The Chesapeake Bay is one of the most bio diverse places on Earth, which gives us rich fishing waters across the entire region. This includes the numerous species of sharks. While most sharks are undoubtedly caught from piers or boats, surf fishermen have also caught some trophy specimens over the years in Hampton Roads.
Most successful shark fishermen use cut bait or live baitfish on bottom rigs or the slightly-more-effective Fish Finder Rigs. As most sharks hang out beyond the crashing surf, having a rod and sufficient weight to cast beyond the breakers and keep your bait out there is essential. Effective rod lengths vary from 8’ to 15’ depending on the water conditions and the weight being used. Weight will depend on the current at your specific location but usually is 3-10 ounces when surf fishing (10 ounces is really heavy and more suited for the rough waters of the Outer Banks, NC). Pyramid and surf sinkers are most effective when trying to ensure the current does not drag your bait back to the shore. All of this equipment can be found at most any tackle shop or your local Bass Pro Shop.
Sharks can be caught in almost all locations in the Chesapeake Bay, even in unexpected places such as the Potomac River. However, sand sharks are by far the most common shark species that is encountered in our area. This relatively small species is plentiful throughout the Bay and even into the shallower parts of the ocean. Probably the best place to surf fishing in Hampton Roads is at Sandbridge in Virginia Beach. Sandbridge is actually on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Bay and provides the habitat and food sources for these sharks to flourish. It provides similar conditions to the Outer Banks, which is known for having some of the best surf fishing on earth.
Shark fishing can be very exciting, especially when catching numerous specimens or rather large ones. Also, if prepared correctly, sharks can provide delicious and plentiful meat. Before getting started, the only things you will need is a Virginia Saltwater Fishing License and to take a look at the Virginia regulations for shark fishing, which can be found here and here, respectively. Hopefully, this is enough information to get you out there fishing, and, more importantly, catching sharks from the surf.
Good luck fishing!
James “Blake” Sexton
Fishing Team Lead
Bass Pro Shops #18
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