Virginia Deep Sea Fish


Bluefish are among the most common fish off the coast of Virginia. They may appear as early as April and are usually common by late May. They can be up to about 20 lbs and are brutal fighters. Their teeth and strong jaws make them dangerous and tackle damage is an issue. Anglers often resort to a few strong lures when bluefish are present, otherwise a high loss of equipment is almost a certainty.

Bluefin Tuna

Fishing for bluefin tuna is heavily regulated. The fish usually appear off the Virginia coast in late May or early June. Bluefin tend to congregate is schools of similar sizes and weigh from 15 to several hundred pounds. Most Virginia bluefin are in the 25-100 pound range. Bluefin are caught by trolling articial lures, natural baits, or by chunking with baits such as butterfish. A little known technique involves drifting baits along the bottom of humps and hills. This works well when large tuna take up residence on structure and are feeding on bottom dwellers such as squid, red hake and sea robins.

Yellowfin Tuna

Yellowfin are the most common tuna caught in Virginia. The fish vary from 15 to over 100 pounds. Yellowfin fishing can start as early as late May depending on water temperature. Late June is more typical. Locally, They are most likely to show up first along the edge of Norfolk, Washington or Poor Man’s canyon. Anglers may find success with a variety of daisy chains, artificial squid, spreader bars, small bullet shaped lures or rigged baits such as ballyhoo. Yellowfin tuna are caught chunking as well as trolling and are caught from the 20 fathom line out to 1000 fathoms. Off the Virginia coast, yellowfin are common in 30 fathoms, shadowing pods of bait.

Skipjack Tuna

Skipjack tuna are the smallest of the Virginia tuna, ranging from about 3 to 18 pounds. Their size is not an indicator of their strength, and they often fool anglers into thinking they have hooked a larger tuna. The fish fight amazingly hard and swim at speeds that few fish can achieve. Another reason the skipjack tuna were a welcome visitor in the area is because they are among the favorite prey of blue marlin.


Wahoo are among the fastest of Virginia’s pelagic fish and are excellent table fare. Wahoo migrate into range of Chincoteague during the summer and sometimes linger thru October. Wahoo should laid straight on top of a bed of ice and rinsed well before cleaning. Cleaning the fish begins by cutting the flanks from the body with the skin still attached. The flanks can then be cut into steaks with the skin on or the entire sections can be skinned before cutting into steaks. Wahoo is delicious grilled, fried or smoked.

Mahi Mahi

Mahi Mahi, or dolphin fish are brilliant green, yellow and flourescent blue pelagic fish. Dolphin fish are caught in the open at times but often are found near floating objects or mats of weeds. They appear in Virginia waters from June Thru October. The meat is mostly white with a high content of oil. Dolphin fish is best grilled, blackened or smoked

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