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The Saltwater Review - 28 September 2005

Vol. 19, No. 17
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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


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.

Bluewater trollers have been hardest hit by the recent string of windy weather, as many planned outings were cancelled due to rough seas but the fishing has been very good whenever the weather has permitted the necessary 60-plus mile run.  Catches have included mixed sizes of dolphin, often in large numbers, yellowfin, bluefin and even longfin tuna, wahoo, white and blue marlin.

A tremendous run of large red drum developed along the beach at Sandbridge last week and anglers fishing from the pier and beach shared in the action.

Cobia provided some late season excitement, as fish topping 80 pounds were caught on the lower Bay and in the ocean waters off the Virginia Beach resort strip. 


Wachapreague Marina reported bluewater anglers remained in port over the weekend due to strong winds but a number of successful outings occurred during the week.  Melody Katrobos caught and released a blue marlin aboard the POSIEDON at the Washington Canyon.  Robert Hilton caught a 107-pound bluefin tuna while chunking at the 30-fathom lump.  The party then moved out to the Washington Canyon, where Cancey Hunt caught and released a blue marlin.  Mike May was chunking at the 30 fathom lump and boated an 83-1/4-pound yellowfin tuna and Gary Brooks was trolling aboard the LUCKY DAWG at the Washington Canyon and landed a 35-pound wahoo.

Captain Zed's also told of excellent offshore action during the week, as most anglers fished in the vicinity of the Washington Canyon and returned with a mixture of yellowfin tuna and bailer dolphin.  Inshore, a few croaker and flounder were caught.  Most of the croaker have moved outside the inlet and the fall run of flounder, spurred by cooler weather, has yet to materialize. 

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported strong winds took a toll on fishermen over the weekend, although there was a good red drum bite Friday night at 9-Foot Shoals.  Flounder fishermen managed only of handful of keeper-sized flatfish and croaker were not in a cooperative mood.  Over on the seaside, bottom fishermen out of Oyster described croaker as "nearly nonexistent," but did manage a few speckled trout.  Several small cobia were caught over the weekend but nothing large enough to warrant weighing in.  Bottom fishermen at the Kiptopeke Park Pier did catch some spot and anglers chasing speckled trout managed a few keepers in the bayside creeks.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported good bottom fishing, "when I can get out," as strong winds prevailed most of the weekend.  "I've been fishing almost straight out (of Onancock Harbor)," and catches include good numbers of medium spot and croaker plus bluefish up to 21 inches and flounder measuring as long as 24 inches.  Other catches include sea mullet, blowfish, pigfish, porgy and cow-nosed ray.  The creeks are holding loads of bait and school rock, according to Captain Wil, but speckled trout remain scarce.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported fishing effort was extremely light the past week and the marina was nearly deserted over the weekend due to strong northeast winds.  The shop did weigh a citation flounder for Ronald Kondoff last week.  The flatfish weighed 7-1/4 pounds and was caught at the Fourth Island of the CBBT. 

Bubba's Marina likewise reported slow fishing the past week and cited poor weather as the culprit.  Despite weather constraints, several citation cobia were checked-in and the heaviest weighed 87 pounds.  Spot and croaker were caught out at the CBBT when anglers could fish and spot were biting inside Lynnhaven nearly as well.  Several customers told of catching and releasing school stripers at the CBBT and most are looking forward to the opening of the fall striper season October 4.

Dr. Jim Wright said Lynnhaven Inlet was loaded with nice fat spot up to 11 inches.  Dr. Wright heard of some speckled trout and puppy drum inside Lynnhaven but had better reports from Rudee Inlet.  Big red drum, some topping 40 inches, made an impressive showing around Sandbridge last week.  Dr. Jim fished a shallow water ocean wreck just south of Sandbridge and found it loaded with hungry triggerfish up to 16 inches.  Jimmy Kolb fished several ocean wrecks and had poor results on black sea bass and flounder.  Further offshore, dense mats of grass are holding hordes of bailer dolphin fish to nearly 20 pounds. 

Sunset Boating Center had few anglers out Saturday but a "good crowd" went out on Sunday.   Spot provided the most dependable action over the weekend and the M & M crossing was the reputed hot spot.  A few pan trout were mixed in with spot at the mouth of the Elizabeth River, just off the Carrier piers.  The shop had no reports, good or bad, regarding flounder and surmised most customers chose to stay inside Hampton Roads due to the wind.

Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina was unable to give a fishing report.  "The entrance to Salts Ponds is blocked (sanded in) and nobody has been out."  But the problem could be rectified this week.  "There is a small dredge working today (Tuesday) and the guys hope to be able to get out by the weekend."

Chuck Ash at A & S Feed and Bait Supply said spot and a few pan trout and croaker were caught at the Lump, located inside the York River while keeper flounder were caught at the mouth of the Parrin River.  Speckled and grey trout activity improved inside Mobjack Bay.

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said the big news this week is a little fish-the spot.  The spot run is on and fish are being caught at their usual fall locations.  Some of the biggest are being caught at the M & M crossing and at the HRBT but the York and Poquoson Rivers, Twin Stakes, Lynnhaven and Rudee inlets are also producing nice spot.  Besides spot, there are plenty of striped bass in the local waters for the opening of the October 4 opening.   Flounder fishing is picking up along the Baltimore Channel near the CBBT while big croaker still linger in the structure of the CBBT.  Cobia made an impressive late season showing on the lower bay and off Virginia Beach.   Red drum made a strong showing at Sandbridge while speckled trout are becoming more active on Poquoson Flats and in Back River.  Nice Spanish mackerel and some school king mackerel can be found in the area of the Chesapeake Light Tower.   Further offshore, action is excellent with plenty of dolphin, wahoo and yellowfin tuna.  Anglers also encountered a few billfish, longfin tuna and bigeye tuna last week. Ken Neill expects bluefin to show at the Fingers sometime in October. 

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported Spanish mackerel still linger around Smith Point Light and "there's plenty of blues" with some fish weighing nearly 5 pounds.  Bottom fishermen caught mixed sizes of spot at Blackberry Hang and around the SP buoy but many anglers spent last weekend preparing for the start of the fall striped bass season, which opens October 4.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said trollers caught a mixture of bluefish and Spanish mackerel the past several days.  Boats running up into Maryland waters are chumming and seeing a mixture of school stripers and bluefish.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said large spot continue to provide decent action inside the Piankatank River, at the mouth of the Rappahannock River and off Gwynn Island.  Considerable numbers of pan trout are caught with the spot.  Many of the trout measure less than 12 inches (the minimum size limit) but trout as long 16 inches were boated.  The shallows of the Piankatank River, Mobjack Bay and around Gwynn Island are producing school stripers (season closed until October 4) puppy drum and speckled trout. Eddie Inge of Port Haywood boated a 24-inch, 11-pound sheepshead at the Cell for the week's lone citation fish.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen continue to record good catches of spot plus some pan trout.  Top locations include the Spike and the area from Mosquito Point and up to Towles Point. 

Tommy Lewis at Garretts Marina said bottom fishermen are catching an assortment of small panfish including spot, croaker and pan trout.  Tommy expects the area around the Route 3 Bridge to be the early season hot spot for striped bass once the season opens next week.

Virginia Beach

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported offshore action was excellent just prior to the weekend.  On Friday, parties returned with catches of up to a dozen tuna (longfin and yellowfin mixed) plus a limit of dolphin.  Unfortunately the fleet was idled through the following Tuesday due to weather.  Also before the weekend, cobia weighing up to 60 pounds were caught south of the Rudee Inlet near Sandbridge.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said the fleet remained tied to the dock over the weekend but just prior to the blow dolphin were very abundant around the Norfolk Canyon.  Inshore, cobia staged an impressive showing off Sandbridge while big red drum were caught from the surf.  Since the weekend, a boat out Wednesday returned with a good catch of yellowfin tuna and dolphin plus released a white marlin.

Virginia Piers

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

Lynnhaven - The main attraction was the steady run of spot and the northeast winds over the weekend only fueled the run.

Virginia Beach - Hand-sized spot made a strong showing over the weekend and several big red drum were caught out at the end of the pier.  Other catches included a few bluefish and speckled trout.

Sandbridge - Several large red drum were decked during the week but that was only a taste of what the weekend would bring.  On Saturday, the best estimate put the number of large red drum (longest went 53 inches) at 45 for the day.  The spot were also running with a vengeance.  On Sunday, over a dozen citation red drum were registered and the spot run continued.  Six citation drum were recorded Monday morning and the bite died before 10 AM but turned on just after sundown. 

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach fishermen in the Nags Head area enjoyed decent catches of spot and sea mullet plus some speckled trout and sea mullet over the weekend.  Folks fishing from the banks around Oregon Inlet caught a mixture of snapper blues and flounder.  Folks at the Avalon Pier enjoyed an all day (and night) run of spot Friday and also landed a few puppy drum and speckled trout.  Saturday saw more wind and more spot.  A 44-inch red drum was decked out at the end of the pier.  Other catches included small pompano, Spanish mackerel and bluefish.  The winds shifted to the south Sunday and the fishing was slow.

South of Oregon Inlet at Cape Point on Buxton, beach fishermen caught a mixture of bluefish, Spanish mackerel and small pompano on Friday.  A tarpon was hooked but threw the hook.  Saturday saw scattered bluefish and Spanish mackerel while Sunday produced a handful of bluefish and some croaker plus "tons of grass."  Bluefish provided good action on Monday and a few Spanish mackerel were mixed in with the snappers.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported good catches of yellowfin tuna plus some dolphin and billfish on Friday.  A pair of bigeye tuna, 142 and 187 pounds, were also landed.  The headboat had mixed catches of pigfish, sea mullet and croaker.  Dolphin dominated the catches on Saturday but most boats also returned with some yellowfin tuna.  The yellowfin tuna bite improved on Sunday and the POINT RUNNER landed a pair of bigeye tuna with the largest weighing 157 pounds.  Monday saw mixed sizes of dolphin, decent numbers of yellowfin tuna and several bigeye tuna up to 184 pounds.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed good catches of wahoo plus some dolphin and blackfin tuna on Friday.  Steve Newman of Fairfax boated a 42-pound wahoo aboard the CITATION.  Saturday saw good catches of king mackerel and blackfin tuna plus a scattering of dolphin and wahoo.  Sunday was judged too rough to fish and the fleet remained in port.

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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