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The Saltwater Review - 12 May 2004

Vol. 18, No. 2
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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


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.

Since the end of last year, regulations for black sea bass and summer flounder have been modified.

For black sea bass, the minimum size limit remains 12 inches while the possession limit remains  25 fish but the late summer closed period runs from September 8 through September 21.  The winter closed period remains December 1 through December 31.

For Summer Flounder, the minimum size and possession limit have both changed.  The minimum size limit decreased from 17-1/2 inches to 17 inches in 2004.  The possession limit likewise decreased, from 8 flounder last season to 6 summer flounder in 2004.

Red drum made a good early season showing inside the bay, along the Eastern Shore, and at several of the Barrier Islands last week.
Big bluefish are available on offshore lumps off Virginia Beach. The few charter boats that have targeted these fish enjoyed steady action. 

Schools of spadefish have moved into several offshore wreck sites, most notably the Tower Reef, and the Chesapeake Bay, but rod and reel catches have thus far been disappointing, as water temperatures struggle to remain above 60 degrees.

Chincoteague -

Donna from Captain Bob's reported flounder fishing was on the upswing through the week "until the coldfront moved through early Saturday."  The waters at Four Mouths were the most productive for flounder and produced near limit catches on Thursday.  Bottom fishermen are also catching some bluefish, big sea robins plus "plenty of skate."  Outside the inlet, the inshore wrecks remain very productive for black sea bass and some anglers are even filling their 25-fish limit.  Adien Flatly weighed the biggest sea bass of the week, a 21-inch fish that went 4-1/4 pounds.

Barnacle Bill's rated flounder action as "still pretty slow" and suggested the best chance at boating a keeper flatfish was at Four Mouths.  Outside the inlet, commercial gill netters are catching numbers of black drum while rod and reel anglers working the inshore ocean wrecks are catching good numbers of black sea bass plus a few tautog.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported flounder were biting at Green and Drawing channels plus the channel edge in front of the Coast Guard Station.  Outside the inlet, wreckfishing for black sea bass remains very good.

Captain Zed's said Saturday was "a complete blow-out," but several impressive catches were made a few days earlier.  Greg Stansky boated a 7-pound, 11-ounce flounder at Green Channel, where Greg Mizell landed a fat 7-pounder.  George Cordano was fishing aboard the charter boat CANYON LADY, skippered by Captain Jimmy Wallace, and landed a 13-pound, 2-ounce tautog.  The shoals around the mouth of the inlet are holding decent numbers of black drum, most of which are running 20 to 40 pounds.  Sea clams are the preferred bait for the black drum but black drum are not the only fish that prefer sea clam.  Ronald Evans was using sea clam for bait and fishing just outside the breakers at Paramour Island, when he landed and released a 48-inch red drum.  Jeff Pitts was fishing the same area and boated and released a 44-inch striped bass.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported decent flounder action at buoy 36A on Saturday, despite the windy conditions, as a few anglers managed limit catches.  More and more croaker are showing in area waters plus a scattering of 12 to 14-inch pan trout.  Weekend catches of black drum were poor and several anglers attributed the lack of "drum bites" to the preponderant number of croaker "nibbles."  Anglers searching for black drum responded by moving in hopes of fewer croaker or chose to rig with smaller hooks and enjoy the croaker.  The only black drum weighed-in over the weekend was a 66-pounder boated aboard the BEVERLY ELIZABETH.  The spring run of tautog remains underway with some of the best hauls made around the Cement Ships, the rocks of the Fourth Island and the pilings of the High Rise section of the CBBT, where Richard Temple boated and released a 23-inch tog.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported croaker dominate the bottom fishing but "we're catching 20 to 40 nice spot each trip" along with a cooler full of croaker.  "All the spot have been large this year, no small ones."  Last trip out the biggest spot measured 11-/12 inches.  Bottom fishermen are also catching some good-sized blowfish, snapper bluefish and a few keeper flounder up to 22  inches.  Anglers searching for striped bass are catching plenty of fish around Watts Island and the local rockpiles but "I know of only two fish that made the 32-inch size limit."  Red and black drum are available off Onancock, and according to Captain Wil, "there must have been 20 to 30 reds caught just last night."

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported very good catches of tautog along the CBBT complex with some of the best hauls coming from the First Island area.  Bottom fishermen are catching some flounder and medium-sized croaker  drifting between Willoughby Beach and the CBBT, with the best action in relatively shallow water.

Bubba's Tackle said the CBBT complex and inshore ocean wrecks were yielding good catches of tautog while anglers working around the pilings of the Lesner Bridge or drifting the Baltimore Channel were catching fair numbers of flounder.  Striped bass are abundant around the CBBT rock islands and most fish range from 20 to 26 inches but the shop saw fish to 40 inches the past week.  Anglers are reporting schools of big spadefish around the CBBT but "they're not biting yet."   Anglers fishing inside Lynnhaven Inlet managed some small to medium croaker and spot.

Dr. Jim Wright said good numbers of chopper bluefish were available "about 40 miles" east of Rudee Inlet.  Most of the blues were 28 to 33 inches but a few fish as large as 36 inches were boated.  Dr. Wright indicated that a few spadefish had been caught at the Third Island on clam and wireliners were catching plenty of school stripers "up to about 28 inches" around the Second, Third and Fourth islands.

Wallace's Marina registered a pair of citation winning fish over the weekend, as Ron McCrea weighed a 9-pound, 7-ounce tautog and Bill Baker checked-in a 7-1/4 pound flounder.  Both fish were boated at the CBBT complex.  Besides the CBBT, decent flounder catches were recorded at buoy 36A, off Factory Point, the Back River Reef site and the Hump while tog were caught amongst the rumble at Back River Reef.  Anglers casting to the CBBT rock islands after dark are enjoying steady striper action on fish from 18 to 36 inches--plus a few big grey trout.  The shop also indicated that the spring run of huge black and red drum was just starting.  The preferred bait for the black drum is sea clam while those seeking channel bass prefer fresh peeler crab.

Sunset Marina checked-in several "trophy" striped bass that made the 32-inch or greater slot last week.  Jerry Hux boated a 33-1/2-inch bass at the First Island while Bill Carter released a 35-inch striper at the Third Island.  Tom Mattioli and wife Cindy checked-in a pair of keepers at 33 and 34 inches.  Both fish were caught near Fort Monroe.

Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina said customers caught a mixture of smallish (but 17 inches or more) flounder and tautog the past week but only a handful of folks fished and "they weren't saying where they caught (the fish)."

Chuck Ash at A & S Feed and Bait Supply said speckled trout action improved over the past week.  Chuck knew of several citation trout that were caught inside Mobjack Bay on peeler crab while lesser trout were caught at Poquoson Flats on artificials.  Croaker remain abundant inside the York River with some of the best hauls made above the Coleman Bridge in the vicinity of the Naval Weapons Station.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club say black and red drum are holding around buoy 13 but dogfish, skates and rays have dominated catches recently.  The season's first spadefish have been boated at the Tower Reef and CBBT complex.  Large grey trout are available at both the HRBT and CBBT but recent catches have been poor, though school-sized stripers and taylor blues are abundant.  Large bluefish are holding on the offshore ocean lumps off Virginia Beach but few anglers are taking advantage of this fishery.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported croaker provide steady action for bottom fishermen in the river while trollers pulling umbrella rigs are scoring on trophy-sized stripers at the Northern Neck Reef site and in Maryland waters.  Roger indicated a few flounder were caught in the vicinity of the Cell, where spadefish are due to make their annual appearance.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said anglers drifting just outside the Little Wicomico River landed flounder in the 18 to 21-inch range the past week.  Trollers boated returned to the dock with striped bass weighing as much as 30 pounds last week.  Best catches were made from the mouth of the Potomac River, and north, up to buoy 66.  Dan indicated bottom fishermen were catching loads of croaker in shallow water.

Queens Creek Outfitters said bottom fishermen are catching a mixture of croaker, spot and a few pan trout in the Rappahannock River above the White Stone Bridge.  One of the first citation-winning speckled trout from Mobjack Bay this spring was landed by Lee Oliver of Gloucester last week.  The trophy trout was pulled from the North River, hit a MirrOlure and weighed 6 pounds, 11 ounces and measured 25-3/4 inches. Anglers floating fresh peeler crab chunks or casting artificials inside the Piankatank and working the river points or grass beds are scoring on schoolie stripers.  Waters surrounding buoy 42 and off Cape Charles are producing some flounder while tautog are active over the iron ore deposits off Gwynn Island and at the Cell.

Locklies Marina told of good weather and even better bottom fishing.  "We're seeing more spot with each passing day," while croaker remain hungry and abundant.  Several more citation croaker (3 pounds or more) were checked-in the past week.  Bottom fishermen are also catching some pan trout up to 2 pounds and under-sized (17-inch minimum size limit) flounder.  Waters off Parrot Island yielded the best overall catches of bottom fish again the past week.

Captain Jim Thompson at Windmill Point Marina said good-sized croaker move into the shallows in the evenings and are easily caught from the shoreline or any one of the many private piers on the lower Rappahannock River.

Virginia Beach -

Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported "pretty slow" catches of black sea bass aboard the headboats, while the six-pack charters have had good success on chopper bluefish on the offshore lumps.  Inside the inlet, anglers are catching some flounder, spot and the occasional trout.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina had "a few" charters offshore for big bluefish but most of the fleet was preparing for the arrival of tuna and other bluewater species.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Closed indefinitely.

Buckroe Beach - The pier was completely destroyed by hurricane Isabel.  The city of Hampton has expressed an interest to build a pier and has requested funding from the Recreational Development Fund.

Harrison - Completely demolished.  Closed indefinitely.

Lynnhaven - The pier is still under going rebuilding but plans call for a May 15 opening.

Virginia Beach - Spot and sea mullet provided decent bottom fishing the past week.  Anglers fishing bait on the bottom can also expect a few visits from Mr. skate.

Sandbridge - Good-sized sea mullet and spot provided good bottom fishing action several days the past week.  The season's first citation sea mullet (24 ounces) was decked at the pier.  Anglers are also catching some croaker, trout and plenty of skate.

Outer Banks, NC -

Surf and pier fishermen along the Nags Head area beaches enjoyed a nice mixture of panfish the past week, as surf waters finally hit the 60-degree mark.  Sea mullet, snapper bluefish and spot were the most abundant but some grey and speckled trout and croaker were also landed.  Shark and skates also hit baited lines and were most numerous after dark.

On Hatteras Island, anglers fishing Cape Point beached a mixture of pompano, flounder and bluefish on Friday.  Saturday produced a decent run of puppy drum in the morning at the Point while sea mullet, pompano and flounder were caught just south of the Point.  Good-sized flounder were beached Sunday and the biggest weighed 5.2 pounds and was caught by Raymond Shaaf.  Over a dozen large red drum were beached (and released) at Cape Point around sunset on Monday.  Earlier in the day, sea mullet and flounder provided slow but consistent action while shark, skate and rays provided numbers.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported mixed catches of yellowfin tuna, gaffer dolphin and more wahoo than normal on Friday.  Robert Keenan of Gloucester Point decked a 65-pound wahoo.  On Saturday, 32 boats fished offshore and most returned with a good catch of yellowfin tuna plus a few gaffer dolphin, wahoo, king mackerel, chopper bluefish and a mako.  The fleet recorded three sailfish releases.  On Sunday, 12 boats fished offshore and recorded fair catches of tuna, dolphin and wahoo.  A 125-pound mako was weighed-in and a white marlin was released. Boats fishing inshore during this period recorded excellent catches of taylor blues and false albacore while the headboat reported decent hauls of sea mullet and bluefish.

The 10th annual Hatteras Village Offshore Open was won by SEA SPUD.  CAROLINA GIRL finished second and SEA ANGEL placed third.  No blue marlin were caught.  Boats not fishing in the event reported scattered catches of dolphin, yellowfin and wahoo on Saturday.  Catches improved Sunday, as the fleet returned with good mixed catches dolphin, yellowfin and king mackerel.  Two white marlin and one sailfish were released Sunday.

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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