The year-round phenomenom has come from an assortment of factors including weather, better equipment, and the resurgance of the rockfish. In the sixties and seventies (I'm not old enough to remember back more than that) our creeks typically froze over often during the winter. In the 70's major rivers such as the Rap and the James froze over asl well. Also the bay was populated with more wooden boats with inboard engines that needed to be winterized to prevent freezing damage. The large horsepower outboards were not available to push boats the size that people are using. People fished until the freeze and winterized their boats. I can remember when my dad used to winterize his boat after fishing Thanksgiving weekend even though there were plenty of rockfish being caught. Then we went through a couple of decades with the collapse of the rockfish and closed seasons.I'm ready for some consistent warm weather, too. This post, however, makes me think back to a time not too many years ago when there was little recreational fishing activity in the Bay and virtually none in the ocean. I certainly don't have the years of experience many here have, but it seems to me that as recently as the late 1980s/early 1990s, the Bay season was pretty much done by late October/early November, save for a handful of dedicated toggers, and I can't remember any material amount of ocean fishing going on after then.
And look at what we have now: a highly sought-after fishery in the Bay through December and hundreds of boats on the water on weekends in January and February. The return of the striped bass, increasing reliability and safety of small boats (and curtains! what a concept!), and increasing population and interest are surely all factors involved with the expansion of the Tidewater area fishing season to a full 12 months.
Long time local fishing veterans: Is it just me, or is this year-round phenomenom a fairly recent development?