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Big Wahoo, Lots of Specks, Look for Tautogs

trout picture

Speckled trout fishing has been super. Anglers are having success inside all the local inlets and on tidal rivers near the bay. Fishing on the Eastern Shore bay-side has been especially good. The trout season should be peeking.

There are plenty of school-sized striped bass available especially around bridges and docks with lights. Anglers are casting light tackle such as swim baits and bucktails.

Tautog catches at the CBBT should be on the rise. The bay water temperature is now in the low 60’s. Tautog action should continue as water temps drop into the upper 50’s. Ocean wrecks often hold larger fish. Crabs are always your best bait.

wahoo picture

Thanks to a couple of warm water eddies that spun off the gulfstream Virginia has enjoyed some outstanding late season bluewater action. Lots yellowfin tuna, some albacore tuna, dolphin and a few billfish. But the headliner has to be the large number of wahoo. Very large wahoo, with several fish topping the 100 pound mark. The State Record sets at 122 lbs 1 oz, caught in 2012 by Susan Nelson.

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According to Dr Ken Neill the bite was around the 850 line. He said there was some 73 degree water in 40 fathoms holding wahoo and tuna. And some 76 degree water in 100 fathoms holding more tuna and wahoo. There was a finger of 67 degree water between the warm water areas.

Some have successfully targeted swordfish in the same areas.  Deep droppers are catching golden tile, rosefish and sea bass. The blueline tilefish season is closed right now.

Inshore wrecks are holding plenty of sea bass and some tautog and flounder.


Surf and pier anglers are catching a few large red drum, but mostly roundheads, croaker, spots, specks and pups.

Stripers are inside the inlet around bridges. There has been some good action near the bridges on the west side of Manteo.

Speckled trout catches in the sound near marshy grass shorelines and near oyster beds has been very good.

The offshore fleet has been targeting the same warm eddies as the Virginia boats. Boats are returning with tuna, dolphin, wahoo and with a few marlin release flags flying.


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VA State Record Albacore Tuna

Tuna picture

Wendy Brockenbrough

A 70-pound 11-ounce Albacore Tuna, sometimes referred to as “True” Albacore or Longfin Tuna, caught on September 22, 2019 by Wendy Brockenbrough of Virginia Beach, VA, has been certified as a Virginia State Record by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament.

Brockenbrough caught the record tuna while deep dropping for swordfish at the Washington Canyon aboard the private boat Sea Trader skippered by Shey Mahoney. The record catch was made using a 50-pound class custom rod mated to a Shimano 80 reel loaded with 100-pound braided line and baited with a large strip of fresh dolphin belly. Seated in the fighting chair Ms. Brockenbrough was able work the fish to the boat in about 20 minutes. The fish was checked-in at Fisherman’s Wharf Marina, registering 70 pounds and 11 ounces on a recently certified digital scale. The tuna measured 52 inches in total length, had a 47-1/2-inch fork length and sported a 34-inch girth.

Brockenbrough’s catch erases Virginia’s initial and current state record of 68 pounds, set September 2, 1992, at the Norfolk Canyon by Irv Fenton, Jr. The IGFA All-Tackle World Record stands at 88 pounds, 2 ounces and was caught off the coast of Spain in November 1977.

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It’s Speckled Trout Season In Virginia and North Carolina

picture of trout

Big ECU Pirate fan Michelle Cowling with a nice speck caught on the Eastern Shore

With cooler weather settling in anglers are targeting speckled trout and they haven’t been disappointed. Look for specks inside Lynnhaven, Little Creek and Rudee inlets. In creeks on the Eastern Shore. Around the Poquoson Flats. In the York, Nansemond and Elizabeth Rivers. Many fish are ranging 18 to 22-inches, with a few exceeding 24-inches. The Virginia state record is a sixteen pounder.

Large red drum are still available in the Bay. Surf casters at Sandbridge have had success as well. Anglers fishing the James River, Little Creek and Lynnhaven inlets are catching puppy drum.

Croaker, spot and taylor blues are biting in the inlets and around jetties.

Flounder and sheepshead are still hanging around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

School-sized striped bass can be found around any pier or bridge with lights. Small stripers are inside Lynnhaven and Rudee inlets. Remember we have new regulations this season, one slot fish measuring between 20 and 36 inches per person per day in the bay and one between 28 and 26 inches in coastal waters.

Anglers taking advantage of the last few days of fishing on the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier before it closes for the season are catching spot, croaker and speckled trout.

Those fishing coastal wrecks are loading up with sea bass. Triggerfish some of the largest flounder of the season are being caught in the same area.

picture of tuna

Nice Big Eye, 286 pounds for Zack Hoffman and crew

Further offshore bluewater trolling has been outstanding. Good numbers of yellowfin tuna, a few big eye tuna, dolphin, large wahoo and nice swordfish.

Deep-dropping continues to produce good numbers of blueline tilefish and a few golden tiles.


The annual fall trout run is underway. Look for them in holes just outside the breakers at dawn. Puppy drum are in the same area.

Bottom fishing the surf is producing sea mullet and spot.

Fishing soundside has been excellent with speckled trout being the top target. Anglers are catching limits of good-sized fish to 22 inches. Look for them along grass banks and near oyster beds. The bridges on the west side of Manteo are holding trout and stripers.

In the ocean spanish mackerel are still hanging around and catches have improved with the return of cleaner water. King mackerel are scattered out to 20 miles.

Offshore anglers have been reporting scattered mahi around weed lines, large wahoo, blackfin and yellowfin tuna.


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Fishing Inshore and Offshore Good As Fish Move

Virginia Flounder Picture

8 lb 8 oz Flounder caught by Mike Davis

With strong northerly winds it looks like a small craft advisory will be in effect for several days. Hopefully early next week anglers will be able to return to their favorite fishing spots.

The family favorite, large yellowbelly spot have been plentiful lately. Pier anglers fishing Ocean View and Virginia Beach have loaded up. Along with the spot are some trout, puppy drum, croaker, bluefish and flounder. Good numbers of spot are also inside Lynnhaven Inlet. Croaker are available near Ocean View and the Little Creek jetties.

Speckled trout catches along the lower bay shoreline and in creeks have been good. Anglers are using numerous lures as well as live shrimp under popping corks. Puppy drum are biting in many of the same areas.

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Sandbridge Action

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Nicholas Lutz, peir #3, Cherrystone family resort campground. Nice!

Large red drum are schooling near the mouth of the bay and along the oceanfront as they get ready to leave the area. Surfcasters and pier anglers in Sandbridge are waiting on the migration to occur. Red drum love to feed in the surf zone when water conditions are rough.

Flounder catches have been steady. They are being caught inside all three southside inlets and around coastal wrecks.

There are still a few spanish mackerel and bluefish around, but their numbers are dwelling. King mackerel should be available for a few more weeks.

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Nice 91 lb 8 oz Wahoo William James Drummond Jr.

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High Hopes nice swordfish

Bluewater action was good before the weather kicked up. When boats return, they should find yellowfin tuna, dolphin, billfish, swordfish and large wahoo. Deep-droppers should continue to catching golden tilefish, blueline tilefish and sea bass.


OBX, North Carolina 

Nags Head area beaches are producing good-sized bluefish, puppy drum and black drum.

Hatteras surf anglers are catching large pompano, bluefish and good-sized spanish mackerel.

Speckled trout are starting to work their way out of the sound and into the surf.

Anglers fishing the sound from Wanchese to Oregon Inlet are catching limits of speckled trout. Bluefish are holding in deeper channels around the inlet. Puppy drum are in groups on the flats.

Sheepshead are along the Oregon Inlet Bridge pilings.

Nearshore fishing has been solid for anglers casting jigs to spanish mackerel, bluefish, and false albacore just off the beach.

Nearshore bottom structure has been holding keeper black sea bass and triggerfish.

dolphin picture

52 pounder!! On the Sea Breeze

King mackerel are scattered inshore. Offshore anglers are finding dolphin catches to be hit and miss. A good day followed by a slow one. Citation-sized yellowfin and blackfin tuna are showing up, and the yellowfin bite is anticipated to get better over the next month or two. A few large bigeye tunas were landed this past week. White and blue marlin releases are happening almost daily. Wahoo numbers have been good, with many fish in the 40 lb. range. Swordfish are being caught by anglers fishing deep.

Next Report October 26th


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Waters Less Crowded, Fish Very Active

Fall is a time of transition. Our summertime visitors leave (both fish and people). The waters are less crowded and fish are very active. It is my favorite time of the year to fish.

Offshore, September is the time we have epic marlin catches. Boats come in with riggers full of release flags. It just has not happened this year. Billfish are being caught but in the 1 or 2 or 3 rate, not in the 10s, 20s, or even 30s we’ve had in some past Septembers. What we are having are good catches of tuna, dolphin and wahoo. Yellowfin and skipjack tuna are the most common catch but decent numbers of bigeye and even longfin tuna are being caught. A 71 pound 11 ounce longfin was weighed in that if approved will replace the long-standing Virginia record 68-pound albacore caught by Irv Fenton, Jr while fishing on Brent Meadors’ boat, Breike. Fall is the best time to catch swordfish but that fishery has been good all season. Boats dropping around 200 fathoms during the daytime have had consistent success on swordfish along with a bigeye tuna by-catch. Some are using electric reels to do this but you don’t need to. They make things easier but disqualify you from any record or trophy fish citation awards. Nighttime drifting is also producing swordfish and this resulted in a new state-record this year with a 466-pound swordfish caught on the Rebel.

Closer to shore, the wrecks are holding sea bass, triggerfish, and flounder. King mackerel and false albacore can be caught trolling spoons over and around wrecks. The Tower Reef area has been good for this. There are still some spadefish hanging around but they will be leaving as we progress into October.

Cobia are still being caught along the oceanfront and in the lower bay. September 30 is the last day of this fishery for both recreational and commercial anglers. Recreational anglers make sure that you file your cobia reports. VMRC needs a good count and you must do so if you want a cobia permit in 2020.

Schools of big red drum are being encountered by anglers looking for cobia. Big red drum are also being caught near the islands of the CBBT. Puppy drum have made a good showing this year and can be caught up on the flats. Most are under the keeper slot size. Speckled trout fishing is very good in both numbers of fish and the size being caught. This fishery is very weather dependent. If we can avoid any major winter kill this year, our speckled trout population looks very good. Tautog, sheepshead and triggerfish are being caught at the CBBT. As we move later into October, the sheepshead catch will diminish as the tautog catch increases. Spot are being caught in decent numbers. They are making one of their better showings in the past several years.

There is a lot of interest in shrimp. We have always had some shrimp. The last few years, there have been eating-size shrimp here in very good numbers. They are being caught up in the creeks, rivers, inlets, and in the shallows on both sides of the bay. Fall is the prime time to catch these tasty critters. Recreationally so far, it is an unregulated species. It is time to get your cast net out and go catch some. Commercially, there is a very small trial fishery along the oceanfront south of Rudee Inlet. This will be the second year of the experimental fishery. Last fall was very successful with a very close monitoring of by-catch.

The striped bass season opens on October 4 in the bay. The coastal season is already open. Virginia continues to move ahead of and beyond anticipated ASMFC action on this overfished species. The springtime trophy fishery was closed. The fall season bag limit has been reduced from 2 to 1 fish per angler in the bay. It has been 1-fish for some time along the coast. A new maximum size limit of 36 inches applies to both the bay and coastal fisheries. The minimum sizes have not changed: 20 inches in the bay, 28 inches in the coastal fishery.


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