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CBBT offers good saltwater angling

If the economy has you in a crunch and you want to find a place to do some saltwater fishing that won’t empty your wallet you might want to consider fishing on or around the CBBT otherwise known as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. This 20 mile long span of four lane roads cross the bay as Rt. 13 to the Eastern Shore. The alternating trestles or islands, bridge the tunnels that are a little over a mile long each. The islands are just over five acres in size in addition to Fisherman’s Island, which is a National Wildlife Refuge. The water depth along this structure ranges from 25-100 feet offering anglers a variety of saltwater excursions. Specific species that are commonly caught and sought after include bluefish, rockfish, spot, spadefish, red drum, croaker, spot, cobia, trigger fish, tautog, and sea bass.

Anglers who have their own boat can find fishing good anywhere along the complex. It has been my personal experience that fishing the areas where the islands give way to either a bridge or a tunnel is a good starting point. The current is moving here and the transition zone attracts plenty of bait and therefore predators. The large amount of riprap and pilings provides an incredible amount of cover and habitat for the fish too. Be sure to take along plenty of weight to get the bait down on the bottom and an extra anchor and rope. I would also keep a close eye on the weather. Although if it storms and you get caught in the rain or lightening and cannot make it to port you can hide under the bridge, but be careful you don’t slam into the rocks or pilings!

Anglers who need a place to fish because they don’t have a boat can fish from the Sea Gull Pier on the southernmost island nearest VA Beach. This pier is a massive 625 feet long, wheelchair accessible and offers deepwater fishing rarely found elsewhere. The neat thing is that there is no fishing license required! There are cleaning stations and a good scale to weigh your catch. The $12 fee will get you access. For more information about the fishing pier or the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, call (757) 331-2960.

Fishing on or around the CBBT requires stout gear if you are serious about fishing. Sure you can go out there with a cheap spinning out fit and catch a few croaker or spot but if you hook up to a bull red, a door mat flounder or a tog you are going to find yourself outgunned quickly. The amount of rocks and other structure will allow fish to rub or cut through lines quickly if too much give is given via weak reels. Due to the fact that large specimens are commonly available given the proximity to the ocean, I would recommend a good quality rod and reel. I would also err on the stout side with a medium heavy action setup.

My father and I went out there to tinker around the third island and hoped to find a few spades or triggerfish last summer. I also knew dad wanted to drag up a few flatties. With that in mind, he tossed his live spot into the current near the beginning of a bridge span next to the island. He was using one of my better spinning set ups but in medium action. Within a few minutes we noticed something cruising along the boat that was very large. About that time the rod dove and the reel began screaming in agony and the fight was on. Dad got the fish near the boat a few times but eventually the fish wrapped a piling and snapped the 25-pound line like nothing. I saw the fish again and realized they were bull reds. What a fight we had before the fish broke off. I cannot wait to get Dad out there again. Who knows what we may find next trip.

I bring this up because late May and June are prime times to find spades, triggerfish and all the other fish too. Now is a good time to begin planning a trip. To get to the CBBT from King George it takes between two hours and a fifteen minutes to three hours depending on traffic and the time of day you go. There are motels and hotels nearby and plenty of bait shops too. Get your tackle locally and have it in order to maximize your time fishing. Send us any pics you take of fish you catch.

Mark Fike

 

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