective.

As Thanksgiving approaches, we all have much to be thankful for, including family, friends and world-class fishing. We are very fortunate to enjoy some of the best saltwater fishing available anywhere, and it only seems to get better with each passing cold front!

Speckled trout by Duane Raver

Speckled trout by Duane Raver

Speckled trout and striped bass top the current “make my day” fish list. Trout fishing has improved steadily from 9- to 11-inch school-size fish to increasing numbers of 14-inch keeper fish. Moreover, Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament citation specks of 5 pounds are always possible as numbers and sizes of these spotted fish improve in our backwaters. One group of Rudee Inlet anglers recently caught 60 specks, including three keeper fish, in under two hours! MirrOlures are attracting the largest trout while Gulp swimming minnows and shrimp have also proved productive. Chartreuse, white and gray have been hot colors.


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Banner Catches of Fall Species

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013 by Mike Halperin
Vic Gaspeny (l) with Capt. Justin Wilson and the pending record 311 lb. bigeye tuna



Anglers are flocking to Virginia Beach to sample fall runs of white marlin, croaker, red drum, spot, flounder, tuna and striped bass. Of all the current species, red drum and croaker are commanding maximum  attention.  However, that’s not to say that spot, white marlin, tuna and flounder aren’t putting smiles on the faces of fishermen.  And striped bass are  about to join that mix.   







 Photo caption: Vic Gaspeny (on left) with Captain Justin Wilson and new pending 311 lb.  state record bigeye tuna.

 Croaker, puppy drum, bluefish, spot and sheepshead  are providing the bulk of the action for inlet and beach anglers.   Spot action has improved with many 7 to 10 inch fish coming from Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets.  Hopefully larger “yellow bellies” will arrive soon.   Sheepshead, many weighing 5 to 7 lbs., have been hitting inside Lynnhaven along the pilings of the Lesner and Great Neck Bridges.  Best sheepshead bait: mole crabs or “sand fleas.”  Puppy drum over 20 inches have also been rewarding fishermen using fresh shrimp.   Fish for pups near bridge pilings in Lynnhaven and along the north side of the rock jetty in Rudee.



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Shorter Days – Better Catches

Monday, September 16th, 2013 by Mike Halperin

Passionate anglers are flocking to Virginia Beach to get in on the fall runs.   Fishermen are aware of the many fish species our waters host this time of year.

How good does it get?  Try hundreds of white marlin, big schools of red drum, pods of cobia, and all the Norfolk spot and croaker you can handle.  By the way, that doesn’t include the runs of speckled trout and flounder that will come on the heels of the current bites! And did I mention king mackerel?

Father & son team Jeff Moger, left, with 30 lb. king mackerel,


Two king mackerel, aerial displays included,  were surprise catches  for local father and son team Willard and Jeff Moger in early September during their cobia fishing charter. 

Both mackerel fell for slow-trolled live baits, proceeded to run off several hundred yards of line, and when finally boated, weighed 27 and 30 pounds!





King Mackerel 25 lbs. caught by John R. Renard

King Mackerel 25 lbs. caught by John R. Renard


Flounder may be poised to finish strong. Many quality doormat-size fish up to 6, 7, and 8 lbs. have been landed recently.  Top locations are the High Rise Bridge and the 3rd and 4th rock islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.  Live spot and cut bait are accounting for the larger flatfish.  Doormats are also holding on inshore wrecks. Flounder may also now be found in the inlets.  With good weather and ample bait, flounder fishing could continue well into November. 

 Spot, croaker, sea trout, and bluefish are providing the bulk of the action for inlet and beach anglers. Catch one of these runs when it is peaking and expect non-stop action.  Spot are getting bigger with some yellow-bellies already reported, and many croaker are measuring up to 15 inches. Taylor bluefish remain abundant as they and Spanish mackerel can be caught at Cape Henry and along the Oceanfront.




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Billfish Bite is ON!

Sunday, September 1st, 2013 by Mike Halperin

Blue Marlin release - estimated @ 300 lbs.
Blue Marlin release – estimated @ 300 lbs.


With fall approaching, late summer Virginia Beach fishing patterns are at their best.  

Billfish will make their top showing in September with white marlin heading the list.  Also joining this party, expect blue marlin, sailfish and spearfish. 

Tuna and dolphin remain available with wahoo still in the mix for offshore trollers.   Big eye tuna continue to extend a spectacular run, including a new potential IGFA record fish.

Flounder remain inshore favorites, with flatfish finally showing improvement following a slow start.   Popular opinion attributes this  to a huge improvement in water clarity.   Bay and inlet anglers have had success in the 20- to 23-inch sizes with many boat anglers now finding (four fish) limits over 16 inches.  The two northern islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel have been top size producers while cut and live bait, minnows and jigs all get results.





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