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The Saltwater Review - May 3, 2001

by Lewis S. Gillingham
OVERVIEW Chincoteague Wachapreague Cape Charles Onancock
Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel Virginia Middle Bay Virginia Beach Virginia Piers Grandview
Buckroe Beach Harrison Lynnhaven Sandbridge Outer Banks, NC

Virginia's Trophy Striped Bass season will open May 1 and run through June 15. This special season carries a 32-inch minimum size limit coupled with a one-fish bag limit. From May 1 through May 16, anglers may possess one-fish, 32 inches or greater. From May 16 through June 15, anglers are allowed to possess two striped bass within the 18 and 28-inch slot, but one fish of the two-fish allowed during the May 16 through June 15 slot season may be 32 inches or greater. Most important, anglers must report their Trophy catch (all 32-inch or greater fish caught and kept between 1 May and 15 June) on forms available at all Citation Weigh Stations, many other tackle shops and marinas and our homepage web site (see address above). A reporting form is also enclosed in this report.

The VMRC has scheduled a public hearing to finalize the closed period for the 2000 Recreational Summer Flounder fishery (see enclosure). Currently, the minimum size limit for Summer Flounder is 15.5 inches and the possession limit is 8-fish (and will not change in 2001) but the closed period of 24 July 2001 through 1 August 2001 will be increased (again refer to the enclosed Notice) to gain an additional 4% reduction in catch.

Anglers are reminded that a 12-inch size limit and 4-fish possession limit is in effect from May 1 through August 15 for weakfish (grey trout).

Flounder fishing has been exception since the season opened March 29--barring strong winds. The seaside inlets along the Eastern Shore Barrier Islands and waters in the vicinity of the CBBT complex have been the most productive. 

Schools of croaker swarmed into the Bay weeks ago. Best catches are generally made well up inside the rivers and often in the warmer shallows. Even though these ocean run fish are generally "skinny," several fish in excess of three pounds have been recorded with the heaviest to date, a 4-1/2-pound whopper, boated on the York River above Gloucester Point.

Bluefish in the 1 to 3 pound range have made a strong early season showing at several locations, including the CBBT, HRBT and from the piers located between these two crossings.

Chincoteague -

Donna from Captain Bob's reported good catches of flounder the past several weeks, as flatfish to over 8 pounds were weighed. The most recent "hot spot" has been the waters between buoys 4 and 6 in water 10 to 20 feet deep. Flatfish are just beginning to move into Queen's Sound, where overall action remains slow. A few trout and taylor blues have also been reported.

Barnacle Bill's told of excellent catches of flounder, as fish were "spread-out all over." The shop spokesman indicated limit catches had been made at Four Mouths, along the main channel and Queen's Sound Flats. Taylor blues had also arrived inside the inlet and recommended Chincoteague Point as the top location.

Wachapreague Marina's annual 10-day Spring Flounder Tournament finished-up Sunday and despite breezy conditions for much of the event, overall catches were impressive. The winning flatfish was boated by Joan Phares of Richmond at Green Channel and weighed 6 pounds, 13-1/2 ounces. Delaware angler Carolyn Joseph boated the second place winning fish at Quinby Inlet and it weighed 6 pounds, 9-1/2 ounces. Jim Sheuty of Pennsylanvia nailed down third place on the flats at the Hummocks with a 6-pound and 5-ounce flounder. Silversides, live minnows and cut squid were the top baits.

Captain Zed's annual 10-day Spring Flounder Tournament likewise came to a close Sunday, as Richmond angler Joan Phears was the winner with a 6-pound and 14-ounce flounder. Second place went to Carolyn Joseph for a 6-pound and 9-1/2-ounce flounder. Paris Sexton took third place with a 6-pound even flatfish.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported decent weekend catches of flounder despite strong NE winds. Several limit catches were recorded out of the seaside port of Oyster while flatfish to 5 pounds were claimed off Cape Charles. Anglers bottom fishing from the State park Pier at Kiptopeke decked flounder and a few trout. No weekend rod and reel catches of black drum were reported but commercial catches have been made on both the seaside and bayside.


Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -
Cobbs Marina reported decent hauls of both flounder and tautog from the CBBT complex. Prior to the weekend, Daniel Ponder nailed a 7-3 flounder at the Third Island, where a 12-9 tog was boated the week before.

Bubba's Marina said tautog and flounder dominated the weekend catches coming from the CBBT complex while boats running offshore returned with good hauls of large sea bass.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina said most of his customers were concentrating on the impressive spring flounder run. Donnie weighed flatfish to 5-1/2 pounds that were caught at the mouth of Back River but indicated the Third and Fourth islands and the 8 and 12 mile posts of the CBBT were likewise productive locations for flounder. The few anglers not fishing for flounder recorded decent catches of tautog at the CBBT complex and the Back River Reef site during the daytime and grey trout to 8 pounds at the HRBT after dark.

Johnny from Sunset Marina said despite a "very windy weekend" good hauls of flounder and croaker were recorded around Fort Monroe. Johnny added that he was still looking for the season's first lunker photo for the marina's bragging board.

JR from Vanasse Bait and Tackle said flounder were biting around the mouth of Back River while schools of hungry taylor blues had invaded the CBBT complex. The croaker bite had yet to become red hot but grey trout to 7 pounds were showing at the HRBT.

A spokesperson from Salt Ponds described the weekend as windy and very quiet. So windy, in fact, even a well known local dentist who "fishes nearly every day" had remained in port recently.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply reported excellent catches of jumbo croaker on the York River at several locations including the lumps, the public fishing pier at Gloucester Point, the mouth of the Perrin River and off the Coast Guard Pier. Possibly the best haul of large croaker was made by Orin Farenholt and came from the lumps. Orin's catch included several fish at or near 3 pounds and a 4-1/2-pound lunker. Jimmy added that flounder were hitting just above the Gloucester Bridge on the Yorktown side but the spring speckled trout run inside Mobjack Bay was running late with only a handful taken thus far.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club report good success on grey trout, sea bass and yellowfin tuna. Doug Roper and a fishing buddy worked the HRBT Sunday and Monday and recorded good catches of grey trout each day. Captain Richard Bartlett and his party worked several of the Triangle wrecks and ended with a decent haul of black sea bass measuring up to 20 inches. The group tried but did not catch any tautog but were "rewarded" with a small cunner for their efforts. Early in the week, Don Crist and party boated nine yellowfin tuna and four gaffer dolphin off Oregon Inlet. The Richardson's fished their private boat, the TUNA CHASER, the same day off Oregon Inlet and boated six yellowfin tuna.


Virginia Middle Bay -
Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware said "all the rivers are loaded with croaker" with the best bite generally coming in shallow water. Still, some of the best hauls of bigger fish (1-1/2 to 3 pounds) were made in the Bay, near buoy 62 in 40 feet of water. Flounder have arrived in local waters and several were caught along the jetty, according to Roger. A few grey trout were reportedly caught in the lower Potomac.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service said the local creeks were "chock full of croaker" with some fish topping two pounds. The White Stone Bridge area was another location holding good numbers of croaker according to Jerry. Over on the Potomac, several anglers boated grey trout while working the edge of the Shipping Channels and just below the Rappahannock, tautog were pulled from the Iron Ore deposits sitting off Gwynn Island. Across the Bay, customers reported good catches of flounder off the Cement Ships and in the buoy 42 area.

Locklies Marina said charter boats bottom fishing about a 1/2 mile above the Route 3 Bridge were loading up on croaker. Closer to the marina, commercial gill nets set in the mouth of the creek were full of 4 to 7-pound bluefish plus some trout topping 5 pounds.

A spokesperson from Garretts Marina said anglers were loading buckets and coolers full of croaker but the location of the catch was unclear.

Virginia Beach -
The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported decent catches of tautog and sea bass by the headboat fleet. Several "six-pack" charters ran "way south" and returned with a nice catch of yellowfin tuna. Inside the inlet, anglers recorded a mixture of flounder, taylor blues and grey and speckled trout.

Paula from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said one of the charter fleet boats ran a striper trip to the CBBT on Tuesday, May 1 (opening day of the trophy season) but other than that trip the fleet has been idle. Inside the inlet, flounder were biting near the mouth while several large grey trout and some taylor blues were caught towards the far end.

Virginia Piers
James River -A telephone recording from April 6 indicated the pier was open and croaker were biting. 

Grandview - Flounder provided steady action during the daytime. Bottom fishermen also decked some croaker, sea mullet, bluefish, trout and even a few spot.

Buckroe Beach - The flounder bite was rated "real good" with flatfish weighing to nearly 5 pounds decked on the pier. Bottom fishermen also reported decent numbers of croaker to nearly 2 pounds. Pan trout and taylor blues are being caught after dark in the shadows created by the pier lights.

Harrison - Croaker made strong showings the past several evenings with the bite getting underway about 7 PM and lasting until the pier closes. Many of the croaker top the one-pound mark with a 3-pound and 4-ounce lunker weighed last Friday. Daytime catches consist mainly of flounder.

Lynnhaven - Catches include flounder, bluefish, spot and croaker but none have been abundant, according to the pier spokesman.

Virginia Beach - Monday saw a good run of fat two to three pound bluefish but weekend catches were sporadic for bluefish and medium croaker. Water temperature at pierside was 56 degrees on Monday which was several degrees warmer than weekend readings.

Sandbridge - The report for both Saturday and Sunday was "slow" but there was a strong run of bluefish on Monday.


Outer Banks, NC -
Surf fishing came nearly to a halt in the Nags Head area, as strong northeast winds buffeted the coast last weeknd. Before the winds kicked up, speckled trout and taylor blues were hitting between Kitty Hawk and the Avalon Pier. In the Duck area, bluefish, sea mullet and some large grey trout were caught just prior to the weekend. Water temperatures were running 55 to 58 degrees. 

South of Oregon Inlet, weekend beach fishermen managed a few sea mullet and blowfish. Good numbers of sea mullet were decked at the Rodanthe and Frisco piers. Surf fishermen at Cape Point enjoyed a mixture of puppy drum, taylor blues and sea mullet on Sunday. By Monday, seas were calm and catches included lots of taylor blues plus sea mullet, blowfish, flounder and a 38-inch red drum. Beach fishermen working Hatteras Inlet enjoyed a steady bite of taylor bluefish plus the occasional 8 to 11-pound chopper.

Offshore, the bluewater fleet from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center returned with yellowfin tuna, mako shark, king mackerel and dolphin on Saturday. The HOOKER, JO-BOY and OUTRIGGER all had limits of yellowfin. Seas became kinder on Sunday, and the tuna action improved, as most of the fleet returned with a limit of yellowfin tuna. The crew on the CAPT BC boated a 57-pound wahoo.

Boats sailing from Hatteras Inlet reported limit catches of yellowfin tuna, with individual fish to 70 pounds, gaffer dolphin, a few wahoo and several blue marlin releases on Sunday. On Monday, the crew aboard the CITATION released four sailfish, which included one by Jerry Forbes of Virginia.

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.

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