Despite living just a few hours from Virginia saltwater opportunities, I had never paid any attention to them. But, after catching my trophy sand tiger shark in Maryland and my trophy bluefin tuna in Massachusetts, I started to do more research into saltwater options. These are the saltwater citations I have so far. Hopefully one day I will be a Virginia saltwater Master Angler, which requires 25 citations in at least six species with no more than one entry per species per year.
Striped Bass - 2021
After my very successful trophy saltwater trips in Maryland and Massachusetts, I decided to play the hot hand and headed to Deltaville, Virginia to tangle with some truly impressive striped bass. During the season, Wes Crump catches better striped bass in a week than I have seen in my life. And that isn't an exaggeration. My trip with Wes produced my biggest ever striper at 49 inches and 47 pounds, my second-biggest striper ever at 45 inches and 43 pounds, and my fourth-biggest striper ever at 46 inches and 39 pounds. It was absolutely unbelievable. Stripers are, by far, my most fished for species. I have fished for or caught stripers in 16 states and have caught trophies in four of those states. Yet, on one morning with Wes, I casually shattered my previous personal bests. Wes is a fantastic guide who knows the best techniques and locations for producing citation stripers. This was my first Virginia saltwater citation, and it is safe to say that I am officially hooked on saltwater fishing.
After getting my first Virginia saltwater citation in December, I returned to the Chesapeake in July to target one of my favorite saltwater fish, the red drum. It had been over 10 years since the last time I fished for red drum. Trophy red drum are catch-and-release only in Virginia and they get quite big. I chose Tom Ritter because of his reputation for finding citations. We sight-fished the whole day and I landed two massive red drum. The first was a 46.25", 33-pound citation and the second was an enormous 46.5", 48-pound bull, which eclipsed my personal best from Mississippi many years ago. I also caught a half dozen cobia and just missed a citation in that species as well. I had a fantastic time with Tom and first mate Jordan and I can't wait to go back.
Striped Bass - 2022
Still very excited from my amazing trip the previous December, I returned to Deltaville after Christmas to chase trophy stripers on the Chesapeake Bay with Wes Crump (wcsportfishing.com). Once again, Wes had been on them and catching some trophies, and, once again, Wes put me on the fish I wanted: a beautiful 46-inch, 40-pound, 9-ounce citation. The bite was slow, but Wes knows how to find them, and I am already excited to go back for round 3 this coming winter.
Red Drum and Cobia - August 2023
My interest in saltwater fishing has been accelerating and I returned to Norfolk again in the summer to chase red drum and cobia. Unlike Virginia's freshwater trophy program, Virginia's saltwater trophy program allows multiple entries of the same species, provided they aren't in the same calendar year. I love this approach because it encourages return trips for the same species every year, rather than shifting focus to a new species as with the freshwater program.
Travis Kemp of Foolproof Fishing (@foolprooffishing on Instagram), an expert drum fisherman, had been on a tear with citation cobia. As luck would have it, another phenomenal captain, Jack Limroth, who had also been all over the trophy cobia bite, joined us in my quest for big fish. After some scouting, we found the drum, and my first one of the day was a 47-inch, 38-pound citation! Fifteen minutes later, I had landed my second citation drum, a fatter 46.5-inch, 41-pound trophy! We then went in search of the cobia and, 90 minutes later, in the middle of nowhere in the Bay, the boys put me on a big one: 55 inches and 45 pounds. It was my first citation cobia and I was ecstatic. Multiple-species trophy trips are rare, and this was only the third saltwater one I have ever had. I loved fishing with Travis and Jack and I can't wait to join them again next year!