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The Saltwater Review - 28 September 2006

Vol. 20, No. 16

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


The Chesapeake Bay area fall 2006 recreational striped bass season will begin October 4, 2006 and extend through December 31, 2006. 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. Anglers should be mindful of the "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. Please refer to the attached press release for details. 

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 the Virginia Institute of Marine Science 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 Marine 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.

Chincoteague -

Donna at Captain Bob's reported it was another weekend of bad weather and very little fishing activity. Prior to the weekend, a handful of anglers fished near the Washington Canyon and found yellowfin tuna, bailer dolphin and white marlin. Inshore, waters inside the inlet were still muddy from winds and rain the prior weekend. Some flounder were caught but most were less than the 16-1/2-inch minimum size limit. Over on the Assateague Island surf, beach anglers found plenty of bluefish, a few sea mullet, shark and skate. 


Captain Zed's described flounder fishing as fair, "they're able to catch right many flounder, they just can't keep many of them," as the majority of fish measure less than 16-1/2 inches. One angler did manage a limit of flounder earlier in the week, "right in the channel by the Coast Guard Station." The marina also had scattered reports of a few pan trout from the inlet. Outside the inlet, Captain Jimmy Wallace aboard the CANYON LADY had a good catch of black sea bass mid-week. The crew aboard the AMERICAN MADE had a very good day offshore, at the Norfolk Canyon, as they released a pair of white marlin and boated several dozen bailer dolphin, a wahoo and a yellowfin tuna. Mid-week, the POKEM released a white marlin and weighed-in a 75-pound wahoo.

Wachapreague Marina had very little to say about the weekend other than "it was blowing a gale." Earlier in the week one of the charter boats wreckfished and did well on black sea bass. The NITA DREAM trolled out near the Norfolk Canyon and came in with a nice mixed catch of dolphin and yellowfin tuna. The crew aboard the LUCKY DOG had a big catch of bailer dolphin.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported good flounder action "when they can get out there" but for the most part anglers were not able to fish over the weekend due to high winds. During the week, bottom fishermen recorded decent catches of flounder around the CBBT complex, off Kiptopeke and out around buoy 36A. Karen Layne decked a 7-3/4-pound flounder at the Kiptopeke State Park Pier. Elwood Eppard nailed a 7-1/4-pound flounder a little farther off Kiptopeke, where Linzy Breeding boated a 7-3/4-pound flatfish. Speckled trout action on the bayside creeks was good "when they could find clear water." Richard Hubbard caught a 5-pound, 1-ounce speck near the Little Bridge and Mike Aindt released a 24-inch spotted trout at Hungars Creek. The shop had no direct information from the seaside "but we've been hearing it's pretty slow over there."

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported fishing pressure in the Onancock area was extremely light the past week, "you just haven't been able to get out because of the weather. Even the large headboats from Crisfield have stayed off the water due to the wind." Local anglers in smaller boats have been able to fish the protected creeks and they have enjoyed decent success on speckled trout and school stripers (catch and release only until October 4). Right off the docks in Onancock, bottom fishermen caught a mixture of spot, croaker and flounder plus the creeks " are loaded with bait fish," such as jumping mullet and small menhaden. Out in the deeper waters off Onancock, "I haven't been able to fish in the past six days, so I'm not certain what's out there now," confided Captain, "but I'm sure there are still plenty of spot and flounder." 

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel

Cobbs Marina described the weekend as "pretty windy and pretty rough," as few anglers fished. Earlier in the week some nice flounder were around the CBBT complex, including a 7-pounder by Kelly Maillard at the First Island. Following the weekend, Edgar Riddick boated a 50-pound cobia at the CBBT. The shop also saw some good-sized spot and croaker but "no citations."

Bubba's Marina said some of the best weekend action was back inside the inlet, where bottom fishermen caught large spot plus some flounder, puppy drum and speckled trout.

Wallace's Bait and Tackle said anglers are still catching some nice flounder around the CBBT complex when they can get out. Prior to the weekend, Jerry Jones caught and released a 26-inch flounder aboard the FREE SPOOL on a live mullet at the Third Island. Closer to shore, speckled trout and puppy drum are available inside Back River and just outside, on Poquoson Flats. 

Sunset Boating Center had very little fishing information. "We just didn't have many boats out and of the few that did go, didn't stay long." Fishing nearby protected waters, bottom fishermen did manage some spot and croaker. "Earlier in the week, guys that fished Hampton Bar did pretty good on nice spot."

Salt Ponds Marina said fishing action was slow the past week, although anglers did catch some croaker, spot and flounder, "just no citations." Several customers fished around the mouth of the entrance to Salt Ponds and caught a mixture of speckled trout and bluefish. 

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said the fall run of spot was in full swing and anglers fishing from the Gloucester Point Pier were catching good numbers of the these tasty bottom fish. Good catches of spot were also recorded at Gaines Point and off Tue Marsh. Bottom fishermen are encountering a few medium croaker but the bigger croaker appear to have departed the river and some keeper pan trout in the 14 to 18-inch range. Speckled trout and some puppy drum were caught on both sides of the Ware River and from Cherry Point in recent days. Flounder to nearly 8 pounds were caught at the HUMP and CBBT the past week. 

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said this is the time of year when those offshore temperature charts really come into play, find the temperature breaks and you find the fish—tuna, dolphin, wahoo and billfish. Inshore, all of the summertime fish are still available. Spadefish are a tough catch right now but they are still around. Cobia are moving out, but again, they are still around and anglers are having success picking some off of the buoys and intercepting them off of Sandbridge as they migrate south. Big red drum are roaming the waters of the lower bay and along the surf of the barrier islands. Anglers are anxious to see if they are going to make another tremendous showing at the Sandbridge Pier like they did last fall. The fish that is really hot right now is the Norfolk Spot. They are available in good numbers and good size. Most are running 1/2 to 3/4 pound with a few breaking the 1-pound mark. Speckled trout are making a good fall showing in Back River, on the Poquoson Flats and inside Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets. Puppy drum are available at these same locations. Barclay Shepard and Matt Rinck fished the Poquoson Flats mid-week. Although the water was very muddy the pair managed to catch four puppy drum and two speckled trout. Matt had the catch of the day with a 29-inch, 6-pound, 14-ounce speck. Big sheepshead remain available at the CBBT though that should be slowing down soon. 

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

With both the warm water and cold water species co-mingling in our waters, this is one of the best times of the year for anglers to target a multitude of different fish. The fall fishery is off to a great start with big spot showing up all over the lower bay. A smattering of citation fish is promising, while the biggest spot of the season are yet to come. Speckled trout, another fall favorite, have casters out in full force seizing respectable fish, with some weighing in over 5-pounds. Try Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets, the Poquoson flats, Mobjack Bay, and the Eastern Shore Creeks for some great speck action. Puppy drum are taking up the rest of the shallow water attention, with pups up to 10-pounds hitting cut bait and mullet in the same locations, as well as the seaside surf.

Drifters and live-baiters are scoring well with decent flatties all along the lower bay channels, inlets, and CBBT structure where Rob Maier of Chesapeake enticed a nice 10-pounder drifting with cut bait. Big fish are also showing around the Chesapeake Light Tower and the offshore wrecks, where a strip bait bounced near structure could prove deadly. Although the action appears to be winding down, sheepshead are still hanging around the Bridge Tunnel, with tautog a good possibility in the same areas. Big croaker, with several fish large enough to qualify for state citations in the mix, are hitting in deep water locations in the lower bay, within the inlets, around the four islands of the CBBT, the Cell, and the Hampton Bar, where Robert Oakes of Virginia Beach fooled a 3-pound, 4-ounce horse croaker this week. Striper season starts this Wednesday, and the fish are on time. Schoolies are swarming around the CBBT, HRBT, Little Creek jetties, and Lynnhaven Inlet. Casting at the rocks, and pilings will prove sporting on light tackle.

Surf fishing is on fire. The Virginia Beach Angler's Club's Invitational Tournament had great luck this past weekend with 40 teams fishing in the ocean front surf, raking in points on a variety of fish. Striped bass, puppy drum, spot, big sea mullet, pompano, bluefish, croaker, and small black drum made up most of the catches. Expect this trend to improve through the fall. The bull red drum procession has been puttering on for a few weeks off the Little Island fishing pier, but the showing is nothing like last year's spectacle. A front bringing gusty NE winds will turn the action around in a matter of hours.

King mackerel are a good possibility off False Cape and around the Chesapeake Light, along with a few decent Spanish. Debbie Haas of Virginia Beach took a citation for a huge 5-pound, 12-ounce Spanish mackerel she boated trolling spoons near the tower. Although many think the cobia are all gone, I ran over a pair of 30-pounders pushing water on my way out of the bay this week. Expect a few small pods heading south, and hanging on some buoys along the oceanfront. Big jacks are still available at the south tower, where the largest fish of the year have gathered, and await your live bait offering.

Wahoo! Yep, wahoo are still taking the lead in offshore action, with the white marlin bite sizzling as a close second. Justine Hudgins of Virginia Beach scored with a monster wahoo weighing in at 64-pounds from the Norfolk Canyon. Marlin catches exploded near the 400 line this weekend, but it appears that warm water has pushed off this week. Blue marlin and a few swords were also around. Yellowfin up to 50-pounds and dolphin are good bets near the 480 line, while Jake Hiles with a crew aboard the Matador, swept up with several 70-pounders, as well as a nice big eye and an eight foot hammerhead release down south, near the 650-line.

Virginia Middle Bay

Jetts Hardware reported a mixed bag of fish but very light fishing pressure due to the weather. Flounder were still available around the jetty while speckled trout were caught in the grassy areas of Dameron Marsh and inside the Great Wicomico River. Bottom fishermen recorded decent hauls of spot around Smith Point Light and over on Blackberry Hang. Some medium croaker and taylor bluefish are in the same locations.

Smith Point Marina said bottom fishermen are catching plenty of spot "even right in our creek." The charter fleet has running up into Maryland waters and catching a mixture of striped bass and bluefish. "Some of the boats are chumming and some are trolling," according to the marina.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said weekend flounder catches were severely hampered by near gale-force winds. "It's been over a month since we had decent weather on a weekend," noted Jerry. Earlier in the week, one customer boated seven keeper flatfish up to 6 pounds at the Cell/buoy 42 area. On Friday, Christopher Sibley of Gloucester nailed a 7-pound, 5-ounce flounder on a minnow at the Hump. Bottom fishermen are seeing plenty of spot in the Rappahannock River from Urbanna to Stingray Point. Waters from 25 to 30 feet deep off Gwynn Island are also producing nice hauls of spot plus some pan trout and croaker. Puppy drum and small striped bass are holding along the grassy edges of the Rappahannock while speckled trout action is excellent at the North, Ware and East rivers. Citation trout were checked-in by Justin Hupfer (6 pounds, 1 ounce, bull minnow, North River), James Tillage (5 pounds, 5 ounces, MirrOlure, East River) and Walter Smith (5 pounds, 1 ounces, MirrOlure, Ware River).

Locklies Marina saw plenty of large spot over the weekend, despite the strong winds. "As long as the boats stayed on this side it was fairly calm." Many of the bigger spot, weighing up to 16 ounces plus pan trout up to 20 inches, were caught around the mouth of Carters Creek and off Towels Point. Weekend anglers fishing off the Silos recorded mixed catches of spot, bluefish, pan trout and croaker. 

Garretts Marina told of good recent catches of spot and croaker around the power lines. "The best catches had been coming from down river but now its upriver." Many customers are reporting catching and releasing school stripers and they are looking forward to the opening of the fall striper season, October 4.

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I said the past week was especially windy but places like the spike buoy area, Butlers Hole, Deep Rock and the Corn House produced decent catches of spot. Pan trout are scattered throughout these areas and many of the fish are "keepers" (12 inches or better). Spanish mackerel and bluefish still linger in the area but their numbers are rapidly dwindling. Flounder fishing was slow last week—not many caught and most of those under the 16-1/2-inch minimum size limit. 

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported good tuna action near the Norfolk Canyon and down around the 480-line, in 30 to 50 fathoms of water. The crew aboard the BACKLASH had half-a-dozen 40 to 50-pound class yellowfin tuna Friday and released a white marlin. Saturday, Robert Williams and Brad Creel each released a white marlin. Kevin Bremer released a swordfish the same day. Sunday and Monday the fleet remained in port due to rough seas,

Fisherman's Wharf Marina told of a very good recent yellowfin tuna bite along the 400-line, in 40 to 50 fathoms. Trollers are also catching some white marlin and wahoo.

Virginia Piers -

Ocean View - The past week produced "so-so" action for surfperch, pan trout and snapper bluefish. Some school stripers are starting to show around the pier lights after sun set. 

Lynnhaven - The past week saw a variety of fish but nothing was in great abundance. Catches included spot, sea mullet, pan trout, small flounder, snapper bluefish, croaker, puppy drum and speckled trout.

Virginia Beach -Bottom fishermen caught a scattering of spot, bluefish, skate and shark the past several days. 

Sandbridge - A pair of large red drum were caught and released from the pier on Wednesday. Thursday was a slow day with the best of it a mid-afternoon run of spot. Friday night a 46-inch red drum was caught and released. Saturday was slow over all with only a scattering of spot for the coolers but lots of shark and skate. Sunday was "very slow," with only a handful of surfperch reported. On Monday (25 September), a large red drum was decked and released early in the morning and another was caught around sunset.

Outer Banks, NC -

Along the beaches and piers in the Nags Head area, the fishing was varied but slow overall. The highlight in recent days was a 75-pound cobia, decked at the Avalon Pier—their biggest fish of the season. Other catches included some spot, pompano, speckled trout, snapper bluefish, Spanish mackerel and sea mullet.

South of Oregon Inlet at Cape Point on Buxton, beach fishermen caught a mixture of blowfish and bluefish Friday morning while several puppy drum were beached in the afternoon. A 42-inch red drum was caught and released at ramp 43. Saturday saw a decent run of mixed sizes of red drum, ranging from pups to 47 inches. Bluefish were "everywhere" and at least two-dozen large reds were caught after sunset. Sunday dawned with a hard southwest wind and only a few drum were landed. Bluefish were plentiful around ramp 55. Monday was a slow day for beach anglers and only a few spot and bluefish were reported.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported excellent catches of yellowfin tuna to 60 pounds on Friday. Several boats also limited out on bailer dolphin and king mackerel made a decent showing inshore of the Point. Saturday was another banner day for yellowfin tuna, as some boats limited out, plus several bigeye tuna, ranging from 111 to 220 pounds, were landed. The fleet also released a pair of white marlin. Inshore boats enjoyed a mixture of Spanish mackerel, snapper bluefish and false albacore. The headboat recorded a mixed catch of pan trout, pigfish and flounder. Sunday produced big catches of yellowfin tuna and over a dozen bigeye tuna. Monday was a near carbon copy of the prior two days—lots of large yellowfin tuna plus a sprinkling of bigeye tuna weighing up to 178 pounds.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet recorded fair mixed catches of dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna and king mackerel on Friday. On Saturday the boats returned with good numbers of dolphin and wahoo. On Sunday the fleet was idled due to strong winds. Only a few boats fished on Monday due to rough sea conditions but they returned with mixed catches of dolphin, wahoo and king mackerel.

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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