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The Saltwater Review - 10 August  2006

Vol. 20, No. 11

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


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, .

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.

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.

The torrid flounder bite showed no signs of cooling off last week, as 95 citation flatfish (90 for weight and 5 for release) were registered in the annual VSWFT. This brings the year’s flounder citation total to 630 (603 for weight and 27 releases). The top trophy flounder locations include the CBBT complex and the Cell/buoy 42 area. On the bluewater scene, white marlin easily out-paced all other pelagics, as anglers tallied 36 releases for the week and brought the year’s total to 72. Waters of 50 fathoms or more, from the Cigar down to Triple 0’s, seem to hold the most billfish.

Chincoteague -

Donna at Captain Bob’s reported a good mixture of fish inside the inlet. Croaker and sea mullet are the most abundant with the best hauls of largest croaker found along Chincoteague Channel and at Four Mouths. Bottom fishermen are also catching some keeper flounder around the Queen’s Sound Bridge while a few pan trout and snapper bluefish are scattered around the mouth of the inlet. Offshore, a handful of nice bluefin tuna, in the 90 to 110-pound range, were caught out at the Lumpy Bottom, where several parties found king mackerel and various sizes of dolphin.


Wachapreague Marina reported offshore anglers caught a nice mixture of fish the past several days. One of the better hauls, a limit of dolphin, a nice bluefin tuna and five fat yellowfin, was turned in by the crew aboard the NITA DREAM, who over-nighted at the Lumpy Bottom. The crew aboard the CLASS ACT trolled-up a mixture of dolphin and tuna plus stopped on a wreck site to add some black sea bass to the cooler. The crew aboard the NATURAL LITE had a good catch of king mackerel at the 26-Mile Hill. Inside the inlet, croaker dominate the action with some of the better hauls made along the backside of Cedar Island. 

Captain Zed’s said bottom fishermen working inside the inlet caught “tons” of croaker the past week. The heaviest weighed was nearly three pounds, at 2 pounds, 14 ounces. Keeper-sized flounder are still being caught despite the high temperatures but “you got to know where to go and when.” One of the charter boats had over 20 keepers on a trip last week. But the biggest flounder of the week were caught outside the inlet, around one of the ocean wrecks. The crew aboard the LUCKY DUCK had a banner day on flatfish plus they boated some nice black sea bass. Pat Hirsch decked the day’s heavyweight, a 9 pounds, 7 ounces but the same trip produced a 7-pound, 11-ounce flounder for Charlie Thomas. Further offshore, trollers are catching decent numbers of dolphin plus a few tuna and occasional wahoo. 

Cape Charles

Chris’ Bait and Tackle reported bottom fishermen out of the seaside port of Oyster loaded coolers full of croaker the past week where several more tarpon, perhaps Virginia’s most elusive trophy, were caught and released. Lester Clark (60 inches), George Gregory (60 inches) and Robert Savage Jr. (75 inches) all registered “silver king” releases at the shop plus another angler stopped-in with an even more astonishing story. “Pete Bregant came in, told of hooking five tarpon and getting three to the boat for releases. But he was fishing by himself and didn’t have a witness. He showed me some tarpon scales and the camera he used to take pictures of the fish.” Over on the bayside, several anglers scored on big flounder. Katie Harabin used live spot for bait, worked the pilings of the High Rise section of the CBBT and boated citation flatfish of 9-1/4 pounds and 8-1/2 pounds. Lester Clark boated an 8-pound flounder in the deepwater around buoy 36A, where David Barbee (9-1/4 pounds) and wife Peggy (7-1/4-pounds) each decked doormat-sized flatfish. Kevin Haxter was fishing for speckled trout inside Nassawadox Creek and boated an 8-1/2-pound flounder and Woo Daves caught a 7-1/4-pound flounder inside Magothy Bay. Large cobia still linger off Cape Charles, as Glenn Beaslay (68 pounds, 13 ounces) and Oroon Barnes (76-1/2 pounds) each registered citation fish last week. Charles Williams (9 pounds, 3 ounces), Tim Nugget (9 pounds) and Robert Savage Jr. (22-1/4 inches) all captured large spadefish around the Fourth Island while Austin Jennings released a 47-inch red drum on the nearby shoals.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported flounder fishing was good the past week off Onancock. “We weren’t catching any monsters but nice solid keepers in the 2 to 4 pound range.” Hooks were baited with a combination of squid strips, cut bait and live minnows, “nothing special,” according to Captain Wil. Bottom fishermen are still seeing plenty of croaker of mixed sizes. Captain Wil rated the late summer spot bite as just “fair, it’s just not consistent everyday. I think it just means the big schools have not moved into our area yet.” Pan trout remain remarkably scarce, “at least where I fish but I know the guys fishing up in Pocomoke and Tangier sounds are catching more (trout). I talk with them on the radio.” Other catches include sea mullet and snapper bluefish plus the occasional blowfish and scup.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel

Cobbs Marina reported good weekend catches of flounder, sheepshead and croaker. The heaviest flounder of the week came from the Third Island of the CBBT, where John Jansen nailed a 10-pound, 1-ouncer. Justin Cockrell boated a 7-1/4-pound flatfish at the Second Island, where Steve Friedman decked a 12-pound, 1-ounce sheepshead. Kevin Gureki released a 26-inch sheepshead at the bridge tunnel crossing. Croaker were available at most locations anglers cared to bottom fish but the better hauls of larger fish came from the ODU Reef site and from the edges of the Baltimore Channel, according to the marina spokesperson. 
Bubba’s Marina likewise told of good catches of flounder and sheepshead from the CBBT complex and added that some of the largest croaker were caught inside Lynnhaven Inlet.

Wallace’s Bait and Tackle said big cobia still linger in the Bluefish Rock area. Ralph Angel boated a 70-1/2-pound cobia on a live croaker and the same trip produced a 46-1/2-inch red drum release by Bryan Angel. The drum was also fooled by a live croaker. Bill Simmunek used a live croaker to trick a citation-winning 61-1/2-pound cobia but he was closer to the shipping channel at the Hump. Raymond Dehart III landed a 57-pound cobia at the Hump on a live eel. Dwaune Hester was bouncing a bucktail along the bottom on a wireline outfit at the CBBT and boated a 7-pound, 14-ounce flounder.

Sunset Boating Center said the Hampton Bar area was “horribly slow” for flounder and blamed the lack of fish on the intense heat. Bottom fishermen working the bar did mange some croaker but even these normally obliging bottom feeders were not as numerous as in recent weeks. The shop did weighed several big flounder, with the heaviest at 9-1/2 pounds, but these fish were all pulled from the pilings and rubble piles of the CBBT. Even the headboat Ocean Eagle, docked inside Hampton Creek, made several trips to the CBBT complex expressing for flounder the past week. 

Salt Ponds Marina said the hard-core flounder fishermen continue to make good hauls of flatfish at the CBBT complex. Several groups fished offshore and found some dolphin. Johnathan Shores was trolled at the Fingers aboard the private boat TANQUERAY and boated a 45-inch, 20-pound, 3-ounce dolphin on a rigged ballyhoo.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply had good reports of medium spot and decent numbers of croaker from inside the York River. Puppy drum and a few speckled trout were caught in the grass beds around the Guinea Marshes while anglers working the mouth of the East River had decent catches of speckled trout. Chuck described the weekend flounder bite as “real good,” at the CBBT complex and up around buoy 42, as several parties recorded limit catches of flounder.

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club said, ‘”if you like catching billfish, now is the time to get out there.” The billfish bite has been hot from North Carolina on up to New Jersey. Locally, the bite has been good from the 41200 on down to the 40900 and anywhere from 50 on out to 500 fathoms. On a recent outing aboard the HEALTHY GRIN, Jorj Head from Seaford and Jeff Dail from Poquoson each released a white marlin at Triple 0’s. “There’s also plenty of dolphin are out there but the tuna bite is slow,” said Neill. Inshore, flounder are the fish receiving the most attention. The best catches have been made by anglers fishing tight to structure. Cobia are plentiful and can be caught chumming or by sight casting. It is a good time to be fishing for cobia that is why our club cobia tournament starts this weekend. In honor of our club’s most famous cobia fisherman, the Don Forman Cobia Tournament will start on August 12 and run through August 20. The cost is only $10 to members and $15 for non-members fishing with a member. Contact Matt Rinck to enter. Red drum is another fish that is very available right now. Many are being caught by anglers targeting cobia. Those targeting red drum on the shoals along the CBBT are fishing at night and are having great success using cut bait and live croaker. Sheepshead and spadefish are being caught along the CBBT. 

Dr. Julie Ball, IGFA International Representative for Virginia Beach, contributed the following:

While all the summertime favorites are maintaining a constant pace, and the usual fall residents are trickling into the area, the flounder trend is still on an upward incline. Since early spring, the popular flatfish have filled coolers and frying pans, and without skipping a beat, these same flatties are still bestowing bragging rights upon gloating anglers. Expect this trend to continue, as large fish are now falling to drifters, live-baiters, and wire liners. Live bait over lower bay structure has slight edge with the bigger fish, especially at the 3rd and 4th islands. Spot are now biting at the 1st island, where anglers are loading up on medium-sized keepers. Larger fish are showing in rivers further up the bay, and yellowbellies will not be far behind. Big croaker are still lurking in lower bay channels, and along the CBBT. A tempting peeler crab offering may land you a citation in Lynnhaven Inlet. Spanish mackerel have made a better showing this week off the Virginia Beach oceanfront and the tide rips off Cape Henry. Try small spoons at a quick troll, otherwise you will weed through hoards of taylor bluefish. A few King mackerel are keeping trollers hopes up in the same vicinity. The amberjack combats continue at the southern tower and offshore wrecks, with live bait as your best option for an easy hook-up, but not an easy landing. A few jack crevelle are showing on nearby inshore and offshore structures. These fish are quite a bit more elusive than their amberjack cousins, and are not a sure thing. Big red drum are running strong on all lower bay shoals taking cut bait fished on the bottom, with multiple hook-ups providing plenty of action. Cobia are preparing for their southward migration, so more fish are cruising the upper water columns within casting range. Spadefish are hanging around lower bay structures, the CBBT, and the Chesapeake Light Tower. Fish topping 10-pounds are cruising the pilings of the bridge tunnel north of the 4th island, with many taking baits into the structure abyss. Sheepshead are holding their own along the span of the CBBT, where fish up to 13-pounds are falling to fiddlers, clam, and crab. Either the Virginia tarpon fishery is having a decent year, or more people are talking about it. A hand full of silver kings were released this week, with sightings becoming more prevalent. Billfish are making their presence known offshore with many boats returning with multiple flags flying, and stories of many more missed or lost. Many of these fish are hanging outside of the Cigar area, where the bite is still on. In the mix, expect an excellent showing of whites, a smattering of blues, and a few sails. John Caracciolo onboard the BADA BING released a sail this week in the same vicinity. A few tuna and huge gaffer dolphin are also a good possibility.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported the big news of the week was the strong showing of Spanish mackerel around the Great Wicomico and Smith Point lighthouses. Trollers pulling small spoons behind a small planer had the best success. Speckled trout continued to please shallow water casters in Dameron Marsh. Good numbers of small to medium spot are available in the rivers but most of the larger croaker have departed local waters.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said parties caught loads of nice croaker and plenty of bluefish weighing as much as five pounds. The waters just off Dameron Marsh, those around Smith Point Light and out at the Middle Grounds produced the better catches. Anglers staying after flounder continue to find some keepers around the mouth of the Little Wicomico River. 

Jerry Thrash from Queen’s Creek Outfitters reported exceptional catches of flounder at the Cell/buoy 42 area on Saturday and Sunday, as several parties recorded limit catches of flatfish weighing up to 8 pounds. Shelton Foster of Deltaville had the weekend’s heaviest, at 8-1/4 pounds and 27 inches. The citation flounder was caught at buoy 42 on a strip of squid. Trollers pulling small Clark spoons at 6 to 8 knots had good success on Spanish mackerel around the mouth of the Piankatank, along Windmill Point Bar and off Gwynn Island near MH-1. Jerry cautioned that the same area holds plenty of taylor blues and they are the major catch at slower trolling speeds. Bottom fishermen found medium spot in good supply at Butlers Hole and around the Spike buoy while casters scored on speckled trout inside the Piankatank and around the mouths of rivers feeding into Mobjack Bay.

Locklies Marina said the pilings of the White Stone Bridge and nearby oyster rocks produced good catches of spot and croaker plus some keeper flounder and pan trout last week.

Tommy Lewis from Garretts Marina said very few people had been fishing the past week and “I’m just not hearing anything.” Tommy did say one customer spoke of catching some school-sized striped bass “up in the river,” but the season for striped bass is closed and all rockfish must be released.

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I said the past week’s bottom fishing was as hot as the weather. Spot dominated the catch but some taylor bluefish, sea mullet, pan trout and flounder are mixed in with the schools of spot. Top locations included Butlers Hole, the spike buoy off Deltaville, Windmill Bar, off Gwynn Island, Cherry Point and the Mud Hole. Trollers are catching a mixture of Spanish mackerel and bluefish. Croaker numbers have dwindled out at the Cell but flounder remain available. “Sea mullet are as abundant as I’ve ever seen them,” off Stingray Point. 

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported billfish and mixed sizes of dolphin were in good supply while tuna were scarce. On Friday the crew aboard the BIG WOODY boated several nice dolphin and released a white marlin while the crew aboard the BACKLASH boated a limit of dolphin. Saturday, the WAVERUNNER had a good catch of dolphin and released a white marlin. On Sunday the BACKLASH came in with a limit of dolphin and released a white marlin. Monday, O FOUR released a white marlin and boated some dolphin and the SEA WITCH had a nice catch of dolphin.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said fishing was slow only because lack of participation. “One boat out on Monday had ten shots at billfish. They caught (and released) two. Another boat went four-for-six. So the marlin fishing is here.” Best action has been from the 950-line up to the Cigar and about 50-fathoms. Trollers are also catching some gaffer dolphin but not many tuna.

Virginia Piers -

Ocean View – Bottom fishermen are catching decent numbers of medium spot and croaker with best action very early of late in the day. Daytime anglers are catching a few keeper flounder and the occasional sheepshead around the pilings. Casters are catching snapper blues and after sun down, some pan trout around in the shadows of the pier lights. 

Lynnhaven – Daytime fishing was very slow but early morning hours and late evening saw a fair number of medium spot, croaker and sea mullet landed.

Virginia Beach – Bottom fishermen enjoyed several good runs of medium spot with some sea mullet mixed in over the weekend. Casters working the end of the pier caught snapper bluefish but very few Spanish mackerel the past week.

Sandbridge – Medium spot, sea mullet and snapper bluefish provided the bulk of the weekend action. Several cobia were sighted and a 38-pound cobia was decked last week.

Outer Banks, NC -

Generally clear water and very hot weather combined to produce tough fishing conditions of beach and pier fishermen in the Nags Head area the past week. Croaker and spot were caught in reasonable numbers but most were rather small. Beach casters managed some bluefish while those working the ends of the pier also took a few Spanish mackerel. Surf waters warmed for barely 70 degrees on Friday to 82 degrees on Monday at the Avalon Pier. Several king mackerel and at least one cobia was hooked Monday at Avalon but none were landed. Bottom fishermen at the pier recorded decent catches of sea mullet, spot, bluefish and even a few pompano on Monday. Down at Oregon Inlet, small boat anglers enjoyed decent catches of flounder and speckled trout.

South of the inlet, at Cape Point on Buxton, casters scored on snapper bluefish and bottom fishermen pulled in a few puppy drum, flounder and spot on Friday. Saturday saw decent numbers of flounder at the Hook, a sprinkling of Spanish mackerel and bluefish and a 56-inch blacktip shark. Action improved Sunday with good mixed catches of sea mullet, pompano, spot, croaker, flounder, puppy drum and Spanish mackerel.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center described Friday as “outstanding” for bigeye tuna, ranging from 90 to 120 pounds. Trollers also scored on yellowfin tuna, dolphin and white marlin. Dolphin were caught as close as four miles off the beach. The headboat had fair to good catches of croaker. More bigeye tuna were caught Saturday. One boat had four bigeye ranging from 101 to 113 pounds. Another boat released four sailfish and boxed a limit of dolphin and a wahoo. Heaviest yellowfin of the day went 91 pounds. Several boats recorded limit catches of dolphin on Sunday. One boat had six large bigeye tuna and the heaviest weighed 174 pounds. Inshore trollers recorded mixed catches of snapper bluefish and Spanish mackerel.

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.

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