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The Saltwater Review - 24 August  2006

Vol. 20, No. 13

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.

Researchers from the Virginia Institute of Science have tagged several thousand striped bass with fluorescent green internal anchor streamer tags as part of a monitoring program to assess the effects of Mycobacteriosis on the health of striped bass.  Cash rewards are offered for these tagged fish.

Inshore, citation flounder were the easiest touch for another week, as anglers registered 36 flatfish (35 for weight and 1 release) the past week.  Cobia (8 for weight and 11 for release) and sheepshead (17 for weight and 2 for release) tied with second most, at 19 each, while red drum was a close third with 17 releases.  Offshore, it was the best week of the season for white marlin, as 56 releases were registered.  Five blue marlin and five sailfish were released and the season’s first spearfish release was registered.

Chincoteague -

Donna at Captain Bob’s reported good late summer flounder action with some of the best catches coming from the main channel between the mouth of the inlet and Captain Bob’s.  Plenty of the croaker still linger in the same waters.  Outside the inlet, the inshore wrecks are producing some of the largest flounder plus black sea bass, triggerfish and spadefish.  Beach fishermen working the Assateague Island surf enjoy a mixed bag of surf perch, sea mullet, croaker, the occasional flounder, spot, small shark and rays.  Farther offshore, bailer-sized dolphin are scattered from within sight of the beach to the canyons.  Chunkers are having the best success at the Lumpy Bottom and most of the tuna are yellowfin in the 30 to 50-pound range.  Trollers working the 20-fathom contour report mixed catches of yellowfin and bluefin tuna, dolphin and even the occasional wahoo. 


Wachapreague Marina reported a mixed bag offshore.  Chunkers are having the most success with tuna, as one boat caught nearly a dozen out at the Lumpy Bottom on Saturday.  Trollers are seeing more variety and most are working east of the Lumpy Bottom and out to the Washington and Norfolk canyons.  Donald Rice boated a 46-pound wahoo aboard PLAY-N-HOOKY.  Dale Dinks caught and released a blue marlin aboard the HEAT WAVE at the 30 Fathom Lumps and the crew aboard the CLASS ACT came in with a good mixed catch of tuna and dolphin.

Captain Zed’s said inlet anglers are still catching some keeper flounder and croaker in the deeper portions of the channels.  Outside the inlet, the inshore wrecks are producing flounder up to 8-3/4 pounds, some keeper black sea bass and a few triggerfish.  Farther offshore, the “chunkers” are doing best with the tuna.  A weekend Ladies Tuna Tournament was won by the POSIDEON with a 97-pound bluefin tuna and that crew was trolling. 

Cape Charles

Chris’ Bait and Tackle rated flounder fishing as “pretty good, when they can get out and find clear water.”  Just prior to the weekend retired MPO Bob Bois weighed a pair of citation flatfish, at 7 pounds, 7 ounces and 7 pounds, 1 ounce.  The catch was made near buoy 36A.  Donovan Webb boated a 7-pound, 3-ounce flounder at the CBBT.  Dwight Norris boated a 12-pound, 3-ounce sheepshead at the High Rise section of the CBBT while Robert Washington caught and released a 47-inch red drum off Silver Beach.  Kevin Haxter caught the week’s heaviest croaker, at 3-1/4 pounds, on the bayside inside Nassawadox Creek, while casting a grub for speckled trout.  But the best hauls of croaker, “coolers full,” according to the shop, were made out of the seaside port of Oyster.  Inshore wrecks in the nearby ocean waters yielded a mixed bag of triggerfish, black sea bass and flounder.  Keith Froehlick released a small white marlin at the Cigar.  The fish hit a rigged ballyhoo.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported good bottom fishing the past week, as spot out-numbered croaker for the time this season.  “Don’t get me wrong, we’re still catching plenty of croaker, we’re just trying to stay with the spot,” added Captain Wil.  The past week was also the best of the season for sea mullet.  The flounder bite was very good “just before and just after” the change in tide and flatfish up to 24-1/2 inches were boated.  Most of the keepers ranged between 18 and 22 inches.  Other catches included pigfish, porgy and blowfish but very few trout.  “We just aren’t seeing the trout,” noted Captain Wil.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel

Cobbs Marina reported the weekend was relatively quiet but customers recorded good catches of flounder and sheepshead earlier in the week.  The CBBT complex was the top location but the ODU Reef site also produced some good catches of flounder.  The crew aboard the WHOPPER STOPPER SR. trolled in the vicinity of the Cigar and Lyn Buchta and Robert Winner each released 80-inch white marlin.  

Wallace’s Bait and Tackle said the week produced several large flounder and cobia.  Patrick Booker boated a 66-pound cobia on a live bluefish near the Hump and Thor Mohr boated a 55-pound cobia on a live croaker at Bluefish Rock.  Jacob Pedigo was fishing the same area and caught and released a 51-inch red drum.  Sherri Lupton had the week’s biggest flounder, an 11-pound doormat, caught at the Third Island on cut bait and minnow.  Rexwood Cox was slow trolling a bucktail along the CBBT and boated an 8-1/4-pound flounder.

Sunset Boating Center told of weekend catches of keeper flounder up to 5 pounds at Hampton Bar and big croaker to nearly 3 pounds over at the HRBT.  The Center indicated that spot were beginning to school and expected catches of these tasty bottom feeders to improve in the next several weeks.

Salt Ponds Marina said customers concentrated on flounder last weekend and most reported reasonable catches but not many large fish.  John Perry, fishing aboard the PELICAN registered the lone citation flatfish, an 8-pound, 2-ouncer that was 27-1/2 inches long.  The citation catch was made at the CBBT complex and the fish hit a slow trolled bucktail.

Chuck Ash at A & S Feed and Bait Supply said the spot bite continues to improve and decent numbers of croaker still linger in the York River.  “The best catches of spot are coming from the lower section of the river, around the AMOCO Pier but the better catches of larger are from above the bridge,” confided Chuck.  Shallow water anglers are catching some puppy drum and a few speckled trout along the shoreline of the York River.  As for flounder, decent catches were made at the CBBT but “every where else has been kinda slow.”
Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said Jorj Head fished six days during the Don Foreman Cobia tournament and caught cobia each day, averaging five cobia a day. They fished 9-Foot-Shoal and Bluefish Rock and had good success at both locations. Jorj’s largest fish weighed in at 57 pounds. In addition to cobia, big red drum continue to be available on 9-Foot-Shoal, according to Neill.  Still, flounder are the most sought after fish and fishing has been very good around lower bay structures plus the near-shore ocean wrecks. Sheepshead and spadefish are being caught along the CBBT. The offshore anglers will focus on the Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament the next few days, as the tournament runs from August 23-26.  Tournament officials could not have picked a better time to have this tournament, as the weather predictions for the next several days are great and the billfish bite is very good.

Dr. Julie Ball, IGFA International Representative for Virginia Beach, contributed the following:
While the summer heat has eased down into the upper eighties, many favorite fish have eased into the lower bay waters. As fall approaches, these fish gather in preparation for their migration to warmer or deeper water. Flounder are still the biggest hit. Large fish are lining the channels and lying near structure in the lower bay, and these fish are fat. The 3rd and 4th islands and the High Rise span of the CBBT are still the best producing areas for flatfish. But, decent fish are also stacking up on the inshore and offshore wrecks, along with plenty of 4-pound sea bass. After having a banner year, cobia are also gathering around lower Bay structure in preparation to leave. Anglers are pulling big cobia off buoys and bridge pilings. Soon, the fish will school up and leave in masses, making them even easier casting targets. We have not seen the highest cobia numbers for this year yet.
Red drum are still ripping up the 9-foot shoals and the barrier islands on the Eastern Shore, where J. T. Gaito released a 49-inch bull. Croaker are everywhere from the HRBT to the CBBT. The biggest fish are coming from the 1st and the 3rd islands of the CBBT, and Lynnhaven Inlet, where many fish are topping 2.5 pounds. Spot are rolling on in, with many yellowbellies hovering at just near a pound. The Little Creek jetties, the backwaters of the Eastern Shore, Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets, and the rivers further inside the bay are beginning to hold large spot. In a few weeks, expect this fishery to explode with citation-sized fish. Snapper bluefish are swarming in the Bay and along the oceanfront with fish ranging from 3 to 6 pounds. A mix of medium grey trout, bluefish, and striped bass are stacked around the HRBT. Sheepshead action is still going strong with fish hitting fiddler crabs along rocks and structure of the Bridge Tunnel. Triggerfish are mixed in with the sheepshead and spadefish along the CBBT and inshore wrecks. Stephen Kendall hooked a nice citation 4-pound, 5-ounce trigger this week while sheepshead fishing. Spades are moving to inshore and offshore wrecks, but are quite finicky. Lots of puppy drum and a few speckled trout are thrilling skinny water casters in Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets. While the summer heat has eased down into the upper eighties, many favorite fish have eased into the lower bay waters. As fall approaches, these fish gather in preparation for their migration to warmer or deeper water. Flounder are still the biggest hit. Large fish are lining the channels and lying near structure in the lower bay, and these fish are fat. The 3rd and 4th islands and the high rise span of the CBBT are still the best producing areas for flatfish. But, decent fish are also stacking up on the inshore and offshore wrecks, along with plenty of 4-pound sea bass. After having a banner year, cobia are also gathering around lower bay structure in preparation to leave. Anglers are pulling big cobia off buoys and bridge pilings. Soon, the fish will school up and leave in masses, making them even easier casting targets. We have not seen the highest cobia numbers for this year yet.
Surf and pier action is heating up as anglers are working taylor and snapper blues, with many decent croaker, medium spot, and some keeper flounder on the bottom. One angler landed a hefty pompano weighing over 2-pounds this week.
Trollers are still picking up some Spanish mackerel along the buoy-lines, and the 3rd and 4th island tubes. King mackerel are a possibility near wrecks and the CLT, along with amberjack, if you can find a day without skin divers splashing around. A few anglers trolling for kings have reported boating mahi up to 10-pounds off the buoy line within 10 miles of the shoreline. Bluewater anglers are experiencing very good billfish action, with white marlin, some blues, and a few sails on the prowl. The best hauls are still coming from the Cigar area. Wahoo are crashing spreads, with some fish weighing more than 40 pounds.  Dolphin are plentiful, with a few gaffers mixed in.

Virginia Middle Bay

Heidi Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported “real good” weekend catches of Spanish mackerel, as some boats had two dozen or more.  Best hauls were made at the mouth of the river near Smith Point.  Bottom fishermen reported slow catches of croaker but steady action on medium spot at Blackberry Hang, at the mouth of the Great Wicomico River and around Smith Point Light. 

Dan from Smith Point Marina said trollers enjoyed a lucrative weekend for Spanish mackerel and snapper bluefish in the vicinity of Smith Point Light.  Bottom fishermen working the edges of the shipping channels scored on some croaker and a few pan trout and anglers drifting near the jetty boated keeper-sized flounder.

Jerry Thrash from Queen’s Creek Outfitters said the flounder bite improved the past week, as the shop registered citation flounder for Wayne Helms of Richmond (7 pounds, 10 ounces) and Angela Baker of Dutton (7 pounds, 9 ounces).  Both trophy flatfish were caught near buoy 42.  Spanish mackerel cooperated nicely for trollers at the mouth of the Rappahannock and around Stingray Lighthouse.  The same small Drone and Clark spoons pulled for Spanish attracted strikes from snapper bluefish—especially at lower trolling speeds.  Butlers Hole, the Spike buoy and off Gwynn Island produced good weekend hauls of medium spot.  A few larger spot were mixed in plus a few pan trout.  Speckled trout remain available around the river mouths that feed into Mobjack Bay.  Waters off Hole-in-the-Wall, Dameron Marsh and the grassy shoreline along the Piankatank River are also holding spotted trout.  A few cobia and red drum still linger around the Cell/buoy42 area, where Monty Henshaw of Dinwiddie caught and released a 52-1/2-inch red drum on a piece of clam.

Locklies Marina said the White Stone Bridge produced good catches of spot plus some croaker and even a few keeper flounder in recent days.  Most of the better hauls came from 35 to 40 feet of water.

Tommy Lewis from Garretts Marina said the best recent catches have been “down river,” where bottom fishermen reported mixed catches of spot, pan trout and croaker.

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I compared the past week’s fishing to that of the stock market, “the fish came on strong but then just stopped biting.”  The fishfinder suggests the bottom is covered with fish but “they’re in their hum drum stage and don’t bite for very long.”  Captain Thompson said the most consistent action was around the White Stone Bridge in deepwater (33 to 36 feet).  Butler’s Hole was covered in fish but the bite was sporadic.  The spike buoy at the mouth of the river was good for spot and sea mullet while the Corn House, located about two miles off the Piankatank River was good for a mixture of spot, pan trout and sea mullet.  Trollers working the mouths of either the Piankatank or the Rappahannock rivers caught Spanish mackerel and bluefish in the 2 to 3-pound range. 

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported good weekend billfish action with some boats releasing as many as four in a single outing.  Among those earning release awards were Jeremy Motsinger, David Hawthorne and Mark Bushor with white marlin and Frank Harrell, Jr. with a blue marlin release.  Mixed sizes of dolphin remain abundant.  Todd Walton boated a 26-1/2-pounder and the crew aboard the BIG WOODY returned with several dozen dolphin in the cooler.  Inshore, trollers are catching plenty of snapper bluefish and some large Spanish mackerel.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina told of good catches of billfish, mostly white marlin, in the vicinity of the Cigar.  Weekend trollers also caught plenty of bailer dolphin and a few, nice-sized yellowfin tuna.

Virginia Piers -

Ocean View – Bottom fishermen recorded mixed catches of panfish, including spot, silver perch, taylor bluefish, pan trout, small croaker and even a few keeper flounder.

Lynnhaven – Best action has been just before and after sundown.  Spot and bluefish provided most of the action (plus the ever present rays) but anglers are also catching some pan trout, a few sea mullet and croaker and small flounder.

Virginia Beach – Spot dominated the action and most of the fish were running “two-to-the-pound.”

Sandbridge – Spot and snapper bluefish were biting on and off all weekend.  Anglers also decked some flounder, sea mullet and small shark.

Outer Banks, NC -

Surf and pier anglers along the Nags Head area beaches enjoyed fair to good weekend catches of mostly small panfish—spot, snapper bluefish, croaker and even a few pompano.  The best action came in the around dusk and sunrise.  Folks working the Avalon Pier picked-up some Spanish mackerel at the end of the pier and a 54.7-pound cobia was decked Saturday.  Shorebound anglers at Oregon inlet enjoyed decent catches of speckled trout and some small flounder. 

South of Oregon Inlet, at cape Point on Buxton, beach anglers saw fair runs of snapper bluefish and Spanish mackerel early and late in the day on Friday.  Saturday saw several puppy drum landed around the jetties and a few Spanish mackerel at the Point.  With a strong west wind, the water was muddy on Sunday, which made the bluefish and mackerel scarce at the Point.  Some sea mullet and pompano were beached at Avon.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported very good catches of dolphin plus a few wahoo and yellowfin tuna on Friday.  Inshore boats loaded up on snapper bluefish while the headboat recorded a mixed catch of croaker, sea mullet and pan trout.  Saturday was another banner day for dolphin and several boats returned with limit catches.  The fleet also had several yellowfin tuna and a few wahoo.  Dolphin dominated the catches on Sunday, with several limit to near limit catches.  Several large wahoo and a scattering of wahoo were boated while quite a number of billfish were released.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed good catches of dolphin and decent numbers of wahoo plus a few king mackerel and blackfin tuna on Friday.  Saturday, the fleet released several sailfish and a white marlin or two and retuned with good numbers of dolphin and some wahoo.  Sunday saw plenty of dolphin and a good showing of 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.

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