Late Summer Fishing Action Hot! Changing Regs For Striper Season On The Way

Starting next month, throughout the fall and winter we will publish the fishing reports biweekly.  But be sure and check in more often, because we will post breaking news and trophy fish reports as soon as they come in.

With a watchful eye on tropical developments to the southeast, local anglers continue to enjoy the developing fall fishery. But don’t dismiss the summer favorites just yet. Intercepting these fish as they prepare to depart the area can provide good opportunities for anglers.

Cobia are on the move as they prepare to head south and offer some outstanding top water action. Several boats reported cobia exceeding 50-pounds last week. The Virginia cobia season closes the last day of September.

Big red drum are still roaming about the lower Bay and around the shoals of the barrier islands. It is time for reds to begin showing more around the artificial islands of the CBBT. Fresh cut bait and live bait work well for this area. Big bull reds can debut in the surf lines along Sandbridge and the Wildlife Preserve at any time. A northerly blow will jump start some good drum surf fishing action.

Spanish mackerel, bluefish and ribbonfish trolling remains productive. The spanish mackerel are still chasing trolled spoons off the Virginia Beach oceanfront.

The most exciting news at the oceanfront is the start of what is hopefully an incredible king mackerel run. September is Virginia’s peak king mackerel season. Smoker kings have already been landed and they are crashing both live and trolled baits. Several have hit the dock weighing 50-pounds, or more.

Flounder catches are improving along the coast and throughout the lower bay. Look for them around the CBBT pilons, near the rocks that cover the tunnels and around coastal reefs and wrecks. Many are caught around the jetties at Rudee and Little Creek inlets …. Congratulations to Jeff Murray, who took the lead in the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament with a 10-pound doormat.

Buoys and wrecks are holding triggerfish and spadefish. Sheepshead numbers along the CBBT haven’t been as good as past years.

Speckled trout, puppy drum, spot and croacker are inside the inlets. Trout are available along the Poquoson Flats and in bay-side creeks of the Eastern Shore.

Surf fisherman and those fishing off the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier are catching lots of spot and some croaker, sea mullet, ribbonfish, sand perch and flounder. Red drum, puppy drum, speckled trout and cobia are also a possibility.

Once the effects of Tropical Storm Erin subside things offshore should be very good. There’s white marlin to our north that will be making their way into Virginia waters. Also, in the mix will be blue marlin, sailfish, swordfish, yellowfin tuna, dolphin, and wahoo.

Captain Kevin Pankoke and team Evelyn Kennedy won last weekend’s Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament. They took home $254,775. The Sea Hound won the Wine, Women and Fishing ladies-only billfish tournament. Congratulations to all!


Surf anglers are catching spot and sea mullet. Soundside anglers fishing the Little Bridge on the Nags Head/Manteo causeway are catching a lot of small puppy drum along with a few trout and blacks drum.

Pier fishing is slow with cloudy, muddy water conditions. Avalon reported croakers. Nags Head reports spot, croaker and small puppy drum. Jennette’s, croaker. And the Outer Banks is catching sea mullet and croaker.

Inshore boats are catching spanish and bluefish, and inside the inlet bluefish and specks.

Offshore boats are catching mostly yellowfin and black fin tuna and a few wahoo and billfish.

VMRC News from Dr Ken Neil

By now, you know Virginia has taken further striped bass measures ahead of ASMFC action. In addition to closing the spring trophy season earlier, the top 3 measures in the attached photo were passed by emergency action today. There will be a public hearing on these at the September VMRC meeting where they will be finalized, modified, or be rejected. There are further commercial actions planned for the November VMRC meeting.

The recent stock assessment shows that striped bass are over fished, over fishing is occurring and there is a particular concern with spawning stock biomass (big fish).

Virginia’s actions are particularly concerned with protecting these big fish. The commercial actions taken and those proposed for the November meeting do nothing to limit the commercial quota but are designed to protect big fish. An original proposal was to place a 36 inch maximum on both commercial and recreational fisheries. Some fish over 36 inches will be caught with the small mesh nets but the thinking was better to apply these to the commercial quota than to require them to be thrown back, possibly dead already. But, at least one of my fellow commissioners thinks that the 36-inch maximum should apply to the commercial sector as well so this could be revisited especially if a bunch of big fish show in the commercial catch.

So, while Virginia is taking these actions, what is ASMFC doing? They are taking two paths, a fast one and a slow one, addendum and amendment. The addendum actions are planned to be in place for 2020. The amendment process takes longer. The addendum is not really doing anything directly for the big fish. They have just decided that there needs to an overall reduction in catch of 18%. They are looking at things like increasing size minimums which may help catch numbers but not big fish. They are seeking public comment now for this process. One thing they are looking at is whether to apply this 18% reduction to both recreational and commercial fisheries or to make the cuts 1.8% commercial and 20% recreational. The amendment process will more directly address the spawning stock biomass but this process will take at least a couple of years. Virginia is not waiting to protect the breeding stock.

I had asked VMRC staff to look at ways to allow some limited recreational catch of big fish and everything under the sun has been looked at. A big-fish tag has some support but this is where we are now. The recreational changes more than satisfy the 18 or 20 percent reduction that will be required by ASMFC for 2020 and Virginia is way ahead of ASMFC in protecting big fish. Whether they decide a 1.8 or a 18 percent reduction is required by the commercial fishery will decide any required quota reduction to the commercial sector.

In other VMRC news that will be of interest is flounder. Unlike striped bass, this stock looks good overall though we know the bay fishery is way down from the glory days of just a few years ago. What will be looked at during the September VMRC meeting is the size limit for commercial hook-and-line fisherman. Recreational anglers have a 16.5 inch minimum size while commercial hook-and-line fisherman have the same 14-inch minimum as the draggers. So there are complaints like a charter captain who also has a commercial hook-and-line license takes a “charter” out and keeps 14 inch fish while the charter fishing next to him has to throw them back. Anyway, this has been grumbled about since the commercial hook-and-line license was created so it will be visited via a public hearing at the September meeting.

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Good Virginia Beach Fishing Continues

With the college football season upon us and days away from school starting, the vacationing crowd will thin out considerably. But as we cruise towards the end of the summer … good opportunities remain for local anglers.

Flounder did not disappoint this week and their numbers and size should get better through September. The CBBT, the Cell, artificial reefs and ocean wrecks are holding fish. Bucktails and strip baits work well, but live spot is best for larger flounder.

Spanish mackerel are still being caught along the oceanfront and in the Bay to the Potomac River. Trolling with a Drone or Clark spoon behind an in-line sinker or diving planer works well. Using a surface bird in front of a spoon will attract bites.

A lot of nice king mackerel have been caught along the coast lately. They are most likely feeding on the large number of ribbonfish in our waters.

Cobia fishing is peaking. Late August through September is best. This is when some of the largest fish seem to be weighed. Many charters are reporting quick limits every day. Sight casting with live eels is the most effective method.

Red drum are still around but catches slowed last week.

Spadefish are hanging around the CBBT. The size of the spades is smaller than those caught earlier in this season. Triggerfish are also hanging around the pilings and a few tautog are being caught as well.

Schools of large yellow belly spot will start showing up in local waters soon. They provide great action for families with young anglers. When they are biting you can catch them two at a time as soon as your bait hits bottom. Bloodworms seem to work best but bloodworm flavored fishbites will do the job as well.

The speckled trout bite has picked up slightly in bayside creeks along the Eastern Shore.

Offshore fishing is good. Anglers are catching tuna, wahoo, dolphin and blue and white marlin. The Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament is taking place this weekend. You can checkout the standing at


Overall surf fishing is slow. Anglers are catching a few croaker and pompano down on Hatteras Island and some bluefish around Oregon Inlet.

Soundside on the Little Bridge on the Nags Head/Manteo causeway action is slow, a few small croaker, trout, flounder and black drum.

Outer Banks pier anglers are catching a few spot, flounder, bluefish, pig fish and sand perch.

Boats fishing inshore are catching false albacore, bluefish, ribbonfish and spanish mackerel. Those fishing inside the inlet are catching bluefish and trout.

The OBX offshore fleet is returning with a few yellowfin tuna, blackfin tuna, dolphin and tilefish.

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Good Late Summer Fishing Action In Virginia

Paige II Charters

Some nice flounder limits were had this week. Jigged buck tails are producing … but drifting with live bait  entices the larger fish. The hot spots are along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and near the Cell. There are some keeper inside local inlets as well. Captain Craig Paige, Paige II Charters landed some nice ones on his last trip. (above)

Spanish mackerel catch numbers slowed a bit this week. But there’s still some nice ones around. It’s been a great season, with many fish in the four to five pound range.

King Mackerel are making a nice showing along the coast. Kings to fifty pounds have been weighed lately.

The cobia bite is still red hot and should remain so into September.  And large schools of red drum continue cruising in the lower bay.

Gray Trout are making a good showing, hopefully signaling a come back for the species. Look for larger fish in deep holes near the islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and along channel edges. Most grays are in the four to eight pound range. The state record is 19 pounds and was caught at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in 1983 by Philip W. Halstead.

Spadefish catches are still good. Most catches are coming from around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Sheepshead are feeding on the pilings of the Bridge Tunnel.

We are getting closer to our yellow belly spot run. It usually occurs the end of August or during the first part of September. They love blood worms.

Speckled trout are in inlets and on grass flats. Topwater action will pick up in September. Eastern Shore actions has been good recently.

Offshore anglers are finding dolphin, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, blue marlin and white marlin and a few sailfish. The big news from Rudee Inlet this week was that a pending Virginia State record swordfish was caught. The charter boat Rebel weighted a 466 pounder at Rudee’s Inlet Marina. Congratulations!

Deep dropping for tilefish is productive, a fifty five pound blueline was caught earlier this week. The Rudee Angler headboat makes regular tips. Give them a call to get in on the action.


Surf fishing overall is slow. A few sea mullet and croakers north of Avon and some spanish and pompano south of the point.

Anglers on the Little Bridge on the Nags Head/Manteo causeway are catching small puppy drum, flounder, trout and croakers.

The OBX pier report is: Avalon: spot, sea mullet, bluefish, flounder. Nags Head: spot, mullet, trout, false albacore. Jennette’s: black sea bass, croaker, sea mullet, triggers, spot, bluefish and false albacore. Outer Banks: spot.

Inshore boats are catching spanish and ribbonfish. Inshore sound side anglers are catching speckled trout.

The offshore fleet is catching plenty meat fish, dolphin, blackfin tuna, yellowfin tuna and wahoo. A few billfish are released daily.

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Virginia It’s Time To Head Offshore

188 lb yellowfin caught in Carolina this week!

This is prime billfish season along the mid-atlantic coast. White and blue marlin, sailfish, spearfish and swordfish are all available now. Dolphin and tuna fishing is excellent many days ….. It’s exciting to see a few BIG yellowfin tuna being caught this year. One recently topped the scales at 188 pounds. Most have been caught in Carolina waters. Generally yellowfin that size are caught on the west coast. Its nice to see some showing up here.

The Ocean City White Marlin Open Tournament was held last week and Virginia Beach was well represented. The VB boat Chasin’ Tail, skippered by Captain Butch Davis took second place with a 74 pound white marlin. His angler was Nate Walker also from Virginia Beach. Team Backlash and Captain Steve Richardson finished third with a 73.5-pound white marlin. The fish was caught by Michael Wagner and worth $1.5 million in prize money. Congratulations to all.

The 30th annual Alice Kelly Memorial Ladies-Only Billfish Tournament out of Manteo, NC is underway now. The 36th annual Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament begins Aug. 12 and runs thru the 16th. After that the tournament calendar points to Rudee Inlet. The 17th annual Wine, Women and Fishing ladies-only event is Aug. 17-18, followed by the 16th annual Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament on Aug. 21-24.

Knot Wish’n Charters

Inshore, spanish mackerel and blues are keeping charters busy. A gold Clark or Drone spoon seems to be working best. Mixed in with the spanish and blues are an unusually large number of ribbonfish. And don’t be surprised to pick up a nice king. Several nice one were landed close in this week.

Key Dreams Charters

Our flounder season is officially on now. Limits of quality fish are being weighed. Jigging bucktails dressed with strip bait or a scented Gulp work well. But remember big fish like big bait. A live spot should do the trick.

Cobia catches are being reported throughout the lower bay. Some really large ones have been landed recently, a few approaching 80 pounds. Live eels, live croaker are your best bait but they will hit artificial baits when spotted on the surface.

Red Drum are still available and should continue to be the rest of the summer.

Kevin Williams caught these on the Eastern Shore

Speckled Trout catches have been good recently.

There are good numbers of spot being caught in Chesapeake Bay tributaries. Spot fishing peaks in August and September.

The Virginia Beach Pier reports a nice variety of fish. Cobia, black drum, puppy drum, flounder and spanish.


Surf anglers on the northern beaches are catching flounder, sea mullet and spot. On Hatteras Island the catch has consisted of pompano, bluefish, spanish, croakers and sea robin.

The OBX pier rundown goes like this.

Avalon: Tiggers and spanish.
 Nags Head: spanish, bluefish, croaker and flounder.
Jennette’s: spanish, bluefish, croaker and flounder. Outer Banks: flounder, spot and sea mullet. Soundside anglers on the Little Bridge on the Nags Head/Manteo causeway report trout and a variety of bottom fish.

Soundside boaters are catching trout, flounder, striped bass and sheepshead.

The near shore boats are picking up spanish, ribbonfish, bluefish and yes a few dolphin.

The offshore fleet is catching limits of dolphin. There are plenty of yellowfin around and a few wahoo.  Billfish are being caught and released daily. Amberjack are around towers and on structure.

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46th Annual White Marlin Open Winners

Ocean City, MD – For the first time in White Marlin Open history there is a two-time champion. Tommy Hinkle’s day 4 catch of 79.5 pounds earned the Ocean City resident a pay day of $1.46 million. Hinkle also won the event in 2008 with a catch of 81 pounds.

Chasin’ Tail from Virginia Beach with Capt. Butch Davis finished second with a 74-pound white marlin caught on Monday. The fish was reeled in by Nate Walker of Virginia Beach.

The Backlash from Virginia Beach with Capt. Steve Richardson at the helm finished third at 73.5-pounds. The fish was reeled in by Maryland resident Michael Wagner and was worth $1.5 million . This is Captain Steve second trip to the winners circle. He captured the 2015 WMO with a fish caught by Virginia Beach’s Cheryl McLesky.

Congratulations to all the winners.


79.5lbs, Fish Whistle, Tommy Hinkle $1,460,000.00


74lbs, Chasin Tail, Nathan Walker,$135,000


73.5lbs, Backlash, Michael Wagner, $1,500,000.00



465.5lbs, Haulin N Ballin, Craig Dickerson, $740,000.00



201lbs, Crisdel, Russell Garufi $940,000.00


145.5lbs, Mjolnir, Ronnie Fields, $130,000.00


135lbs, The Right Place, Mike DiPascali, $36,000.00


121lbs, Reeldiculous, Graham Ward, $100,000.00


62lbs, Sea Ment, Jeff Landis, Sr., $40,000.00



82lbs, The Natural, Kyle McLaughlin, $18,000.00



35.5lbs, Game Changer, Rob Howes, $18,000.00


For the complete rundown visit ….

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