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The Saltwater Review - 4 May  2006

Vol. 20, No. 1

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

OVERVIEW

The next Virginia Saltwater Review will be published the week of May 15-19.

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 homepage web site (see address above).  A reporting form is also enclosed in this report.

The early spring season has been highlighted by strong showing of flounder, both along the Eastern Shore seaside, and the around mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.  At least two-dozen citation flounder (fish of 7 pounds or more, or 26 inches or longer) have already been registered in Virginia’s annual Saltwater Fishing Tournament.

Tautog continue to provide dependable action along the CBBT complex, lower bay wrecks and inshore ocean wrecks.

The season’s first rod and reel catches of black red drum have already been recorded.  The spring black drum run off Cape Charles usually peaks in mid to late May while the best red drum action is usually in June.

Bottom fishermen have been catching croaker for at least four weeks in the lower portion of the Bay and James River.  Reports of these tasty bottom feeders indicate they have arrived in most of their early season haunts.  Most of these fish are described as “long and skinny,” but that is the norm.  After a few weeks inside the Bay’s productive estuarine waters they will lose their long and skinny appearance.

The bluewater season has yet to begin in earnest.  Pockets of warm water have stayed farther south and east than most anglers care to travel by boat.  Even in North Carolina, where warm water and fish are well within reach, the weather has kept many boats tied to the dock.
 

Chincoteague

Donna at Captain Bob’s reported the weekend was a bust due to high winds but some flounder, weighing as much as 7 pounds, were caught in the Four Mouths area earlier in the week.  A few keeper flounder were also caught in Queen’s Sound and along Chincoteague Channel.  Over on Assateague Island, beach fishermen using peeler crab for bait are catching some black drum in the 10 to 20-pound range.  Surfcasters are also catching a few taylor bluefish and occasional striped bass but only skate are abundant.

Wachapreague

Folks at Wachapreague Marina say this spring flounder season has been one of the best in the last 15 years, although last weekend was a “blowout,” due to strong northeast winds.  The shop’s annual 10-day Flounder Tournament finished Sunday.  Chuck Riddleberger (6 pounds, 5 ounces) boated the event’s heaviest flounder at Green Channel while Robert Scvadley (5 pounds, 14 ounces) caught the second heaviest flatfish at Folley Creek.  Harold Ridenour (5 pounds, 11 ounces) finished third, Bonny Crouse  (5 pounds, 10 ounces) came in fourth and Nick Shreve (5 pounds, 9 ounces) was fifth. 

Captain Zed’s said flounder fishing all but came to a standstill Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as winds gusted to over 40 knots at times.  Prior to the weekend, Hummock Flats and the flats adjacent to Drawing Channel produced some of the best flounder catches, as a number of customers “limited-out” with six flounder, 16-1/2 inches or more.  The shop’s annual 10-day Flounder Tournament ended Sunday.  Kip Foskey won the big fish tournament with a 6-1/2-pound flounder while Chuck Riddleburger (6 pounds, 6 ounces) finished a close second.  Jerry Foster (6 pounds, 2 ounces) finished third and Bruce Snaves (5 pounds, 14 ounces) took fourth place. 

Cape Charles

Chris’ Bait and Tackle reported very few anglers fished over the weekend due the strong winds, and the few that did, fished close to the shoreline.  Rebekah Johnson boated and released a 49-3/4-inch red drum off Fishermen’s Island but Chris had no word of any black drum, though several had been caught earlier in the week on rod and reel near buoy 16.  Tautog were pulled from around the Concrete Ships while anglers drifting just offshore managed some pan trout, croaker and the occasional flounder.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported croaker were off Onancock but “they were long and skinny.”  His first trip of the season produced fish to 21 inches but “there was hardly enough meat for one person.”   The same fish in a few weeks would have easily weighed over three pounds.  Both black and red drum have arrived in area waters.  On a recent outing, Captain Will caught several “yearling” red drum to 30 inches and the commercial gill net fishermen “have been catching large black drum for three weeks.”  Trophy striped bass season opened Monday, May 1, but Captain Will knew of several striped bass as long as 43 inches that had been caught and released prior to the open season.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina had no weekend activity but reported good catches of flounder around the Third Island and along the Baltimore Channel and tautog “at all the islands,” earlier in the week. 

Bubba’s Marina said some flounder and occasional tautog were caught around the Lesner Bridge, where taylor bluefish are numerous at times.   The CBBT complex continues to produce a dependable tautog bite, weather permitting.  Fiddler crabs are the preferred bait but cut blue crab and chowder clam pieces are also working for the tog.

Finding protected waters has been the key recently, and Dr. Jim Wright knew of a few flounder that were caught inside Lynnhaven Inlet and heard of some good-sized croaker.   Inside Rudee Inlet, chunky taylor blues were available in decent numbers and persistent anglers were catching a few grey and speckled trout. 

Sunset Boating Center had one local charter out on Saturday and the crew caught some nice-sized croaker right off Fort Monroe but “nobody else has been out,” due to the high winds.  The shop did say that croaker and a few keeper flounder were caught at the Hampton Bar earlier in the week.

Salt Ponds Marina said only a few anglers ventured out the past week (and none over the weekend) and they caught some tautog and flounder around the CBBT but “it was nothing spectacular.”

A & S Feed and Bait Supply told of a good early season flounder bite inside the bay with some of the best action off Cape Charles, near buoy 36A.  The shop has already registered several citation flounder and the heaviest topped 8 pounds.  Inside the York River, bottom fishermen enjoy a steady croaker bite and a few flounder were caught near the mouth of the river.

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said both black and red drum had arrived off Cape Charles but the bite was still sporadic.  A few nice-sized grey trout were caught the past week.  The HRBT has been the “hot spot,” but even here, the bite has been “hit or miss.”  Flounder were biting at the Hump and across the Bay around buoy 36A.  Tautog are biting on the lower bay, with the CBBT complex the top location.  Inshore ocean wrecks are also producing tog and big black sea bass still linger on the deep-water wrecks.   A deep-drop trip aboard the Healthy Grin produced a big catch of blueline tilefish and large black sea bass and even a 15-pound grouper!  Jeff Dail had the heaviest tilefish at 14 pounds and Ken Neill had the biggest sea bass at 5 pounds. 

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware had good reports of locally caught croaker for the past two weeks “up in the creeks,” where the water is warmer.  Local pound net fishermen are seeing plenty of croaker and bunker plus some snapper blues and flounder in their nets.  Most anglers seeking trophy striped bass are fishing up in Maryland waters and many have been successful, according to Roger. 

Dan from Smith Point Marina described the trophy striper action as “great,” and indicated the shop had registered three citation stripers since the season opened in Maryland, mid-May.  Heaviest so far was Casey Cairnes’ 48-inch, 42-pounder.  Nearly all anglers seeking striped bass are trolling and having their best success near buoy 65 and 72.  Dan also indicated that flounder had put in an early appearance in local waters, as keeper-sized flatfish were caught around the jetty.

Jerry Thrash from Queen’s Creek Outfitters said the weekend was a loss for anglers, due to strong northeast winds, but good catches of flounder were recorded earlier in week out at buoys 36A and 38.  Wayne Wood weighed-in an 8-pound, 5-ounce flounder, caught at the CBBT.  Croaker provided decent action in the creeks and shallow portions of the river and several speckled trout were caught inside the Ware River, including a 5-1/4-pounder, caught by Wayne Smith.  The citation 24-inch trout hit a slow trolled MirrOlure.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen had been catching some croaker but “nothing the past four days due to the wind.”  The best bite had been in shallow water, where anglers also reported catching a few spot.

Garretts Marina said bottom fishermen working the shallows near buoy 19 had already begun catching croaker.  A few catfish were also caught in the same area.

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I said large croaker have moved inside the Rappahannock River and the best action is in shallow water, 15 feet or less.  The season’s first peeler run is on and Captain Thompson expects the best croaker bite will be along the shorelines, where the crabs come for refuge while they shed.  Captain Jim also heard of decent catches of flounder out at the Cell on squid and minnow.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported taylor bluefish, blue crabs and flounder were biting inside Rudee Inlet, where John Conway nabbed an 8-pound, 3-ounce flounder.  Offshore action has been limited by rough weather and cool water.  Two weeks earlier, several boats ran out to the Triple 0’s area and found some football-sized bluefin tuna (all released) and a few yellowfin tuna.  Ocean wrecks are producing a mixture of black sea bass, tautog and spiny dogfish.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina said good numbers of taylor bluefish had moved inside the inlet but the most dependable action was around the jetties.  The inshore ocean wrecks are still producing decent catches of tautog plus more black sea bass are showing with each passing week.  Chopper bluefish should be available on the inshore lumps, such as the Fish Hook, Boomerang and Hot Dog and perhaps as close as the Tower Reef.

Virginia Piers -

James River – Anglers here have enjoyed good runs of croaker for several weeks.  Best action has been in the late afternoon and evening.  At least two croaker of 3 pounds and more have been decked this year. 

Ocean View –  Bottom fishermen are seeing decent runs of croaker nearly every evening.  A few trout, snapper bluefish, sea mullet and even striped bass were decked the past week.   

Lynnhaven – Sea mullet made an inspired run mid-week but catches were poor over the weekend due to high winds.

Virginia Beach – Taylor bluefish and skate provided most of the action the past week.

Sandbridge – Taylor bluefish have provided most of the excitement since the pier opened for the season April 15.  Other catches include a few blowfish, sea mullet, small croaker and plenty of skate. 

Outer Banks, NC -

Weekend beach and pier fishermen in the Nags Head area found conditions “unfishable,” facing the strong northeast winds.  A few puppy drum were caught in the protected waters along the Little Bridge to Manteo.  Prior to the weekend, a variety of panfish, including bluefish, sea mullet, shad, speckled trout, croaker, grey and speckled trout were pulled from the 60-degree surf.  

South of Oregon Inlet, anglers fishing the Cape Point in Buxton managed a few puppy drum on Friday.  Saturday, despite sandblasting strength winds, determined anglers caught a handful of puppy drum, a few bluefish and sea mullet.  Sunday and Monday were just too windy to fish.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported adverse weather the past 10 days has limited the fishing activity.  A pair of charter boats decided to fish Friday in rough conditions and had “so-so” catches of yellowfin tuna plus one or two wahoo and king mackerel.  The fleet was idled until Wednesday (May 3), and again with less than ideal conditions, recorded just fair catches of yellowfin tuna and dolphin.

The fleet sailing out of Hatteras Inlet caught yellowfin tuna to 80 pounds and scattered wahoo and dolphin early in the week.  Inshore, red drum were pulled from the shoals around Hatteras and Portsmouth inlets.  The fleet did not sail again until Tuesday (May 3) and recorded mixed catches of yellowfin tuna, king mackerel, dolphin and chopper bluefish.


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.

 

Click on Newsletter link at the top of any web page to get to the index of previous Saltwater Reviews


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