I had no idea how rich the flounder fishing grounds at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) were until I moved to Virginia Beach in 1989. At first, I was only interested in catching bluefish on surface plugs or bottom fishing for croaker.
Then I discovered Spanish mackerel mixed in with the blues over the rips between the four islands. It took a while before someone showed me the excellent flounder action and his name was Kenny Taylor.
Kenny had a Sea Craft that he ran along with Jimmy Kolb and Kenny Sexton. They were known as the Three Amigos and the stories that followed then were too outrageous to be true, but they were.
Kenny and his crew only fished one way, with wire line. They had perfected the technique when trout (weakfish) were thick and they could fill everything on the boat before heading off to market. Once the recreational and commercial fishing license became law and both trout and rockfish disappeared, the boys were out of business, but not out of hijinks.
The basic set up was 100 yards of 60-pound braided wire on a Penn level-wind reel backed up with mono. A three-way swivel at the end of the wire liner had a 12- to 16-ounce sinker on an eight- to 10-inch, 30-pound mono leader. Only one lure was used: a quarter ounce bucktail on an 8/0 hook. A strip of pork rind was attached to the bucktail. This bucktail was attached to the swivel with a 30-foot, 50-pound mono leader.
Kenny would run the boat, either down the tunnel tubes or along the pilings, while working his own rod and shouting out orders to the rest of us because he could tell by the way our rod tips moved if our rigs were working correctly. Unfortunately, Kenny succumbed from exposure to Agent Orange, and I still miss him.
If you don’t want to invest in a couple of wire line outfits and the accompanying tackle (Kenny and his crew would pour between two and three thousand pounds of sinkers a year), you can still catch plenty of flounder.
One of the best flounder spots is the old barge wreck just before the First Island. I think it fishes best on the incoming current, but then I think just about everywhere fishes best on the incoming. Start about 100 yards east of the bridge, about six pilings inshore of the First Island. The current should carry you under the bridge, and you can use your motor or electric trolling motor to move close to the piling. Try to place your bait or lure in the eddy behind the pilings where a flounder could take up station waiting for a meal to move past.
You should make several drifts between each piling because there are pieces of the barge and the old bridge scattered about. Pay attention to what is going on with your rig or it will become another part of the structure.
What we call the First Small Boat Channel is even closer to Lynnhaven Inlet. It is marked on the bridge with red and green lights and, while the channel is pretty shallow, there is enough of a change to attract flounder. Try to drift along the edge in a zig-zag pattern on either side of the bridge.
The tunnel tubes will always hold flounder but are difficult to fish. Jigging with a bucktail is the best way to work the tubes and the use of braided line has made this technique much easier, but still far from easy.
I start at the island end of the tube and work on the down current side. I use my motor to stay at the same distance from the top of the tube so my bucktail will work close to the rocks without attaching to one.
Every piling along the CBBT can hold flounder. Work from under the bridge and try to get your lure or bait into the eddy as you drift past. A few of the spots that have worked for me are the Bend at the Third, the 12-Mile Marker, The High Level, and the pilings just north of the Fourth Island.
As for bait and lures, nothing beats a live bait. Small bunker or spot will attract a larger class of flounder. You will have to catch your own since very few, if any, tackle shops stock them. My favorite lure is a white bucktail with a white Gulp! swimming mullet.
By Eric Burnley