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The Saltwater Review - May 24, 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

Due to the observance of Memorial Day, May 28, the Virginia Saltwater Review will not be published the week of 28 May-June 2.

Virginia's Trophy Striped Bass season opened May 1 and runs 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 web site. A reporting form is also enclosed in this report.

The VMRC held a public hearing to finalize the closed period for the 2001 Recreational Summer Flounder fishery, Tuesday, May 22, 2001. The minimum size limit for Summer Flounder will remain at 15.5 inches and the possession limit is 8-fish but the closed period has been extended and will be 24 July 2001 through 7 August 2001.

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).

Black drum are reaching their seasonal peak off Cape Charles, where over 60 release citations were earned while a 100-pound plus drum was brought to the scales.

Red drum are likewise available, as their numbers are rising but will not likely reach their spring peak until later next month.

Spanish mackerel made their annual debut in the Bay last week, as catches were recorded from several of the piers. Sightings of spadefish were also reported but no confirmed catches. Can the cobia be far behind?

Chincoteague -
Donna from Captain Bob's reported good catches of flounder at Black Narrows, Four Mouths and the main channel. Popeye Kilhefner boated a 6-1/4 pounder at Four mouths while Walter Fegley caught a 7-1/2 pounder in the main channel. Grey trout up to 7 pounds are hitting "right at dusk" at the Queen's Sound Bridge while the ocean wrecks are still producing good catches of tautog and sea bass.

Barnacle Bill's said flounder fishing was "excellent" on the Chincoteague Bay flats with decent numbers of snapper blues and pan trout available at Assateague Channel. Larger trout and striped bass were holding around the pilings of the Queen's Sound Bridge.

Wachapreague Marina reported good to excellent flounder fishing, as catches are now coming from "all over." Big black drum still linger on Dawson Shoals with best action coming on the evening tide using sea clam and peeler crab for bait.

Captain Zed's said the channel in front of the Coast Guard Station produced some of the better recent hauls of flounder, as flatfish topping 5 pounds were reported over the past several days. They also indicated that local inshore ocean wrecks were loaded with sea bass.

Cape Charles
Chris' Bait and Tackle Shop reported excellent catches of black drum off Cape Charles since mid-week, as the shop registered over 60 release awards for the huge bottom feeders. Jody Zuchel of Craddockville, fishing alone near buoy 13, boated a 104-pound, 12-ounce monster drum. Best catches have been on the evening tide in the buoy 13 to buoy 16 area. Dennis Cline (47-1/2 inches) and Bob Shepard (48-1/2 inches) each released red drum near Fisherman's Island. Flounder action remains good on both the bayside and seaside. Jerry Moore boated a 6-1/2-pound flatfish at Ship Shoal Inlet while Ronald Dawson nailed a 6 pounder out of Oyster.

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported excellent bottom fishing for 1-1/2 to 2-pound croaker "straight out off Onancock." Catches include a few large spot, a scattering of the trout to 23 inches and some taylor blues but "croaker are the main thing." Several large red drum were caught by local anglers but speckled trout remain unseasonably scarce.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -
Cobbs Marina reported good catches of both flounder and trout at the CBBT complex the past week, "weather permitting." The late winter/spring run of tautog at the CBBT seems to be slowing, as waters have warmed into the mid to upper 60's. Good numbers of croaker have moved into the harbor at Little Creek.

Bubba's Marina told of good catches of trout, flounder and school-sized striped bass out at the CBBT. Inside Lynnhaven, big trout are holding around the Lesner Bridge while flounder were boated further inside the turning basin. 

Dr. Jim Wright fished with Captain Jim Jenrette off Cape Charles and caught black drum to 49 inches but indicated "they're (the black drum) not biting every day." Striped bass to over 32 inches were holding over the tubes at the Third and Fourth islands while taylor blues and pan trout were abundant in the vicinity of the 12 MP. At Lynnhaven Inlet, large grey trout were caught sporadically at the pilings of the Lesner Bridge the past week with the most consistent bite coming on high slack water. Dr. Jim also knew of several nice catches of the flounder that were made back inside Lynnhaven.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina weighed an 8-pound, 1-ounce flounder from the M & M crossing for Arnold Hall of Hampton. Donnie indicated large trout and flounder were still biting at the HRBT while drum were active off Cape Charles. Isle of Wight County Judge Robert Edwards caught and released a 44-inch black drum at buoy 16 aboard the private boat MISDEMEANOR while Scott Chapman released a 48-inch red drum at the Inner Middle Ground.

Johnny from Sunset Marina said Patrick Jensen nailed a 9-pound, 5-ounce and 30-inch grey trout on a jig at the HRBT while Paul Walker used cut bait to fool a 32-1/2-inch and 9-pound, 5-ouncer at the same location. Luke Lenix was chumming at buoy 13 with clam when he caught and released a 48-inch black drum while Keith Price was soaking crab at the same location and released a 50-inch black drum. Fishing in the same general area, Steve Adkins caught and released a 48-inch black drum on clam. Johnny indicated Hampton Bar was producing steady action on croaker to two pounds plus some keeper flounder.

Allen Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle said some keeper flounder and trout were caught at the mouth of Back River and off Factory Point but overall catches "were not that great." Allen did say that the current run of Spanish mackerel at the two nearby piers was creating a stir among local anglers.

Salt Ponds Marina said wireline trollers working the edges of the pilings of the CBBT complex scored on nice trout, school stripers and several keeper flounder.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said croaker topping two pounds and 14 to 22-inch trout are being caught above the Gloucester bridge at the lump while flounder are active off Yorktown and around the PR buoy. The public pier at Gloucester Point features croaker plus a scattering of flounder. Speckled trout remain scarce inside Mobjack Bay, where school-sized striped bass and large croaker are a more likely catch. Timmy Brown boated a 3-pound croaker inside Mobjack while soaking a chunk of peeler crab for speckled trout. Jimmy added that large grey trout to 8 pounds are holding over the main structure of the Cell.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club recorded good hauls of flounder to over 5 pounds at the CBBT complex and off Cape Charles, as wireline trollers scored on keeper trout and striped bass at the CBBT. Captain Richard Bartlett and his party fished the buoy 13 area and caught and released three black drum ranging in size from 44 to 49 inches. Later in the day, the group moved to 9-Foot Shoals and hooked three red drum of 44-1/2 to 48 inches. The two lesser red drum were released but the 48-inch fish, which was caught by 8-year old Brandon Bartlett, was kept, weighed 45.5 pounds and has been submitted as a IGFA Small Fry World Record!

Virginia Middle Bay -
Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported trollers and chummers easily caught their limit of slot stripers (18 to 28 inches) the past week with some of the best action in the vicinity of the Northern Neck Reef. Boats anchored and chumming also encountered a few bluefish weighing up to 10 pounds--plus several "cut-offs." Croaker remain abundant with good hauls reported at the N2 buoy and just south of buoy 62 in 40 feet of water. Schools of 12 to 20-inch trout are holding along the channel edges while keeper flounder were caught along the jetty.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said charter boats chumming for striped bass "caught their limits and then some" of 18 to 24-inch fish working the buoy 62 area and the mouth of the Potomac River. Just out from the marina, "the bottom must be covered with croaker," as baited hooks often have croaker attached by the time they reach bottom. Additionally, 18 to 22-inch flounder were caught near the jetty while good-sized trout were caught at Smith Point Light. 

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service said grey trout were biting "everywhere," but conceded that many of the best hauls of the bigger fish are made after dusk at the Cell. School-sized striped bass and good-sized croaker are also being taken at the Cell. Jerry indicated many of the bigger croaker are moving to deeper water with fish to over 3 pounds holding near the pilings of the Piankatank Bridge. For anglers seeking strictly stripers, Jerry suggested chumming at the Northern Neck Reef site.

Jack from Locklies Marina said weekend catches included decent numbers of keeper flounder to 5-1/2 pounds at the White Stone Bridge, fair numbers of hand-sized spot over oyster beds located above the bridge and big croaker "all over this part of the river."

Garretts Marina said "they're still catching plenty of croaker" with the better hauls coming from "just off the marina," down to Bowlers Rock.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said the waters between the Eastern Shore Range Light and the Cell were holding loads of 1-1/2 to 3-pound croaker plus some grey trout to 24 inches. Inside the Rappahannock, decent catches of croaker plus a scattering of pan trout were recorded at Butlers Hole but "the fish are just bigger out in the Bay," according to Thompson.

Virginia Beach -
The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported good hauls of large sea bass by the headboat fleet, as Keith Flowers decked a 5-pound, 2-ouncer and Vincent Russell, Jr, a 5-1/2 pounder. Both catches were made aboard the headboat BOBBI-LEE. The Center's spokesperson also indicated that one of the six-pack charter boats returned with some nice yellowfin tuna that were caught SE of the Cigar.

Paula Owens from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said several of the charter fleet have been running half-day trips to the CBBT for striped bass, trout and flounder, where limit catches of school-sized stripers are routine. Despite windy conditions last Sunday, one boat ran all the way to the point for tuna. They were rewarded with just one fish and a "long" boat ride back, into the building seas. Inside the inlet, more flounder are showing while some large grey trout still linger in the deeper holes.

Virginia Piers
Grandview - Flounder plus a scattering of croaker and pan trout are biting during the day. Catches of both the trout and croaker increase once the sun sets. The season's first Spanish mackerel were decked last week. Catches of these flashy fish are sporadic during mid-day while a consistent bite usually develops near sunset.

Buckroe Beach - Spanish mackerel made their seasonal debut last week and they and flounder provide most of the daytime action. After dusk, pan trout, croaker, sea mullet and striped bass become active. An 18-pound and 41-inch red drum was the "big fish" catch of the week but anglers are counting on the arrival of even bigger cobia by the weekend.

Harrison - Daytime catches have been limited to a few small flounder. After dark the action improves around the pier lights, as decent hauls of sea mullet, croaker and keeper flounder were reported.

Lynnhaven - The past several mornings saw a decent bite of sea mullet but the action tapers off quickly once the sun is well up. In the late evenings, the sea mullet are once again active and pan trout move into the shadows cast by the pier lights.

Virginia Beach - Sea mullet have dominated the catches the past several days, although a 12-pound striped bass was landed on a rig meant for spot. Water temperature at the pier's pilings was 66 degrees on Tuesday.

Sandbridge - Spanish mackerel arrived last week. Other catches include taylor bluefish and pan trout.

Outer Banks, NC

Beach and pier anglers in the Nags Head area were treated to catches of Spanish mackerel, taylor blues and speckled trout whenever the surf was "clean" while sea mullet cooperated when the surf was roiled. Croaker have moved into the sound and were caught from the Nags Head-Manteo Causeway, along with some speckled trout, bluefish and school-sized stripers.

On Hatteras Island, Spanish mackerel and bluefish were caught during the day on Friday at Cape Point while red drum to 46 inches were caught and released after dark. Saturday produced a mixture of Spanish mackerel, flounder, bluefish, sea mullet and false albacore during the day with about two-dozen red drum caught and released after dusk. Sunday, daytime catches were limited by strong winds but an excellent drum bite developed that evening. On Monday, the surf calmed and good catches of Spanish mackerel up to 7 pounds and taylor blues were recorded. A visitor from Kentucky hooked and landed a 94-pound, 4-ounce cobia from Cape Point beach in the afternoon.

Offshore, the fleet sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported fair catches of yellowfin tuna and some gaffer dolphin on Friday. The day's catch was highlighted by a 183-pound bigeye tuna aboard the MARLIN FEVER IV. The fleet spent more time inshore on Saturday and located excellent numbers of school-size king mackerel. The crew on board the HAPHAZARD bagged a 130-pound bigeye while an 83-pound yellowfin on the TUNA FEVER was the day's heaviest yellowfin. On Sunday, king mackerel were again located in good numbers, as the fleet enjoyed its best day of the season for dolphin.

The yellowfin tuna bite was somewhat slow out of Hatteras Inlet on Friday, though decent numbers of gaffer dolphin plus some king mackerel and wahoo were boated. Inshore boats loaded-up on Spanish mackerel and taylor blues. Dolphin continued to dominate the action for the offshore fleet on Saturday, as only a scattering of yellowfin and wahoo were reported. On Sunday, the dolphin bite maintained as the tuna action improved. The crew on board the TEMPEST released a blue marlin while the group fishing aboard the RELIANCE released a white marlin. By day's end on Monday, good hauls of gaffer dolphin were on the docks and the RELEASE recorded a blue marlin release.

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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