Types of Off Shore Fish We Target
Off Shore fishing in Virginia Beach is a one of a kind experience. The waters off of Virginia Beach are known as some of the best fishing grounds in the entire Mid-Atlantic region. Due to its unique geographic location, Virginia offshore has both warm and cold-water species of fish, so you can imagine the huge variety of sport and game fishing this provides you!
The off shore fishing beach, underwater geography of the Virginia Beach coastline is practically designed for fish. There are deep trenches and canyons, steep walls, and lots of old shipwrecks. This varied geography provides prime living and hunting habitats for the huge variety of fish species living here.
Experience the Excitement of an Off Shore Fishing Charter
Virginia Off Shore fishing is one of the most exciting types of fishing you can imagine! Off Shore fishing is any type of fishing that’s 9 miles or more off shore, or away from land. But if you’re going by NOAA’s definition, off shore fishing is 20 miles or more off the coast. In Virginia Beach, off shore fishing charters typically take you anywhere from 20-75 miles off shore.
The further out to sea you get, the deeper the water gets (sometimes 1000’s of feet deep!), and the water gets rougher and wilder. The equipment you’ll use is bigger and heavier, and the fish you’ll encounter in your Off Shore fishing charter adventure are bigger, faster, harder to catch, and are guaranteed to test your skill and strength as a fisherman!
The Virginia offshore fishing beach waters are pretty much underwater cities, and are great spots for the large, predatory fish that we’re after at Lulu Sport Fishing Charter. We make great use the abundance of shipwrecks, downed planes, debris, and deep-sea trenches, and frequently take our anglers to these prime locations.
The Fish We See on Our Off Shore Charters
At Lulu Sport Fishing Charter, the main fish we target in our off shore fishing charters are:
Blue & White Marlin
The blue marlin is not only one of the fastest, most ferocious predators in the open ocean, it’s also one of the largest species of bony fishes, making it one of the most highly sought after game fishes in the world. It can grow to be to 16’ in length and weigh more than 1,800lbs! Blue Marlins are known for long bills protruding from their faces. The best season for fishing Blue Marlin is May-October.
The white marlin is much smaller than the blue marlin, though just as beautiful. What makes white marlin so exciting to catch is that these fish are pretty elusive and are much trickier to lure and then hook than other types of marlin. It’s also a more cautious predator than the blue marlin. White marlins prefer to fish in groups and generally in deeper waters. White Marlin season starts in June and goes through October.
After the Blue Marlin, the Swordfish is one of the largest species of bony fishes. These giants weigh in at 1,500lbs or more, and can reach lengths of up to 15ft. Swordfish are extremely fast and are highly predatory. Similar to the Marlin, Swordfish have long noses (or bills) that they use to swing at and stun their prey.
Swordfish love the deep, off shore waters of Virginia Beach. The swordfish fisheries here are underutilized for some reason, but for the angler who wants the thrill of catching one of these awesome fish, Virginia Beach is the spot. Swordfish are most active in the fall, and the best season for catching these guys is early October through late January.
Bluefin, Yellowfin, & Bigeye Tuna
Bluefin Tuna are highly prized game fish among anglers. Bluefins are large and predatory. These fish can grow into monsters, growing to be 13 feet and some weighing more than 1,000lbs. Bluefin Tuna are a dark bluish black on their backs and white on their sides and belly. Bluefin season runs from June-September.
Yellowfin Tuna look similar to Bluefin Tuna, but they have yellow sides. Yellowfin swim in schools and can often be found swimming near dolphin fish (also known as Mahi Mahi). These are large fish, often reaching lengths of 6’ and weighing in at around 300lbs, and living about 6 years. When a Yellowfin is caught, it will dive deep and will fight hard. An interesting fact about Yellowfin Tuna is that this is the type of tuna you’ll find in poke bowls and sushi rolls. Yellowfin season runs May-November, with the peak being from June-October.
Bigeye Tuna are often mistakenly called Yellowfin. However, Bigeye Tuna are aptly named because their eyes are much larger than Yellowfins’ eyes. Another difference between Bigeye Tuna and Yellowfin is that Bigeye have less yellow on their sides than Yellowfin, as well as being a darker blue across the top of their body. Bigeye tuna are larger than Yellowfin, growing up to 7’ in length and weighing around 400lbs. Bigeye season runs from June-October.
The Wahoo is a long, slender fish that resembles a zebra because of its white and deep blue or black stripes. Wahoos live in tropical and subtropical waters in the Atlantic Ocean. Wahoos are extraordinarily fast and the thrill of catching one is marked by the insane speeds at which these fish will swim once they’re caught on the line. Wahoo season runs from June-October.
The Mako shark is the deadliest fish in the sea; every part of their body is designed to hunt, attack, and kill. These sharks can swim up to 40mph and jump 30ft out of the ocean. What makes the Mako shark so specialized is that it’s warm blooded, which means that it can work its muscles harder and longer than any other fish or shark species. It can swim longer distances; it has better eyesight; and its brain works better.
When a Mako is caught, it will fight with more ferocity and intelligence than any of the other big game fish. Catching a Mako shark is probably one of the most exhilarating experiences you can possibly have in off shore sport fishing! Mako season is from May-July.
Mahi Mahi (Dolphin Fish)
Mahi Mahi are gorgeous fish that are vibrant hues of blues, greens and gold. When they’re on the run, they light up even brighter. These fish are really fast; they can get up to 57 mph! Mahi Mahi are usually around 30lbs, and grow extremely fast; their lifespan is short, around 4 or 5 years. They reproduce quickly which makes them resilient to fishing. Mahi Mahi prefer warmer waters, so they become really active in July, but their season runs from May-October.
King Mackerel are big, fast-growing fish, getting up to 5 1/2 ft long and weighing about 100lbs. They live a long time, up to 20 years. King Mackerel love to hunt in the Off Shore, underwater wrecks, reefs, and channel edges that are so common to the Virginia Beach coast.
One of the reasons King Mackerel are so fun to catch is that they have exceptional eyesight. This means that a King can be watching the bait being trolled along and can actually grab the bait from the tackle and get away. But when you do catch one, get ready for a long, fast, hard run by these guys. They’ll fly through the water as they try to escape, so the angler needs to get prepared! King Mackerel season runs from June-October.
Blueline & Golden Tilefish
Blueline Tilefish have large populations around the mid-Atlantic region, making Virginia Beach a great spot for fishing these guys. Blueline Tilefish are a dull, olive gray, with a thin gold stripe that’s underlined in blue that runs from their snout to the tip of their eye. Blueline Tilefish are usually around 35 inches long. Their lifespan is huge though, often up to 26 years. Blueline Tilefish are bottom dwellers, and can usually be found at depths of 240-780 feet. They like to hang out along the edge of a dropoff. Blueline Tilefish season runs year round.
Golden Tilefish much more vibrantly colored than the Blulines; they’re iridescent blue/green with tons of golden spots. They also have a large crest on the top of their head. Golden Tilefish are also bottom dwellers, living at depths of 250-1,500ft, often in burrows on the ocean floor. Golden Tilefish season runs year round, but their peak season is May-June.
Because Blueline and Golden Tilefish are bottom dwellers who live far off shore, the best way to catch them is by using a technique called deep drop fishing, which is typically done in Off Shore wreck fishing. This takes a boat captain with a lot of skill because this type of fishing is much further off shore than the usual Off Shore fishing.
Sea bass are another bottom-dwelling fish species. These fish are kind of stocky, usually only up to about 2ft long and around 9lbs. Sea Bass are black or dark brown, with fleshy lips. During spawning, males turn bright blue and have a blue hump on their head.
Sea bass live all up and down the Atlantic coast. The best way to fish for these is to find the deep, off shore wrecks and drop the lines. One of the biggest challenges in fishing for sea bass is the time of year. Though their season runs from April-December, their favorite weather is cold, so anglers need to be ready for a frigid mid-winter day out on the open ocean!
Snowy Groupers are another off shore, bottom-dwelling fish. They prefer rocky bottoms and depths of around 380-800ft. The smaller snowy groupers are dark brown with pearly white spots on their sides. Larger snowy groupers will usually lose their white spots and become dark brown with a coppery tint. A fun fact about Snowy Groupers is that they all start life as females, and then later on, some will become males.
Because Snowy Groupers are bottom-dwelling fish, they’re perfect candidates for deep drop fishing. This means that the angler needs to make sure they’re with a highly experienced boat captain who knows the ins and outs of how to navigate that far Off Shore and then drop bait down into the Off Shore wrecks and properly troll for these fish. The season for Snowy Grouper runs April-December.