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The Saltwater Review - 10 August 2005

Volume 16. No.13
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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

OVERVIEW

Since the end of last year, regulations for black sea bass and summer flounder have been modified.

For black sea bass, the minimum size limit remains 12 inches while the possession limit remains 25 fish but the closed season has been eliminated.

For Summer Flounder, the minimum size limit has been reduced and the winter-closed period has been eliminated.  The minimum size limit decreased from 17 inches (2004) to 16-1/2 inches for 2005.  The winter-closed period from 1 January through 28 March has been eliminated for 2005/2006.
 
Bluefin tuna still linger off Virginia Beach, Wachapreague and Chincoteague.   Check the bluefin tuna regulations (and identification chart) to make certain you know what is legal to keep before it goes into the cooler.  A federal tuna permit is required for the vessel.  Complete information (including ordering a tuna permit) is available by dialing 1-888-USA-TUNA.

For the second week in a row, flounder provided the best inshore opportunity to qualify for a citation (26-inch release or 7-pound weigh-in), as the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament (VSWFT) registered 69 flounder meeting the minimum criteria.  The CBBT complex, Cape Henry Wreck and the Cell/buoy 42 area are the most often mentioned locations for the citation catches.  

Sheepshead were number two on the inshore citation hit list last week, as 40 fish met or exceeded the citation minimums (22-inches release or 9 pounds weigh-in).  Nearly all these hard-pulling gamesters were caught at the CBBT complex.

Offshore, billfish easily led the VSWFT list of citation catches, as thirty-four white marlin, an even dozen blue marlin and six sailfish were registered last week.  Only release awards are offered for white marlin, blue marlin, sailfish or spearfish but there is no minimum size requirement.  Six dolphin (25-pound minimum weight) and six wahoo (35-pound minimum weight) were checked-in last week by bluewater crews.

Chincoteague -

Boats running offshore and chunking with butterfish around the Parking Lot, Lumpy Bottom and the 30-Fathom Hill are catching bluefin tuna in the 70 to 150-pound range and a few gaffer dolphin.  Trollers are picking up a few yellowfin tuna between the 30-fathom line and the canyons.  Bailer-sized dolphin are abundant on the lobster/sea bass pot buoys.  Inshore, croaker dominate the action but some flounder are still being caught around the mouth of the inlet and around some of the inshore ocean wrecks.

Wachapreague

Wachapreague Marina reported chunkers are still catching some bluefin tuna on the Lumpy Bottom and at the Parking Lot but most anglers are trolling between the 20-fathom contour and the canyons for a mixture of yellowfin tuna, dolphin and billfish.

Captain Zed's reported bluewater trollers caught a mixture of dolphin, tuna, wahoo and billfish last week.  Dolphin provided the best action, as dependable numbers of these gamesters held around the lobster/black sea bass pot buoys.  The crew aboard the LUCKY DUCK tallied a limit catch of dolphin on Sunday and the crew aboard the MARLIN MAGIC caught and released a blue marlin just inshore of the Washington Canyon mid-week.  The CANYON LADY fished an inshore ocean wreck and boated a nice catch of black sea bass and several keeper flounder.  Inside the inlet, croaker remain very abundant and the flounder bite is above average for mid-summer.  The Foxy Lady boxed 17 keeper flounder on Saturday.  Some of the best flounder hauls are coming from the deeper channels located off the Coast Guard Station and along Cedar Island.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported weekend bottom fishermen scored on croaker and flounder plus a scattering of pan trout and sea mullet off Cape Charles.  Over on the seaside out of Oyster, "the croaker were thick as ever," according to the shop, and the location for anglers just seeking croaker.  Most bayside anglers were out after flounder, however, and the Cell area was the week's "go to" spot for the bigger flounder, where William Wilkins (7 pounds, 10 ounces), Monte Wells (7-1/2 pounds) and Hollis Palmer Jr. (7 pounds, 2 ounces) all scored citation flatfish.  Not all of last week's bigger flounder were caught at the Cell, as Mary Rideout landed a 9-pound, 2-ounce flounder and released a 27-inch flatfish near buoy 36A.  Gar Ayscue pulled in the week's biggest flatfish, an impressive 10-pound, 10-ouncer, at the High Rise section of the CBBT.  Donny Britingham (47, 47, 49 and 49 inches) and fishing buddy John Pinkerton (48 inches) fished the shoals at Fishermen's Island and earned red drum release awards.  William Mish Sr. had the week's only citation cobia but it was a dandy at 73-3/4 pounds.  The catch was made at the Inner Middle Grounds.  Eight-year-old Steve Adkins struggled with a 10-3/4-pound sheepshead at the Third Island, where Dad, Calvin, Sr., boated its 10-3/4-pound twin and a 10-pound, 13-ouncer.  Over on the seaside, James C. Wright released a 75-inch shark out of Oyster and Scott Hubbard boated a 5-pound, 11-ounce Spanish mackerel at the 26-Mile Hill.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported the channel edges off Onancock produced good catches of flounder to 24 inches the past week.  Parties also caught a mixture of sea mullet, pan trout, taylor bluefish and shark.  As for croaker and spot, Captain Wil heard these two popular bottom fish had become "suddenly scarce" the past few days.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported sheepshead attracted a lot of attention from anglers the past week.  Frank Harrell, Jr. (9 pounds, 10 ounces), Mike Keltner (9 pounds) and David Buckwalter (9 pounds, 9 ounces) all boated citation sheepshead at the Second Island while fishing aboard the FISHING AINT EASY.   Steve Parris also nailed a citation-winning 9-pound, 5-ounce sheepshead at the Second Island.  William Spurril, Jr. landed a 9-pound, 5-ounce sheepshead at the First Island while Kelly Millard (9 pounds, 3 ounces) and Teven Westray (11 pounds, 11 ounces) pulled in big sheepshead at the Fourth Island.  
 
Bubba's Marina told of excellent caches of large flounder between the Second and Third islands of the CBBT, as the shop weighed-in flatfish topping 11 pounds.  Anglers drifting the Baltimore Channel also recorded decent catches of flounder plus several good-sized flounder were pulled from around the pilings of the Lesner Bridge the past week.  Numerous anglers told of schools of spadefish at the Second, Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT and bottom fishermen caught "tons of croaker" all along the crossing.  The shop weighed-in numerous sheepshead and several topped 9 pounds.   The shop heard good-sized spot were biting along the beachfront "from Sandbridge to Lynnhaven."

Dr. Jim Wright said good-sized cobia are holding on many of the CB-Line buoys.  A mid-week trip of "buoy hopping" produced a 50-inch cobia release for Wayne Seymour.  The citation cobia hit a live spot.  Speaking of spot, good numbers of medium to large spot are holding around the mouth of Rudee Inlet.  Earlier in the week, a trip to the Anglo-African wreck site produced good action on spadefish up to 8 pounds.  

Wallace's Bait and Tackle said the Hump and Back River Reef produced decent catches of the flounder through the week but the best haul came from the northern section of the CBBT where the crew aboard the DEBRA ANN wirelined flatfish up to 9 pounds, 14 ounces.  The cobia bite is in to the summer doldrums but Richard Sealey managed in a 69-pound cobia last week.  Despite the warm weather, a few speckled trout up to 21 inches were caught inside Back River.  The crew aboard the TRAVELER fished in the vicinity of the Fingers Sunday and had a nice catch of yellowfin tuna up to 56 pounds.

Sunset Boating Center said Stephen Edwards boated the weekend's biggest flounder, a 29-1/2-inch, 9-3/4-pounder, at the Second Island of the CBBT.  Earlier in the week, Sonny Riss decked an 8-pound flatfish at the Cape Henry Wreck, where Kitt Mogu landed a 7-pounder.  Randy Dillon and crew managed seven keeper flounder up to 23 inches at Hampton Bar.  Several good-sized spadefish were caught around the Fourth Island over the weekend with Chris Hall's 8-pound, 6-ouncer, the heaviest.  Bottom fishermen recorded mixed catches of croaker, spot and a few pan trout and keeper flounder at Thimble Shoals but the biggest croaker were caught around the Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT.

Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina said Tom Summers released a white marlin at the Norfolk Canyon on Friday.  Captain Kenny Freeman told of an impressive catch of 20 to 24-inch flounder from the High Rise section of the CBBT.  All the flatfish were caught "wire-lining."  Earlier in the week several good flounder hauls were made at the Cape Henry Wreck site.  Trolling the rips just oceanside of the Third and Fourth islands produced a near hectic taylor bluefish bite plus the occasional Spanish mackerel.   Anglers drifting bits of fresh clam at the Anglo-African wreck site enjoyed a steady bite on spadefish up to 7 pounds.  And lastly, bottom fishermen hauled-in croaker up to 2 pounds while drifting the edge of Hampton Bar in 30 to 40-feet of water.

Jimmy Lewis at A & S Feed and Bait Supply said Bernard West of Hayes had a banner day offshore at the Norfolk Canyon, as he caught and released a white marlin and a spearfish.  Big flounder continue to bite at the Cell, where Keith Cerny (9 pounds, 8 ounces) decked the week's biggest flatfish.  Closer to home, a few speckled trout were caught over the weekend at the grass beds located right at the mouth of Mobjack Bay.  Bottom fishermen at the Gloucester Point Public Pier enjoyed good catches of croaker plus some spot.  Jimmy indicated better catches of spot were made by boaters drifting between the Amoco Dock and Tues Point.

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said offshore fishing remains very good, with plenty of bluefin and yellowfin tuna around.  On average, the yellowfin have been getting larger with decent numbers pushing the 70-pound mark.  Wahoo made a strong showing the past week plus the dolphin bite is good and the billfish bite continues to improve.  Amberjack are around and can be found over any of the ocean wrecks and at the towers.  Neill indicated the numbers of jacks are not here in the levels of past years but the all the fish are big.  In the bay, sheepshead fishing remains very good with a lot of fish caught over top of the CBBT tubes in the same areas you would fish for tautog.  Flounder fishing remains good with the best action being found right next to structure like the CBBT, the Cape Henry Wreck and Back River Reef.  The cobia has slowed but some fish still linger on the lower Bay.  The red drum bite on the shoals, "just will not stop," according to Neill, whose cousin, Phillip, caught 9 big reds one evening last week.  Spanish mackerel are available along the Virginia Beach oceanfront and throughout the lower bay.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported decent catches of spot were made off Dividing Creek and New Creek but most of the area creeks are holding some of the bottom feeders.  Nearly all the croaker have moved out into deepwater, according to Roger, with some of the better catches made along the edges of the shipping channels.  A few spot and the occasional flounder are mixed in with the croaker.  Trollers working between Bluff Point and Smith Point in roughly 30 feet of water continue to catch a mixture of taylor bluefish and Spanish mackerel.

Smith Point Marina said the hot weather kept many anglers in port and fishing pressure the past week was very light.  A few of the marina's charter boats ran into Maryland waters and returned with a mixture of bluefish and striped bass (the striped bass season is open in Maryland).  The shop heard trollers caught some Spanish mackerel around the Target Ships.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said buoy 42 produced some quality flounder of 4 pounds and more but the bite has not been very fast.  Michael Hurst earned a release award with a 26-inch flounder and A.G. Newman boated a 7-pound flounder at buoy 42. Trollers continue to find a mixture of taylor bluefish and Spanish mackerel at Windmill Point Bar and around Wolftrap Light.  Despite the heat, speckled trout up to 24 inches were caught in the North and Ware Rivers and at Cherry Point in the Piankatank River.  Spot numbers and sizes are up in the Rappahannock River with the spike buoy one of the better locations.  Some croaker and pan trout are mixed in with the spot.  Thomas Reamer landed a monster, 4-pound, 5-ounce croaker on a piece of peeler crab in this area.

Locklies Marina said, "the number one spot are really in here," as several parties loaded coolers with the tasty bottom fish.  All the old oyster bars from buoy 7 to Tulls Point, which includes such well-known locations as Parrot Rock and Butlers Hole, in 20 to 30 feet of water, seem to be holding fish.

Garretts Marina said bottom fishermen caught a mixture of medium spot, nice croaker and catfish around buoy 19.

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I said bottom fishermen who traded between Butlers Hole and the Spike buoy off Deltaville "had coolers in good shape" by the end of their fishing trip.  The bulk of the catch was spot but decent numbers of bluefish and trout added variety.  Trollers working the Windmill Light area early in the week enjoyed mixed catches of bluefish and Spanish mackerel but the mackerel bite slowed by the weekend.  Bottom fishermen off Gwynn Island did well on spot and trout on the ebb tide while anglers drifting for flounder around the Cell did not fare well.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the O-FOUR had a banner day Friday, as the party released a white marlin and boated several yellowfin tuna and a citation wahoo.  On Saturday, the fleet had mixed catches of white marlin (released), dolphin, bluefin and yellowfin tuna and several wahoo.  A private boat weighed-in a 120-pound plus bluefin tuna.  On Sunday, the tuna bite slowed but the fleet found loads of bailer dolphin and released several white marlin.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said several of their charter fleet were out-of-town and fishing the Ocean City White Marlin Tournament, so the dockside activity level was down.  Several boats that fished Monday did "very well" on yellowfin tuna in the 40 to 50-pound range and boated wahoo up to 65 pounds.  The hot spot seemed to be from the 10-fathom hill to the north side of the Cigar.


Virginia Piers
-

Harrison - The pier is presently closed but is in the process being rebuilt.  Significant progress has been made the past several weeks (due to good weather) and plans call for a portion of the pier to open this season.

Lynnhaven - Spot and a few croaker provided most of the action.  Crabbers are catching enough crustaceans for dinner.

Virginia Beach - Casters working the end of the pier early in the morning have managed a few Spanish mackerel but snapper-sized bluefish are a more likely catch, especially once the sun's rays reach full strength.  Bottom fishermen caught lots of medium spot, some sea mullet and the occasional keeper flounder.  Crabs are reasonably abundant.

Sandbridge - Weekend anglers enjoyed good runs of medium-sized spot plus some snapper blues, croaker, sea mullet and small flounder.

Outer Banks, NC -

Surf fishermen along the Nags Head area beaches found a mixture of snapper bluefish, sea mullet, spot, small flounder and croaker.  Beach fishermen along the stretch of beach from Coquina Beach to Oregon Inlet caught larger bluefish up to 6 pounds.  On Friday, several cobia were hooked at the end of the Avalon Pier but lost.  Bottom fishermen recorded a mixture of snapper bluefish, Spanish mackerel, small flounder, sea mullet, croaker and spot.  On Saturday a pair of cobia, the biggest weighed 48.8 pounds, and a 20-pound class king mackerel were decked.  Other catches included sea mullet, spot, croaker and snapper bluefish.  A large cobia was hooked but lost Sunday morning, as overall action remained on the slow side.  A 40-inch cobia was released on Monday, as bottom bouncers reeled-in a mixture of bluefish, croaker, sea mullet and spot.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported good catches of tuna, dolphin to 30 pounds, wahoo to 77 pounds and several white marlin releases on Friday.  The day's take included several bigeye tuna up to 186 pounds and yellowfin tuna weighing up to 86 pounds.  The weekend produced more wahoo than normal, limits of bailer dolphin, good numbers of billfish but only a scattering of tuna.  Inshore boats during the three-day period enjoyed exceptional catches of Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish while the headboat patrons recorded mixed catches of croaker, bluefish and trout plus an occasional keeper flounder.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed good catches of dolphin plus fair numbers of wahoo and billfish on Friday.  The billfish came on strong Saturday, as the fleet registered 15 white marlin releases, 14 sailfish releases and blue marlin releases.  Good numbers of bailer dolphin and some wahoo were boated.  On Sunday, 19 billfish were caught and released and many boats returned with a limit of dolphin and several wahoo.  The billfish bite slowed Monday, and the final tally was only seven.  Dolphin catches were "fair" and other catches included wahoo and king mackerel plus a few yellowfin tuna.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet recorded good catches of bailer dolphin, some white marlin and sailfish plus a scattering of wahoo, king mackerel and blackfin tuna on Friday. On Saturday the fleet flew 19 white marlin and 10 sailfish flags on their return to the inlet. The parties kept good numbers of bailer dolphin and a few wahoo. The weather kept nearly half the fleet in port on Sunday but those that did fish boated limit catches of bailer dolphin and excellent numbers of wahoo. The crew aboard the SUNDOWN had an even dozen wahoo plus dolphin. Monday was another big billfish day, as the fleet tallied 17 sailfish, 4 white marlin and 2 blue marlin releases. Other catches included fair numbers of dolphin and some 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 to get to the index of previous Saltwater Reviews


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