Sometimes I wish I was the type of person who was content to spend the day laying on a beach with a good book in my hand. This always sounds great in theory. In reality, five minutes into chapter one and I am restless, irritably hot, and too busy daydreaming about tacos to remember that line I just read five times. Fortunately, this is something Matt and I agree upon. For the first time this year, we found ourselves toes in the sand. We traded our books for hooks as we headed to Chincoteague, Virginia to surf fish for drum.
Located 2.5 hours from Annapolis, and just over an hour from Ocean City, Chincoteague makes for a quick weekend getaway. Whether you are interested in fishing, observing wild ponies, or just searching for conch shells, Chincoteague has something for everyone.
If you aren’t already licensed to fish in Virginia, your first stop should be at Captain Steve’s. This is THE place to go. It is conveniently located off the main drag and not too far from the beach. They will quickly get your license processed and while you wait, you can also pick up your bait for the day. In addition, they have plenty of reasonably priced clothing and other gear in the event you came ill-prepared. The best part about coming here is to find out what’s currently biting. The staff at Captain Steve’s always seem to have the inside track on what’s being caught and will help point you in the right direction.
When you arrive at the beach, there is an admission fee which you can check out here for the most up-to-date information. If you plan on driving your truck onto the beach, you will need a separate permit for that as well. Make sure to stop by the visitor center to pick up your pass.
Across from the visitor’s center, you will find an air station to release (and refill) the air in your tires, necessary for driving on the sand.
On the Beach
After all formalities are taken care of, you can finally get to the fun part of your day – the fishing! When we first pulled onto the beach, it looked like it was going to be a really crowded day. We drove past a slew of people with their rods already in the water. Trucks were parked in packs and surrounded by umbrellas casting shade over picnics and sleeping ladies.
Crowded places tend to make me squirm, but luckily, the further we headed down the beach the more thinned out the herd became until we were the only ones within a stone’s throw on either side.
We quickly got our rods baited up and in the water. Make sure to bring your rod holders, pictured below, so you can go hands free while you’re waiting on the action. And also, so you can hold your sandwich while fishing at the same time. Priorities.
I’ve been trying to acquire patience for several decades now. It has mostly been a fruitless endeavor. That being said, I can only stand so much staring at my rod hoping it will bend. I like to fish, don’t get me wrong, but I need to mix in a few distractions. Unless we are in the Florida Keys, because there my arms get tired from reeling in fish after fish. So while everyone else hovered over their rods, I took it upon myself to “decorate” everyone’s station. There’s just so many shells on this beach, I couldn’t help myself! So bring your children and put them to work!
If you’re lucky, you’ll get to spot some wild ponies as well. We saw a few in the distance as we were first pulling into the beach area but I didn’t manage to snag a photo in time. However, we saw a group riding non-wild ponies which only served to spark my own interest in riding horses along the beach. It’s going on the bucket list for next year. Stay tuned!
I can’t speak from experience on this tour, but came across it in my research. Seems to garner only positive reviews, so if you’re most interested in the ponies of Chincoteague, check out the Saltwater Pony Tours. Then let me know what you think if you use them!
Meanwhile, the focused part of the group, not daydreaming about ponies, was busy at work catching our dinner. All I caught that day was a nasty sunburn.
This flounder put up a bit of a struggle, but eventually Matt reeled him in. He ended up being our only catch of the day but was more than plenty to fill our bellies. We came in hopes of catching drum, but we were just happy to not be leaving empty handed.
While the truck tires were being filled with air, Matt and I scooted down to the water’s edge, home to the oysters. These particular ones are used in a restorative effort to keep the bay clean.
What to Eat
If seeing all the oysters in Chincoteague made you hungry to slurp back a few of your own, you must make a stop at the Little Bay Seafood Market. Known to have some of the best steamed shrimp, clams, and oysters in town, this is a perfect option after a day on the beach. We stopped here to pick up a few accompaniments to our soon-to-be flounder dinner. Even better than the tasty seafood and great prices? It sits next door to a brewery.
Head next door to Black Narrows Brewing for a flight or a pint while you wait on your order from the market to be ready.They have a few rotating brews on tap. The group consensus was that their IPA was the favorite. However, you really can’t go wrong with any choice you make.
Slightly lubricated and armed with an abundance of seafood, we made our way home and immediately got to work in the kitchen. We fired up the grill and for the second time that day, Matt showed that flounder who was boss. Hint: It was Matt.
Not quite the tacos I’d been daydreaming of, but this meal comprised of Chincoteague’s edible gifts was truly outstanding. It doesn’t get much fresher than this. We only wish we would have brought a crowler of that Black Narrows IPA home with us to pair with our dinner.
Have you ever been to Chincoteague? If so, what are some of your favorite places to visit?
Megan & Matt