Virginia Beach, Chesapeake Bay Fishing Rundown

The big news over the weekend was the sighting of schooled, large red drum off Rudee Inlet. Some have already entered the Bay. Anglers fishing the Eastern Shore breakers near Fisherman’s Island have caught the first of the year. There are many more fish on the way up from Carolina. Hatteras Inlet filled up with feeding fish on the surface several days last week.

Lots of black drum are being caught seaside in Eastern Shore inlets. Look for the black drum numbers to increase inside the Bay around the Concrete Ships and the Cabbage patch.

Inlets are warming and a lot of puppy drum are being caught. Rudee, Lynnhaven and Little Creek Inlets are hot spots and there’s plenty of fish in the Elizabeth River. Right now most fish are being caught on shrimp or crabs, they are deadly.  As the water continues to warm up, they can be taken on a multitude of lures, bucktails, or spoons. Look for them  along the marshes, oyster beds, jetties or near pilings.  Light spinning or casting tackle is used. Speckled trout are starting to be caught in the same areas as the pups. And some nice grey trout and small stripers have been mixed in.

Nice size tautog continue to be available on bottom structure. Baits for tog fishing include quartered blue crabs, marsh crabs, fiddler crabs. Clams, mussels and squid are okay during aggressive feeding periods. Clams or any soft bait is cut into strips. If using crabs, run the hook through a leg socket and out the back of the crab. Whole fiddler crabs can be used, blue crabs are cut into smaller sections. The tog season temporality closes May 15.

Flounder action is on the upswing. The best catches are coming from Eastern Shore sloughs and creeks.

The Virginia Beach Fishing Pier has reopened and anglers are catching small spot and croaker. Bluefish and sea mullet should show soon.

Yellowfin tuna continue to provide excellent action off the Outer Banks of NC. Many boats limited out over the weekend.

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Virginia Beach, Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report

Stan Simmerman

Connie at Long Bay Pointe Bait and Tackle says as Bay water temperatures rise, so do tautog catches.  The temperature is up to 54.7 degrees at Thimbles Shoals. Ocean wrecks usually produce first, but now the bite has moved into the bay.

Dr. Ken Neil

Look for taugs anywhere there’s structure. Popular areas include the CBBT, Back River Reef, the Cell, Tower Reef, the Concrete Ships, Cape Henry Wreck, the Santore, the Winthrop, and the Triangle Wrecks. The best bait consists of crab, clam, or a combination of both. Dr Ken Neill and several local charter crews got in on the action this week.

Tim Mullen

The puppy drum are hungry. There have been nice catches made inside all three local inlets and from the  rivers. Most are being caught in shallower water, back in creeks. Grey trout, speckled trout and small stripers have also been caught in the same areas.

In April the head boats at Rudee Tours will be running 6-hour trips targeting dogfish and tautogs. The deep dropping blueline tilefish season reopens May 1 and the black sea bass season reopens May 15.

Boats running out of Oregon Inlet NC are catching limits of yellowfin and blackfin tuna.

Nice tuna catch out of Oregon Inlet NC on the Sea Breeze with Captain Ned Ashby

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Bluefish fishing community, VMRC wants to hear from you

VMRC will host a public hearing on Thursday, March 25, from 6-8. The Council and Commission are seeking public comment on management options under consideration in the Bluefish Allocation and Rebuilding Amendment. The amendment contains several alternatives including, modifying the bluefish allocations between commercial and recreational sectors; modifying commercial allocations to the states; initiating a rebuilding plan, and more. The public is invited to attend a public hearing to provide input on these proposed changes.

Please check out their Agency News page for more information and see how you can attend electronically.

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Dr. Ken Neill Report

Wes Blow and I left my house dark and early this morning. We were met by a very bright UFO which turned out to be a Space X rocket launch.

Beautiful ride to the wreck and things started out fine. I caught 3 tog and a sheepshead while Wes caught some sea bass and an oyster toad. I did not say a thing, which those that have togged with me may not believe. No, “that’s OK, I’ll catch your limit for you“, or, “are you ever going to put a fish in the box?“. I’ve fished with Wes enough to save that stuff to the end. Good thing as his first tog of the day turned out to be our biggest, 13.5 pounds. My biggest, we did not even take a photo of, was maybe 8 pounds.

Really nice ride back in until we hit some chop in the bay.


Dr. Ken Neill, III
IGFA Representative
Past-President, Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association, Inc.
Associate Commissioner Virginia Marine Resources Commission
Commissioner Potomac River Fisheries Commission

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Virginia Beach, Chesapeake Bay Fishing Rundown

Buxton, NC, the point

For a couple weeks puppy drum and sea mullet have been caught from the surf on Hatteras Island.  And now with 60 degree water, and a new moon on the 12th  , the big red drum arrived at The Point. Game on!

Giant bluefins are feeding off Oregon Inlet, it’s catch and release though. There have been some good yellow fin tuna catches as well.

There’s been some scattered speckled trout and puppy drum action in local inlets, Rudee, Little Creek and Lynnhaven. They will become more numerus and feed more aggressively as the water temperature rises. Porpoises made their way inside the inlet to feed over the weekend, let’s hope they left some for us.

Nice Tautog, Wes Blow on the Healthy Grin

Virginia anglers have lots to look forward to over the coming weeks. By the end of March we should be enjoying some great tautog action. charter captains are booking taugtog trips now, so if plan to go you should contact one asap.

As April rolls around the taug action will continue and flounder will become a possibility.

By mid-April the big black drum roll in. Bluefish and gray trout will also be a possibility. The flounder bite should continue improving and speckled trout will become more numerous. By the end of May plenty of large red drum will have made their way into the lower bay.

In June everything starts to peak, inshore and off! Black drum, red drum, cobia, croaker, flounder, gray trout, round head, sheepshead, spadefish, spanish mackerel, speckled trout, small striped bass, mahi, yellow fin tuna and school size blue fin tuna.

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Virginia Beach, Chesapeake Bay Fishing Rundown

The Virginia Special Black Seabass season is coming to a close. Fishing was great. Don’t forget ALL permit holders are require to report all fishing trips even if you didn’t catch. If no trips were taken you still have to report “no activity”.  This helps scientist understand the condition of the species and to maintain a healthy fishery. The reporting regulations are outlined in there entirety online at the VMRC website.

Many anglers will now turn their attention to “togging”. Tautogs are generally in the area the entire year, but the reason late winter and early spring is a good time to target them is because the bait stealing warm water fish haven’t arrived yet. Togs average in the 3-to-6-pound range, but the state record is 24-pounds, 3-ounces caught on March 25th by Ken Neill III. They hang around underwater obstructions like reefs, wrecks and rock piles on the lower bay and in nearshore coastal waters. Togs use a large set of front teeth to pick and crush mollusks, crabs and other crustaceans. Therefore, crabs are a favored bait. An easy to get to location to catch them is over the tubes of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, or around its numerous pilings. The islands marking the entrances and exits of the tunnels are surrounded by rocks. These rocks extend out over the actual tubes for quite a distance. It’s in these rocks that Tog like to hangout. Other good spots include The Concrete Ships, Cape Henry Wreck, The Cell, Back River Reef,  the reefs around the Chesapeake Light Tower, the Triangle Wrecks, the Santore and several rock piles and drainage pipes along the oceanfront are also productive.

Despite very cold water temps a few speckled trout and puppy drum have been caught in the Hampton area, mainly from the James River and the Elizabeth River. This time of the year they are almost dormant, on warm sunny days they will come up in the shallows to warm themselves.

Offshore, the giant bluefin tunas have made their way north. Lots of fish in the 500-to-800-pound class were hooked off Oregon Inlet this week. If you want a chance at catching and keeping one of these beast you better go tomorrow! If history repeats the capture season will close quickly once a small number of fish are caught.

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Virginia Beach Fishing Rundown

3 at a time!

Virginia’s sea bass fishery is open until the end of the month, it’s a special one-month fishery. A no-cost permit is required by the boat captain, reporting is mandatory and you must tell VMRC when you are fishing so they have the opportunity to have a biologist meet you when you return. Please do not overlook the recreational minimum size, 12-1/2 inches in total length.

Here’s the VMRC regulation: “It shall be unlawful for any person fishing recreationally to take, catch, or possess any black sea bass, from February 1 through February 28, without first having obtained a Recreational Black Sea Bass Permit from the Marine Resources Commission. It shall be unlawful for any black sea bass permittee to fail to contact the Marine Resources Commission Operation Station at (800) 541-4646 before returning to shore at the end of the fishing trip during the February black sea bass season. The permittee shall provide the Operations Station with his name, VMRC ID number, the point of landing, a description of the vessel, and an estimated return to shore time. Permits can be obtained online here or at an MRC Licensing Agent. Reporting can be done online through the Saltwater Journal or using forms provided by the VMRC.” All this is an effort to collect data on this wintertime fishery that was closed for several years.

VBSF sponsor, the Rudee head boats have enjoyed some successful sea bass trips. Fishing has been excellent, with everyone catching limits. They are running trips on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The Saturday tips  filled up quickly so due to demand they have added some Friday trips.

Usually in mid-February someone finds some very nice tautogs. So far I haven’t heard any good news.

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Healthy Grin Report

sea bass

We ran out for sea bass today during the special February season. It was just like the good old days. Fish were abundant and large. We had a 4-person limit by 8:30 AM and made it home by lunchtime. We also caught some bluefish. The head boat got there not long after we did. As we headed in with our catch, we passed through a small fleet of boats headed to the wreck. I think everyone caught all the sea bass they wanted. We did briefly stop on a couple of wrecks on the way in to try for tautog. No tautog, just some small sea bass but we did not try long. Gorgeous half February day on the water.

 Dr. Ken Neill

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February Sea Bass Season Opens Monday

Virginia’s February recreational black sea bass fishing season starts February 1st and ends on February 28th. The Feds and VMRC have done a good job managing this fishery, there are some really large ones available  now. Below is a link they’ve  provided to learn about the required permit and reporting requirements that are critical for Virginia to continue participating in this special recreational season.


Pictured above is a 8 lb 11 oz fish caught by M. Okonek off Virginia Beach onboard the Rudee Angler December 27, 2020. It’s the largest recorded Virginia Citation sea bass since 2000. The Rudee Angler will be running February trips on Wednesdays Saturdays and Sundays. If you would like to get in on the action you better book ASAP. It looks like their Saturday trip are sold out already.

Tautog and Flounder are are also available for those fishing ocean wrecks.

Speckled Trout were available in the rivers and near the east jetty at Little Creek a week ago. Captain Todd Beck, Knot Wish”n Charters said the Rudee Inlet bite has been unusually slow.

A number of Rudee Inlets crews are rigged and ready for giant bluefins just in case they come in range. A few guys have been out looking, but nothing yet. There have been some reports off Oregon Inlet, near the tuna hole.

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Existing VA State Record Swordfish Crushed!


A 597-pound swordfish, caught September 25, 2020 by Nicholas Kontodiakos of Norfolk, VA, has been certified as the new Virginia State Record by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. Kontodiakos’ catch surpasses the existing record of 466-pounds, caught on August 16, 2019, by Tony Gower Jr. of Virginia Beach, VA.

The record setting catch was made off Virginia Beach while drifting along the southern edge of the Norfolk Canyon in 1,000 feet of water during a daytime deep dropping trip for swordfish. The massive swordfish hit a bait suspended at about 800-feet.

Kontodiakos, a rescue diver for the Navy, and fishing buddy Trey Wallace, with part time experience as a charter boat mate, left Rudee Inlet at 4:30 AM aboard the angler’s 2007, 29-foot SeeVee. After arriving at their designated location they made several long drifts and had a couple of bites that did not come tight. The lines were set for “one more drift” before they planned to head in for the day to arrive at Rudee Inlet shortly after dark. But at 3:30 PM those plans changed as the deep “buoy rod,” with a rigged dolphin belly on a blue and white skirt, came tight. After wrestling with the fish for nearly 5 hours it was clear it was a large swordfish, and when the fish was finally secured at the transom, they began to relax. But securing the fish to the transom was just round one. Round two would consist of couple of hours of stop and go, inching the fish onto the deck on each stop, tying it off and then running until they were recovered enough to resume their tug of war. Finally, with the fish on the deck and the tuna door closed, it was non-stop to Rudee Inlet.

Kontodiakos’ passion to land a swordfish began 10 years earlier while living on the east coast of Florida. He admits “I had no idea how to go about catching them.” After moving to Virginia Beach and realizing there were swordfish to be had off the Virginia coast some 60 miles plus, “I decided I needed a bigger boat.” Unfortunately, even with a bigger boat, his lack of success in Florida had tagged along to Virginia. It got so bad he sometimes had to settle for fishing alone. “No one wanted to fish with me because I never came back with any fish.” Relentlessly perusing information on the internet to aid in catching a swordfish plus talking to successful anglers along the east coast for additional insight eventually began to payoff and his success improved markedly in recent years. “I think I’ve caught a swordfish in every month of the year except maybe January.”

It was nearly midnight when the pair pulled inside Rudee Inlet. A call had already been made to alert the Virginia Beach Fishing Center of the catch and the boat’s bow was pointed straight to the Fishing Center’s main dock. Representatives from the Fishing Center were at dockside to assist and a small crowd of interested onlookers had already assembled despite the late hour.

The mammoth swordfish would weigh an incredible 597-pounds–besting the former state record by 131 pounds! The fish measured 180 inches total length with a lower jaw fork length of 111 inches while sporting a hefty girth of 69 inches. Kontodiakos used a custom Joe Leffler 80-pound class rod, teamed with a Shimano Tiagra 50 reel, spooled with 80-pound PowerPro braided line and topped off with a 25-foot, 250-pound Moni mono leader with a Mustad 7691, 11/0 hook, attached to the business end.

For more information, contact Lewis S. Gillingham, Director, Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, 380 Fenwick Road, Fort Monroe, VA 23651, (757) 247-2013 or

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Fishery News, Flounder, Black Sea Bass

Mid-Atlantic Council Seeks Input on Summer Flounder Recreational Management

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council is collecting public comments and suggestions regarding current and future management of the recreational summer flounder fishery. Input provided through their scoping comment form will help inform the development of a management strategy evaluation which will evaluate different management strategies designed to minimize discards in the recreational summer flounder fishery.

The Council is collecting this information as part of the continued progress and implementation of its Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) structured framework process.

See: for more information.

The Council encourages all stakeholders who have interest, knowledge, or experience related to the recreational summer flounder fishery to provide comments. The form should take 10-15 minutes to complete, and your answers will be kept confidential.


VMRC – Virginia Recreational Black Sea Bass Info

Virginia’s February 2021 Recreational Black Sea Bass fishing season will start February 1st and end on February 28th, 2021. VMRC has provided the link below to learn more about the required permit, information, and reporting requirements, that are critical for Virginia to continue participating in this special recreational season!


Or you can go through one of their licensing agents ( Agent locations may be closed to the public at this time; call ahead before picking up a permit in person.

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Virginia Beach Fishing Rundown

Happy New Year and tight lines from VBSF to all in 2021. (VBSF 2000-2021).  Time sure does fly, where did the past 21 years go!

The Chesapeake Bay striper season closed on December 31. The ocean season began January 1st, with a minimum keeper size of 28 inches and a maximum size of 36 inches.


Charles Southall, Gabe Sava, Lexi Sava and Danny Forehand decided to spend New Year’s eve ringing in 2021 with some catch and release Striper fishing on SpecialKate.


There’s still lots of large stripers in the Bay, some over 50 pounds were caught and released near Cape Charles this weekend. Most were landed while drifting live eels. If the fish are holding near the bottom, mojos might be a better option .

Speckled trout are still available inside Lynnhaven Inlet and Rudee Inlet.

Tautogs are being caught at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and on ocean wrecks and reefs. Fresh crab is the preferred bait for the Togs.

Some nice flounder have been caught near offshore structure.

Our excellent seabass season has come to a close, but a special permit season will open for the month of February. You can obtain a special season Recreational Black Sea Bass Permit from the Marine Resources Commission. They can be obtained online or from a VMRC Licensing Agent. Every trip must be reported online within 7 days of the trip through the Saltwater Journal or using forms provided by the VMRC. Lack of activity on the permit must be reported by March 15 through the Saltwater Journal or using the same VMRC form. You can find more information on their website.

VMRC released their last “2020 New Leader” update last week.

VA Saltwater Fishing Tournament
VA Game Fish Tagging Program

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Virginia Beach Christmas Fishing Report

Ken Neill Striper

Large rockfish are moving out of bay tributaries into the Bay. Look for them on the eastern side, near Plantation Light and along Cape Charles. Anglers are drifting or slow trolling eels. Mann’s Stretch 25 lures and tandem rigs are also effective. A number of healthy, fat, 45-to-50-inch fish were caught during the recent Rock Fish Shootout tournament. The crew on “Mystic Lady” took 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the Shootout. They walked away with $42,785.80. Congratulations.

Slot-sized stripers in the 20-inch minimum, 36-inch maximum range are available by casting along the bridge pilings and around the artificial islands of the CBBT….  and in most rivers.

taug fish

Bay Taug

Tautogs are available on structure. The bay water temperature is at 51 degrees. Once it drops below 50 the ocean wrecks will probably produce best. Fiddler crabs and quartered blue crabs are the preferred baits. The Tautog season is open throughout the winter.

Speckled trout reports are still coming in. Last week, Long Bay Pointe Bait and Tackle registered several citations caught in Long Creek. Greg Licurance released a 24 1/2″ speckled trout, Brian Hostetter a 25″ speck, Randy Morton weighted a 5 lb. 8 oz. 24 1/2″ fish and Paul R. Ewing registered a 24″ release. Captain Todd Beck, Knot Wish’n charters says speckled trout fishing inside Rudee Inlets is still good, a lot of short ones but some nice ones mixed in. One went 7.5 pounds and measured 28”. Mirr-O-Lures and swim baits are working well.

sea bass

Sea Bass on the headboats

The Rudee Head Boats are catching lots of large seabass on the ocean wrecks. The season for the seabass closes December 31st. Some big bluefish could show near the same structures.

This time of the year captains are on the lookout for bluefin tuna rolling. Some really large ones in the 600-to-900-pound range have been off the Morehead City North Carolina coast for several weeks. Unfortunately, the bluefin capture season was closed by NOAA on December 14th.

When boats make it out to deep drop they are finding good numbers of tilefish and sea bass.

Va State Record

Captain Jake’s February 2020 Record

Captain Jake Hiles’s 708-pound bluefin tuna caught last year on February 16, 2020 was certified this week as the new Virginia State Record by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament’s Director Lewis Gillingham.

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Virginia Beach Fishing Roundup

Catching trout with Knot Wisn’n Charters

Speckled trout anglers have been doing quite well. Lynnhaven Inlet has been especially good …… Over the recent Thanksgiving break David Dick registered a 24 ½ inch trout release, Jerry Snyder weighed a 5 lb. 9 oz fish, James Robinson a 5 lb. 4 oz. fish, Tony Masciangelo released a 24 ¾ inch fish, Richard Parmelee a 24 incher, Todd Sturtevant weighted a 5 pounder, Ryan Gingrich released a 24 inch fish and Conor McManus released a 24 ½ inch fish. Depending on how cold it gets the bite can last throughout the winter. Try using Mirr-o-lures and jerk baits.

Tautog anglers are enjoying a good bite both inside the Chesapeake Bay and on the nearby ocean wrecks. Craig Irwin’s son (above) picked up his first ever tog over the holiday while fishing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel area.

Dr Ken Neill slipped out in the fog a couple of times last week and caught limits of tog and sea bass.  One trip he collected 10 triggerfish and tagged smaller trigger and sheepshead. Two of the triggers weighed over 4 pounds.

The Rudee Tours headboats are running trips out to the ocean wrecks and enjoying some excellent catches of black seabass, triggerfish with a few flounder mixed in.

Soon most anglers will turn their attention to rockfish. This week boats stumbled on some larger winter fish that are moving to the lower Bay. But most fish are medium in size and still up the rivers, the Elizabeth, James, Rappahannock and Potomac. Most anglers are trolling Umbrella rigs and if they spot feeding birds, they switch up and cast buck tails, rattletraps, swim baits, and spoons into the frenzy.



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Thanksgiving Fishing Rundown


Bob Caudle with a nice 6 lb 1 oz. speck!

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! Fishing for speckled trout and puppy drum has been excellent, hopefully many of you can take advantage of the long weekend and get in on the action.

The trout are being caught in a number of locations. Inside Lynnhaven Inlet, Rudee Inlet, Little Creek Inlet, on the Poquoson Flats, in most creeks along the bay side of the Eastern Shore and in the York and Elizabeth rivers. Live shrimp is the best bait if you can find them but a 4-inch sea shad, various Mirr-o-lures or suspending jerk baits will work.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel pilings are holding striped bass. School-sized rock are being found in good numbers throughout the lower bay, especially at night around any bridges and piers with lights.


Dr Ken Neill, puppy drum in the Bay

Some sizable puppy drum are being caught in the inlets and rivers as well as in the ocean surf.

The tautog bite is good right now. Fresh cut crab or fiddler crabs will be your best bait. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel islands are an excellent place to target the taugs.

There’s an excellent black seabass bite on offshore structures now. The same structures are holding some quality flounder, black drum and triggerfish.

The offshore OBX charters are doing well with the yellowfin and blackfin tuna right now. Catches of wahoo are in the mix as well. There’s some red hot live bait king mackerel fishing out of Hatteras Inlet.


Eric Stevens, swordfish, congratulations!

Virginia Deep-droppers can expect good catches of sea bass, tilefish and some snowy grouper. And there are good numbers of swordfish available.

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