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dolphins in Virginia BeachFishing in Virginia Beach Virginia

Nothing can compare to the excitement of catching a fish! Whether it is from a dock, pier, boat or beach, fishing brings joy to people of all ages. If one is successful, it also puts a delicious meal on the table. Nothing tastes better than a fish caught and cooked in the same day!

The Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coastline off Virginia Beach are abundant fishing grounds. More than 295 species of fish are found in the Chesapeake Bay region. This constitutes about ten percent of the total number of species of plants and animals that occupy the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. Of these fish species, only 32 species are year-round residents of the Bay. The remaining species enter the Bay either from freshwater streams or the Atlantic Ocean to feed, reproduce and find shelter.

The fish in the Bay region fall into two categories: resident and migratory. Resident fish tend to be smaller than migratory species and often occur in shallow waters, where they feed on a variety of invertebrates. The resident Bay Anchovy, for example, is the most abundant fish in Bay waters and consequently forms a critical link in the food web because it serves as the dietary basis for many other species,  including some species of birds and mammals. In winter it remains in the deep waters of the Bay, but in the warmer seasons it clings to shoreline areas, swimming in schools and feeding on zooplankton. The Bay Anchovy spawns at night from April through September in warm areas of the estuary, where the temperature is above 54 degrees F.

The Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries sustain a wide diversity of species and have for centuries provided rich fishing grounds for commercial and recreational fisherman. There are so many types of fish caught here that it descriptions of them would fill a book. Some of the more popular catches are the flounder and striper. (seasonal).

The Atlantic croaker, more commonly referred to as “hardhead”, includes the species of spot, black drum and red drum The croakers and drums characteristically produce a drumming sound by vibrating their swim bladders with special muscles. Croakers are luminescent and appear pink when first removed from the water. A croaker’s tail is slightly pointed, and it has faint stripes across its back and small chin barbels.

Spanish mackerel live in the coastal waters of the western Atlantic Ocean, from the Gulf of Maine to the Yucatan Peninsula. They are a schooling fish, preferring shallow coastal ocean waters, but they freely enter tidal estuaries. The Spanish mackerel also has an elongated, compressed body and pointed snout, and is dusky blue dorsally with a silver underside. These mackerel are found most frequently in water temperatures between 70 and 88 degrees F, and rarely in waters below 64 degrees F. Spanish mackerel is a common visitor to the middle and lower Chesapeake Bay from spring to autumn. Spanish mackerel consume small fishes, shrimp and squid, and reach a maximum age of 8 years.

The black sea bass is another popular catch here. Also known in the Chesapeake Bay area as “black will,” “chub,” or simply sea bass, they are year-round inhabitants of the mid-Atlantic region. These bass are bluish-black fish as adults and brownish as juveniles and have scales with pale blue or white centers. Adult black sea bass are considered a temperate reef fish, and are most often found on rocky bottoms near pilings, wrecks and jetties. Visual feeders during daylight hours, black sea bass rely on swift currents and their large mouths to capture their prey, which include other fish, crabs, mussels and razor clams. Although they do not travel in schools, they can be found in large groups around structures or during inshore-offshore migrations.

When fishing, one never knows what they will get. If fishing near the shore, pesky crabs can grab the line. This thrill of the unknown and hope eternal keep the sport of fishing exciting and eventful. It is a fresh-air pastime that offers a relaxing view, and hopefully taste, of the ocean. Fishing is a fresh-air pastime that offers a relaxing view, and hopefully taste, of the ocean.