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The Saltwater Review - 31 August  2006

Vol. 20, No. 14

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


Due to the observance of Memorial Day, September 4, the Virginia Saltwater Review (VSR) will not be published the week of September 4-8. The next issue of the VSR will be published the week of 11-15 September.

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, A copy of this announcement is enclosed. 

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. For more details, refer to the enclosed notice. 

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. For more details see the enclosed announcement.

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. For more information see the enclosed announcement.

Big flounder topped the list of citation entries for another week, as 41 flounder of 7 pounds or more were registered in the annual VSWFT. Cobia were the closest challenger with a total of 17 entries (13 for weight and 4 releases) while red drum followed with 14 releases. Offshore, white marlin led the citation parade with 33 releases. Ten wahoo made citation weight, nine amberjack made release length and four bluefin tuna of 100 pounds or more were weighed.

Chincoteague -

No report. 


Wachapreague Marina reported steady catches of yellowfin tuna during the week, as boats returned with up to a dozen tuna weighing up to 65 pounds. Unfortunately, the action slowed considerably over the weekend.  Chunking with frozen butterfish at the Lumpy Bottom was the method and location of choice. Often dolphin would be attracted to the chunk line and find their way into the fishbox. Trollers generally had less success on tuna but often had more variety. In addition to the occasional yellowfin, dolphin, false albacore, skipjack tuna and wahoo were part of the day's catch. The CANYON LADY boated a bluefin of nearly 100 pounds earlier in the week. 

Captain Zed's reported bottom fishermen working inside the inlet are catching decent numbers of keeper flounder, good numbers of croaker and some sea mullet. Offshore, the AMERICAN MADE and MARLIN MAGIC had several yellowfin tuna and a pair of wahoo on Saturday. Inshore ocean wrecks are holding some large flounder and keeper black sea bass.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported decent weekend catches of nice-sized flounder. Many flatfish were in the 5 to just under 7-pound range but only Cecil Whitt managed to earn a citation. His flounder weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces and was caught at the High Rise. The shop indicated most of the better flounder catches came from either the CBBT complex or the buoy 36A area. Richard Basso (52 inches) and Joe Spezzacatna (56 inches) each earned cobia release awards. The pair were fishing aboard the BUCCANEER at buoy 38. Speckled trout are becoming increasing active inside the bayside creeks and several trout of nearly 5 pounds were reportedly caught over the weekend. Folks fishing the Kiptopeke State Park Pier caught a mixture of croaker, spot, blowfish, bluefish and even a few keeper flounder. Out of the seaside port of Oyster bottom fishermen were still catching coolers full of croaker and seeing tarpon, although no tarpon were reported to have been caught the past week. 

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported tough fishing conditions the past week off Onancock, as strong southwest winds made for rough sea conditions. "But, the fishing was good when we could fish." The croaker action was best in the evening and after sun down and the spot bit best early in the morning and late in the evening. Some of the best action was in just 10 to 15 feet of water, where good numbers of porgy, pigfish and sea mullet were mixed in with the spot. 

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel

Cobbs Marina reported good weekend catches of flounder, sheepshead and croaker along the CBBT. Dale Stewart had the week's lone citation fish, a 7-pound, 11-ounce flounder, caught at the First Island.

Wallace's Bait and Tackle said big cobia still linger in the Bluefish Rock area, where Eugene Baker boated a 72-pounder on a live eel last week. Flounder was the focus for many customers, as the CBBT continued to produce the biggest flatfish. This week's lunker, 31-inch, 11-pound, 13-ouncer, was caught by Elliott Laine on a slow trolled bucktail at the CBBT.

Sunset Boating Center told of decent catches of flounder at Hampton Bar and out along the CBBT complex. Bottom fishermen working "the bar" are also catching croaker of nearly 3 pounds while anglers working the HRBT tube and around the Three Sisters buoys are recording decent catches of spot. Walton North was trolling off Fishermen's Island and boated a Spanish mackerel weighing 5-1/4 pounds. The citation mackerel was 29-1/2 inches long.

Salt Ponds Marina registered a 7-pound, 1-ounce flounder for Betty Coble. The citation catch was made at the CBBT on a slow trolled bucktail. The marina said the crew aboard the PELICAN had a nice catch of sheepshead but did not weigh any of their catch.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said spot fishing continues to improve in the York River and was best last week between the AMOCO Docks and Tues Point. Anglers fishing the Gloucester Point public pier also caught spot, a few croaker and several keeper flounder. Jimmy indicated good-sized still linger in the river with the best catches coming upriver from the Coleman Bridge, off Cheatham Annex.

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said offshore action is centered on a very good billfish bite from North Carolina to New Jersey. An Ocean City boat had over 20 white marlin releases in a single day last week. Locally, the best billfish bite has been east of the Cigar. Dolphin and wahoo are also plentiful. Dolphin can be found anywhere, according to Neill. "I saw some while looking for cobia around the CB buoy line." The tuna bite is still on the slow side but it is showing some life and should improve throughout the month of September. October is typically a great tuna and wahoo month off of Virginia. Inshore, flounder are keeping anglers happy. Tremendous catches are being made around structures in the bay and ocean. Places like the CBBT and the Triangle Wrecks have been very productive for jumbo flatfish. Sheepshead action is good along the CBBT and cobia continue to be caught by both chumming and site casting. Red drum are available at the same locations they have been available since spring, said Neill. Mac McCormick fished Bluefish Rock for cobia with club member Gary Donaldson last Friday. The pair had landed and released one small cobia and pulled-off a larger fish when Mac hooked something large, he believed to be a ray. After quite a tussle, the ray turned into a 48-inch red drum, Mac's first citation drum. 

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

The Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer fun for lots of folks, but not if you are an angler on the Mid Atlantic coast! This is a great time of year on the eastern seaboard fishing front. The summer species are preparing to migrate out of the area, and the fall residents are making their debut, so choosing which fish to target is can be tough. Most are choosing cobia and flounder as they both group in the lower bay, making very easy targets. Cobia is a sure deal, as they crowd along bridge pilings and lower bay buoys, with more fish now reported along the oceanfront. Large fish are jumping at live bait or bucktails. Brandon Poulter of Virginia Beach pulled a nice 78-pound cobia off the CBBT while casting. Flounder is also a good bet, as anglers continue to entice big flatfish from deep channels, and lower bay structures. If you prefer not to fight the crowds, decent fish in the 4 to 6-pound range are easy pickins drifting strips of cut bait over inshore and offshore wrecks.

Yellowbelly spot are showing in Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlet, and scattered around the lower bay. This action will only improve over the next few weeks. Horse croaker are hitting near the four islands of the CBBT, the skinny waters of the Eastern Shore, and hovering in schools around Cape Henry. If you don't have a boat, this is a good time to hop aboard one of the local "head boats" or fishing piers for some decent croaker and spot fishing. Speckled trout are keeping anglers casting MirrOlures busy inside Lynnhaven Inlet. Some fish are topping 3-pounds.

Bull reds are still roaming the lower bay shoals, as well as the 3rd and 4th islands of the Bridge Tunnel, where anglers are scoring with big fish on live bait. Striped bass to 30 inches, chopper blues, and grey trout are also taking some of these offerings in the same area. Look for the red drum to begin schooling off the oceanfront later this month, while puppy drum are busy inside Lynnhaven Inlet. Triggerfish are gaining some interest as sheepshead angers are scoring with a few decent fish. Both species are hitting fiddlers dangled along the structure of the CBBT, where David Arnold of Suffolk boated a nice 11-pound, 8-ounce sheep.

On the oceanfront, slow trollers are scoring with some decent king mackerel from Cape Henry down to False Cape. Surf and Pier action will escalate this month with decent hauls of big spot, croaker, snapper blues, puppy drum, pompano, flounder, and a few nice stripers. If you have been waiting to try out the surf fishing, now is the time. Later this month, even big red drum are a possibility.

Offshore, billfish are still at the top of the list, with wahoo and scattered bailer dolphin a good consolation prize. Marlin and sailfish have been congregating on the eastern side of the Cigar. The recent windy weather may either scatter, or improve the marlin bite. False albacore are all over the Fingers, and yellowfin tuna are hit and miss.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported weekend trollers caught Spanish mackerel "all over the place" but rated the waters just off Dividing Creek, off Bluff Point and around the mouth of the Rappahannock River as the most productive locations. There were plenty snapper bluefish mixed in with the mackerel, while larger bluefish, weighing as much as 6 pounds, were caught up the Bay, at the Middle Grounds. Bottom fishermen caught decent numbers of hand-sized spot at Blackberry Hang and around the mouth of the Rappahannock but croaker were generally scarce. "But when they found some croaker there were usually some pan trout mixed in," noted Roger. Casters working the grassy areas inside Dameron Marsh enjoyed good success on speckled trout another week.

Smith Point Marina said trollers working the tide lines near Smith Point Light caught a nice mixture of Spanish mackerel and snapper bluefish over the weekend while bottom fishermen working around the jetty managed some keeper flounder.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said not many of his customers made the trip across the Bay, to the buoy 42 and 36A areas, because of the wind and mediocre results the prior two weeks. From the small handful of anglers that did make the trip several flounder of nearly 7 pounds were caught but undersized fish still dominated the action. On a more positive note, trollers recorded good catches of Spanish mackerel around the mouth of the Rappahannock River and waters surrounding Stingray Point Light. Bottom fishermen saw increasing numbers of large spot at Butlers Hole, the spike buoy and in 30 feet of water off Gwynn Island. Some large croaker still linger in the same areas and a few pan trout were mixed in with the spot. Speckled trout were caught around the mouths of the rivers feeding Mobjack Bay, around Gwynn Island and inside Dameron Marsh. A few puppy drum were caught in these same areas. 

Locklies Marina reported good weekend hauls of spot, very few croaker and a handful of keeper flounder off Parrots Island and at Towels Point. Trollers working the mouth of the river recorded good catches of Spanish mackerel. 

Garretts Marina said bottom fishermen working nearby buoy 19 had mixed catches of white perch, croaker and striped bass.

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I described bottom fishing as "so-so" the past week. Spot have reached decent size with the better catches coming from the spike buoy area off Deltaville, off Gwynn Island and at Cherry Point, located inside the Piankatank River. Fair to good numbers of pan trout are mixed in with the spot. It was a banner week for trollers seeking Spanish mackerel, as good hauls of 2 to 3-pound Spanish mackerel plus some chunky 2 to 4-pound bluefish were recorded off Fleets Bay, near Windmill Point. 

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported good weekend billfish action. The third annual Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament was held Thursday, Friday and Saturday (boats could fish two out of the three days). A total of 53 boats participated and caught and released 66 billfish, mostly white marlin. Top boat was the PURSUER with nine white marlin releases for 630 points. On Sunday, the FROG PILE worked an ocean wreck and came in with a big catch of spadefish. The SEA WITCH had a decent catch of dolphin and VIRGINIAN released a white marlin and filled a cooler with dolphin. The Center said boats live-baiting off Sandbridge landed several large king mackerel. David Wroten had the weighed the week's heaviest king, a 39-pounder, and caught the fish aboard the BLITZ off Sandbridge.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina saw plenty of billfish, mostly white marlin, but it was difficult to interest the fish in their baited lines, as bait was very abundant offshore. Still, one of their boats caught and released seven white marlin on one outing. The best concentrations of fish seemed to be holding on the backside of the Cigar, between the 220 and 300 lines.

Virginia Piers -

Ocean View - Evenings produced decent mixed catches of spot and croaker plus some snapper bluefish and small pan trout. 

Lynnhaven - Spot dominated the action for bottom fishermen but a few puppy drum, bluefish and croaker were also landed.

Virginia Beach - The weekend saw several strong runs of spot plus decent numbers of taylor bluefish and a few small shark. 

Sandbridge - Weekend bottom fishermen enjoyed steady runs of spot while many casters had their fill of snapper blues. A 39-pound cobia was decked Thursday, August 24.

Outer Banks, NC -

Surf and pier anglers along the Nags Head area beaches saw good numbers of spot and snapper blues plus a few croaker, puppy drum and speckled trout. A 25-pound king mackerel was decked at the Avalon Pier on Friday and a 46-1/2-pound king was hauled over the side of the Nags Head Pier the same day. Pier anglers also recorded catches of Spanish mackerel and some keeper flounder.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported good catches of dolphin, a scattering of white marlin and sailfish plus several wahoo, including a 67-pounder on Friday. Inshore boats had plenty of snapper bluefish and Spanish mackerel. The headboat had mixed catches of croaker, black sea bass and triggerfish. Saturday saw more dolphin, as some boats returned with limit catches. Billfish numbers were down and tuna remained scarce. Sunday was a near carbon copy of Saturday, as dolphin dominated the action. On Monday, one boat had a nice haul of yellowfin tuna while the remainder of the fleet recorded good catches of gaffer-sized dolphin. Billfish were active and one boat released five white marlin. Inshore boats had good hauls of Spanish mackerel and snapper bluefish plus a few false albacore.

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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