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Author Topic:   Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel Stripers
prj posted 12-10-2007 09:53 PM ET (US)   Profile for prj   Send Email to prj  
My wife, young son and I are undertaking a rather ambitious road trip with boat in tow over the holidays this year, with our first stop being my parent's house in Yorktown, Virginia. While there, I intend to fulfill a long-time wish of landing a Striped Bass from the Chesapeake Bay.

When I last lived in Virginia, early 1980s, Bluefish dominated the waters of the Bay, and we trolled for them around the Hampton tunnel and the CBBT. Since that time, effective regulation of the Striper fishery has brought them back from effectively nothing, and I've longed to catch one of these huge fish. Now is my opportunity, as Dad is packing up the house and moving home to Wisconsin.

I'm towing a 1990 18/19' Outrage (classic, not II) with a 1989 Yamaha 130 HP V4 outboard in top dependable shape.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/25169902@N00/1084821235/
My tow vehicle is a low-milage 2004 Toyota 4Runner with the V8. The trailer is a 3680# rated single-axeled Loadmaster galvanized tube frame, with young Goodyear Marathons and spare, all in good shape. We'll be loaded for an 18 day road trip or so, but I think this rig is well balanced, well maintained and will handle this first 1000 mile leg like a dream.

We'll be there Saturday December 22 through Wednesday the 26th, and I intend to be agile in my scheduling to ensure I can hit the water on any day with viable weather conditions. I'd most like to exit Lynnhaven Inlet and run along the CBBT to find the fish, as that seems to epitomize the way to get a winter Striper. If weather conditions dictate, maybe I launch at Willoughby Spit and fish around the Hampton tunnel. I'm open to anyone's advice in regards to this.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&time=&date=&ttype=& q=lynnhaven+inlet&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=74.281893,79.101563& ie=UTF8&ll=36.922313,-76.103668&spn=0.083301,0.090294&t=h&z=13&om=1

I'll verify regulations on the fishery at that time, talk to a bait shop and maybe goof a bit on Tidalfish, but I generally intend to troll favorite quality minnow plugs and spoons, on flat lines, dipsey divers and downriggers as necessary. I'll also have some bucktails or surface plugs ready for casting to any action under birds. Note that I really can't justify buying a bunch of Striper specialized gear for maybe 1 trip total, so no umbrella rigs or the like unless a compelling argument has it trumping a large rapala or cisco kid.

Finally, I'm planning on being solo for this unless someone herein is capable and interested in taking such a trip. Buddy boat or coming aboard my Outrage would both be welcome.

Anyone have any suggestions on launch locations I might favor or consider?

I'd love to hear some recommendations on fishing techniques, times of the day and the sort.

Do you have a favorite wind/wave condition website that you can recommend?

What expectation should I have for a trip to the CBBT at the end of December? I know I won't be the only boat on the horizon, but will it be like a zoo, or just mild traffic? What VHF channel would I monitor (in addition to 16)?

Do any of you guys fish or boat in your Montauk or Outrages during this time of the year?

I look forward to reporting back in this article about our trip, and I'll be certain to include some photos of, how you say... cows (is that right?).

HAPPYJIM posted 12-11-2007 02:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for HAPPYJIM  Send Email to HAPPYJIM     
The action is starting to heat up around the bridge. I planned on going today but work got in the way. I will try again tomorrow. Lynnhaven is good to work out of. The new State boat launch is great but you need to be in there early to get a parking spot. Watch the winds and if a North wind is going too strong, Owls Creek at Rudee Inlet may be better to launch from.

The big "Cows" are at the north end of the bridge. It's a long run from Lynnhaven but 30-40 pounders are plentiful there.

Stretch 25's in chartreuse and white work good and are under $12 at Bass Pro in Hampton, VA. 24 ounce MO-JO's are good too. 6 inch Storm shads in different colors and natural are cheap and work well for casting at the pilings.

I have radiation treatments in Newport News all month. I would love to meet up with you to do a little fishing. My treatments are only 30 minutes or so and I will have the rest of the day off to fish. I have a 19 Outrage II w/150 hp Yamaha. I was going to bring it with me on good days to fish. I live in North Carolina close to the Outer Banks so it's a little bit of a drive.

I have plenty of tackle including umbrella rigs but they are a bit of a pain to run.

Email me and I'll give you my cell and we can talk.

Mambo Minnow posted 12-12-2007 05:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for Mambo Minnow  Send Email to Mambo Minnow     
I notice you are travelling to Yorktown. I believe for 400th Commonwealth anniversary, the boat ramps/docks were improved at both Yorktown and Williamsburg. It's a straight shot across the bay to the CBBT. Otherwise, I'd recommend Deltaville as another port metro Richmond anglers head out onto the bay.

If you were willing to tow to Va Beach, I'd launch at Owl Creek Ramp in Rudee Inlet and turn south towards North Carolina state line. Record stripers caught down there in January. Either way, make sure you are watching you are within 3 nms on your GPS eastward or you are entering Federal waters where it is illegal to catch stripers. Crab Creek ramp at Lynnhaven inlet already mentioned by another poster for CBBT access.

For CBBT, I'd recommend going to the "High Rise"/Baltimore Channel on the north end of the CBBT complex. The stripers follow the deep channel down the bay from Baltimore out to the open sea.

prj posted 12-12-2007 10:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Say Jim, that is a great response and just what I'm looking for by way of advice and accompaniment. I've seen some of your photos, and could use that experience and mojo aboard. If you're interested, I'd be honored to spare you a trailer trip from the Outer Banks.

Looking at Google Earth, it doesn't appear that Rudee Inlet would benefit much in a north wind, the fetch above both Lynnhaven and Rudee appears to be a hundred miles. Quick scale thrown on the map yields about 10 miles from the ramp at Lynnhaven to the third island (highrise bridge). Thats not terrible in 2-4s, but I wouldn't want to travel that far in much larger conditions.

If you're in Newport News, we might retain some flexibility based upon wind/wave conditions and where the fish are. Both of us would be based pretty close to the Back Creek ramp, Poquoson area, York River mouth and the like. That said, I'm committed, and heading off the beach from Rudee isn't the least bit daunting either.

I'll follow up with an email to exchange some numbers, Jim.

And good advice all Mambo. As a Navy guy, I'm guessing you may have spent some time in the area, eh? My pops is retired Army, at Ft. Monroe in Logistics, I believe, when I last lived in the area in the early 80s. Boy, a run down the actual coast of the Atlantic Ocean is starting to push the envelope for this lake boater, I think that I'd prefer to just stick to the little bay if conditions allow...

Maybe you spent time at the Naval Weapons Station on the York River? Any Stripers to be found around the mouth at this time of year? That would certainly be reasonably tame if a big north wind blew in.

Patrick

Mambo Minnow posted 12-13-2007 01:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for Mambo Minnow  Send Email to Mambo Minnow     
Yes, I have had a few tours in Hampton Roads area. My advice is to go out at night to the CBBT and troll shallow for stripers under the shadow line formed by the bridge lights. If you don't want to go past the first island, there is a small boat channel close to the shore marked by nav lights.

If you have DOD access, the BEST facility to launch and go out to the CBBT on Ches. Bay is the Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek. An excellent MWR marina there. Since 9/11, access in/out is more controlled since shares inlet with recreational boats, but it is still accessible. Much better parking and traffic than Crab Creek at Lynnhaven Inlet.

prj posted 12-19-2007 11:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Thanks again all.
Jim, I sent you an email on 12.16 with telephone numbers and dates.
Look forward to speaking with you.
prj posted 01-06-2008 09:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Greetings guys, we're safely back and I can say confidently that this Chesapeake Bay leg was a highlight of the trip, though my dream may not be fully satiated.

Road Statistics:
Total miles driven: 4007.3
Average fuel consumption: 11.8 MPG
Average moving speed: 51 MPH

(Rig Reminder: My tow vehicle is a low-milage 2004 Toyota 4Runner with the V8. The trailer is a 3680# rated single-axeled Loadmaster galvanized tube frame, with young Goodyear Marathons and spare, all in good shape. I'm towing a 1990 18/19' Outrage (classic, not II) with a 1989 Yamaha 130 HP V4 outboard in top dependable shape.)

In the next week or so, I'll follow up with a brief narrative and a photograph.

prj posted 01-16-2008 02:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
The first leg of our Big Holiday went off without a hitch. The 1000 mile trip from Milwaukee to Yorktown, VA was accomplished in two 10 hour driving days, not the best time which tends to be around 16 hours, but neither dastardly nor unexpected.

Miscellany:
I saw one trailered boat on Departure Friday around the WI-IL border and not another until I reached the south side of DC, and that was it; two boats total other than mine for this leg of the trip.

The overnight was spent at the first exit inside of PA at the remarkably seedy Alpine Inn. My wife can now use that motel as a benchmark as her seediest ever, though for me, it fits into a continuum fairly comfortably. One highlight of the evening was the tryst or prostitution that we bore audio witness to for an impressive duration. The walls were remarkably thin.

Breakfast on Saturday morning was taken in Somerville, PA at a beautiful little diner, partly original and partly renovated in a very tasteful and compatible manner. Kudos to the owners of the Summit Diner:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/25169902@N00/2193404729/

My window of opportunity for taking the Outrage out on the Chesapeake Bay, to any of the above referenced bridge tunnels or areas, was Sunday, Monday or Christmas day Tuesday (with the family's blessing of course), as we departed on the next leg Wednesday. Monday, December 24th saw the weather break with an unseasonably warm middle 50 degrees and light wind predicted. I jumped at this ideal day for my solo trip into unfamiliar water.

A quick stop at the bait shop on Hwy 17, then the trailer down Hwy 64 to this fine launch facility at Lynnhaven inlet went quickly, with boat in the water by 11:00 AM or so, as I was in no rush.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&time=&date=&ttype=& q=lynnhaven+inlet&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=74.281893,79.101563& ie=UTF8&ll=36.922313,-76.103668&spn=0.083301,0.090294&t=h&z=13&om=1

Few other boaters were out on the 24th, so I traveled out towards the Lesner Bridge without any vanguard. Surprised by the current moving beneath the bridge, I balked a bit and stayed inside until I saw some larger vessels come through. Honestly, while this inlet looks quite tame, I'm truly a novice lake boater here. Once safely outside, I was able to spin up the Yamaha and start making some time towards the third island about 10 miles distant across the Bay.

Conditions were absolutely perfect. The seas reminded me of a typical Lake Michigan day; 2-3 foot waves nicely spaced with a light breeze, maybe 5-7 MPH, from the NNW. I was able to run out comfortably at speeds ranging from 22-26 MPH, only inducing an occasional bang as a larger set would catch the flat of my port bow quarter.

I pulled up short of the third island, where a group of perhaps 20 boats were widely spread at anchor, drifting live eels I suspect. I intended to fish with the gear I had, using methods I was comfortable with. The previous evening I had rigged 2 rods with spoon / flasher / dipsey diver setups, 2 rods with plugs (a large rapala and a cisco kid) and a couple lighter spinning rods with casting lures in case I wanted to throw at surface fish. The 4 trolling rigs were in the water just short of noon.

Within 15 minutes of setting lines, I had a fish on, a Striped Bass, small by winter standards, but my first ever.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/25169902@N00/2191494918/

I went on to catch 15-18 fish total that day, ranging in size from maybe 22" to 28", the largest. The bulk of that number came trolling along the CBBT bridge, nose into the current on the downcurrent side, crabbing along pointed 45 degrees away and upwards of my direction of travel, with the lures trailing along down current further. Very polite behavior was exhibited when other boaters were encountered, with the port boat dropping down current further, and the starboard slipping up tight to the bridge piers. Again, this was pretty radical stuff for a sweetwater guy and an absolute gas to figure it out as I went.

Obviously, I didn't get into the big girls that we read about, I mean the 40+ pound fish, but by the sounds of the VHF on this day, neither was anyone else. What I did notice is that I was boating fish far more regularly with my Great Lakes spoon setups than the adjacent trollers using unknown (to me) tactics. I managed a measure of pride from the observation, which honestly was the result of me being frugal.

And what a handsome fish the Striper is, easy to handle as its toothless, generally polite once aboard and a fine horizontal accent to the pleated vinyl of my RPS.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/25169902@N00/2191494916/in/ set-72157594333466459/

Tight regulation of the fishery has brought it back to world class stature, and tightly regulated is the bag limit of ONE, with a no-keep slot between 28-34 inches. My conundrum was, once I decided to keep a fish, my day was over, so I postponed the decision many times, through many fish, until around 4 PM I decided, with the suggestion of my now tangled mess of diminished rigs, that I would keep the next and be done. A beautiful fish around 26" hit the cooler, and I shut down the engine and drifted with my final Pabst to reflect on the day.

By this time, seas had diminished to 1 foot or so, and I was able to open up the 130 HP engine a bit on my way back to dock. The 9-10 miles were covered at around 5000 RPM, maybe 40 MPH and in a state of satisfied euphoria. Sorry I missed you Jim, and I hope you are well.

This fantastic fishery, I'm certain well utilized by a number of our members here, is an absolute gem and a perfect location to put a nice sized Whaler to use. Get a 25 footer like everyone else though as, per usual, I was the smallest boat on the water by a goodly margin.

Patrick


kamie posted 01-20-2008 02:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for kamie  Send Email to kamie     
Patrick,
beautiful fish, beautiful boat and it sounds like you had a great time. Glad you could get out and enjoy the bay.
prj posted 01-25-2008 11:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Thanks kamie. I'm certain you're enjoying your repowered Outrage, ready at a moment's notice, there on the Bay.

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