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The Saltwater Review - 31 August 2005

Vol. 19, No. 15
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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


The next issue of the Virginia Saltwater Review (VSR) will be published the week of 19-23 September.

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has established new regulatory management measures for the Chesapeake Bay area fall 2005 recreational striped bass fishery.  The fall recreational season will begin October 4, 2005 and extend through December 31, 2005.  The recreational possession limit will continue as two striped bass per person. The minimum size limit remains as 18 inches. Anglers will be allowed to possess two striped bass 18 inches to 28 inches total length or one striped bass 18 inches to 28 inches total length and one striped bass 34 inches or greater in total length. The major change in the 2005 fishery concerns this "protected" slot limit, whereby it shall be unlawful for any person to possess any striped bass between 28 inches and 34 inches in total length.  
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.  As of September 1, daily retention limits in the Charter/Headboat category have been modified (a copy is enclosed).  A federal tuna permit is required for the vessel.  Complete information (including ordering a tuna permit) is available by dialing 1-888-USA-TUNA.

Sheepshead (22-inch release or 9-pound weigh-in) topped the inshore list for citations as the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament (VSWFT) registered 53 flounder meeting the minimum criteria.   Offshore, white marlin were the easiest citation touch, as 50 releases were registered on the week. 

Chincoteague -


Wachapreague Marina reported a good yellowfin tuna bite out at the Washington Canyon "whenever the boats can get there," as rough sea conditions forced the cancellation of a number of scheduled trips.  Along with the tuna, many of which were in the 40 to 60-pound class, trollers caught some dolphin and the occasional wahoo and billfish.  The inshore lumps hold some king and Spanish mackerel, false albacore, skipjack tuna and a few school bluefin tuna.  Inside the inlet, croaker dominate the catches but some keeper flounder are still being caught.

Captain Zed's said croaker still linger inside the inlet and bottom fishermen were also catching some keeper flounder plus a few pan trout and sea mullet.  Outside the inlet, tuna were scarce on the inshore lumps but trollers did catch some skippies and false albacore.  The most consistent tuna bite has been out at the Washington Canyon with bailer dolphin holding on the pot buoy just inshore. 

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported the week's best hauls of the larger croaker came from the seaside port of Oyster, where bottom fishermen filled coolers full of these tasty bottom feeders.  The seaside produced one of the biggest croaker caught this season, as David Durest decked a 4 pounder last week. Bayside anglers still caught their share of croaker plus a mixture of flounder, bluefish, spot and pan trout.  The best flounder action was in the vicinity of buoys 36A and 38A, along the Baltimore Channel and near the High Rise section of the CBBT.  The week's two biggest flatfish, a 7-pound, 13-ouncer landed by Keith Keeter and a 7-pound, 2-ounce flounder boated by Josh Fredricson, were both caught at buoy 36A.  The shop described the flounder action in the Cell/buoy 42 area as "quiet."  Benton Stone (49-1/2 inches) and Robert Savage, Jr. (46-1/2 inches) fished the buoy 42 area and each released a trophy red drum.  Troy Froaker was soaking a piece of clam at the CBBT and landed the season's first citation pompano.   Folks fishing the Kiptopeke Pier enjoyed a decent weekend run of spot plus a few croaker, small flounder and pan trout.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported the spot and croaker action was good to very good, noting, "some days you don't even have to look for them."  Other days it may take visiting several locations before hungry fish are located.  Many of the better recent hauls of 1 to 2-pound croaker have come from 12 to 14 feet of water while the spot are usually holding along the channel edges in 28 to 40 feet of water.  Captain Wil preferred the incoming tide, when "they just seem to bite better."  Other catches include sea mullet, small black sea bass, porgy, bluefish and pigfish.  Flounder fishing improved the past week, as some anglers recorded limit catches.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported good catches of flounder and sheepshead at the CBBT complex plus some 1 to 1-1/2-pound croaker just outside the Little Creek Jetties.  Gary Dzurko had the heaviest flounder of the week, at 8-3/4 pounds but J.D. Hayes (8 pounds, 5 ounces) and Mike Klouck (7 pounds, 6 ounces) also weighed citation flatfish the past week.  Roy McCausey decked a 10-1/4-pound sheepshead at the CBBT and Angela Canter earned a release award on the same outing.

Bubba's Marina told of decent numbers of flounder caught under the Lesner Bridge and out at the CBBT around the First Island.  The Third Island area produced the best weekend catches of croaker, spot and sheepshead.

Dr. Jim Wright fished the south end of the Cigar and boated a 60-1/2-inch, 49-pound wahoo, several false albacore, and a pair of small dolphin but the crew landed no tuna or billfish.

Wallace's Bait and Tackle is still seeing some cobia but flounder and sheepshead provided the most consistent action the past week.  Productive locations for the flounder include Back River Reef, the Hump, the CBBT complex, Cape Henry wreck and the buoy 42 area.  As for sheepshead, all the action has been along the CBBT.

Sunset Boating Center said decent numbers of flounder weighing as much as 6-1/2 pounds were caught at Hampton Bar Thursday and Friday but this area was slow for flounder over the weekend.  Croaker were caught from Hampton Bar and out to Thimble Shoal Light but many of the largest were caught "right over the tube" of the CBBT.  A few spot are mixed in with the croaker and the spot bite should improve through September.  Anglers running the buoys and fishing live eels are still catching some cobia.

Salt Ponds Marina had only a couple of boats try to fish on Saturday, due to the weather.  "One boat went to the mouth of the inlet and right came back in and the other went out but didn't stay long."  

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply figured many would-be anglers had "zeroed in on the TV" as fishing pressure was usually light the past week.  Bottom fishermen did record decent catches of spot on the hard bottom area just off the AMOCO Pier and near Tue Marsh Light.  Croaker still linger in the York River but most are small, according to Jimmy.  Trollers working the York River Channel caught decent numbers of Spanish mackerel and some taylor bluefish.  Jimmy added that a few speckled trout were caught around the mouth of the Ware River last week and he expects this fishery to improve once the water begins to cool.

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said last week's redhot billfish bite cooled down by Thursday due to a strong east blow.  Neill does not believe the billfish bite is over for the season and expects plenty of billfish will be caught over the next month.  The cooler weather should usher in a better tuna bite over the next few weeks. Wahoo are around in numbers as are dolphin. The inshore wrecks are holding sea bass, triggerfish, and spadefish but the spades are not being very cooperative.  Now is a good time to fish the Chesapeake Light Tower for amberjack and jack crevalle, according to Neill.  Big sheepshead remain available at the CBBT while cobia are grouping up to head south. If you happen to run across one of these pods, fishing can be fantastic. Red drum linger on the shoals surrounding Fishermen's Island. Flounder fishing is good and if the tropical systems leave us alone, flounder fishing should be very good through October, plus the spot bite should be turning on soon.  The fall striper regulations are set. In the bay, you will be allowed a 2 fish limit. There is a slot limit of 18-28 inches, however, one fish may be 34 inches or larger.  In the ocean, it is still 2 fish 28 inches or greater.

The Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fishing Association held their Open Flounder Tournament last Saturday, despite the prevailing easterly winds and few rain showers.   Kenneth Mitchell of Hampton took first place with a 9.75 pound flounder, good for $400 cash and a trophy.  Derrick Hall of Gloucester came in second with a 7.84 pound flatfish, which paid $285 and Jimmy Lewis of Gloucester finished in third place, good for $175, with a 6.77 pound flounder, according to John Schnautz, PSWSFA Tournament Director.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported most customers have opted to take advantage of the strong late summer run of Spanish mackerel.  Anglers pulling small Drone Spoons on #1 planers along the channel edges on the Rappahannock are returning with double-digit catches of Spanish mackerel plus nearly as many taylor bluefish.  Bottom fishermen are finding plenty of spot around the mouths of the local creeks but most of these fish are "mediums, at best."  Croaker numbers continue to diminish but some decent sized fish are still holding on the channel edges around Smith Point Light.  Persistent anglers can usually come up with a keeper flounder or two around the Little Wicomico jetty.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said trollers scored on nice-sized Spanish mackerel "all over, north and south of the mouth of the Potomac River."  Bottom fishermen recorded catches of keeper flounder at the mouth of the Little Wicomico while the channel edges around Smith Point Light produced croaker.  Chummers working the Middle Grounds (Maryland waters) caught school stripers and decent numbers of taylor bluefish.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said the flounder bite improved slightly in the Cell/buoy 42 area the past week.  The biggest flatfish of the week was a 7-pound, 3-ouncer, caught at buoy 42, by Jefff Elmore of Hampton on a piece of cut bait.  Trollers working Windmill Point Bar and off Gwynn Island continue to score on taylor bluefish and Spanish mackerel in the 17 to 23-inch range.  The spot bite was up and down last week and even seasoned captains struggled to find fish on some outings.

Locklies Marina described the spot fishing as "very good," adding that these tasty bottom fish were "almost #1's."  Best locations include the mouth of Carters Creek and the spike buoy, where other catches include croaker and pan trout.

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I said decent catches of spot were made off Broad Creek around the spike buoy and at Butlers Hole, located off Windmill Point.  The Captain also suggested the Corn House, located off the Piankatank River, on the change of tide.  Pan trout have become a dependable part of the day's catch but many measure less than the 12-inch minimum size limit, so careful measuring and culling is needed.  Trollers continued to record good catches of Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish around the mouth of the Rappahannock River.  Captain Thompson also indicated flounder were active around the Cell and knew of two parties that had limited-out on flounder in recent outings.

Virginia Beach

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported a slow down in the billfish catches over the weekend with the top boat catching and releasing three whites.  The FROGPILE was out Friday and came in with eight yellowfin tuna and a few bailer dolphin.  The headboats have been working off Fort Story and loading up on croaker, as these fish prepare to leave the Bay.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina said the white marlin bite was good early in the week but slowed over the weekend.  Best action had been between the Cigar and Triple 0's.  The HIGH HOPES weighed a nearly 50-pound wahoo on Tuesday (August 30).

Virginia Piers

Harrison - The pier is presently closed but is in the process being rebuilt.  Significant progress has been made this summer and plans call for a portion of the pier to open this season.  

Lynnhaven - Bottom fishermen enjoyed good catches of medium spot plus mixed sizes of croaker.

Virginia Beach - Spot provided most of the action for bottom fishermen, although a few pompano, pan trout and sea mullet were landed.  Casters managed a few Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish from the end of the pier.

Sandbridge - Friday saw fair catches of Spanish mackerel, bluefish and spot.  Small to medium spot dominated the action on Saturday but some small flounder with at least one keeper of 20 inches and a few pompano were decked.  Spot were running strong on Sunday but most weighed less than half-a-pound. 

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach fishermen in the Nags Head area enjoyed a mixture of sea mullet, spot, small croaker, pompano and snapper bluefish.  Area piers had a similar mixture plus some Spanish mackerel and a few trout.  Water temperatures in the surf zone were in the upper 70's.  Folks fishing the catwalk over Oregon Inlet recorded mixed catches of spot, croaker, sheepshead, spadefish, bluefish, trout and yearling black drum.

South of Oregon Inlet, beach fishermen at Cape Point on Buxton, caught a mixture of taylor bluefish and Spanish mackerel at the Point on metal while bottom fishermen scored on some keeper flounder just south of the Point on Friday.  Bottom fishermen recorded the best catches Saturday with a nice mixture of sea mullet, pompano and small flounder.  On Sunday, bottom fishermen beached decent numbers of croaker just north of the Point while the folks slinging metal at the Point caught a load of taylor bluefish but only an occasional Spanish mackerel.

The tuna bite exploded for the boats fishing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center on Thursday, as many returned with limit catches of 30 to 40-pound class yellowfin tuna plus a 290-pound bigeye tuna was landed. Inshore trollers scored on False Albacore, Spanish mackerel, taylor bluefish and several cobia.  The tuna bite slowed somewhat on Friday but was still good.  Dolphin and several wahoo were also in the day's catch.  The headboat reported mixed catches of croaker, sea mullet and pan trout.  The tuna bite cooled further Saturday and Sunday but more dolphin were caught and several billfish were released.  Monday's action was highlighted by an exceptional number of wahoo plus some dolphin and yellowfin tuna.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet returned with decent numbers of dolphin plus some yellowfin tuna, king mackerel and wahoo on Friday.  Tony Rigdon of Virginia Beach released a sailfish and fishing buddy John McGhee of Chesapeake released a blue marlin.  Both catches were made aboard the TUNA DUCK.  On Sunday only a handful of boats fished and they returned with fair numbers of dolphin and several 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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