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Guide To Virginia Fish
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A GUIDE TO VIRGINIA FISHES

How, When & Where to Catch

Species
Bait or Lure
Method
Location
Seasons
Average Weights
State Record

Amberjack!
Amberjack
Live Bait (spot, croaker, bluefish, menhaden, small fish); Artificial lures (spoons, surface plugs, diamond jigs, white bucktails, plastic squids)
Drifting and slow trolling live bait over and around obstructions (wrecks, reefs, towers, buoys); casting and trolling artificial lures over and around obstructions
Ocean waters over and around wrecks & underwater obstructions; Chesapeake Light Tower
June - October;

Peak July - middle September
30-60 pounds
118 pounds; caught at the Chesapeake Light Tower in 1986 by Mark J. Roberts

Black Willy!
Black Sea Bass
Squid, crab, cut fish, clam, shrimp
Bottomfishing, generally near and over underwater obstructions (wrecks, reefs, rocks and rough bottom areas)
Ocean waters; species less plentiful (especially large individuals) in lower Chesapeake Bay
April - December; species moves to waters far offshore (35 fathoms and more) during winter
1 - 3 1/2 pounds
9 lbs., 8 oz (tie); caught in offshore waters off Virginia Beach in 1987 by Joe Mizelle, Jr. and 1990 by Jack G. Stallings

Choppers!
Bluefish(large)
Artificial lures (spoons, tube eels, metal squids, surface plugs) cut bait (fresh menhaden, mullet, herring, spot) whole balao or boston mackerel
Trolling, casting or jigging to schools of fish with artificial lures; surfcasting with cut bait or lures; chumming while using cut bait; bluefish can be taken on streamer flies with a fly rod
Offshore and coastal waters; Chesapeake Bay; Eastern Shore barrier island surf
Middle April - July; October - November
8 - 16 pounds
25 lbs., 4 oz.; caught at Bluefish Rock in Chesapeake Bay in 1986 by Gayle E. Cozzens

Bluefish (small)
Artificial lures (small spoons, feather lures, metal squids, surface plugs) and cut bait
Trolling or casting to schools of fish with artificial lures; surfcasting and bottom fishing with cut bait; surfcasting with artificial lures
Chesapeake Bay, coastal ocean waters, ocean surf, inlets
May - October
1 -5 pounds

Cobia!
Cobia
Live Bait (eels, spot, menhaden, mullet); artificial lures (large spoons, white bucktails, plastic eels, swimming plugs); cut bait (menhaden or spot)
Cast, drift or slow troll live baits around buoys, underwater obstructions and schools of fish swimming on the surface; anchor, chum and fish live baits, fresh dead baits and cut bait in chum slick and on bottom; cast and troll lures around buoys, obstructions and to schools of bullfish (rays) or schools, pods or individual cobia swimming on surface
Buoys in lower Chesapeake Bay, at the mouth of the Bay and along coastal beaches; CBBT; Bluefish Rock off Hampton, Cabbage Patch and Kiptopeake areas off Cape Charles, and Your Spit area; coastal buoys and wrecks; Chesapeake Light Tower; Latimer Shoal
June - September; peak mid-June - mid- September
20 -50 pounds
103 lbs., 8 oz., Mobjack Bay in 1980 by Edward K. Brown

Croaker!
Croaker
Peeler crab, bloodworms, cut bait, squid, shrimp
Bottomfishing with bait, anchored or drifting from boats, and also caught from piers, docks, shore and surf
Chesapeake Bay, tributary rivers of the Bay, coastal ocean waters, inlets
April - October
1/2 - 2 pounds
5 lbs., 13 oz.; caught at the Cell in Chesapeake Bay in 1982 by Jim Mitchem

Mahi!
Dolphin
Artificial lures (offshore trolling lures), balao, squid, cut bait
Trolling with lures, balao and squid; casting to schools of dolphin around weedlines and floating debris with cut bait (fish or squid) and lures (bucktails, surface plugs, streamer flies)
Offshore ocean waters
June - October
2 - 20 pounds
71 lbs., 8 oz.; caught off VA Beach in 1991 by Don Dorey

Black Drum!
Black Drum
Whole clam, peeler crab, whelk, peeler crab/clam "sandwich", bucktail and leadhead jigs
Bottomfishing with bait on "fishfinder" rig; running tides and late afternoons and evenings considered best; occasionally caught on bucktails or metal squids by casting or jigging to a school of fish
Chesapeake Bay along shallow portion of channel ledge running from Fisherman's island to north of Cape Charles, especially off Kiptopeake, at Cabbage Patch and buoys C-10 & C-12; around middleground bars of Eastern Shore seaside inlets; 2nd & 3rd islands of Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel
May - August; peak May - early June along Eastern Shore bayside and seaside inlets; peak late June - early August at 2nd & 3rd islands of Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel
40 -60 pounds
111 pounds; caught off Cape Charles in 1973 by Betty Hall

Red Drum!
Red Drum
Cut bait (fresh mullet, spot, menhaden), peeler crabs, artificial lures (spoons, large plugs, jigs)
Bottomfishing with bait on "fishfinder" rig; trolling and casting spoons, plugs and jigs
Surfcasting with bait on Eastern Shore barrier island beaches and baitfishing along interior seaside marshes and Smith Inlet area; baitfishing in Chesapeake Bay along Eastern Shore bayside channel edge from Kiptopeake area to Onancock and shoal areas at the mouth of the Bay; trolling and casting artificial lure in Smith Inlet area
Late April - June; August - October; peak May at Smith Inlet for casting and trolling lures; peak late May - June for Surfcasting; peak middle August - September for Eastern Shore bayside fishing; peak middle September - October for surf-casting and fishing seaside marshes
30 - 50 Pounds
85 lbs., 4 oz.; caught at Wreck Island on Eastern Shore seaside in 1981 by Herman Moore

Flounder!
Flounder
Live bait (minnows and small fish), frozen minnows, fresh strip baits (bluefish, flounder and shark belly, squid), minnow/strip combination, artificial lures (bucktails); big strip baits and live spot or small mullet often used for big fish at Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel
Drift fishing with live or dead natural baits fished on the bottom; slow trolling natural baits on bottom; casting from beaches and piers; trolling small bucktails dressed with strip baits (especially for big fish along Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel); casting bucktails
Seaside inlets of the Eastern Shore; Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel area; lower Chesapeake Bay; Rudee Inlet; the Cell and eastern end of the "Cut" Channel in the middle Chesapeake Bay
April - October; peak May-July on Eastern Shore seaside; peak July - October in Chesapeake Bay
1 -3 pounds
17 lbs., 8 oz.; caught at Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in 1971 by C. E. Cross

Roundhead!
Kingfish (Roundhead, Whiting)
Bloodworms, shrimp, small pieces of cut bait, squid, sand fleas
Bottomfishing with bait
Surf zone of coastal waters from Sandbridge to Assateague Island; ocean piers; lower portion of the Chesapeake Bay, including lower bay piers
May - September
½ - 1 ½ pounds
None; 2 pound minimum for initial state record

Mackeral!
Mackerel, Atlantic (Boston Mackerel)
Small tube worms and jigs
Jigging to schools of suspended fish
Coastal and offshore ocean waters, from 5-35 miles offshore
Mid- February - mid-April peak March - early April
½ - 3 pounds
None; 3 pound minimum for initial state record

King Mackeral!
Mackerel, King
Live bait (menhaden, mullet, spot, small bluefish); artificial lures (spoons, feather lures, nylon jigs); strip baits and small whole balao
Slow trolling, drifting or anchoring with live bait; trolling with artificial lures, strip bait and balao
Coastal and offshore ocean water, particularly around wrecks, towers, obstructions, ledges, lumps and other "structure"; mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and off ocean inlets
June - October; peak September - middle October
5 - 20 pounds
1999 NEW
51 lbs., 3 oz.; caught off Virginia Beach in 1991 by Richard Starrette

Spanish Mackeral!
Mackerel, Spanish
Small artificial lures (spoons, metal lures, feather and nylon lures), small live baits (menhaden, mullet)
Trolling; casting to schools of fish
Coastal ocean waters, particularly off inlets, along tidelines, and over coastal wrecks; lower Chesapeake Bay
June - September; peak July - August
1 - 3 pounds
9 lbs. 13 oz.; caught off Virginia Beach in 1993 by Everett Cameron

Blue Marlin!
Blue Marlin
Whole dead fish (balao, mullets, spanish mackerel) squid, artificial lures (offshore trolling lures), and live baits (small dolphin, bonito and skipjack tuna)
Trolling
Offshore ocean waters
June - October; peak middle June - September
150 - 400 pounds
1093 lbs., 12 oz.; caught off Virginia Beach in 1978 by Edward A. Givens

White Marlin!
White Marlin
Whole dead fish (balao, mullet), squid, strip baits, eels, artificial lures (offshore trolling lures) live bait (pilchards, cigar minnows)
Trolling; occasionally casting live baits to marlin "balling" bait or swimming on surface
Offshore ocean waters
June - October; peak August - September
40 -60 pounds
131 lbs., 10 oz.; caught off Virginia Beach in 1978 by Rudolph D. Van't Riet

Atlantic Sailfish!
Sailfish
Whole dead fish (balao, small mullet), strip baits, squid, artificial lures (small offshore trolling lures, live bait (small fish)
Trolling; also, sailfish seem to be attracted to slow trolled live baits fished in similar method as used to slow troll for king mackerel
Offshore ocean waters
June - October; peak July - September
20 - 40 pounds
68 lbs., 8 oz.; caught off Virginia Beach in 1977 by P. J. Murden

Sharks!
Sharks
Whole dead fish and cut fish; live bait (fish)
Anchor, chum and fish dead and live fish baits in chum slick and on bottom
Offshore and coastal ocean waters, particularly around and over obstructions (wrecks, reefs, towers), ledges and lumps; Eastern Shore seaside coastal waters and inlets
June - October
50 - 250 pounds
1099 lbs., 12 oz.; caught off Virginia Beach in 1981 by John Thurston

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