Skip to Content
Agencies | Governor
Search Virginia.Gov
Contact Us |

The Saltwater Review - 3 August  2006

Vol. 20, No. 10

Chincoteague | Wachapreague | Cape Charles | Onancock | Lower Bay/CBBT | Middle Bay | Virginia BeachVA Piers | Outer Banks, NC

OVERVIEW

Juvenile bluefin tuna have been implanted with archival tags in a cooperative effort to determine the migration pattern of northwest Atlantic bluefin tuna.  These fish have a green streamer tag near their dorsal fin and a light stalk sticking out of their belly. If you catch one of these fish, it is worth $500 but you must keep the fish. These fish will not count against your daily limit of bluefin tuna and you can keep them even if they are below the current minimum size limit.   To receive your reward you must contact Jon Lucy at the VIMS: (804) 684-7166, lucy@vims.edu .

The Federal restrictions regarding bluefin tuna changed on July 22, 2006.  Anglers in the mid-Atlantic region may no longer keep any bluefin tuna measuring less than 47 inches.  For more details, refer to the enclosed notice. 

Researchers at VIMS are requesting the assistance of the angling public with a study (funded by recreational license monies) designed to determine real-time movement of summer flounder in local waters.  One hundred and twenty flounder have been outfitted with special (and expensive) acoustic tags.  These flounder also carry a special yellow tag.  For more details see the enclosed announcement.

Angling for doormat-sized flounder was as hot as the weather, as anglers registered a whooping 130 flounder citations (121 for weight and 9 releases) last week.  This brings the year’s total flounder citations to 535 (513 for weight and 22 releases).  Sheepshead were second on the citation hit list last week, as anglers found 37 trophy-sized fish (24 for weight and 13 releases).  Offshore, amberjack from the southern towers accounted for 21 releases while bluewater trollers registered seven blue marlin releases, six white marlin releases and four sailfish releases the past week. 

At least four tarpon were caught and released out of the seaside port of Oyster last week, where bottom fishermen are catching their fill of good-sized croaker.

Chincoteague

Croaker numbers remain strong inside the inlet with some of the better hauls coming from Tom’s Cove in 15 to 26 feet of water and Cockle Creek.  Many of the fish are running 12 to 16 inches and a few top 18 inches.  Some sea mullet and pan trout are mixed in with the croaker.  Despite the heat, anglers found fair numbers of keeper flounder in Queen’s Sound and Chincoteague Channel.  But most of the biggest flounder are coming from inshore ocean wreck sites.  Spadefish and triggerfish are typically available at the same locations.  Offshore, anglers found a mixture of bluefin and yellowfin tuna plus dolphin at the Lumpy Bottom.  Many of the bluefin are under the current 47-inch minimum size limit and must be released.  The crew aboard the RETRIEVER boated a 120-pound bluefin.  Thomas Valek boated a 101-pound bluefin aboard the CRABBY.


Wachapreague

Wachapreague Marina reported several billfish were caught and released over the weekend. Bill Hall released a white marlin aboard the SHIRT CHASER at the 20-fathom lumps and Doug Whittington released a white aboard the KIWI out in the Norfolk Canyon and the crew aboard the REEL TENSION released a white at the south lumps.  Mixed sizes of dolphin are reasonably abundant and fish to over 30 pounds were landed over the weekend.  Fair numbers of yellowfin tuna are available out at the canyons while mixed sizes of bluefin, bailer dolphin and even a few king mackerel are on the inshore lumps.  The crew aboard the CLASS ACT boated a 101-pound bluefin tuna earlier in the week.

Debbie from Captain Zed’s had the results from the Eastern Shore Marlin Club’s recent fishing tournament. The SHIRT CHASER finished in first place based upon time of release, as Bill Hall landed a white marlin during the event’s first day.  TOPLESS finished second with a blue marlin release by Tad Lambertson.  The WHITE BITE came in third with a white marlin release by Greg Ford.  The biggest tuna weighed 72.2 pounds and was caught aboard the POKEM by John Kromer.  Greg Ford aboard the WHITE BITE boated the heaviest dolphin, at 30.4 pounds and Matt Williamson aboard the RASIN NETS had the heaviest wahoo at 34.8 pounds.  The marina will host the 13th annual Ladies Tuna Tournament August 20.  Inshore, croaker dominate the action but anglers are still catching some keeper flounder and sea mullet.  The inshore ocean wrecks produced sea bass of nearly 5 pounds and flounder to over 9 pounds. 

Cape Charles


Chris’ Bait and Tackle reported the High Rise section of the CBBT was last week’s flounder hotspot, where flatfish to over 10 pounds were landed.  Two different methods proved to be successful on the bigger flounder, as anglers wireline trolling with bucktails or drifting a live spot amongst the pilings accounted for the larger flatfish, according to the shop.  One angler working a flounder rig hooked and landed a 68-pound black drum on Sunday.  Schools of spadefish are holding in the same area but getting them to take a baited hook was “hit or miss.”  One customers looking for spadefish at the nearby Anglo-African wreck site caught a cooler full of triggerfish instead.  Trophy-sized red drum remain available on the nearby shoals, where Joe Rose released a 49-incher.   Over on the seaside port of Oyster two other species of fish provided excitement and recreation.  First, the crowd pleaser, croaker are reaching their summer peak on the seaside and many bottom fishermen filled their coolers or at least caught their fill last week.  The second, perhaps Virginia’s most elusive catch, the tarpon.  Many tarpon were spotted last week, quite a number were hooked and several were actually caught, only to be released.  Four lucky anglers registered release citations for tarpon last week at the shop and all were reportedly caught out of Oyster.  Randy Carlson released the biggest, at 82 inches.  Dennis Cline released a 75-incher, Dave Griffith had one at 70 inches and Norman Bunting released a 66-inch tarpon.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters has been fishing early in the morning and again in the evening.  “It’s just been too hot during the heat of the day.”  The fish seem to feel the heat as well and bite best around the change of tide in the morning and evening.  Mixed sizes of croaker to 17 inches and half-pound spot dominate the catch.  “I talked with several other captains that use bloodworm for bait and they’re catching a lot more spot but my parties have wanted the croaker so we haven’t used any bloodworms.”  Other catches include sea mullet and very small pan trout and few meet the 12-inch minimum size limit.  The deeper portions of Tangier Sound are producing more keeper trout with some fish to 3 pounds.   Flounder up to 26 inches are available along the channel edges.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel
-

Cobbs Marina reported good flounder action at the CBBT complex, where anglers are seeing a few cobia and catching plenty of croaker.  Kevin Mooney (10 pounds, 13 ounces; CBBT), Roy Cahoon (8 pounds, 5 ounces; First Island), David Hyslett (8 pounds, 2 ounces; Cape Henry) and Gary Richardson (7-1/2 pounds; Fourth Island) all registered citation flounder on Saturday.  William Albrecht boated a 7-1/2-pound flounder earlier in the week near the High Level span of the CBBT.

Bubba’s Marina told of good catches of flounder and sheepshead at the CBBT complex.  Live spot was the preferred bait for flounder while sheepshead seekers preferred live fiddler crabs.  Anglers are seeing more cobia around the CBBT pilings and several have been caught sight-casting to the cruising fish.  The shop also indicated trollers working the rips off Cape Henry caught a mixture of snapper bluefish and Spanish mackerel last week.   

Wallace’s Bait and Tackle knew of several cobia boated around Bluefish Rock but weighed only one heavy enough for a citation, as John Rumley, Jr. caught a 59-pounder on a live croaker at Bluefish Rock.  Many anglers sought flounder and the Back River Reef and CBBT complex produced the best success.  Steve Riss had the week’s biggest flatfish, a 9-pound, 3-ounce that hit a live spot at the CBBT.  Tim Blaum boated a 9-1/2-pound sheepshead at the Third Island on a live fiddler.

Sunset Boating Center said flounder up to 5 pounds and plenty of croaker were caught at Hampton Bar last week.  The Center indicated customers heading offshore recorded fair to good catches of dolphin to nearly 20 pounds.

Salt Ponds Marina said Jack Lawson aboard the SEA NOVA boated an 8-pound flounder at the High Rise and Al Muire caught a 7-pound, 1-ounce flounder at the Fourth Island aboard the PELICAN last week.  The crew aboard the FREE BIRD recorded a good flounder haul at the CBBT on a mid-week outing.

A & S Feed and Bait Supply said fishing had “fallen-off because it was just too hot.”  Anglers that did fish had their best success on flounder at either the CBBT or the Cell/buoy 42 area.  Bottom fishermen working inside the York River saw a surge of spot last week plus croaker numbers remain good.  Trout remain scarce inside the York but some are being caught in Mobjack Bay and the Ware River. Cobia still linger around York Spit, where a 48-pounder was caught Wednesday.   

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said the “flounder fishing is good right now if you are fishing structure,” as wire-liners are having a field day along the CBBT and live bait fished around any of the wrecks has been effective on large flounder.  Anglers chumming for cobia are still meeting with success though many anglers are turning to sight casting around buoys and along the pilings of the CBBT.  Red drum fishing remains excellent on 9-Foot-Shoal and in the surf along Fisherman’s Island.  Spadefish and sheepshead are being caught at the CBBT and plenty of sea bass are over the ocean wrecks like the Powell, Rick’s, and Triangles.  These same locations are holding flounder, spadefish, and amberjack. Offshore, tuna fishing is slow but there are some being caught including decent numbers of bigeye tuna.  Wahoo and dolphin and billfish action is good off Rudee Inlet. Boats targeting billfish are getting several shots a day. The BACKLASH has been catching blue and white marlin and sailfish out of Rudee Inlet.  One day last week, the crew aboard the BACKLASH saw five blue marlin and caught and released a pair of them.

After being postponed for a week due to wind, some of the best flounder anglers in the state gathered to compete in the Dare Marina/PSWSFA Open Flounder Tournament on July 29. Over 100 people were at the awards party Saturday evening to see which of the 25 teams would be this year’s winner. The food, drink, and great raffle prizes provided by the tournament’s sponsors were other reasons to be at Dare Marina last weekend. Many of the same teams that fished this tournament will be competing in the large Mathews Boys & Girls Club Flounder Tournament on August 4th and 5th. Call (804) 815-3790 for more information about that event.  The heaviest, 4-fish stringer determined the winning team. There was also a cash prize for the single heaviest fish.  Most of the big flounder were caught at three locations: the Cell, Back River Reef, and the High Rise area of the CBBT.  Two techniques accounted for most of the big fish: wire-line trolling and fishing with live bait while anchored on structure.  The winning team was GET THE NET captained by Ronald Key from Hampton. Their stringer weight was 24.67 pounds for an average of 6.2 pounds per fish.  Second Place was DOOR MATT captained by Matt Rinck from Poquoson. Their stringer weight was 22.19 pounds for an average of 5.5 pounds per fish.  Third Place was HOUND DOG captained by Derick Hall from Gloucester. Their stringer weight was 20.61 pounds for an average of 5.2 pounds per fish.  Fourth Place was DADDY’S HOOKER captained by Skid Joyner from Poquoson. Their stringer weight was 19.45 pounds for an average of 4.9 pounds per fish.  Fifth Place was MY BOYS captained by Tyler Evans from Poquoson. Their stringer weight was 19.26 pounds for an average of 4.8 pounds per fish.  The Big Fish Calcutta was won by GET THE NET with a monster, 9.36-pound flatfish.

Dr. Julie Ball, IGFA International Representative for Virginia Beach, contributed the following:
With the red-hot fishing and scorching temperatures sizzling along the East Coast, it’s impossible to stay cool! But the heat is not the only thing breaking records, the incredible flounder catches are also soaring towards record-breaking highs. The quantity and quality of large flatfish slamming cut bait, live bait, and artificial bait around the lower bay is phenomenal. Wire liners working the high rise section of the bridge tunnel are also enticing mega-loads of big flatfish. Although the 3rd and 4th islands are usually the hot spots, more and larger fish are now showing around the 1st island of the CBBT. So choose your weapon: wire lining, drifting, or live baiting. You can’t lose on the flounder front.
Spadefish are swarming around every piling of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, with large sheepshead lurking underneath. Danny Knight plucked a nice 12-½-pound sheep from the first island on a fiddler crab. Try suspending clam for both species, but expect to lose fish among the bridge pilings and structure. Triggerfish are gaining momentum, with hoards of fish taking squid, clam, and cut bait over lower bay structures and wrecks. Cameron Britt pulled a 4-pound, 3-ounce citation trigger from the 4th island of the Bay Bridge Tunnel. Although Spanish mackerel are not hitting off the charts like two weeks ago, decent fish will chase small Clark and Drone spoons trolled at a quick clip along the ocean front and the Cape Henry tide rips. Better numbers of Spanish are showing further up the bay off Gwynn Island. The first smattering of king mackerel have debuted off Virginia Beach, with a 33-pounder taking the lead in the state. A 44-inch king was also caught off the Little Island Fishing Pier this week, along with several cobia. Watch out for the Virginia tarpon this year. Tarpon are amazing, dynamic, elusive relatives of the bonefish and the ladyfish. These air-gulping wonders will roll and frolic all around your bait, as you roast in the miserable heat without a hit. The good news is a hand-full of silver kings were boated, and many more jumped off last week. The cobia are gathering in small schools near the mouth of the bay, and around lower bay structures and buoys. Tossing a live eel will demand their attention every time, so have one standing ready to go. Red drum are on a late-season roll, with promising action through the full moon cycle mid-week. Count on the big croaker numbers to climb as Fall approaches, with some anglers already complaining they are a nuisance. Spot are also active at the first island, with plenty of keepers available. Jack Crevelle are lurking around the CLT, and big amberjack will take any offering at the South A tower. Plan an early morning trip to avoid the heat. The beating you endure from peeved amberjack will serve as enough punishment as it is. Be prepared, anglers are sorting through a dozen or so fish before earning a Virginia state citation.
Offshore action is decent, with billfish crashing spreads and window-shopping. A few blues and even more whites, with a smattering of sails are possibilities. Bill action has been best from the Cigar down to the Triple 0’s in about 100 fathoms of water. Tuna action can improve, with reports of scattered yellowfin and bluefin catches. Big dolphin and an upswing of wahoo with telltale bite-offs is promising for meat hunters. A fat 56-pound bull dolphin boated by Richard Koch took the lead in the dolphin category of the VSWFT last week. 

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported croaker numbers appear to be thinning with the best numbers found in deep water along the channel edges.  Bottom bouncers are also catching some pan trout mixed in with the schools of croaker.  The lower Rappahannock River has good numbers of medium spot and persistent bottom fishermen are still catching some keeper flounder around the jetty at Smith Point.  Trollers working the 30-foot contour in the Rappahannock between Smith Point and Dividing Creek are catching some Spanish mackerel.  Speckled trout numbers inside Dameron Marsh remain steady.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said the charter fleet has been running to the Middle Grounds and chumming with good results.  Catches include good numbers of taylor bluefish and large croaker plus some keeper striped bass (Maryland waters).  Trollers in the Smith Point area are catching some Spanish mackerel and snapper bluefish while bottom fishermen are catching good numbers of small to medium spot inside the Rappahannock River.

Jerry Thrash from Queen’s Creek Outfitters reported flounder fishermen working the buoy42/Cell area saw an influx of smaller fish the past week and had their best success on keeper-sized flatfish in water 40 to 48 feet.  David Saunders of Glen Allen boated the week’s only citation flounder, a 30-1/2-inch, 10-1/2-pounder on a piece of cut croaker at buoy 42.  It was David’s first flounder.  Most of the better catches of croaker also came from the buoy 42/Cell area and where Kurtis Niemeier of Rockersville boated a 19-inch, 3-pound, 5-ounce croaker.  Some big cobia are still available in area waters, as Don Steadman of Gloucester decked a 63-inch, 73-pounder on cut bluefish at York Spit.  Trollers pulling small Clark spoons off Gwynn Island and along Windmill Point Bar are catching fair to good numbers of Spanish mackerel.  Bottom fishermen working Butlers Hole and around the Spike buoy caught good numbers of medium spot plus a few pan trout and small shark.

Locklies Marina said the extreme heat had really slowed the fishing business.  “I haven’t had a private boat out of here in the past three days.”  Still, the charter captains were running but were leaving extra early and coming in before noon.  Parties were catching good numbers of medium spot at Parrot Rock and off the Silos.

Garretts Marina saw very little activity the past several days because of the brutally hot weather but boats out last weekend came in with good catches of spot plus some croaker from the buoy 12 area.

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I described the flounder bite as “in full bloom “ at the Cell last week and simple bottom rig baited with cut croaker was all that was needed to entice the flatfish.  Keeper flounder were also caught on the lower Rappahannock.   Trollers were able to take advantage of schools of Spanish mackerel and hordes of snapper bluefish that were holding at the mouths of the Piankatank and Rappahannock rivers.  Bottom fishermen recorded big catches of medium-sized spot and croaker at the mud hole and off Cherry Point on the Piankatank and over on Windmill Point bar and at the Spike buoy on the Rappahannock. 

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the offshore fleet enjoyed good catches of mixed sizes of dolphin plus a few billfish, yellowfin tuna and wahoo while inshore boats are found spadefish, small dolphin, snapper bluefish, Spanish mackerel and the occasional king mackerel last week.  On Friday the SEA WITCH had a big catch of dolphin and the FROG PILE had a limit of spadefish.  The SEA WITCH was out again Saturday and came in with several dolphin and a wahoo and yellowfin tuna.  Billfish flags, dolphin, wahoo and yellowfin were all on the dock Sunday.  On Monday, the FROG PILE had a good catch of bailer dolphin and released a blue and a white marlin.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said the weekend’s best billfish bite was south of Rudee Inlet between the 100-line and below Triple 0’s.  Yellowfin tuna were scarce but most of those caught weighed over 70 pounds, and the weekend’s heaviest weighed 92.1 pounds and was caught by Chris Carver.  Some good-sized gaffer dolphin were boated, topped by a 56-pound, 6-ouncer, caught by Richard Koch.

Virginia Piers -

Ocean View – Saturday saw good numbers of spot, some small croaker, snapper bluefish and a few blowfish. Sunday produced mainly small to medium spot and croaker, snapper bluefish and a few pan trout.

Lynnhaven
– Bottom fishermen saw fair numbers of medium spot, some croaker and sea mullet.  Small flounder are holding around the pier pilings but few meet the 16-1/2-inch minimum size limit.

Virginia Beach
–Casters working the end of the pier are catching snapper bluefish with the most consistent success in the early morning and late evening.  Spanish mackerel are a possibility whenever clear water comes within casting range.  Bottom fishermen are seeing a mixture of mostly small panfish including spot, croaker, sea mullet and pan trout but only the spot have been abundant recently.  

Sandbridge
– Spot and snapper bluefish provided most of the action in recent days.  Bottom fishermen are also catching some croaker, sea mullet and pan trout.  Several cobia have been spotted and a 17-pound mackerel was decked Tuesday (August 1).  A few shark and numerous skate rounded out the action.

Outer Banks, NC -

Along the Nags Head area beaches and piers, it was a slow week for most anglers.  Despite the high air temperatures, the steady southwest wind kept surf waters rather cool.  It was down to 64 degrees at the Avalon Pier on Sunday.   Although not plentiful, bottom fishermen did catch some snapper bluefish, spot, sea mullet, flounder and even a few pan trout.

At Cape Point on Buxton, sea mullet weighing as much as two pounds provided much of the action on Friday but anglers also caught a few croaker and puppy drum.  Slow was the word for Saturday, as anglers managed only a handful of croaker, mullet and puppy drum.  Sunday, anglers saw a little more action, as snapper bluefish, mullet, flounder and croaker plus an assortment of shark and rays were caught.  Monday evening produced a steady bite of snapper bluefish, spot, croaker, flounder, puppy drum and even several pompano.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported good catches of dolphin to 54 pounds on Thursday and super billfishing as the fleet released over 40 billfish, as three boats had grand slams.  Anglers saw more dolphin and billfish on Friday plus a few more tuna, including a 125-pound bigeye.   Saturday and Sunday saw more dolphin and billfish plus a scattering of yellowfin and bigeye tuna.  Monday was one of the better days of the season for bigeye tuna, as some boats returned with half-a-dozen or more with the heaviest going 140 pounds.
 
The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed good billfish action, boated lots of dolphin, including a 35-pounder by Mark Weirich of Virginia Beach aboard the GOOD TIMES, and saw a scattering of wahoo on Friday.  Saturday produced more billfish and dolphin.  Scot Shupp and Chris Sans, both from Stafford, each released a sailfish and Daniel Sams of Fredericksburg released a white marlin aboard the BITE ME on Saturday.   Sunday was rough and only a handful of boats fished but they returned with decent catches of dolphin and several wahoo.  Monday saw a dozen-and-a-half billfish releases, good numbers of dolphin plus some king mackerel and wahoo.

If you have additional information or would like further details contact Lewis Gillingham at (757) 247 2243.

Please credit the Virginia Marine Resources Commission's THE SALTWATER REVIEW as the source of the fishing information.   Project is funded by NOAA and VMRC.

Click on Newsletter link in the right side navigation panel of most webs page to get to the index of previous Saltwater Reviews


Return to Top

Virginia Marine Resources Commission - Copyright © 1996-2014
Questions or Comments?  Email Web-Info
Site Index  Privacy Policy