Fall Fishing in Hampton Roads

It’s autumn! The days are getting shorter, toes are meeting pigskin, and the fall fishing season shifts into high gear.

To everything there is a season, as the Good Book says, and in the fall months, certain species of fish melt away and others come to the forefront.

In the waters in and around Hampton Roads, in the Bay and its estuaries, fishermen find that species like speckled trout, puppy drum, spot, croaker and flounder are dominant.  Boaters who want to head out to the deep blue offshore can encounter the white marlin and some laggards among the tunas.

Here are some of the species you can expect to find in the autumn months:

Speckled Trout.  One of Virginia’s most popular saltwater gamefish, the speckled trout is known for its beauty, fighting ability, and fine tasting meat. Speckled trout are often caught alongside their close relative, the weakfish.

Weakfish. Weakfish are beautiful fish. The name “weakfish” comes from the fish’s fragile mouth, which tears easily when hooked. Typically, weakfish have a dark olive back, iridescent blue and copper sides and a silvery white belly.

Other identifying features are yellow fins, large canine teeth in the upper jaw and dark spots on the upper part of the body, sometimes forming diagonal lines. Most adult weakfish range from 12 to 18 inches but can grow up to to 3 feet long and weigh 4-18 pounds.

Puppy Drum.  The juvenile version of the red drum, these are popular sportfish.  Red drum or redfish can be caught in a myriad of ways. Probably the most widely utilized technique for catching red drum along the Atlantic coast is to anchor along a channel edge or shoal and bottom fish with cut peeler crab bait or other baits including, squid, cut spot, live spot, and even chicken breast soaked in peeler crab oil.

Spot.  Spot occur along the Atlantic coast in estuarine and coastal waters from the Gulf of Maine to Florida, although they are most abundant from Chesapeake Bay south to South Carolina. Spot are fun to catch and a great fish for anglers of all ages. Spot are caught along inlets, fishing piers, and in inshore bays.

Croaker.  Atlantic Croaker or “hardhead” are popular saltwater fish common along the Atlantic coast. The fish get their names because of the “croaking” noise the make when removed from the water. Croakers are hard fighters and prolific feeders.

They are caught on a variety of baits and lures and even go after flies in shallow water areas. Croakers are easily accessible, and can be caught on piers, jetties, small boats, charter boats and head boats.

Flounder.  Summer flounder are one of the most popular fish of the tidewater area. These delicious fish are found around inlets, jetties and dropoffs. Flounder are very easy to clean and a good value in terms of final yield.


White marlin.  This popular gamefish can be found in offshore waters throughout the summer, and local fishing clubs sponsor white marlin tournaments in August every year. They’ll stay in the area until the first cold weather blows through. Local captains swear by both natural and artificial baits for this pelagic fighter.

Where to find them

Local outdoor writer Lee Tolliver of the Virginian-Pilot  recommends finding the inshore species above in spots like Little Creek, Lynnhaven and Rudee inlets, the Poquoson flats and any of the inlets along the western shoreline of the Eastern Shore. For trout, Hungars is the most popular.

Let Lynnhaven Marine Help

Lynnhaven Marine can help your fall fishing in many ways.

We sell Virginia fishing licenses in our ship’s store. (There are license requirements for both saltwater and freshwater fishing, offered in a variety of categories for both residents and non-residents.  For a full list, see here.

We are also a local weigh station, just in case you bring home a world record!

And Lynnhaven Marine will make sure your boat is shipshape and ready for the fall fishing season. If you need any kind of service, stop in and see our trained mechanics.

Tight lines!