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Chesapeake Bay fishing is best in the fall

Rock fish season always draws hard core angleres to Virginia's Northern Neck in the fall.


The days are getting shorter but the temperatures are still mild during the day, especially when there's littl or no breeze out on the bay and the water is flat. Those are the days when anglers head out in search of rockfish, or striped bass.

October 4th marks the beginning of Fall Striped Bass season in Virginia. The most popular method by far to catch these tasty fish is to chum for them and use light tackle to catch them. Sometime around Thanksgiving, there is a run of huge trophy-sized Stripers that come into the area. These monsters can be over forty pounds! Most of the fishing activity for these trophy fish is done by trolling.

"Many anglers are reluctant to go out on the water in November and December because it is 'so cold,'" said Capt. Ferrell McLain, who operates Bay Fish Sport Fishing Charters in Reedville. "In truth, the daytime temperatures are in the 40s and 50s and the water temperature is in the 50s in late November. Even on mornings that are below 40 degrees, the warmer water acts like a radiator. As soon as the sun comes up, it gets really nice by around ten AM. The only problem is when the wind is blowing over fifteen or twenty knots. Then the chill factor kicks in. At that time a boat with a heated cabin is certainly desirable!"

Some years the big Rockfish hang around the mid Bay until the end of December. The last few years they have moved to the mouth of the Bay by the third week in December. But they do hang around the mouth of the Bay through January and February. Barring stormy weather, the winter fishing off Virginia Beach in January and February is awesome. In fact, Saltwater Sportsman Magazine has rated the fishing there as the best in the world!

Get information onstriped bass regulations.

Captain Ferrell McLain operates BAYFISH Sport Fishing Charters out of Reedville and Virginia Beach. See www.bayfish.net or email ferrell@bayfish.net or call 1-888-BAYFISH for fishing information.