VIRGINIA BEACH: North Meets South
The coastal waters of Virginia Beach and the lower Chesapeake Bay are within the northern range of many south-Atlantic species-including spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, spadefish, cobia, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, amberjack, jack crevalle, and even tarpon. The area is also within the southern range of several northern gamefishes-including Atlantic mackerel, weakfish, tautog, and even cod.
Atlantic mackerel kick off the season in March when head boats from Rudee and Lynnhaven inlets hunt the migrating schools. By late April, bluefish and mako sharks have appeared offshore; flounder and weakfish are the most abundant species inshore.
In late May, bluefin tuna, white marlin, and king mackerel turn up in 20 to 30 fathoms. A month later, yellowfin tuna, blue marlin, dolphin, and wahoo join the party. Although most of these can be caught all summer long, the best months for optimum numbers and variety are June and September.
Still, the species that's most closely associated with Virginia Beach is the striped bass. Much of the East Coast's striper population winters just offshore. If you want a 40-plus-inch trophy, book a trip in November through January.
And bring the family. Even the most inexperienced anglers will catch a share of croaker, weakfish, and flounder at the nearby Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel-the largest "artificial reef" in the western Atlantic. For more information, contact the Virginia Beach Chamber of Commerce (757-490-1221).