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The Saltwater Review - 17 August  2006

Vol. 20, No. 12

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 trophy flounder bite cooled off “a little,” last week, but flounder still led the week’s citation parade with “only” 47 flatfish registered for citations.  Anglers were in disagreement as the cause—the extremely hot weather much of the week and the extra strong tides due to the full moon were repeated most often as the explanation for the fewer number of big flounder.  The drop-off of big flounder was perhaps most acute in the Cell/buoy 42 area, where anglers fished hard for just a few flatfish big enough to keep but anglers fishing the lower Bay and CBBT complex also found the bigger flounder more elusive.  Sheepshead were second most abundant in the week’s citation listing, as 30 citations (22 for weight and 8 for release) were registered.    On the bluewater scene, white marlin again easily out-paced all other pelagics, as anglers tallied 22 releases for the week, which buoyed the year’s total number to 92.  In addition to the white marlin, bluewater anglers also registered 5 blue marlin releases and 3 sailfish releases the past week.

Chincoteague -

Donna at Captain Bob’s reported Captain Charlie Koski on the ISLAND QUEEN has been consistently coming in with keeper flounder from the Queen’s Sound area.  Many of the keeper-sized flatfish are running 20 to 22 inches.   Private boat anglers are also finding keeper flounder along Chincoteague and Assateague channels, at Black Narrows and off Inlet View.  “Many of those flounder were pulled-in from shallow water on squid and minnow,” according to Donna.  Offshore anglers encountered dolphin as close as 11 fathoms while the best bluefin and yellowfin tuna catches came from the Lumpy Bottom. 


Wachapreague Marina reported good numbers of dolphin offshore while the tuna bite has been hit-or-miss.” One boat “hit” the tuna on Sunday and caught seven yellowfin while chunking the Lumpy Bottom area.  The CLASS ACT nearly limited-out on dolphin on two consecutive trips and had several king mackerel and some yellowfin tuna as a bonus.  The marina indicated good numbers of king mackerel were holding around the 21 and 26-Mile hills while the inshore wrecks held black sea bass and some bailer dolphin.  Bottom fishermen seeking flounder reported good numbers of flatfish but only about 1-in-8 were making the 16-1/2-inch minimum size limit.

Captain Zed’s said bottom fishermen working inside the inlet are still catching good numbers of croaker and some keeper flounder.  Offshore, “we just haven’t had many boats out.”  One private boat, ELEXAS DEVON, fished near the Lumpy Bottom on Sunday and Steve Palmer released a blue marlin, a mako shark and boated over a dozen dolphin.  The marina indicated another group fished the 26-Mile Hill and several yellowfin tuna and some skipjack tuna. 

Cape Charles

Chris’ Bait and Tackle reported windy weekend conditions kept many anglers in port and those that did fish stayed near the lee of shore.  The strategy of fishing near shore paid off for Chris Anderson, as he boated an 8-pound, 11-ounce flounder at the Concrete Ships.  Earlier in the week, several big hauls of flounder were recorded near buoy 36A, where retired MPO Bob Bois notched another citation flounder of 7 pounds, 11 ounces.  Greg Bryan likewise chose to fish over the weekend and boated an 11-3/4-pound flounder at the Cement Ships.  Charles Thain decked a 10-1/4-pound sheepshead at the High Rise.  The croaker bite was definitely off last weekend but catches were steady earlier in the week.  Winds all but knocked-out weekend bottom fishermen over on the seaside as well, as croaker and flounder did not cooperate.  One positive note from the seaside, for the second week in a row, Pete Bregant landed and released a tarpon.  This week’s fish measured 72 inches.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported spot numbers increased the past week with most running between ½ and ¾-of-a-pound while croaker numbers are holding steady.  With northeast winds the past several days, Captain Wil was working in 15 to 25 feet of water over a sand/shell bottom.  “We caught plenty of fish, often two-at-a-time,” but stayed close enough to shore to break the wind.  Other catches included blowfish, sea mullet, small pan trout, white perch, porgy and flounder.  “I had one big flounder to the surface but the net just wasn’t big enough.”

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel

Cobbs Marina reported most customers concentrated on the current run of flounder and sheepshead at the CBBT the past week.  G. Zed Holt released a 26-inch sheepshead on crab at the Fourth Island and Rondell Pugh boated a 10-pound, 7-ounce sheepshead at the Third Island on a live fiddler crab.  Allen Bak was slow trolling a live bait at the CBBT and caught a 7-pound, 9-ounce flounder while Kenneth Ochurch, Jr. was drifting a big piece of cut bait along Thimble Shoals Channel and nailed a 7-3/4-pound flounder.  The marina also indicated that croaker were abundant around the CBBT and often caught by anglers fishing for flounder.  

Bubba’s Marina said most customers fished the CBBT for flounder the past week but the combination of north wind and extra high tides (due to the full moon) made for tough fishing conditions.  “Often the best flounder bite is right around high water slack which occurred late in the day most of last week when nobody was out fishing.”  The shop also heard of good catches of Spanish mackerel off Rudee Inlet and Sandbridge but “it was hit or miss (on Spanish mackerel) at Cape Henry.  I don’t understand it because the pound nets in the same area had lots of big Spanish mackerel up to 7 pounds.”

Wallace’s Bait and Tackle said the crew aboard GET THE NET had an excellent day live baiting for flounder at the CBBT.  Included in the day’s catch were citation winning flatfish for “Hillbilly” Riss (9 pounds, 5 ounces), Jordan Key (7 pounds, 9 ounces) and Chandler Mitchell (7 pounds, 2 ounces).   Kent Edwards boated a 7-pound, 7-ounce flounder on live bait at the High Rise section of the CBBT.  And Nick Brady nailed a 10-pound, 5-ounce sheepshead at the First Island.  The week also produced several big cobia including citation fish for Patrick Brooker (50-inch release), Scott Breedoen (51-inch release) and Sonny Mason (61 pounds).  All were caught at Bluefish Rock on live bait.

Sunset Boating Center said despite steady weekend winds several anglers managed to land keeper flounder at Hampton Bar.  The center also had reports of large croaker over the tube at the M & M crossing and a decent spot bite off Craney Island.

Salt Ponds Marina said the crew aboard the FATTIE FLATTY had a banner day wireline trolling the CBBT complex for flounder, as John Perry boated a pair of citation flatfish (7 pounds, 7 ounces and 7 pounds, 6 ounces) and Carey Lamb put a 7-pound, 9-ouncer in the cooler.
Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said spot numbers continue to rise on the York River plus the river still holds decent numbers of large croaker.  Puppy drum are encountered more frequently along the shoreline but many of these fish measure less than the 18 minimum size limit and must be released.  Speckled trout remain available around most rivers that feed into Mobjack Bay.

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said the news in the fishing world was Dr. Jim Wright had passed away. Dr. Wright was most famous for his television show, Saltwater Fishing With Dr. Jim.  Dr. Wright had a major influence on recreational fishing in our area, according to Neill.  “He taught many of us how to fish, myself included. Whenever I wanted to learn how to catch a new species, I would buy one of his How-To videos. I have a large collection of those tapes. Dr. Wright’s impact on recreational fishing will continue for a long time to come.” As for fishing, PSWAFC member Jeff Dail is a record holder. His 16-pound blueline tilefish has been approved as the IGFA All-Tackle World Record. “Congratulations Jeff!” Cobia fishing remains excellent, according to Neill with both sight fishing and chumming are producing a lot of fish.  The 9-Foot-Shoal area has been an excellent place to set up a chum slick, plus the same area continues to be hot for red drum.  PSWAFC members Jorj Head and Matt Rinck fished the Nine-Foot Shoal area recently and caught nine cobia up to 45 pounds.  Anglers using live and cut fish for bait on the shoal at night are catching all of the big red drum they can handle. Phillip Neill and another crew fished Nine-foot Shoal before sunrise and caught and released over half-a-dozen red drum up to 48 inches in just three hours. Doormat flounder continue to be caught along the CBBT. Any wreck or structure is likely to hold flounder but the CBBT is where most of the really big fish are being caught. Wire-lining strip baits and live baiting are the two most successful methods for catching big flatfish. PSWAFC member Jack Lawson and his crew wire-lined the CBBT for flounder and ended with a cooler full of nice flounder, including a pair that topped 7 pounds.  As if cobia, flounder, and red drum were not enough, sheepshead are still being caught along the CBBT in decent numbers.  Offshore action is focused on a very good billfish bite plus plenty of dolphin are around and there are good numbers of wahoo. Fishing aboard the HEALTHY GRIN, 11-year-old Ken Braddy caught his first white marlin, which Dr. Graves (VIMS) fitted with a pop-up tag and was released.  The tuna bite was real slow the past week but “the few being caught are on the large size,” noted Neill.

Dr. Julie Ball, IGFA International Representative for Virginia Beach, contributed the following:
Dr. Jim Wright, fishing icon and host of the Saltwater Fishing with Dr. Jim television series, passed to a better place this week. No one will be missed more on the water, where he enjoyed tweaking his angling abilities, and landing trophy fish. He loved teaching others to fish, and made notable contributions to the angling community though seminars, donations, and as long-time IGFA representative, to name a few
As the fantastic fishing continues to charge toward the end of the summer with no signs of slowing, there should be no problem finding a target species. For anglers braving some windy conditions this week, flounder is still the main attraction, as super-sized doormats are lunging at anything that moves. As they congregate in the lower bay, hungry flatfish should continue to gratify anglers well through the fall. Whether drifting, live baiting, or wire-lining, your odds of landing heaps of respectable fish with a few trophies scattered in are excellent.
Sheepshead continue to hold on lower bay structure, with many catches coming from fishing piers and along the entire span of the Bay Bridge Tunnel, where Joe Lawson hooked a nice 12-pounder at the 2nd Island. Spadefish are still accessible near the mouth of the bay and inshore wrecks, and are thick around the pilings of the northern most span of the CBBT, where very large fish are sprinkled within the schools. The Little Creek jetties, 1st Island, and Lynnhaven and Rudee inlets are holding decent-sized spot, with several yellow-bellies weighing over a pound in the mix. Big hardheads are also potential catches near the Cell, the CBBT, and the inlets within the lower bay, where a few 3-pounders have been boated. Red drum continue to rummage bottom-fished baits on the 9-foot shoals, where Bruce Chaput released a hefty 50-incher. Cobia are still available via the same method, but more anglers are turning their interest to casting for the brown-suitors as they group to leave the bay. Rizalina Keys weighed in a 70-pound citation cobia from the CBBT this week.
Trollers on the ocean front are finding a smattering of Spanish mackerel on small spoons at a fast clip, while King mackerel have made a showing off Virginia Beach, with several of these toothy predators also thrilling oceanfront pier anglers.
Tarpon are getting plenty of attention, although they remain as elusive as always. A few lucky anglers boated several on the Eastern Shore, with many more lost in the process. The cool-down this week may shut down the action for a few days. Tarpon like it hot!
Bluewater anglers are still picking through multiple billfish strikes, with several whites coming tight. The best chance for white marlin is still near the Cigar and Triple 0’s vicinity, where big wahoo are also stripping rigs. Although tuna action is slow, a few larger yellowfin have been scattered about, along with plenty of bailer and gaffer dolphin.  Amberjack are swarming around inshore wrecks, navigational structures, and especially the Southern Towers. These backbreaking brutes will hit anything that wiggles, so take plenty of bait.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported spot numbers continue to rise inside the Great Wicomico, Dividing Creek and at Blackberry Hang.  Trollers are still catching decent numbers of Spanish mackerel with plenty of snapper bluefish mixed in on the lower Rappahannock River while casters working the grassy flats inside Dameron Marsh are pleased with the current run of the speckled trout.  Anglers working deepwater around the N2 buoy and Asphalt Pile caught some pan trout with a few large croaker mixed in.  Roger cautioned anglers looking for croaker, “they’re getting scarce even in deepwater.”

Smith Point Marina said weekend anglers caught flounder and bluefish around Smith Point Light and trollers caught a mixture of Spanish mackerel and bluefish at the mouth of the Potomac River in the late afternoon.

Jerry Thrash from Queen’s Creek Outfitters said flounder, at least those big enough to keep (16-1/2-inch minimum size limit), were not very active last week in the Cell/buoy 42, as the shop failed to register a citation flatfish for the first time in many weeks.  Trollers found willing Spanish mackerel off Gwynn Island and along Windmill Point Bar.  Plenty of taylor blues were mixed in with the mackerel, especially for those trolling at lower speeds.  Some number one spot were caught at Butlers Hole and around the spike buoy but the bulk of the spot are still running medium.  Speckled trout were active inside Mobjack Bay, at Hole-in-the-Wall, in Dameron Marsh and along the shores of the Piankatank River.  

Locklies Marina said “there was too much heat and not enough fishermen” the past week but those who did fish had good catches of spot plus some large croaker up to 2-3/4 pounds.  The waters off the Silos and around Parrots Rock were the most productive locations, according to the marina.

Tommy Lewis from Garretts Marina said big croaker had moved into the shallows (10 to 15 feet) around Morrattico Bar.  “I don’t know where these croaker came from but they’re as big as the ones we caught in early spring,” noted Tommy.   Bottom fishermen were also catching decent numbers of spot in the same area.

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I said fish were going through the “barometric blues,” although the depth-finder indicates plenty of fish, the bite was sporadic.  Best catches of spot came from relatively deepwater, “about 38 feet,” according to Captain Jim. Windmill Point Bar, Sturgeon Bar and Cherry Point were the top locations.  Trollers are finding mixed schools of taylor bluefish and Spanish mackerel at the mouth of the Rappahannock.  Flounder were still biting at the Cell but the action slowed from prior weeks.  Big, roe-laden croaker still linger in deepwater around the Cell. 

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the WAVERUNNER had a pair of the white marlin releases (Francis Santella and Roger Burns) and Alvin Arnold III released a blue marlin aboard the BACKLASH over the weekend.  Earlier in the week, the BACKLASH had a big catch of dolphin and released a white marlin.  Sammy Sabet boated a 39-pound wahoo and the same trip produced a number of dolphin.  Inshore, trollers are catching a nice mixture of Spanish mackerel and snapper bluefish close to the beach.  Farther offshore, the inshore ocean wrecks hold spadefish and pods of bailer dolphin.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said the billfishing has been good, “when they go,” but the number of trips have been small.  “Part of the reason was the Ocean City White Marlin Tournament last week (with nearly 400 boats participating) and the Pirates Cove Tournament this week (with nearly 150 boats involved).”  On Monday (August 15) one boat released four billfish and another had three.  Two citation wahoo were checked-in and the heaviest weighed 50 pounds.

Virginia Piers -

Ocean View – Pretty good variety over the weekend with a mixture of taylor bluefish, puppy drum, croaker and spot plus a few keeper flounder and even several speckled trout.

– Bottom fishermen had fair catches of taylor bluefish, medium spot and small flounder last weekend.

Virginia Beach
– Bottom fishermen were treated to good runs of spot plus some sea mullet and croaker over the weekend.  Casters managed fair catches of snapper blues but very few Spanish mackerel out at the end of the pier.

– The weekend produced coolers full of medium spot plus a few small flounder, snapper bluefish, croaker and pan trout.

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach and pier anglers along the Nags Head area were treated to a much appreciated cool front and some good bottom fishing last weekend.  Rain on Friday ushered in northeast winds, cooler weather and rougher surf and mixed sizes of spot, croaker, sea mullet, blues, flounder and even Spanish mackerel responded.  Water temperatures stayed in the mid to upper 70’s at Avalon Pier, where Saturday saw an all day run of spot and Sunday saw a steady variety of fish including a 24-pound cobia.   At Oregon Inlet and after dark, anglers working the catwalk caught some keeper striped bass.

South of Oregon Inlet, at Cape Point on Buxton, the fishing was slow on Friday with only a handful of bluefish reported.  Saturday some flounder on South Beach, bluefish and Spanish mackerel at the Point early in the morning and croaker just north of the jetties.  On Sunday, bottom fishermen enjoyed mixed catches of large sea mullet, pompano, flounder, spot, croaker and bluefish. 

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported a “reduced fleet” (many boats were fishing in the Ocean City White Marlin Open) released over two-dozen billfish on Friday and brought some wahoo and dolphin back to the dock.  Inshore trollers caught plenty of bluefish but very few Spanish mackerel.  One Sound-side charter had a good catch of flounder, which included an 8-pounder.  Saturday was a blow day, as the bluewater fleet remained in port.  On Sunday, the fleet released over 100 billfish, as some boats tallied as many as six releases, plus good numbers of dolphin.  Monday was another banner day for billfish as at least 70 were released while coolers were piled with dolphin.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet recorded mixed catches of wahoo, dolphin and billfish on Friday.  Most of the fleet remained in port Saturday due to weather considerations but the few boats that did fish returned with dolphin and wahoo.  Sunday saw good hauls of dolphin plus some wahoo, king mackerel, yellowfin tuna and even several blackfin tuna.

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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