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Fishing/fishing for blues on piers in VA/NC


What kind of bait do you use to catch blue fish off a pier in the VA/Chesapeake Bay area? The fishing reports here say people are catching them but I haven't been able to and have never caught one. What kind of technique is used if any? Me and my wife want to catch a big fish from the pier. We are planning on going on a charter boat that travels out into the ocean. Is this the only way to catch blue fish?

Hello Wayne, thanks for the question...hurray! A fishing question!

As you may know, the bluefish frequents the waters of the Virginia coast and the Chesapeake Bay from spring until early fall and are voracious predators. The fish feed in schools and typically tear through a school of bait fish, crippling as many as possible and then quickly returning to feed on the chunks, pieces and wounded. Because of their aggressive nature and a razor sharp set of teeth, they are known by a number of nicknames like choppers and snappin' blues. I love these fish but have yet to catch any over ten pounds or so…mainly because I haven’t chased them offshore.

If you choose to use bait, try cut baits like menhaden (bunkers), cut sardines, mackerel and the like. If the local regulations allow it, give chumming of these cut baits a try. If you can get bait fish feeding in a nice frenzy, the bluefish won’t be far behind…and this might just be the way to get the bigger fish to come through.  The blues will readily take the chunks and strips, so be ready. When you rig up, be certain to add some steel leader…at least  four inches or so or you will go through most of your hooks and other terminal tackle. Match your hooks to the size of the bait and or the size of the blues in the area...#2 to 1/0 should suffice.

While you can effectively use cut baits for them, I think you should try your hand at fishing for them with lures. This approach will often give you more control in locating the fish rather than the fish locating a piece of bait sitting still. You can simply cover more water and increase the likelihood of hooking up.  Spoon styles like the Krocodile by Luhr Jensen in chrome, green chrome mackerel and blue chrome mackerel will work well and there may likely be a number of local favorites so be certain to stop in at a local tackle shop for the scoop.
Remember to once again use some steel leader with the lures. That will likely save you six to eight bucks a throw! I prefer to use black leaders to avoid the flash that might encourage the blues to strike the leader and cut you off anyway. And, if you can find them, get the leaders with a ball-bearing swivel and snap, not just a barrel swivel and snap, to reduce line twist if the spoon spins. If you can’t find them with the ball-bearing, the barrel swivel will do…and don’t hesitate to pick up the black leader wire in a coil, some snaps for the working end; some black, ball-bearing swivels; some crimps and a set of cheap crimping pliers and make you own custom length leaders.

Another, great bait is the soft plastic swim bait, fished on 1/4oz. to 1/2oz. lead heads.  But let me caution you, you will go through a ton of them.  I had unbelievable success in the inland waterways of N.C. near Sea Level and Beaufort catching little blues from 1 to 4 lbs…not to mention bunches of speckled trout and flounder. Now, in this case, I did NOT use a steel leader. The reason is that I wasn't loosing the heads with the tails, I kept getting the swim bait bitten off just behind the hook…”short bit”…so I added a long-shanked trailer hook and rarely missed any others. Like I h=mentioned before, blues attack to injure or cripple, then go back for the pieces, rarely taking the soft baits at the head. (of course there are NO guarantees!)

The fish are a blast to catch, not to mention the smaller blues were amazing on the table! They fillet out perfectly and are not as oily as the older, larger fish. Just battered them and deep fried them to perfection…

Don’t forget these five things:
       1- Get the locals to give up some tips and if they don’t then watch them closely.
       2- Get the local 411 from a good tackle shop and give them a little business.
       3- Get the local regulations and stick to them.
       4- Try to fish the rising tide to its peak…the fish feed more aggressively on the rise.
       5- Watch out for some dang sharp teeth!

So Wayne, I hope this gets you started catching some blues! Now get out there and git’er done!



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Mark Rimmer


I have been actively fishing for forty-five years! For nearly 15 of those years I was able to fish nearly 200 days per year. Those wonderful days have left me with a plethora of knowledge to share. I have fished from the Marianas of the Pacific to the quiet tidewaters of Virginia and North Carolina, Antigua the gulf coast of Texas and many places in between. My home waters are those of the west. I am passionate about bass fishing, tournament as well as recreational. In addition, I am well versed in fishing for most other species...(Okay, although interesting, I'm not an expert on British or European style competitive carp fishing...chumming with a slingshot anyone?). I am intimately acquainted with the San Diego County Lakes, Diamond Valley reservoir in Riverside County California and numerous other exciting fishing waters from Texas (Travis County) to the Pacific Coast and south to Cabo San Lucas. I have many years of experience in blue-water as well as inshore angling of all types in Southern California with both artificial and live baits; high country fishing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of my beloved Golden State with nothing but a backpack and a fly-rod. There are still a lifetime of adventures to undertake, together with my lovely wife, Christine. I am an expert rod smith and have vast experience with both the construction and repair all types of rods including split bamboo (new or vintage) and hickory as well as graphite, boron composites and all types of fiberglass. I spent 20 years in the retail business of which 6 were spent owning and operating a successful tackle shop, specializing in custom rod making, rod and reel repairs and a full scale tackle selection. Uncommon topics I love to discuss: Fisheries Management; Tackle Shop/ retail management; Ethics and responsibilities of anglers; Repair and maintenance of rods/reels; "How to"...any topic in fishing.


I took a few years off,(5 to be exact) from answering questions for but I'm back now! My experience? Forty-Five years of bio-observation, fishing numerous types of waters with virtually every type of tackle: Casting, Fly, Spinning, Offshore/blue-water, Coastal, Surf, Tournaments: ( Bass, Local Saltwater), Alpine lakes/streams, ditches, canals, sloughs, marshes, creeks and swamps; if there is water, I usually throw a cast or two. Tackle Shop ownership and management, Expert Custom Rod Construction and repair (Big-game, Long-range stand-up, Live bait, jig sticks, Casting, Spinning and fly- including split-cane). I have personally constructed over 700 custom rods of all types...nearly half of the rods the shop turned out. I also have performed hundreds of reel repairs of all types- antique to modern. I do not typically offer valuation of tackle. This is very difficult without inspecting the tackle first hand and leaving valuation far to subjective. I will be happy to offer other experts for placing a value on your tackle.

NRA forever...(Gun rights...Guns and fishing rods belong together right?), belonged to BASS for most of my life but keep forgetting to renew. I like Trout Unlimited but again, keep forgetting to renew...gotta more tank of gas and some fresh line...or memberships? Hmmm.

None yet...why aren't they chasing me?

"Roads" Scholar. Life-long independent study of fisheries biology, ichthyology, aquatic/marine biology, ecosystems, angling techniques and observations of animals, fish and humans: both smart guys and knuckleheads.

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Self-Proclaimed tackleshop of the year! The California Tackle Box- Oceanside, Ca.

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