Author Topic: Virginia Heaving with Old Friends and New (9/26-10/2)  (Read 174 times)


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Virginia Heaving with Old Friends and New (9/26-10/2)
« on: October 05, 2018, 06:28:26 AM »
So I had an awesome opportunity to meet up with my buddy in Virginia and do some early Red Drum fishing as well as a ton of other fishing.  It's been 25 years since I was last in VA and was stoked to try for some big drum and/or cobia!
I was a little nervous how things were going to look since the hurricane ripped through there a week earlier, but did most of the damage in North and South Carolina. It was clear sailing ever since I boarded the plane.

Day 1

As I was on the second leg of my journey from Charlotte to Norfolk, we passed over the Chesapeake Bay and all I saw was chocolate milk!  Holy brown water!  I was seriously thinking how any fish could see in that dirty water?  Oh well, I had to wait and find out.

I arrived safely and my buddy, and SCR guy, Andrew was there waiting to pick me up.  When I stepped outside, it had the sweet smell of rain and there was quite a bit more foliage than I’m used to seeing. (I forgot how green things get in an area that has rain).

We made it back to his house and went out to dinner with the family.  I wanted to get my fill of Blue Claw crab, so ordered some “She-Crab” soup and some local caught crab stuffed shrimp.  I’ve never had the She-Crab before, but it was fantastic.  I made a point of trying new foods and drinks while I was there as long as it didn’t have any mushrooms in it.

My hosts, Andrew and Mary. (Soon to be proud parents!)

The "Lab"

We headed back to the barn and got the gear ready before getting some shut eye.  Our first day of fishing was going to be heading to the pier and trying for Drum and Cobia.  It’s not his preferred method of fishing, but he wanted me to meet his buddy Adam and Adam had a hunch the drum would be there.

Day 2

We stopped along the way to throw the cast net once and see if we could get some fresh pickle mullet.  First cast and Mullet and Shad filled the net!  We tossed the shad back and filled the cooler with fresh mullet.  We already had a bunch of spot in the cooler from his friend Matt in preparation for the drum fishing.

Pier fishing is not a whole lot different here than there, as Pier people are Pier people no matter where you go.  The big difference is it costs $10 to fish the piers out here.
Soon as we got to the end, there was bait boiling everywhere and fish launching like missiles.  Andrew hooked me up with an iron for the small rod and I started bombing away!  Well, my first fish of the trip was my first Spanish Mackerel ever.  Such a cool fish!  It was followed by a Needlefish and a Bluefish before just becoming a catch fest of Spanish and Blues!  We switched the iron out for a Gotcha Jig and it was like taking candy from a baby.  The fish were all over it.
The long rods were interesting on the pier as everyone would make way for the big casts and it was everybody taking a turn casting.  Kind of crazy if you ask me, but it seemed to work out just fine.

First long rod to go off was Adam’s rod.  This was a BIG fish and by all appearances was a big Red Drum.  It didn’t show itself, but he got it ¾ of the way in before a Spanish Mackerel went for his knot and cut the line!  These things were just trying to eat anything they could see!  Oh well, but it was a good sign!
Next up was Andrew!  He had a feeling it was most likely a shark and that it was.  A little Sand Bar shark!

The only thing I was getting was Bluefish and Crabs stealing my baits!  Then Adan gets slammed again and we were all unsure what it was.  Andrew dropped the pier net down and scooped up his 37” Cobia!  Such a cool fish! (Damn Red Sox Fan)

Then Andrew’s rod went off again... He went to hand it off to me, but I wasn’t taking a handoff since this was the second fish of the morning in less than a half hour and still in our first hour of fishing!  (In hindsight, I definitely should have taken the hand off)  LOL
Andrew got his 35” cobia!

The pier started filling up and there were a few more long rodders out there as well as a bunch of typical pier folk out fishing now.  That and the tourists and I was getting a little twitchy with the mid-day crowd.

I reverted to small bait fishing to try and increase my species count and increase it I did!
Blue Runners






We kept casting baits and they kept getting swiped.  Adam was a great dude, but he did have one flaw…. He was a Red Sux fan and after finding out I was a Yankee fan, He never failed to let me know his detest of the Pinstripes all day.  Hahaha, but I’m getting the last laugh now as the Yankees won the playoff and are now facing the Sox in the next round.  (I’ll be sure to text Andrew to text you Adam!!!!)  LOL

I finally got on the board with a Sandbar Shark.  That was a big weight off my shoulders, even though it was just a little guy.

So after 12 hours of fishing the pier, I finally get bit!  It wasn’t exactly what I was targeting, but it was my first Sandbar shark!  I’ve been a deckhand and landed hundreds of Brown sharks before, but I don’t recall actually catching one myself.  In either case, it was a great feeling to get something bigger than a few pounds on the deck.

My back was killing me as this was the most I’ve done since the accident, but it also hurt so good.

Day 3

We were a little beat up from the pier, so we decided to try the back bay with the small rods and look for trout and puppy drum. 
It was a cool ass area with lots of kayakers around, but all we could come up with is Blues.  Bait was everywhere!  Schools of mullet, Bunker and silver sides were so numerous, I couldn’t imagine how something could find our baits!
We worked the reserve for about 4 hours before calling it quits.  No drum or trout, just mass amounts of snapper blues to be found.  One guy did get a bunch of trout, but he was guarding his spot and left no room for anyone.

Afterwards, we headed to the VA Beach gift stores so I could get my wife and kids some souvenirs before heading home. The wind was just howling this day as it was howling the previous day.  The guys out here all fish winds more than anything, including tides.  They love that NE wind for sure.
We hung out and had some beers and went out for dinner after that as the next morning, we were going to be fishing the reserve and get there well before the crack of dawn.  The NE wind was going to be blowing and apparently everyone in VA knew the drum were going to be on the beach!

Day 4

It was a cool area and hopes were high!  We were the first ones to set up on the beach, but his buddies Steve and Melody were soon thereafter.  Then it became almost 100 long rod heavers in a row down the beach!

It was weird.  They don’t like using the white headlights, only red and we never put glowsticks on the rod tips.  This messed me up at first as my long rod started bouncing in the moonlight and I ran to the rod to see nothing was there.  I stayed around the rod for a minute before doing the 5-minute rule on it and sat down again.  I checked the rod in 5 minutes on cue and my line was slack and on the ground!  I reeled up and thought I was busted off, but caught up with the sinker right in the shore pound!  How crazy!  Well, I lost my first real VA surf fish!

I couldn’t stand seeing thousands of small fish jumping all over, so tied up the little rod and had a blast with the bluefish.
I even heard some flopping and reached down to hand grab a baby fluke in the surf!

The rest of the day was pretty much catching Blues and never saw a single drum beached.  Our fun was watching a guy just pull his kayak right in the surf in front of me.  Never watched the sets coming in.  Never tied down any of his gear including the paddle… even used a sit in kayak with no scuppers.  Started paddling in soon as the biggest wave started heading towards him and KAPOW!  Lost his gear and rods… Got beat up by the yak slamming into him from the following waves and watched the paddle start drifting away.  It was a comedy.  We helped him the entire time, but this guy barely had any sense to him let alone he should even be able to operate a kayak!  We recovered about 2/3 of his stuff, but couldn’t find most of his gear as it was pulled out by the currents and drifted away or sunk out of sight.

We finally called it quits as we could only manage small stuff.  We headed back for a short rest and nap before heading back out doing some night fishing on a new beach!

We stopped by Rudee Inlet to see all the Spot fishermen.

So, it was back to red light fishing and on an EMPTY Beach!  This was awesome.  We saw a “red light” about 200+ yards down the beach, but that was about it.  It was great being out on a new empty beach and we fished it hard.  Lots of bait changing which was exclusively the heads of the bait.  The thing is to dig a hole in the sand, cut the head off for bait and drop the body of the bait into the sand hole.  They don’t throw it in the water for a few reasons. 

•   To prevent the birds from flying into the line when going to grab the bait.
•   To prevent the build up of crabs in the area.
•   To not disgust all the tourists seeing dead fish bodies on the beach and keep them from trying to close the beaches to fishermen.

Man, we could barely get a bite at all!  While we were sitting and waiting, I saw the red light down the beach on.  Usually, it would come on and turn off, but this time I saw it moving up 10 feet and back 10 feet.  I’ll be damned, he has a fish on!

It was dark, so I couldn’t see it, but Andrew put out the APB and it came back that Big John got a nice big Red on the beach!  Unfortunately, we fished until 1:30am and did not even get a shark or ray knockdown.  We packed it in and headed home to rest before doing it all over again.

Day 5

We repeated the beach day from yesterday and hit the “Hot Spot” again. This time I brought a much smaller rod set up to try for some new and different species.  Same result as yesterday…  Bluefish and Spanish jumping everywhere, but just too far for the smaller rod.  I decided to use some of the Fish Bites (Looks like Trident Chewing Gum) and had a steady pick of baby Black Drum and Pompano!  I also caught Fluke and Blues, but they were all pretty small.  The Long Rods stayed dormant all day.

The highlights were a porcupine fish and a dead turtle that floated to shore.  We had enough and decided to head out for dinner so I could get my fill of Crab Cakes!  We stopped at a place that had some of the best Blue Claw crab cakes I’ve ever had along with a ridiculously great She-Crab Soup!  Tomorrow we are planning on meeting his buddy Steve and taking the boat out for Cobia, Drum and Kings!

Andrew and his Big Bird Nest of the day!

We even started catching blues and pinning them on live for bait!

Day 6

We met Steve around 8:00 am.  There is no apparent rush to get out as you have to see the cobia and the sun needs to be high in the sky to see them.  The water was pretty brown, but we hit all of the cans on the way out.  It apparently only has to be two casts per can and we moved on.  Andrew was saying they would rush right out on the first cast usually, but always come out when they see a bucktail ripping through.

We started to troll as we hit 8 cans on the way out and saw nothing, but there were plenty of bunker schools swimming around.  We trolled bunker spoons on a planer and I was a little shocked to get slammed by a tuna in such dirty water!  First fish on the boat was their version of a “Fat Albert”.

We ran NE and it was crazy.  We were out over 7 miles and it was only 50’ deep!  We finally came across a rip line with the dirty brown water on one side and Gulf Stream blue on the other.  The minute I tried taking a picture of the break, a 6’ spinner shark jumped and I actually caught the jump in the picture!

We trolled the clean water line and saw tons of Houndfish, Kings and Spanish.  We boated some small Kings and Big Spanish!  It was super cool fishing this new way for me.  I’m not normally a huge fan of just trolling, but Steve was looking for the BIG King and the Captain is always king of his vessel!  Trolling in this manner also includes hand lining as I’ll explain later.

Small King

After catching a bunch for the cooler, we made a run to some other buoys looking for cobia, but once again, no one was home.  We got to the King beach and started trolling again.  MAN, we had a smoker on the line!  The drag was so tight and was screaming out so fast! I couldn’t even turn him and he had 100-200 yards out before he started slowing down.  Steve was STOKED to hook a real one, but it was short lived as it made a turn and pop off the hook. UGH, so depressing!

We trolled and trolled looking for rays and found a few, but there were no Cobia with them.  We saw a whole bunch of turtles, but we called it quits as Steve was still bummed we lost the big king as all of us were.  We caught a bunch and I saw a lot of awesome stuff.  I saw at least 6 spinners jumping, but we didn’t veer from the plan and whatever the captain wants, the captain gets!
We got back and shared some stories of fishing past before heading back home and get cleaned up for sushi (which was awesome!)

My buddy Steve, who reminds me a lot of Dave in a weird sort of way.

That was the short version, as there was so much that went on that week, it would be too hard to get it all in, but that was a good summary.  No Big fish for me, but plenty of smaller fish caught and new ones for me.

Day 7

Plane ride home was great.  I got the exit seat with legroom for days… and only one person didn’t show up on the full plane and it happened to be the seat next to me…. And I was in a row of only 2 seats!  Nice and roomy on the way home.

I’m home and itching to catch something bigger than that Sandbar Shark, so hopefully can get my fix now that I’m back!
Thanks for reading and until next tide!

I'll post more pictures later when I get them off my phone, but thanks for being patient.  I don't know why some of these pics are pig, but I resized them for a 17" monitor, but they are not coming out that way?  Some are and some aren't?  I'll try to fix them later.

Thanks for reading!
« Last Edit: October 05, 2018, 06:31:23 AM by Latimeria »
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Re: Virginia Heaving with Old Friends and New (9/26-10/2)
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2018, 11:07:06 AM »
Really nice pictures! Looks like you had a great trip.


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Re: Virginia Heaving with Old Friends and New (9/26-10/2)
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2018, 04:37:52 PM »
Some pics are huge, some are just right. Either way, looks like a really fun trip! I've learned to enjoy catching the little fish too, as that has kind of been the norm for me lately when I go to Cabo. Really enjoyed the report, thanks for sharing!
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Re: Virginia Heaving with Old Friends and New (9/26-10/2)
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2018, 05:43:31 AM »
The "Lab"

Is this the dude's garage?   Looks like the service department in a tackle shop.  Thanks for sharing
Tom, looks like you had a great time.
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Re: Virginia Heaving with Old Friends and New (9/26-10/2)
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2018, 08:35:22 AM »
Really cool pictures. Looks like you had a lot of funny. I will be in Virginia Beach next summer for my wife's family reunion. I hope to do some fishing while I'm out that way.


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Re: Virginia Heaving with Old Friends and New (9/26-10/2)
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2018, 01:18:56 PM »
Thanks for sharing your trip, photos a little big. You might want to resize them when you get a chance. Welcome back!
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Re: Virginia Heaving with Old Friends and New (9/26-10/2)
« Reply #6 on: Today at 02:03:00 PM »
That sure looks fun!  I hope I get a chance to fish the east coast someday!