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Hi All,

Moving down to Richmond, VA this year and want to know if anyone has experience fly fishing the lower Chesapeake (Mobjack Bay, Rappahannock, the James etc.) or around Virginia Beach. Especially interested if anyone is doing any sight fishing on the flats for redfish and striper. Most information I see on the interwebs, seems like people are blind casting structure or to busting fish.

Also, if people are sight fishing is it mostly staking out, trolling motor, or poling? If feasible would love to get a skiff and pole a majority of the time, just want to make sure that's something that could be pursued with reasonable success.

Thanks for any advice!
Brendan
 

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I'm in NOVA, but fished a 19-foot proline center console for 20+ years in the Chesapeake Bay and its tribs. In 2013, I bought a poling skiff (17 Native SUV) and couldn't be happier. Granted most of the fishing is blind casting and a good bit is with a sinking line unless the fish are busting on top. I usually carry a floater, intermediate, and something like a teeny 350 with me. I typically stake out off the jetties and point bars but pole (or paddle with a SUP paddle) the marshes. I don't have a troller but most guys up here do. There is some sight fishing available. I have spots on the Potomac and just south of the Rapp that are definitely suitable for sight fishing under the right tides and water clarity conditions. The redfish in the attached pic was caught on a day of poling and sight fishing. Didn't catch any on fly that day, but I tried. The abundance of reds and trout vary a good bit from year to year. Schoolie stripers are almost always available. I also take my skiff to the eastern shore barrier islands at least once a year. Tough place to learn, but there are some silvery rewards swimming around there along with trout and reds. I'd say go for it, but then again I'm very biased toward this style of fishing and boating.
 

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Mostly Harmless
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I’ll second that it is a tough place to learn. Cedar has much better luck than me. I never figured it out. The shallow flats in Maryland just didn’t hold as much life as I am used to seeing in warmer waters. Even when I got skunked in Louisiana and South Carolina, bait was everywhere. I never even saw a fish working the shallows in my marsh during teal season in Maryland. Some dink bluefish showed up later during the second split of duck season. From what I hear, the productive flats are deeper up there, ~5-7’, but I can’t prove it.

Nate
 

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You might look into the Susquehanna flats in the spring, but is MD water. Lived on the eastern shore and my experience was mostly like you said, fishing structure. Don't remember many flats but was working so much, didn't get to fish as much as I should have. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is a fish magnet, but not a place for a poling skiff.
 

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Some very good sightfishing for cobia and channel bass in the Chesapeake.
Pick a calm day in late summer, watch the weather as it’s big water, but doable in a skiff.
 

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I fish the central/west side of the bay (Poquoson) in my Shadowcast and have had great luck sight fishing and blind casting the flats after I learned a bit about it. As mentioned above the tide must be right, clearish water, etc for sight fishing; but shallow water fishing in general can be great during the summer and fall. Not many people up here have poling skiffs, but there is a fishery for it. One thing I have not done yet but would like to is explore the sea side of the eastern shore in my skiff. PM me if you want and I can give you some more specific locations and maybe we can meet up, I'm just south of Richmond.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
CedarCreek and ZaneD glad to see people are getting into some Redfish that's awesome! Not that I'm opposed to casting to busting fish in the bay, but I'm super partial to staking out and poling in shallow water. So even if that limits my options, that's the way I would prefer to fish.

How do the Ankonas, and lighter skiffs in general, handle the bay area? Would a true flats skiff, like a Hewe's or Action Craft, give you more days on the water or can you usually trailer the skiffs to some leeward section of water where the water is calmer and safe.
 

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I remember there were some tarpon that would make it to the southern end of the eastern shore, like from Willis Wharf south. Pretty good tide fluctuations there also.
 

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Yeah I heard about that. Pretty crazy. I wonder if would be an exercise in futility to try and get one on fly. Living up in Massachusetts right now and I guide I've gone with on Cape Cod saw a tarpon on a flat in Chatham with a school of striper.
 

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Depends on your definition of futility. I got one back in 2011 on a fly ( leadered anyway). None since but I find them every time I go. Some guys catch on live/dead bait pretty routinely.

Regarding my SUV, I’ve never had any trouble running behind the barrier islands. Ten knots or less no problem in the bay. Higher than that I usually stay in the tribs. I’m sure a larger flats boat or bay boat would get you out on bigger water if you want to fish places like the bridge tunnel. Just depends on your specific needs and $$.
 

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I’m having the same dilemma too. I live in Norfolk and am going to pull the trigger on a poling skiff soon. I don’t think it’s the ideal watercraft for this area but I see them around and there are areas where they will work. I plan on doing a lot of weekend trips to NC and SC though so I’m less concerned about that. Almost every fish I’ve ever caught in VB was blind casting with sink tip or intermediate. I’m on a paddle board now so that’s a different struggle altogether.
 

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How do the Ankonas, and lighter skiffs in general, handle the bay area? Would a true flats skiff, like a Hewe's or Action Craft, give you more days on the water or can you usually trailer the skiffs to some leeward section of water where the water is calmer and safe.
A light TPS struggles around the Bay. There are places to hide, but the fish aren't necessarily there on any given day. If you actually want to catch fish in shallow water, you frequently have to fish exposed points and flats along busy channels. A light breeze from across the bay will stack up more swell than a TPS is comfortable in. Even if the wind is down, a steady supply of sportfisher and deadrise wakes will bounce you all over the place.

A heavier, deeper vee hull would be more utilitarian around the Bay. The flats skiffs are reasonable options. I'd favor a bay boat; they pole like crap, but I think a TM is better in this area 90% of the time. If you keep it simple and reasonably light, you can still get as shallow as you really need to.

Nate
 
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