Saltwater Fishing in Virginia

View of Harper Ferry, West Virginia
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Are you an avid saltwater fishing enthusiast looking for your next big catch? Look no further than Virginia! With its miles of coastline, estuaries, and offshore waters, Virginia offers a wealth of opportunities for anglers of all skill levels. From striped bass and bluefish to flounder and red drum, Virginia’s waters are home to a diverse range of fish species. In this blog, we’ll explore some of the best saltwater fishing spots, tips and tricks for successful fishing, and information on local regulations and accommodations. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, Virginia is the perfect destination for your next saltwater fishing adventure. So grab your gear and let’s dive in!

Best Saltwater Fishing Spots in Virginia

Here are some of the best saltwater fishing spots in Virginia:

  1. Virginia Beach Fishing Pier: This pier is one of the most popular fishing spots in Virginia. It offers a variety of fish species including striped bass, flounder, bluefish, and red drum. Fishing gear and bait are available for rent on site.
  2. Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel: This is a popular spot for catching striped bass, flounder, and other species. Anglers can fish from the piers or charter a boat for a deeper sea fishing experience.
  3. Cape Henry Wreck: This is a sunken ship located off the coast of Virginia Beach. It is known for its abundance of fish including flounder, tautog, and black sea bass. This spot is accessible by boat only.
  4. Rudee Inlet: This is a popular spot for catching flounder, bluefish, and striped bass. It is a great spot for anglers who prefer fishing from the shore. Fishing charters are also available.
  5. York River State Park: This park offers a variety of fishing opportunities including shoreline fishing and fishing from a boat. Anglers can catch striped bass, bluefish, and croaker among other species.
  6. Lynnhaven Inlet: This spot is known for its abundance of speckled trout, red drum, and flounder. It is a popular spot for fishing from the shore and fishing charters are also available.
  7. Assateague Island National Seashore: This area is known for its surf fishing opportunities. Anglers can catch species such as striped bass, bluefish, and croaker from the shore.
Fishing Virginia’s Saltwater

Types of Saltwater Fish in Virginia

Virginia offers a variety of saltwater fish species for anglers to catch. Here are some of the most common types of saltwater fish found in Virginia:

  1. Striped Bass: Also known as rockfish, striped bass is one of the most sought-after game fish in Virginia. They can be caught from boats or from shore, and are typically found in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
  2. Bluefish: Bluefish are a popular game fish that can be caught from boats or from shore. They are known for their aggressive feeding habits and can be found in coastal waters.
  3. Flounder: Flounder is a flatfish that can be caught from boats or from shore. They are commonly found in inlets and bays, and can be caught using a variety of bait including live minnows and squid.
  4. Red Drum: Also known as redfish, red drum are a popular game fish that can be found in coastal waters and inlets. They can be caught using a variety of bait including live or cut bait.
  5. Black Sea Bass: Black sea bass are a bottom-dwelling fish that can be caught using a variety of bait including squid and clams. They are commonly found in offshore wrecks and reefs.
  6. Croaker: Croaker are a popular fish for anglers to catch from shore. They can be found in bays and inlets, and can be caught using a variety of bait including bloodworms and squid.

Best Time of Year for Saltwater Fishing in Virginia

The best time of year for saltwater fishing in Virginia depends on the species of fish you are targeting. Here are some general guidelines for the most popular fish species in Virginia:

  1. Striped Bass: The best time to catch striped bass in Virginia is in the spring (March to May) and fall (September to November). During these times, striped bass migrate to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries to spawn or to feed on baitfish.
  2. Bluefish: Bluefish can be caught in Virginia from spring through fall, but the best time to catch them is in the summer (June to August) when they are most abundant.
  3. Flounder: Flounder can be caught in Virginia from spring through fall, but the best time to catch them is in the summer and early fall (June to September) when they move into the inlets and bays to spawn.
  4. Red Drum: Red drum can be caught in Virginia from spring through fall, but the best time to catch them is in the fall (September to November) when they move into the inlets and bays to feed on baitfish.
  5. Black Sea Bass: Black sea bass can be caught in Virginia from spring through fall, but the best time to catch them is in the summer (June to August) when they are most abundant.
  6. Croaker: Croaker can be caught in Virginia from spring through fall, but the best time to catch them is in the summer (June to August) when they are most active.
Cobia Saltwater Fishing – Chesapeake Bay, Virginia

Best Bait for Saltwater Fishing in Virginia

The best bait for saltwater fishing in Virginia depends on the species of fish you are targeting. Here are some popular baits for the most common saltwater fish in Virginia:

  1. Striped Bass: Striped bass can be caught using a variety of baits, including live eels, bloodworms, menhaden, and peeler crab.
  2. Bluefish: Bluefish can be caught using a variety of baits, including cut bait (such as menhaden or mullet), squid, and artificial lures.
  3. Flounder: Flounder can be caught using a variety of baits, including live minnows, squid, and strip baits (such as bluefish or mullet).
  4. Red Drum: Red drum can be caught using a variety of baits, including live or cut bait (such as menhaden or mullet), crabs, and shrimp.
  5. Black Sea Bass: Black sea bass can be caught using a variety of baits, including squid, clams, and artificial lures.
  6. Croaker: Croaker can be caught using a variety of baits, including bloodworms, squid, and peeler crab.

Recommended Gear for Saltwater Fishing in Virginia

Here are some recommended gear and equipment for saltwater fishing in Virginia:

  1. Rod and Reel: The type of rod and reel you need will depend on the species of fish you are targeting and the fishing technique you plan to use. A medium to heavy-action spinning or baitcasting rod and reel is a good all-around option for most saltwater fishing in Virginia.
  2. Fishing Line: Use a high-quality monofilament or braided fishing line that is appropriate for the size of fish you are targeting.
  3. Hooks: Choose hooks that are appropriate for the size of the bait you are using and the size of fish you are targeting.
  4. Lures: Artificial lures such as jigs, plugs, and spoons can be effective for catching many species of saltwater fish in Virginia.
  5. Bait: Live or cut bait such as bloodworms, squid, and shrimp can be effective for catching many species of saltwater fish in Virginia.
  6. Tackle Box: A tackle box is essential for storing and organizing your gear and equipment
  7. Sun Protection: Wear sunscreen, a hat, and polarized sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun and glare on the water.
  8. Weather Protection: Bring appropriate clothing and rain gear to protect yourself from the elements.
  9. Cooler: A cooler is essential for keeping your catch fresh and ensuring that it meets size and creel limits.
Virginia Saltwater Fishing

Best Saltwater Fishing Charters in Virginia

Here are some of the best saltwater fishing charters in Virginia:

  1. AquaMan Sportfishing Charters – located in Virginia Beach, AquaMan Sportfishing Charters offers full and half-day charters for a variety of species including striped bass, bluefish, and tuna.
  2. Bayrunner Fishing Charters – located in Deltaville, Bayrunner Fishing Charters offers half-day and full-day charters for species such as cobia, red drum, and flounder.
  3. Captain Hogg’s Charter Service – located in Hampton, Captain Hogg’s Charter Service offers full-day and half-day charters for species such as striped bass, cobia, and red drum.
  4. Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing – located in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing offers full and half-day charters for species such as striped bass, bluefish, and red drum.
  5. Salt Treated Fishing Charters – located in Cape Charles, Salt Treated Fishing Charters offers full and half-day charters for species such as striped bass, bluefish, and red drum.

It’s always a good idea to check reviews, pricing, and availability before booking a charter. Some charters may specialize in certain species or techniques, so it’s important to choose one that meets your needs and interests.

Fishing Regulations in Virginia

Here are some important fishing regulations to be aware of in Virginia:

  1. Fishing License: All anglers aged 16 and over are required to have a valid Virginia saltwater fishing license to fish in the state’s waters.
  2. Catch Limits: Virginia has catch limits for many species of saltwater fish, including striped bass, red drum, and flounder. It’s important to know the size and creel limits for the species you are targeting and to release any undersized or over-limit fish.
  3. Gear Restrictions: Virginia has gear restrictions for certain species, such as the use of circle hooks for striped bass and the prohibition of certain types of nets for catching baitfish.
  4. Protected Species: Certain species of saltwater fish are protected in Virginia, including Atlantic sturgeon and sea turtles. It is illegal to target or harvest these species.
  5. Seasonal Closures: Some species have seasonal closures or restricted seasons, such as the winter striped bass moratorium, which prohibits the harvest of striped bass from January 1 to the last day in February in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with all of Virginia’s saltwater fishing regulations before heading out on the water. Regulations can change frequently, so be sure to check the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources website for the most up-to-date information.

Fishing Big Reds at Virginia Beach

Where to Stay When Saltwater Fishing in Virginia

There are many options for places to stay when saltwater fishing in Virginia. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Virginia Beach – Virginia Beach has a variety of accommodations to choose from, including hotels, motels, and vacation rentals. Many of these are located near the beach or the Chesapeake Bay, making them convenient for saltwater fishing.
  2. Norfolk – Norfolk is another great option for anglers. The city has a variety of hotels and vacation rentals, as well as easy access to the Chesapeake Bay and other fishing hotspots.
  3. Chincoteague Island – Chincoteague Island is located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore and is known for its excellent saltwater fishing. The island has a variety of hotels and vacation rentals, as well as easy access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay.
  4. Cape Charles – Cape Charles is a small town located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. It has a variety of accommodations, including hotels, motels, and vacation rentals. The town is located near many great saltwater fishing spots, including the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.
  5. Williamsburg – Williamsburg is located inland, but it’s still a great option for anglers who want to explore Virginia’s saltwater fishing opportunities. The city has a variety of hotels and vacation rentals, as well as easy access to the James River and other nearby waterways.

Expert Tips and Tricks for Successful Saltwater Fishing in Virginia

Here are some expert tips and tricks for successful saltwater fishing in Virginia:

  1. Know the Tides: Saltwater fishing is often most productive during certain tides. In Virginia, the tides can vary greatly depending on the location and time of year. Be sure to check the tide tables before heading out and plan your fishing trip accordingly.
  2. Use the Right Bait: Different species of saltwater fish prefer different types of bait. It’s important to use the right bait for the fish you are targeting. Live bait, such as shrimp and crabs, is often the most effective.
  3. Use the Right Gear: Saltwater fishing requires specialized gear, including rods, reels, and lines. It’s important to use the right gear for the type of fishing you are doing and the species of fish you are targeting.
  4. Know the Regulations: Virginia has strict fishing regulations to help protect its saltwater fish populations. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the regulations before heading out and follow them carefully.
  5. Learn from Local Experts: Virginia has a thriving saltwater fishing community, and there are many local experts who are happy to share their knowledge and experience. Consider hiring a guide or joining a local fishing club to learn more about the best spots and techniques for successful saltwater fishing in Virginia.
  6. Be Patient: Saltwater fishing requires patience and persistence. It’s important to be prepared to spend a lot of time on the water and to be patient while waiting for the fish to bite.
Fishing Virginia Beach Pier 

Conclusion

Virginia offers a wealth of opportunities for saltwater fishing enthusiasts. With its diverse range of fish species and scenic waterways, Virginia is a top destination for anglers of all skill levels. By using the right gear, bait, and techniques, and by following local regulations, you can increase your chances of having a successful and enjoyable fishing trip in Virginia. Whether you’re looking to catch big game fish, enjoy a day out on the water with family and friends, or simply relax and enjoy the beauty of Virginia’s coastal landscapes, there’s something for everyone in this great state.

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