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The Saltwater Review - May 14, 2003

Volume 17. 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 and our homepage web site (click here for form). 

Since the end of last year, regulations for black sea bass, grey trout and red drum have been modified.

For black sea bass, the minimum size limit has been upped to 12 inches while the possession limit remains 25 fish but closed periods of September 2 through September 15 and December 1 through December 31 have been added.

The minimum size limit for grey trout is 12 inches and the possession limit is 7 fish year round.

Grey trout are showing increasingly and quite a few top the 9-pound minimum qualifying citation weight. Top locations include inside Rudee Inlet, the CBBT, the HRBT and the M & M crossing.

Flounder action remains below par for mid-May but so is the water temperature.

The seasons first catches of Spanish mackerel were recorded last week, as these speedy gamesters were decked at the Sandbridge, Grandview and Buckroe Beach piers.

Big bluefish have been reported off Virginia Beach, at the Fish Hook , Hot Dog and just inside the Triangle wreck area and off the Eastern Shore, the 26 Mile Hill.

Chincoteague -

Donna from Captain Bob's reported some keeper flounder were caught at Queen's Sound early in the week but "they've been all 13 to 14 inchers since." Chunky taylor blues are holding at Four Mouths, near buoy 7 while a few pan trout were caught at the mouth of Cockle Creek. B. J. Meadows boated a 6-1/4-pound flounder at Four Mouths while Brett Scholberl decked a 4-1/2-pound flounder at the entrance buoy to Captain Bob's. Kevin Merritt was bottom fishing at Blackfish Banks and decked a 10-1/2-pound tautog.

Barnacle Bill's said the wind "has been blowing for a week," and fishing activity has been very limited. Bottom fishermen did find some haddock, in the 2 to 4-pound range, around the legs of the Queens Sound Bridge and the pilings of the town dock. Persistent anglers managed some flounder, trout and bluefish just north of the Queens Sound Bridge and at Four Mouths. "When they can out there," the wreckfishing has been excellent for black sea bass and tautog.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina described the flounder action as "spotty at best." One of the better recent outings saw a lone angler boat five keepers at the Hummocks. Outside the inlet, good numbers of sea bass are available on the wrecks and reefs.

Captain Zed's felt the flounder bite improved "a little bit" during the latter part of last week, though overall action remained below normal for mid-May. The shop suggested Green and Drawing channels as the best spot for flounder "once the weather improves." On a positive note, big black drum plus a few trout have been caught around the mouth of the inlet. The crew aboard the Canyon Lady wreckfished mid-week and returned with a good haul of tautog.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported loads of croaker are holding at Latimer Shoals but black drum remain scarce. David Canupp had the lone citation black drum (release only) of the weekend. The fish measured 46 inches and was caught at buoy 16 on clam. The shop registered several red drum releases, including a 51-inch fish by Robert Carpender, Jr. (Smith Island), a 47-incher by Rick Gaskill, III (Pungoteague Creek), a 44-1/2 incher for Robert Burus (Fishermans Island) and a 44-inch drum for Mark Fetzer (buoy 15). Very few stripers have been reported from area waters but a 38-inch bass was caught just off the Ships on Sunday and a 24-inch cobia reportedly caught and released in the same vicinity.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported good catches of croaker in 25 to 40 feet of water depending on the tide. "The best fishing in usually in the shallower water on the hard outgoing," according to Captain Wil. Mixed in with the croaker are some 10 to 11-inch spot, a few blowfish and the occasional flounder. Trout were "hard to come by" last week, as area waters cooled to 56 degrees. Several large black and red drum were caught last week. The best action has been in the evenings.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina recorded their first citation trout of the season, a 9-1/4-pounder, caught at the HRBT on a bucktail by Dave Dolittle. The marina said overall action has been slowed by poor weather but some tautog, trout and croaker were caught at the CBBT complex the past week.

Dr. Jim Wright said divers had spotted spadefish at the Tower Reef but he felt ocean waters were still too cold for the fish to bite on hook and line. Further offshore, big sea bass are still holding over the deeper ocean wrecks and big bluefish have been caught just inside the Triangle Wrecks and at the 26 Mile Hill. At the mouth of the Bay, 14 to 18-inch striped bass are crowded around the Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT, Julie Ball landed citation tautog of 10 and 13-1/2 pounds at the Cape Henry wreck site and large red drum were caught from the beach of Ship Shoal Inlet.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Bait and Tackle said big grey trout had arrived at the CBBT, as James Tuccillo boated a 9-pound, 13-ounce beauty on a rubber-tailed jig at the Third Island. Ben Burrows was bottom fishing with bait at the HRBT and landed an 8-pound, 5-ounce trout. Flounder were caught around the mouth of Back River, at the Hump and the Third and Fourth islands but "nothing fast and furious."

Debbie at Sunset Marina knew of flounder measuring up to 28 inches that were boated at the Hump and along Baltimore Channel. Jerry Hux released a 48-inch striped bass aboard the NOT GUILTY at the CBBT, while the crew aboard the MATTIE J flyrodded a batch to taylor blues. A customer using fresh shiner for bait caught several grey trout up to 6-1/4 pounds at the HRBT and bottom bouncers working around the M & M crossing, off Ocean View and at Hampton Bar caught plenty of croaker.

Salt Ponds Marina said some small flounder and croaker were caught just outside the entrance to Salt Ponds but "we really didn't have many fishing because of the weather."

Jimmy Lewis at A & S Feed and Bait Supply said Luke Bray of Hayes decked a citation 3-pound, 6-ounce croaker on squid at the Gloucester Point public pier. In addition to the waters surrounding the pier, croaker are biting throughout the York River with the bigger fish tending to be in relatively shallow water. Some flounder were pulled from around the pilings of the Coleman Bridge (Yorktown side) and off Cape Charles.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club say red drum were caught along the oceanside of the Eastern Shore and the Inner Middle Ground while black drum were caught near buoy 13.. Flounder action remains a "hit or miss" situation. Offshore, big bluefish have moved into the Hot Dog, Fish Hook and 26 Mile Hill while taylor bluefish up to 4 pounds are common in the Bay.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported trollers are catching some 32-inch plus stripers while working waters around the Leroy buoy, Smith Point Light and the Northern Neck Reef. Bottom fishermen using squid or bloodworm for bait caught croaker up to 15 inches. Best action has been inside the rivers, in shallow water, and especially around the old oyster reefs. Snapper bluefish and pan trout were caught in the local fish traps but Roger knew of no rod and reel catches.

Dan at Smith Point Marina said both charter and private boats were catching lots of striped bass, "mainly around the mouth of the Potomac River" and all were trolling. Some of the stripers topped 40 inches but most were in the 30 to 36-inch range (Maryland and Potomac River have a 28-inch minimum for their trophy season).

Queens Creek Outfitters said croaker were "all over" the rivers and creeks with squid and bloodworm the preferred baits. The shop said a few grey trout were caught in the past week and knew of one trout of nearly 9 pounds that was caught near Cherry Point.

Locklies Marina said the peeler run was in full swing and the croaker were plentiful. The marina checked-in four citation croaker of up to 3-3/4 pounds, 21 inches, on Sunday. The bigger croaker are being caught in shallow water while croaker less than a pound are holding in the deeper channels. Other catches include decent numbers of hand-sized spot and a few trout to 22 inches but no flounder.

Tommy Lewis at Garretts Marina said croaker can be caught "anywhere in the river" but poor weather has kept many small boat anglers in port. Tommy added that the bigger croaker are holding in relatively shallow water, from 5 to 15 feet.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina described the weekend bottom fishing as "fair but nothing great," with better catches coming from the mouth of the river, at Butlers Hole, than out in the Bay. Croaker to nearly three pounds provided the bulk of the action but a few spot and the occasional pan trout were also boated.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the headboats are returning with good hauls of large sea bass plus a few tautog. Biggest sea bass of the week weighed 6 pounds, 1 ounce. Fishing aboard a private boat, Bill Rogers nailed an 11-pound, 3-ounce tautog on an offshore wreck and Billy Jennnings landed a 9-3/4-pound tog at the Tower Reef. Some large grey trout still linger inside Rudee Inlet, as Bill Pappas landed a 9-1/4 pounder.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said a few boats fished the lower Bay for flounder but the bluewater charter season is still "a couple weeks away." Paula did say several parties had booked trips to the CBBT for striped bass for the coming weekend.

Virginia Piers -

James River - Croaker to nearly 3 pounds provided the bulk of the action. The bite tends to be best in the late evening and after dark. Bottom fishermen also decked a few pan trout and catfish.

Grandview - Karen told of decent numbers of keeper flounder, ranging from 17-1/2 inches to 23-1/2 inches. Croaker were plentiful last week and the biggest topped 3 pounds. Spot and the season's first Spanish mackerel were caught last week. Pan trout are active after dark around the pier lights.

Buckroe Beach - Big news here was the 40-inch, 17-1/4-pound striped bass decked by Robbie Sanford. Bottom fishermen are also catching some keeper flounder, spot and a few croaker. Several Spanish mackerel were also decked during daylight hours.

Harrison - Charley said spot made a surprise but welcome showing Tuesday night--"but only for a few hours." Sea mullet weighing up to 19 ounces were decked, as mullet and croaker combined for the bulk of the action. Some pan trout and a few keeper flounder were decked. Bluefish, which had provided good sport since the pier opened, were in short supply last week.

Lynnhaven - Catches here consist mostly of sea mullet, bluefish and spot.

Virginia Beach - Sea mullet made a good showing the past several days, as bottom fishermen also recorded catches of spot, bluefish, pan trout and croaker. Water temperature at pierside was 60-degrees on Monday.

Sandbridge - Bluefish, spot, skate and a few croaker provided fair to good action last week. The season's first Spanish mackerel was decked last week but water temperatures are barely 60-degrees and a strong showing by these gamesters unlikely until waters warm another five degrees or so.

Outer Banks, NC -

Surf and pier fishermen along the Nags Head area beaches managed a mixture of small blues, sea mullet, croaker and pan trout while surf fishermen working the beach at Oregon Inlet enjoyed good action on taylor blues plus some sea mullet.

South of Oregon Inlet, anglers fishing from the beach at Cape Point on Buxton enjoyed good weekend catches of sea mullet and large bluefish (up to about 10 pounds). Several large red drum were caught and released plus the season's first pompano, Spanish mackerel and cobia were beached.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported fair mixed catches of yellowfin tuna, king mackerel, dolphin and wahoo on Friday. On Saturday, boats averaged five yellowfin each but also had a sprinkling of king mackerel and wahoo. On Sunday, several boats landed nice bigeye tuna, ranging from 127 to 163 pounds. On Monday, all the boats had nice catches of large dolphin, topped by a 41 pounder aboard the Trophy Hunter.

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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