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The Saltwater Review - 26 October 2006

Vol. 20, No. 19

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


This will be the last issue of the Virginia Saltwater Review for 2006.

The Chesapeake Bay area fall 2006 recreational striped bass season began October 4, 2006 and will 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 attachment 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 -

Captain Bob’s has closed for the season. 


Despite all the wind, "flounder fishing has been pretty good when they go," according to Debbie at Captain Zed's. Green and Drawing channels were the most productive flounder locations. Anglers are also catching some small pan trout. Outside the inlet, the inshore wrecks are producing black sea bass and some tautog and triggerfish. The marina had yet to hear of any striped bass but expects big fish to show along the oceanfront next month.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported a speckled trout "bonanza" on both seaside and bayside of the Eastern Shore, as catches of over a dozen fish were not uncommon. William Reynolds had the week's biggest speck, a 5-pound, 7-ouncer, boated at Cedar Creek. Phil Fonner also had a citation spotted trout last week with a fat 5-pounder from Magothy Bay. As the waters off Cape Charles finally began to clear, the fall flounder bite returned. Many of the better flatfish hauls came from the buoy 36A area, where Theresa King nailed a 9-pound, 3-ouncer, Tony Sacco decked a 9-pound, 2-ounce flounder and Al Houghpon boated an 8-pound, 10-ounce fish. Lawrence Ulmer was drifting near buoy 36A and landed a 21-inch croaker, which he released. Bottom fishermen are seeing a scattering of spot around Kiptopeke and at the CBBT complex. Tautog are becoming more active around the Cement Ships, on the mussels beds near buoy 36A and around the CBBT. Folks fishing from the Kiptopeke State Park Pier saw some school stripers around dusk and a scattering of spot, small flounder and bluefish during the day.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported the prevailing northwest winds kept most boats in port all week. "It's just been too windy to get out into the bay but I know a few guys that fished behind the islands. The water was muddy but they did catch some keeper striped bass." Rough conditions kept nearly all the commercial fishermen and crabbers in port as well, according to Captain Wil. Smaller spot still linger in the creeks. Some of the kids are catching smaller spot right around the city docks."

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel

Cobbs Marina reported very moderate activity over the weekend. "We've just had so much wind the past several days that not many people are fishing." David McAbee did weigh-in a 10-pound, 6-ounce tautog from the CBBT complex and, "I know there's plenty of striped bass out there (the CBBT) when they can get out."

Wallace's Bait and Tackle weighed a 9-pound, 1-ounce tautog for Bernard Hopkins. The citation catch was made at the Third Island of the CBBT. Art Blow nailed an 8-pound, 5-ounce flounder on cut bait at buoy 11 and John Hopkins decked a 10-pound, 13-ounce flounder at Back River Reef on cut bait Monday (23 October).

Sunset Boating Center said the weekend weather was windy and cold, as not many anglers ventured out. The shop did have reports the fall spot run had slowed considerably in the Hampton Roads area while the flounder bite had yet to improve and area waters were still "dingy." Anglers did record good success on school stripers around area bridges, including the HRBT, James River Bridge, the M & M crossing and the CBBT complex.

Salt Ponds Marina said the crew aboard the FATTY FLATTIE had a nice catch of flounder at the CBBT complex over the weekend but did not weigh any citation fish. Steven Grimes had the lone citation fish for the week with a 22-ounce spot from the HRBT.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said few anglers were fishing because of the weather. "The wind just won't stop blowing." One party that did fish over the weekend ran to the CBBT and did respectable on flounder. "I haven't heard much about speckled trout in the Mobjack lately but that could be because no one has been fishing."

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club (and member of the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament Committee), said the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament Committee met and made a few changes in the citation and state record programs for 2007. As for state records, spearfish was dropped as an eligible species since it is illegal for us to keep one but an angler can still get a citation for a released spearfish. Blueline tilefish, golden tilefish, and snowy grouper have all been added as species eligible for state record consideration. The initial minimums to qualify for a state record are as follows: blueline tilefish-17.5 pounds, golden tilefish-40 pounds and snowy grouper-38 pounds. As for citations, the release citation for yellowfin tuna was dropped. The release citation for Spanish mackerel was restored at 26 inches. Blueline tilefish was added as a species eligible for a citation with an initial minimum of 10 pounds. The meeting's biggest discussion involved flounder and spot. The Committee decided to keep the flounder citation at 7 pounds. But the spot minimum was lowered from 18 ounces to 16 ounces. The release citation for spot was restored at 13 inches. The changes in the citation program will take affect for 2007 while the state record changes are affective November 1, 2006. A couple of other changes are: there will only be one citation plaque per species, as release and weight citations will be now be combined on one plaque. The rules will be modified to make it clearer to participants that electric reels are not eligible for use for fish entered for a citation or state record consideration. 

On the fishing front, Neill indicated speckled trout fishing has been fantastic with catches reported from "all of the speckled trout spots." This list includes Poquoson Flats, Back River, Lynnhaven Inlet, Rudee Inlet, Elizabeth River, the Eastern Shore creeks, Goodwin Island, and the York River. These spotted fish are everywhere but even so, "those speckled trout fishermen are a secretive bunch." Dave Moss boated a 5-pound, 6-ounce trout on Sunday on a MirrOlure from a kayak and caught a limit of speckled trout earlier in the week inside Mobjack Bay. When Dave cleaned the 5-pounder it had an 8-inch menhaden in its stomach! Besides speckled trout, there are still some spot being caught but not many. The flounder bite at the mouth of the bay slowed down considerably but there have been some very impressive flounder catches around the ocean wrecks. Neill suggested the Brass Spike and the Triangle Wrecks would be good places to try. Large sea bass are as also holding on the ocean wrecks plus triggerfish and big bluefish have arrived on the ocean wrecks. On structures in the bay, tautog are becoming more active as the water cools. There have been some nice catches made at the CBBT. Striped bass are being caught anywhere there is some structure, and at night, anywhere there is a light. Offshore, there were good catches of yellowfin tuna at the Norfolk Canyon this past weekend. 

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

All the rage lately is focused on the incredible speckled trout run in the lower bay. Great catches of these spotted fish are coming from all over, but some of the hottest trout holes include Long Creek, the Poquoson flats, Back River, the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, Rudee Inlet, and the Elizabeth River. Steve Harding of Norfolk landed a 6-pound speck casting a grub at the HRBT, while Ralph Ireland of Virginia Beach scored with a 5-pounder inside Rudee Inlet. Up until the most recent blow, speck casters were lining up waist-deep along the shores of Lynnhaven Inlet, and boats were filling the basin using live bait, cut bait, grubs, and swimming plugs. When the action resumes, expect more healthy trout ranging from 3 to 7-pounds. 

Puppy drum are active within the shallows and inlets right now, and the recent turbulent water is only improving the action. Larger red drum are still roaming the lower bay and the oceanfront surf, where anglers are pulling bulls up to 50-inches from around the Bay Bridge Tunnel and the Sandbridge surf. Troy Reynolds of Chesapeake boated a 49-inch red near the 4th island of the CBBT on a peeler crab this week. The striped bass fishery is rolling right along with plenty of school size fish available in all their usual haunts. The HRBT, the CBBT, the Monitor Merrimack, and the James River Bridge are providing steady action for anglers casting top water plugs and jigging around the pilings and structures. Wire liners working the 1st Island tube of the CBBT recently discovered a decent class of fish ranging from 36 to 38-inches.
Spot made a respectable run in Rudee Inlet two weeks ago, but as of late, reports of decent fish are scattered, with the yellowbellies already showing down in Oregon Inlet. Look for some fish within the lower bay inlets and around the HRBT and the Hampton Bar, but after the wind dies, some fear the fall spot run may be done. But tautog action is just warming up! Folks targeting these structure-oriented fish are finding their limits with decent fish, with a few citations in the mix. The structure around the CBBT and inshore wrecks are providing the best action on crab.

Flounder were hit and miss this week in the bay due to windy conditions and muddy water. A few anglers who worked hard for their catches were rewarded with fish up to ten pounds while drifting along deeper channels in the lower bay. Captain Skip Feller aboard the Rudee Angler out of Rudee Inlet put his crew on a mess of big flatfish and decent sea bass while fishing an offshore wreck. Chopper bluefish are also cruising many offshore wrecks, as well as around the Chesapeake Light Tower. False albacore are moving inshore with sightings of large schools within five miles of the Virginia Beach shoreline. With the water sitting at 71 degrees this past week, spadefish were still schooling the tower and inshore wrecks, with divers taking a few for recent tournaments. After this blow, expect them to move on.

When boats can get out, the yellow fin tuna fishing has been very good, with fish in the 40-pound range schooling in the Norfolk Canyon and further south. After this recent cool down, expect the billfish to be headed south, but watch for Bluefin tuna to make their showing soon.

Virginia Middle Bay -

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported most local anglers were chumming and catching a mixture of school-size striped bass and taylor bluefish. Many of the striper bass were in the 20 to 24-inch range. Several customers reported catching pan trout beneath surface feeding schools of snapper bluefish. As for the spot, "the bigger fish (spot) seem to be about gone but they are still catching some smaller ones up in the creeks."

Dan from Smith Point Marina said chummers working the Northern Neck Bar recorded good weekend catches of striped bass to 28 inches and bluefish to nearly 4 pounds. Anglers fishing around the jetty likewise had success on striped bass with fish to 26 inches.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said flocks of birds are working over snapper blues and schoolie stripers at Windmill Point Bar throughout the day, as waters temperatures have dropped into the low 60's. Trollers finding working birds out in the bay find a larger class of school stripers, according to Jerry. Bottom fishermen fared better on spot this past weekend than the prior weekend but no fish topped 16 ounces. Jerry suggested that big spot still linger up in the rivers. Schools of pan trout are "everywhere," according to Jerry, while some sizable trout were caught along the channel edges and under schools of surface feeding bluefish. The excellent fall speckled trout run remained in high gear inside Mobjack Bay and up inside the Piankatank River, although no citation fish were checked-in the past week. 

Locklies Marina had "nobody out fishing" the past several days, "except for the oyster boats that seem to be doing pretty good." The marina thought bottom fishing in area waters was "pretty much over for the season."

Tommy Lewis at Garretts Marina said there was a good crowd out trolling and casting for striped bass on Saturday and stripers were caught from the bridge to below the marina. As for bottom fishing, "it's pretty much over except for catfish above the bridge."

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported their headboat fleet had a great catch of flounder, triggerfish, black sea bass and even several chopper bluefish while working several of the ocean wrecks on Sunday. Jerome Jayabolan, Jr. (7-1/2 pounds) and Jerry Cole (7 pounds, 1 ounce) each pulled-in citation flatfish. Likewise the bluewater fleet scored well on yellowfin tuna over the weekend, as some boats returned with as many as a bakers dozen of 30 to 40-pound class yellowfin. The charter boats also had a smattering of dolphin and skipjack tuna while inshore boats scored on king mackerel and false albacore. The fishing inside the inlet for speckled trout, puppy drum and spot was equally impressive. Judy Galloway nailed a 5-pound, 15-ounce speckled trout just prior to the weekend. Jeff Watson landed a 5-pound, 5-ounce speck Saturday while William Colligan (6-1/4 pounds) and Ed Hughs, Jr. (7 pounds, 14 ounces) landed citation spotted trout on Sunday. 

Fisherman's Wharf Marina told of good weekend catches of yellowfin tuna in the vicinity of the Norfolk Canyon. The fleet has been weathered-in since Sunday.

Virginia Piers -

Ocean View - Daytime anglers are seeing an occasional puppy drum and speckled trout in close by the pier house. Snapper bluefish are coming in casting range from time to time. Bottom fishermen are getting a mixture of spot, croaker, flounder and sea mullet but catches have been sporadic. Anglers fishing after dark (check for hours of operation) are catching snapper bluefish, school stripers and pan trout around the lights. 

Lynnhaven - Sporadic catches of puppy drum and speckled trout provided most of the excitement here. After dark, school striped bass and pan trout are holding in the shadows created by the pier lights.

Virginia Beach - Saturday's northeast winds provided the stimulus for an impressive run of large spot but the action slowed by late Sunday. Bottom fishermen also saw a mixture of pan and speckled trout, snapper bluefish, croaker and sea mullet.

Sandbridge - Bottom fishermen recorded mixed catches of small speckled trout, pan trout and spot on Friday. Saturday and Sunday saw similar catches with more spot in the mixture and some nice speckled trout. The expected late season run of large red drum failed to materialize over the weekend for the "heaver crew" at the end of pier. They did catch several different species of shark and skate. The City of Virginia Beach will begin their fall/winter hours at the pier starting November 1. The pier will open around 7 AM and close at sunset. 

Outer Banks, NC -

A 46-inch red drum was decked on Avalon Pier on Friday. The day also produced a mixture of puppy drum, bluefish and speckled trout. On Saturday, at least one large drum was beached and released. Bottom fishermen enjoyed a strong run of spot in the afternoon plus a scattering of puppy drum, sea mullet, bluefish and pompano throughout the day. Sunday saw an early run of spot followed by a scattering of bluefish, puppy drum, speckled trout and a Spanish mackerel during the day. Water temperatures along the beach were still running in the mid-60's.

South of Oregon Inlet, anglers working the beach at Cape Point on Buxton caught loads of taylor bluefish throughout the day on Friday and beached several large red drum around sunset. Saturday saw a steady mixture of puppy drum and bluefish, some sea mullet and flounder plus several large red drum. Sunday produced good numbers of mixed sizes of red drum including at least two-dozen big red drum. Anglers also enjoyed a strong run of taylor bluefish throughout the day plus some sea mullet, flounder and spot.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center enjoyed excellent catches all week and Friday was no different. Boats working the inshore waters came in with limit catches of school-sized king mackerel. On Saturday, the fleet returned with plenty of yellowfin tuna and a few wahoo up to 70 pounds. Inshore boats recorded good catches of school king mackerel and false albacore. Sunday was much the same with good hauls of yellowfin tuna. One boat caught and released a sailfish. Monday was another banner day for yellowfin tuna for the handful of boats out. There was one white marlin release.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet had good catches of dolphin and a scattering of wahoo on Friday. On Saturday, yellowfin tuna dominated the catches, which included decent numbers of wahoo and a few king mackerel and dolphin. It was a bumpy ride out on Sunday but the action made the discomfort bearable as the fleet enjoyed good catches of yellowfin tuna, limit catches of dolphin plus a few wahoo. Michael Pittman of Manassas decked a 54-pound wahoo aboard the BIGEYE. The fleet was weathered-in on Monday and Tuesday due to a strong northwest wind.

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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