The Tidewater area of Virginia offers a variety of opportunities for offshore fishermen. By June, monster bluefish arrive and are often present in enormous numbers along the 20 fathom line. This fishing usually amounts to a 25-30 nautical mile trip from local inlets.
Days behind the bluefish are several species of sharks, the most sought after being the mako. Sandbar, tiger, thresher, blue, blacktip, bull, hammerhead and other sharks also begin to appear about this time.
Local anglers attract sharks by chumming with ground fish, then using wire leaders baited with whatever bait can be attained. Fresh baits like bluefish, trout, mackerel, bonita or false albacore are preferred.
By mid-June, tuna often appear off the coast. Bluefin tuna prefer cooler water and usually arrive first. In the early season, bluefin are caught by trolling. Bluefins are sometimes accompanied by bluefish, king mackerel, and occasionally, yellowfin tuna.
By July, yellowfin tuna and dolphinfish (mahi mahi) usually dominate offshore catches. Snglers troll for them as far out as Norfolk Canyon, with some trips exceeding 70 nautical miles. At other times good fishing occurs just 25-30 nautical miles from home.
Late summer usually brings changes to offshore fishing. Better fishing is likely as tuna school up and develop a bigger appetite. Marlin, wahoo and large dolphinfish are also more likely.
Another big factor is hurricane season. Depending on weather, fishermen might enjoy good late season weather or miss much of the late-season. Patient anglers usually get a few nice days and enjoy good offshore fishing into the fall.
By October, many offshore fishermen turn their attention back to inshore species such as striped bass (rockfish), black sea bass, flounder, and tautog.