Hampton VA Fishing

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Jim_R
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2021/03/02 16:17:16 (permalink)

Hampton VA Fishing

Seems I'll soon have a reason to spend some time here and there in the Hampton VA area.  Wondering if anyone on here has any experience with the outdoor pursuits available in that area.  Looking for any general info on fishing/crabbing/clamming/hunting in the area to get us started.  What to target and when to do it would let me hit the ground running with at least a beginning plan.  Thanks!  (Feel free to PM if you'd rather).

Jim_R

"There is certainly something in angling that tends to produce a serenity of the mind."

"The angling fever is a very real disease and can only be cured by the application of cold water and fresh, untainted air."
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    Porktown
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    Re: Hampton VA Fishing 2021/03/02 19:28:28 (permalink)
    I have fished the area a handful of times about 20 years ago. I almost moved there. My work took me there a good bit when I lived in Northern VA. There are a lot of options, especially if you have access to a boat. I’m not sure about hunting, but fishing definitely. There are crabs and clams, but with how populated the area is down there, I am not sure if good to eat in many areas, but I don’t know? When work had me at the Naval base, I’d always stay at a Comfort Inn at the Willoughby Bay marina. There was a fishing pier there that would have spotted seatrout stacked by the lights at night. Had a few good times there. Not far from Hampton. There is so much water in the area and all holds fish at times. I wish that I knew the one bridge that I fished under the one day, creek size water, slamming flounder, reds and whiting/kingfish. The beach isn’t too far as well. If you know someone with a boat, the striped bass run down there is great. They get runs of cobia and redfish too. Check YouTube a bunch of info. There is some dude and his girlfriend or wife that make some really informative videos about the tidewater area fishing as well as OBX (about 2 hour drive from Hampton, I think). Pretty much like up here, spring and fall are excellent. Summer is rough go from shore, but excellent from a boat. Winter is tough, but the locals usually know were to find something. Tidewater has some rough neighborhoods, so make sure you check the surrounding neighborhoods of your potential fishing spots. Once you figure some things out, you will have a blast.
     
    These two are located somewhere in the Tidewater area.  They give some pretty good tips on how they rig up and how to fish for certain species.  https://www.youtube.com/c...Y0Yr1_k-pgrHv8M1NHZVMA
    post edited by Porktown - 2021/03/03 08:03:54
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    Jim_R
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    Re: Hampton VA Fishing 2021/03/03 15:32:33 (permalink)
    Pork-
     
    Thanks for taking the time to reply.  I don't mind doing the homework and legwork, just wanted a nudge in the right direction.
     
    Couple questions, if you don't mind...I'm not too familiar with saltwater fish...of those you mentioned, which are good eating?  What kind of boat is required down there?  Would a 12' be of any use anywhere down there?
     
    Thanks for the link, i'll start checking out those videos.

    Jim_R

    "There is certainly something in angling that tends to produce a serenity of the mind."

    "The angling fever is a very real disease and can only be cured by the application of cold water and fresh, untainted air."
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    Porktown
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    Re: Hampton VA Fishing 2021/03/03 16:41:48 (permalink)
    I love saltwater fishing. Cant say that my info is more than a nudge anyway!

    Most saltwater fish are good eating. The seatrout taste much more like our walleye than our trout. Teeth like walleye too. Redfish are excellent, so are flounder, whiting/kingfish and head the same for cobia.

    I would imagine a 12’ boat could have use. I would be really selective in where you go with it. The bay is like Erie and can turn deadly if you aren’t respecting it. If you are smart about following weather, winds, tides, you could probably get to some really good spots in a 12’. I have watched videos of kayak guys getting there, so imagine you can do similar.

    Surf fishing requires a bit different equipment, especially if bait and wait. Mostly just to be able to cast 3-4 oz of lead and bait. But casting from the sand is fun.

    When are you planning to go?
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    Porktown
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    Re: Hampton VA Fishing 2021/03/03 21:42:38 (permalink)
    Jim
    Even though you put this thread in the correct place, I don’t think people see it nearly as much as the Erie, SWPA, NWPA or off topic sections. A lot of dudes on this site that enjoy saltwater fishing with a lot of really good info. From my experience in the salt, what works in ME usually works for the same species in NJ or VA, and often for other species. Maybe adjust a bit, but similar. Gulf is a little different than the Atlantic mainly to the waves being a bit more rough in the Atlantic, but the back waters seem to be very similar. See the link here below, a good bit of good info there.

    I’d copy and paste your original message into the off topic and make a new thread (I don’t think the mods would mind). You’ll most likely get a bit more replies of good info. A lot of guys that vacation the coasts that like to fish. I have a good bit of clients in NJ, so turn many fishing trips into business trips... 😀

    To me, one of the biggest things to remember. Salt and sand destroy your gear. Rinse off all of your tackle after you are done for the day. If you take your boat out, flush your motor when done.

    https://forums.fishusa.com/m/tm.aspx?m=615265
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    Porktown
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    Re: Hampton VA Fishing 2021/03/04 11:43:20 (permalink)
    Jim - 
    Some other basics, since I love talking saltwater fishing and too cold to do any fishing here!
     
    Backwater = the rivers, creeks, the Chesapeake and it's smaller bays, and the ICW (intercoastal waterway - area behind the ocean barrier islands - if you were to head to Sandbridge or OBX), etc.  There is a ton of this water down there and excellent fishing.
     
    Out front = the ocean itself.
     
    Backwater is fished much like you would inland PA waters.  Depending on what you are targeting, would really determine your gear.  If you are looking for flounder, bluefish, smaller red fish (puppy drum), croakers, sea trout and other smaller fish, your regular "bass" rod, M weight 6'-7' rod is exactly what most will use.  If going after the big redfish (bull drum), big cobia, smaller sharks, etc. you will use gear much more in the musky casting gear.  Big sharks is its own special gear.  They call them inshore rods/reels, only difference is possibly sealed ball bearings and other corrosion resistant components.  Since you are hopefully not dunking your rods/reels in the water, you should be good with freshwater, as long as you give them a good rinse after every use.  Do not spray hard or you can push sand/salt into the reels.  Use a shower type spray or even hose without a nozzle, or just make sure you aren't jet spraying with a nozzle.  If you are planning to do a good bit of saltwater fishing in the future, it is a good idea to possibly get some more saltwater rated equipment, but your regular freshwater is just fine.  
     
    The lures aren't all too different, but most salt lures will have more corrosion resistant hooks and other.  I would highly recommend to not use any of your favorite freshwater lures unless the confidence level is so high and you are not worried about replacing when back home.  You can definitely use your freshwater hooks, etc.  Although bronze and other materials will only give you one use in salt (also depending on the salinity).  The tidal rivers, 20 miles from the ocean are going to be far less salinity than the ocean itself and less corrosive.  For all of my saltwater tackle, I put in small plastic bags (craft store sells the smaller ones which are easier to use than sandwich zip locks, but work).  This will keep the corrosiveness on the items used and not spread in your box, which it will.  Many freshwater hooks, no matter how much you clean after, will rust as soon as they get saltwater on them.  I even separate into smaller boxes for my intent of use.  This also has to do with me hiking a good bit when I fish salt (I don't trust trailering my boat that far).  I'll grab 3-4 boxes and put in my wading bag.  If one happens to go in the drink, hopefully the plastic bags the gear is in will protect them and other boxes are safe.
     
    Saltwater fish seem to love shrimp.  Which is good and bad.  If you are trying to catch big fish with a big piece of shrimp, there are almost always smaller fish near by that don't mind pecking apart your shrimp before the big fish gets there.  Smaller pieces of said shrimp on a smaller hook will catch those smaller fish.  Which can be used for bait (check regulations before cutting up or using for bait).  Shrimp also doesn't stay on the hook the best of all baits, so can end up using a bit more than you would like.  Avoid the frozen "bait shrimp" and buy as fresh as possible.  Even grocery store and take what you think you will need, keep it clean and you can cook what is left over...
     
    No doubt other baits work better at times and depending what you are looking to catch.  If going in October, nothing will likely beat mullet, which will likely be migrating and having the entire area on fire with fish.  There are glass minnows/spearing/rain fish that look a lot like the emerald shiners in Erie.  I don't hear of people using these as bait too often, but many lures are meant to imitate.
     
    If you make it to VA Beach or other spots in the ocean, things will be a little different.  You can definitely use those same techniques of the backwater "out front", if the ocean is 2' waves or lower.  Most often, they are not.  On a pier, that tackle will usually work.  When the ocean is over 2' waves and often even when under 2', there is a long shore current or rip currents that make using those smaller inshore rods hard.  Impossible if doing the "bait and wait" approach.  For that you will need at least 8', surf rod.  Again, depending on what you are targeting.  If going for the smaller fish like croaker, flounder, bluefish, pompano, whiting, etc. 8' will work if lower waves.  Often guys use 12' rods to get 3-4 oz of lead out to the second sandbar.  This would snap most of my freshwater rods, which are strong enough to catch any of the fish, just not strong enough to get the bait out there.
     
    If you plan to hit the beach, I could write another 2-3 pages.  It is a bit more different than the backwater, which is much more similar to our freshwater fishing.
     
    If I were to be heading to the area, here is what I would do.
     
    1) Find a few local fishing forums (Facebook should have many) as well as bait shops that have reports/forums.  Get a good idea of what seems to be showing up on the reports the most during that time frame you are planning to go.  Head back a year in the reports.  One of my biggest issues is going somewhere with a goal to catch a certain species and isn't really their season or conditions are not favorable.  I may get 1-2, but end up passing up some other species that are much more available.  This will give you a much better idea of what gear to have too.  Casting Spanish mackerel lures at areas holding a ton of sheepshead will just make you frustrated watching others catch.  Different than Erie sheepshead and prized food fish.
     
    2) Scout using whatever satellite maps program (Google, MapQuest, etc.).  Finding public access is often an issue, especially in those populated areas that someone usually owns just about every piece of land.  Finding where creeks enter a main body, fishing piers, jetties, etc.  Often the satellite views will show what it deeper water being darker, near shallower feeding flats.  Often right on those transitions will hold fish.
     
    3) Read up on how the tides and winds effect where you plan to fish.  With tides, incoming tide pushes baitfish and others into shallower areas that will get deeper.  So smaller creeks, etc. the fish are goin in.  When the tide is pushing out, this will pull that bait out into the main area.  In larger areas, it does different things.  Some beaches are much better fishing at low tide where you can reach deeper water.  Other beaches high tide is key to put enough water on top of a sandbar or grass flat that turns them into smorgasbords for fish feeding on the crabs, etc.  Wind directions, especially in the ocean are huge.  Lighter winds are usually better, since stronger winds can make things almost impossible to fish.  A lighter wind from the E (in VA Beach and other east facing beaches) will often make the ocean clearer, which has certain fish feeding more (Spanish mackerel, bluefish and pompano).  W or SW winds will dirty up the water, which also stirs up the organisms that live in the bottom.  This makes fishing for flounder, croakers, whiting and others a bit better.
     
    4) General stuff.  If fishing the summer, most fish will be caught in the dusk and dawn hours.  Which works good for families showing up to swim and enjoy the beach.  Other seasons the fish are out during the day much more and usually less families.  Know that sharks will be around more in that dusk, dawn and night hours, although always around.  If the ocean is murky, has a good bit of baitfish and low light, it is not a good time to go for a swim.  Fishing the beach in the ocean during the day is also looking for some conflicts with families/swimmers.  If the beach starts to get crowded a morning that you are fishing, you're going to have to pack it up unless you are ready to have a conflict with someone.  No fish is really worth accidentally snagging a little kid...  If a beach has plenty of room for both swimmers and fishermen, then be respectful with having your line under control (not best time to have 3 rod spread)  Targeting sharks at swimming beaches is something that many have issues with.  Bleeding fish or gutting them on those beaches is also something many don't take kind to.  For bleeding fish, take a bucket, bleed them in the bucket, make a hole in the sand, dump and cover, problem solved.
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    snagr
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    Re: Hampton VA Fishing 2021/03/04 13:36:13 (permalink)
    lots of good info and advice from porktown ^
     
    i fish the salt almost every summer.  normally on the gulf coast of missisipi.  atlantic coast of florida last year.  it's been 20+ years since i've fished as far north as the outer banks, and i never did well surf fishing from there north to new jersey in my teens and as a kid.  
     
    did some surf fishing and tidal creek/river fishing in florida last year.  surf was moderate that week from locals i talked to, due to stiff southeast winds most days.  4' + waves a couple days and a little gentler the other days. videos i watched on youtube for that area looked a lot calmer most of the time.  i only brought 7' medium action rods.  held the bottom well enough with a 3 oz pyramid sinker on the rougher days and 1.5 oz on the calmer days to get into lots of whiting, a few pompanos, and lost a few drag screamers.  no idea what beach front surf is like in that area of virginia you're talking about.  that set up would definitely NOT work for the times i've fished on the outer banks.  as pork noted, if you don't have a stout surf rod and have to use the heavier sinkers, be very cautious with your casting.  i was able to wade out a good ways to cast most times in the surf and got my bait past the first sand bar and breakers with some gentler casting.  
     
    i do prefer fishing on the gulf to surf fishing on the atlantic.  in florida last summer, we spent most of our time on the halifax river (intracoastal waterway in that part of florida) and a few of its tributaries.  there was a lot more tidal movement than there is in mississippi (it's more like a lake with only subtle changes in the tide and surf and only one tide cycle per day as opposed to the two cycles a day on the atlantic coast) but the gear and tactics pork outlined were just fine even with the stronger tidal movement.  
     
    i would assume in that area of virginia, you'll see some stronger tidal movement on the intracoastal or feeders to the main body of water that was similar to florida.  
     
    biggest thing i can tell you from my experience is to fish on moving tides, whether in the surf or backwater.  i've found that time of day for that type of fishing matters less than fishing just before high tide and for a few hours after high tide as the tide drops.  when high tide coincides with low light periods at daybreak or dusk, those are usually the best times i've had in the salt.  look for obvious points, cuts or other structure where bait congregates and you'll find the game fish at those times.  
     
    in mississippi in june and july, shrimp is the predominant bait.  not sure about virginia, but would think bait fish make up a larger part of the diet there than on the gulf coast, though shrimp is part of it.  ask around at bait shops and watch youtube videos to find that kind of info, match the predominant bait, and you should be into some fun fishing.  
     
     
     
     
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    Jim_R
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    Re: Hampton VA Fishing 2021/03/04 14:18:06 (permalink)
    Pork-
     
    Thanks, man...more than I could have hoped for, and everything I was looking for!  My daughter and son-in-law and the grandkids will be moving to the area (work related).  Looks like we would be fishing backwater, closest to Northwest & Southwest Branch Back River.  Is that considered saltwater?  Looks like lots of inland water, more like what i'm use to around here...guessing that would be the case?

    Jim_R

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    "The angling fever is a very real disease and can only be cured by the application of cold water and fresh, untainted air."
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    Porktown
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    Re: Hampton VA Fishing 2021/03/04 15:21:47 (permalink)
    Jim
    That looks salty to me, looking how close it is to the mouth of the Chesapeake.  Technically called brackish, it won't have the salinity as the ocean itself, but being that close to the ocean, the tides carry the ocean water in and out.  Unless you g pretty far up the rivers, I would imagine you won't find many freshwater species, maybe some.  Catfish seem to tolerate both...  It doesn't look like those rivers are very big in terms of water feeding them.  They look more like coves of the Chesapeake with smaller creeks feeding them.  As opposed to the James, York, Rappahonock or Potomac River, which each has 50+ miles of freshwater feeding them.  It may have been one of those branches of the Back River that I was noting above about catching fish after fish in.  It was like the size of a decent stream, but deeper.  I was honestly amazed by all of the "saltwater fish" that I was catching.  This was 20+ years ago and beyond a few vacations, I didn't have much saltwater fishing experience.  Definitely crabs in those rivers too.  You would just need to check around with some locals if fine to eat crabs from there, but no doubt there are some in there.  The fish shouldn't be as much of a concern since they are transient and not living directly in the muck.  I would bet it is cleaner there than the Norfolk & New Port News side of the peninsula.  It has been a long time since I have been on Langley AFB, but is really nice area.
     
    No doubt in my mind, where the Back River dumps into the Chesapeake at Factory Point, is a good spot.  Looks like a cool place to take the grandkids too.  Make sure you scout it first to see what the current is like.  But the end of that point, where that rip rap is, has stripers, flounder and bluefish written all over it to me.  Looking at it a little closer, it might be a 2 mile hike though...
     
    The 1fish2fish channel on Youtube, may have fished from that Factory point.  Unless there are other beaches with the riprap sections like that in the area.
     
    This guy is a surf fishing legend located in Long Island, NY.  This technique works from ME to FL for flounder (they call them fluke in NY).  He has some excellent striped bass videos as well, that I reference when I am in NY/NJ for work.  
     
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hp6JVqETqOg
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