Free Fishing on the Chesapeake Bay
One fun, family-friendly activity to do when in Cape Charles is fishing from the Cape Charles Fishing Pier. No fishing license? No problem! The town of Cape Charles purchased a license to cover those fishing from the pier, so individual licenses are not necessary. Here are a few tips to get you started!
Using “bottom rigs” from the Cape Charles Fishing Pier
A bottom rig is used to position your hook on or near the seabed. From the Cape Charles pier, this type of rig can be used to catch a variety of fish, including flounder, croaker, puppy drum, spot and grey trout. Here are a few things to consider:
- Bottom rigs are inexpensive and can be purchased at one of the local bait and tackle shops. Details on both shops are included later in this article.
- A size 3/0 hook is a good all-around size for these types of fish.
- For bait, use artificial “fish bites” or squid.
- A 3 or 4 oz sinker will work well to keep your hook on the bottom.
- When fishing, you can either drop the rig directly from the pier or cast it out a ways. Leave the bait at the bottom (don’t cast and retrieve).
Casting & retrieving from the Cape Charles Fishing Pier
By casting and retrieving lures from the Cape Charles pier you can catch fish such as speckled trout, Spanish mackerel and blue fish.
- For lures, use a “lead head” with a rubber fluke or paddle tail. You can also use a “MirrOlure”.
- Retrieve at a slow to medium speed.
Spanish Mackerel & Blue Fish
- Try using a silver “casting spoon” for both of these fish species.
- Retrieve at a fast speed.
Bobber Fishing from the Cape Charles Fishing Pier
For many of us, particularly those who learned to fish on freshwater lakes, using a bobber/worm/hook combo was one of our first memories of fishing. This same style of fishing can be used from the Cape Charles pier to catch spadefish.
- Put about 3 feet of line between the hook and the bobber.
- Use clam for bait.
A few other quick fishing tips!
- The fish above are primarily summertime fish.
- A net is nice to have and definitely makes it easier to land your fish, but isn’t absolutely necessary.
- Most bites happen during tide changes (you can get tide charts at the local bait shops).
Chicken on a String = Blue Crabs!
It doesn’t get much more simple than this, but it is a whole lot of fun! All you need is some string, a sinker and a chicken leg. Tie the sinker and chicken leg to the end of the string. Toss the string over the edge of the Cape Charles pier, wait for a blue crab to grab hold of the chicken leg and pull it up! Be careful…they pinch…hard.
- Using a net can certainly help you land the crab. However, it’s ok if you don’t have a net because the crabs often won’t let go of the chicken leg as you pull them out of the water.
- For a more consistent way of catching the crabs that eliminates the risk of losing them as you pull them up, consider purchasing a collapsible star/pyramid crab trap.
Local Bait & Tackle Shops
In addition to providing the bait and tackle mentioned above, both shops can answer any additional questions, give you additional tips, help you set up a bottom rig, and more!
Bailey’s Bait & Tackle
327 Mason Ave, Cape Charles, VA 23310
Chris’ Bait & Tackle
28316 Lankford Hwy, Capeville, VA 23313 (5 miles south of Cape Charles on Rte 13)
Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC)
Be sure to visit the VMRC web site to review fishing regulations on size and possession limits. The site also includes images of the fish in case you aren’t too sure what you caught!