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The Saltwater Review - May 10, 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).

Reports of large grey trout, many in excess of six pounds, from lower to mid-Bay waters, continue to increase. The 2001 season promises to be even better than last season.

The spring flounder season is off to an excellent start on both the lower Bay and Eastern Shore seaside, as some anglers are already calling it one of the best.

Though the bite still lacked consistency, both black and red drum were caught at several locations inside the Bay with black drum also reported from several sites along the Eastern Shore seaside.

Chincoteague -

Donna from Captain Bob's reported good flounder action with limit catches (8-fish possession limit) to five pounds the past week, despite less than ideal conditions. Four Mouths, Queen's Sound and the main channel "right in front of Captain Bob's" have all been productive at times. Schools of taylor blues are becoming more abundant and aggressive. Grey trout to six pounds were caught at Chincoteague Point with some lesser sized trout reported at Four Mouths. Outside the inlet, big sea bass and large tautog are holding over the inshore ocean wrecks. Buddy Kuster nailed a 10-1/4-pound tautog on a piece of clam at the Marine Electric for the week's lone Citation.

Barnacle Bill's said flounder were biting "anywhere you go" while bluefish were available around the inlet. Outside the inlet, large sea bass and tautog were biting on the local ocean wrecks.

Wachapreague Marina reported Robert Herlihy released a 49-inch black drum and hooked several others on the shoals at the mouth of the inlet. Flounder action continues to be very good, "weather permitting," as Charles Gates landed the week's heavyweight, an 8-14 flatfish, at buoy 4.

Captain Zed's described the flounder action as very good on Saturday and "rotten" on Sunday due to the wind. Much of the best action has been in clear, shallow water. Zed's also indicated grey trout to 7 pounds were becoming increasingly abundant while sea bass in excess of 5 pounds were caught on the inshore wrecks.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported both red and black drum were caught on rod and reel the past week, as black drum weighing as much as 67 pounds were caught off Cape Charles and a 41-pound red drum was landed just off Fisherman's Island. Flounder action remains very good, as limit catches and citation-winning flatfish were recorded by both bayside and seaside anglers. Wayne Barefoot (7-6) and Lee Sparrow (6-0) each landed Citation flounder out of the seaside port of Oyster while Andrew Blyethe landed a 6-1/2 pounder off Cape Charles.

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported excellent catches of 1 to 3-pound croaker in 20 to 30 feet of water. Bottom fishermen are also seeing some bluefish, flounder, spot, trout to 4-1/2 pounds, sea mullet and blowfish. Black drum numbers are increasing but red drum and speckled trout remain scarce. Surface waters have warmed to 63 degrees. 

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -
Cobbs Marina reported top catches include tautog and flounder around the CBBT complex, as Mark Adkins boated a 9-pound tog and David Pridgen a 6-3 flounder.

Dr. Jim Wright said large grey trout were hitting inside Rudee Inlet, where he boated a fat 30-inch and 9 pounder on Tuesday. Dr. Jim also indicated large grey trout were biting at the HRBT, just off the Chamberlin Hotel. Though few anglers are actually fishing for trophy stripers, one of Dr. Jim's cronies had targeted large stripers and he chunked up striped bass from 44 inches to over 50 pounds during an evening outing at 9-foot shoals.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina said the spring flounder season had "already been a good one" and indicated the mouth of Back River, the Back River Reef site, buoy 36A and the CBBT complex were all producing flounder "weather permitting." The weather did not cooperate Sunday or Monday but good hauls of flatfish were recorded Saturday and earlier in the week. Lawrence Sawyer of Seaford boated an award-winning flounder of 6 pounds, 1 ounce, at the CBBT for the week's only Citation. Donnie indicated several fish topping five pounds were also boated. Several customers scored on big grey trout at the HRBT after dark but speckled trout remain scarce on Poquoson Flats, where taylor blues are obliging regularly.

Rick from Sunset Marina said Jim McCombe boated a 31-inch and 10-pound grey trout on a bucktail at the High Rise section of the CBBT. Rick knew of only one "trophy" striper, a 33-incher, that had been caught since the season opened May 1. Rick had seen "lots of flounder" from the Third Island and Hampton Bar areas. Rick added, "and of course the croaker are biting well."

Allen Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle saw trout to six pounds and limit catches of flounder from the CBBT complex the past week and described the spring flounder fishery as "the best I can remember." Bottom fishermen working just off Factory Point found a steady supply of 1 to 1-1/2-pound croaker.

Salt Ponds Marina knew only of a few flounder that were caught near the mouth of Salt Ponds.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said croaker were biting at the Gloucester Point public pier and at the lumps with some fish nearing three pounds. Flounder remain available in the Gloucester Point area with best action near the bridge on the Yorktown side. A handful of speckled trout were taken at the North River but this fishery has yet to hit its spring peak.

Members of the Peninsula Saltwater Anglers Club reported large sea bass, chopper bluefish and mako sharks are on the deepwater ocean wrecks. Inside the Bay, flounder to over 6 pounds were caught near the Fourth Island, the HRBT produced a nice catch of four to six-pound grey trout and the Cell holds grey trout to 6 pounds plus keeper flounder and tautog.


Virginia Middle Bay -
Jetts Hardware reported trollers are catching striped bass to 40 inches on the Middle Grounds while bottom bouncers are loading up with croaker and a few spot at the Great Wicomico and Little River in 20 to 30 feet of water.

Smith Point Marina said their charter fleet recorded limit catches of striped bass to 38 inches and 25 pounds the past several days. The boats have been trolling near buoy 62 or working the Triangle area. Bottom fishermen are catching plenty of croaker, with some nearing 2-1/2 pounds plus a scattering of trout.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service told of good catches of croaker plus some hand-sized spot. The biggest croaker are being caught in the Bay but fish ranging from 12 to 16 inches are available inside Queen's Creek, at the White Stone Bridge and inside the Piankatank River. Tautog remain available off Gwynn Island on the iron ore rubble and at New Point Comfort Light. Grey trout to 6 pounds have arrived at the Cell and were also reported inside the Piankatank River. Schools of taylor blues are becoming more numerous with a few fish pushing 8 pounds.

Locklies Marina said croaker were abundant along the north side of the White Stone Bridge, at Carters Creek and in front of the Silos. A scattering of spot, trout and flounder were also reported.

A spokesperson from Garretts Marina said anglers were returning with coolers full of nice croaker but was not certain where the fish were caught.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said the river was loaded with croaker but the best recent bite has been from the flats off Urbanna up to Waterview. The period around high tide generally produces the fastest action. Captain Thompson also heard of excellent catches of croaker coming from the York River, in the vicinity of West Point.

Virginia Beach -
Paula Owens from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said one boat ran to the Point, located some 80 miles SSE of the inlet, caught several yellowfin and returned to port. Inside the inlet, anglers casting jigs and plugs early and late in the day, are catching some large grey trout.

Virginia Piers
Grandview - Flounder were the dominant catch and flatfish to 4 pounds were decked recently. Bottom fishermen are also seeing a few grey trout and croaker.

Buckroe Beach - Good catches of keeper flounder highlighted the week's action. Pan trout and croaker have been showing in the late afternoon on most days. Taylor blues are becoming more numerous. Sea mullet made a decent showing on Tuesday.

Harrison - Good numbers of sea mullet have moved within casting range, though croaker to over 3 pounds still dominate the action. Other catches include flounder to 4-1/2 pounds, pan trout and spot up to one-half pound. The evening bite has been the best. The pier will be open 24 hours a day starting this weekend.

Lynnhaven - Bluefish provided the best weekend action but good numbers of sea mullet have arrived since Saturday. Other catches include pan trout and flounder.

Virginia Beach - Overall action has been slow, as the pier spokesman knew only of a few spot that had been decked recently.

Sandbridge - An 11-pound puppy drum was decked Tuesday but overall action remains slow.


Outer Banks, NC -
Taylor blues and sea mullet cooperated along the Nags Head area beaches and from the piers last week. Taylor blues likewise proved to be willing up in Duck, where scattered catches of trout, spot and sea mullet were also recorded. Surf water temperatures in these areas have warmed to 56 to 58 degrees.

South of Oregon Inlet, beach fishermen working the surf on Hatteras Island at Cape Point caught taylor blues "on metal" all day while bottom fishermen scored on sea mullet, blow fish, puppy drum, skates and sharks. Saturday evening, several red drum were caught and released with the longest measuring 39 inches. Sunday, winds gusted to 40 knots but sea mullet bit continuously along the South Beach. The windy conditions and sea mullet bite continued through Monday.

Offshore, boats sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center recorded limit catches of yellowfin tuna on Friday. A pair of bigeye tuna were boated aboard the SEA NOTE and the largest weighed 122 pounds. The crew on the DREAM GIRL released a blue marlin. The offshore bite of yellowfin continued Saturday, as most of the fleet returned with limit catches. Inshore, limit catches of taylor blues were commonplace aboard the half-day boats. The headboat moored at the Fishing Center began its season last weekend and returned with a mixture of bluefish, pigfish, sea mullet and flounder. Sunday and Monday were "no sail days" due to the wind.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet recorded mixed catches of yellowfin tuna, dolphin, wahoo and king mackerel on Saturday with best action between the 300-line and Triple 0's. The crew aboard the GAMBLER released a pair of sailfish while the party aboard GOOD TIMES released a blue marlin, as Wayne Jenkins of Winchester, VA boated a 55-pound wahoo. Taylor blues were extremely abundant in and around the inlet. Both Sunday and Monday were "no sail days" due to the 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.

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