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Saltwater Review - May 16, 2002

Volume 16. No.3
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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


The second segment of Virginia's Trophy Striped Bass season opened May 16 and runs through June 15. During this period, 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.

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).

Regulations (season, size limit or possession limit) have changed since last season for several species, including black sea bass, cobia, king mackerel, scup, spadefish, Spanish mackerel and summer flounder.

Despite less than ideal weather conditions the past week, spadefish provided some of the best fishing action  especially at the Tower Reef, where large numbers of the saucer-shaped fish have arrived.  Anglers are reminded that the possession limit for spadefish has been reduced to four-fish and a release citation (21-inch minimum) established.

The spring black drum run off Cape Charles is likely peaking, it seems only the weather held down catches the past week. 

Likewise, red drum are biting in the same general area but they tend to aggregate in more shoal water.  The area known as 9-Foot Shoals, the waters around Fishermen's Island and barrier island beaches have been the more productive locations.

Grey trout numbers and sizes continue to improve with reports of large fish at the HRBT, CBBT complex and the Cell.

Chincoteague -

Donna at Captain Bob's reported flounder have moved into the flats  around the old lighthouse and Queen's Sound, where some anglers are catching their limit "when the wind will let them."  Back Narrows and Four mouths still hold some flatfish while anglers drifting chunks of peeler crab at dusk around buoys 15 and 16 are catching good-sized trout.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina said "everybody's been getting their limit" of flounder in recent days with Dorthy Elliot's 7-pound, 14-ounce flatfish the biggest of the week.  Dorthy made her citation-winning catch at Mill Stone Creek but Green and Drawing channels remain the favored locations.

Captain Zed's described the recent flounder bite as "right good" with large trout also making a decent showing.  The shop suggested Green Channel and the deep water in front of the old Coast Guard Station as the top spots for flounder.  Other catches include black and red drum off Paramour Island and big sea bass on the ocean wrecks, where Vicks Shreve nailed a 21-inch, 5-pound, 1-ounce bass.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait Shop reported the spring run of big black drum is in full swing (after all, it was Mother's Day weekend) with the buoy 16 area the hot spot.  The shop issued 35 release citations, with as many as five releases on each paper, over the weekend.  Several local anglers with released drum of 50 inches or more included Ed Silvia (53 inches), Elvis Price (52 inches) and Micheal Paglia (50 inches).  The shop also registered half-a-dozen red drum releases including those by James Fairchild (49-1/2 inches), Carl McCrady (46 inches) and Tom Dero (45 inches).  The waters around Fishermen's Island and Latimer Shoals appears to be the early hot spots, though Fairchild's 49-1/2-inch red was caught at the High Rise while jigging for trout!  As for general bottom fishing, croaker are scattered/schooled all over the bayside (which can be a problem for drum fishermen) while trout were holding around the pilings of the little bridge to Fishermen's Island and the Cement Ships.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported strong winds limited fishing access the past week.  At times when boats ventured out, bottom fishermen caught plenty of croaker up to nearly 3 pounds, some spot and decent numbers of trout to 4 pounds.  Red drum and a few black drum were boated off Parkers Island while a few speckled trout were caught around Fox Island and Nassawaddox Creek. 

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported strong winds limited access to the lower Bay for much of the week, though the shop did hear of some croaker and grey trout plus a few flounder that were boated at the CBBT complex.  Donald McKenney checked-in a citation grey trout of 29-1/2 inches and 9-1/4 pounds at the marina.  The catch was made on a live menhaden at the HRBT.

Lou from Bubba's Marina said his co-worker, Roger Alanzo boated a 9-pound, 2-ounce flounder at the Third Island, where bottom fishermen are reporting good catches of trout and croaker.  The big news of the week has been the mass arrival of large spadefish at the Tower Reef, "so thick you could scoop them in a landing net."   Several release awards have been registered but the heaviest weighed thus far was just over 8 pounds (the citation weight increased this year to 9 pounds).  Lou also told of good action on red and black drum on the eastern Shore and sporadic catches of keeper flounder back inside Lynnhaven Inlet.

Dr. Jim Wright said it was "just too windy" for him to fish, though he heard large grey trout were hitting on the bayside of the Third and Fourth islands (jigging and wireline trolling), red drum along the bayside of the 13 MP and spadefish at the Tower Reef.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Bait and Tackle said Glen Douglas landed a 6-pound, 10-ounce speckled trout at Poquoson Flats on Sunday, where its been "too windy to fish ever since," according to Donnie.  Eleven-year-old Chase Lewis pulled-in a 4-1/2-pound flounder at the mouth of Back River and "boy was he happy."   Donnie described the current run of grey trout as "fantastic" with the HRBT, CBBT complex (especially the 12 MP) and Back River Reef site producing many of the better hauls.  Donnie heard "tons" of rumors about cobia but "I haven't seen the first one yet."

Johnny at Sunset Marina said Tommy Mattioli and Charley Hogg boated and released seven big black drum  up to an estimated 92 pounds on a recent outing off Cape Charles.  Stan Page and party had a nice catch of 20 to 24-inch flounder at Hampton Bar and Tom Mattioli boated a 36-inch striped bass.  Johnny added that croaker and trout were being caught off Fort Wool.

Paul from Vanasse Bait and Tackle said fishermen were "catching everything," noting that several cobia were hooked off Grandview Pier, flounder were caught off Back River, Fort Monroe and Grandview Beach while croaker were biting "anywhere there is water."

Salt Ponds Marina had limited activity due to windy conditions in recent days but knew of croaker and trout that were caught at night, just outside the entrance to Salt Ponds.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply rated bottom fishing as excellent in the middle portion of the York River, as anglers return with loads of croaker plus some trout, bluefish and flounder.  Anglers fishing from the Gloucester Point Pier are catching plenty of croaker plus an occasional bluefish and flounder.  Flounder seem most abundant around the pilings of the Coleman Bridge.  Speckled trout are still being caught inside Mobjack Bay.  The shop sponsored a two-day speckled trout rodeo last weekend and Tim Brown had the winning fish at 4-1/2 pounds.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club caught and released black drum up to 50 inches at buoy 13, found taylor blues and school stripers active at the HRBT and CBBT and red drum at 9-Foot Shoals.  Poor weekend weather conditions kept their list short this week.

Virginia Middle Bay -

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported a few taylor bluefish were caught along the channel edge near buoy 62 but bluefish in the 8 to 10-pound range were captured in a nearby pound net.  Croaker are plentiful throughout local waters but some of the better catches of bigger fish are made along the channel edges in about 30 feet of water.  Bottom fishermen are also seeing a scattering of spot.  Up near the Marsh buoy, anglers caught trout on jigs.

 Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Marina said waters in the Cell/buoy 42 area are producing keeper flounder, taylor bluefish, trout and spadefish.  Over the structure at the Cell, large grey trout average 5 pounds with some fish topping 9 pounds.  Large spadefish have arrived at the Cell but have not been an easy catch.  The spring run of speckled trout continues around Gwynn Island at Hole-in-the-Wall, in Mobjack Bay at Ware Neck and at several locations inside the Piankatank River.  The creeks, rivers and channel edges in the Bay are loaded with croaker with a few pan trout and spot mixed in.   Nelson Graves, Jr. had the week's lone citation, a 21-1/4-inch spadefish, caught and released at the Cell.

Jack from Locklies Marina felt the fish, especially the trout, had scattered due to "all the wind."  Bottom fishermen are returning with mostly croaker with the area between Parrots Rock and the Silos the top location.  Spot numbers improved over last week and a few keeper flounder and trout were landed.

Tommy Lewis from Garrett's Marina indicated fishing activity had dropped-off since the winds picked up.  Those few fishing caught croaker but "not much else."

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina described bottom fishing as awesome at the mouth of the Rappahannock River, just south of the R1 buoy in 35 feet of water, as bottom fishermen loaded coolers with 12 to 19-inch croaker plus a few pan trout.  Results inside the river, at Butlers Hole, were similar.  The croaker hit squid on the moving tide but preferred bloodworm bits during slack water.  Further up the river, croaker averaged 1-1/2 pounds off the Silos plus keeper trout were more abundant.  Captain Thompson also indicated spadefish and flounder were biting at the Cell.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported steady catches of black sea bass aboard the headboats.  A lone charter boat returned with yellowfin tuna in the fishbox on Tuesday.  

Paula from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said none of their fleet have ventured out the past week, "its just been too rough."

Virginia Piers -

Grandview ‑ Good catches of croaker plus some trout and sea mullet after dark.  Some keeper flounder during the day.  A good run of Spanish mackerel developed Tuesday.

Buckroe Beach ‑ Some keeper flounder and sea mullet during the day with plenty of croaker and some trout after dark.  A cobia was hooked and broken-off at pier side on Wednesday.

Harrison ‑ Charley said a 47-inch cobia was decked on Monday.  Snapper blues of over a pound have blitzed the pier in recent days while bottom fishermen are hauling up plenty of croaker and a few keeper flounder.  Heaviest croaker of the week weighed 2 pounds, 11 ounces.  Odd-ball catch of the week was a lobster that was pulled up in a pier crab net.

Lynnhaven ‑ Daytime action has been slow, confided a pier spokesperson, and limited to a few sea mullet, taylor blues and a couple of keeper flounder.  The action improves markedly as the sun sets, as bluefish, sea mullet, grey trout and speckled trout become active.

Virginia Beach ‑ The season's first Spanish mackerel were decked Wednesday, as taylor blues and pan trout made a good showing in the late afternoon.  Daytime action was limited to a few croaker and loads of skate.  The water temperature at pier side has reached 63 degrees.

Sandbridge ‑ Pier goers enjoyed a good run of bluefish Wednesday while Spanish mackerel were decked Tuesday.  Sunday's catch consisted of bluefish, sea mullet and skate.

Outer Banks, NC -

Pier anglers fared better than beach fishermen last weekend, as gusty winds arrived late Friday and stayed through Sunday.  Coming into the weekend, water temperatures were in the mid to upper 60's and waters to the beach were clear.  Everything in place for a good run of taylor blues and Spanish mackerel.  By early Saturday, the water close to the beach was soiled and only a handful of mullet, small spot and medium croaker were reported from the beach.  On the piers, several large bluefish in the 8 to 12-pound class were decked.  Taylor-sized bluefish were common, some Spanish mackerel were caught, as well as spot and trout.  Sunday's action was similar.

On Hatteras Island, a 57-pound cobia was beached on Thursday at Cape Point, where a solid run of red drum developed after dark.  On Friday, a scattering of red drum and chopper bluefish were caught throughout the day with a strong bite occurring at dusk.  Saturday was windy but shark to 5 feet and pups and yearlings to 20 pounds were beached at the Point.  Sunday, winds were still blowing but had shifted, Spanish mackerel could be seen jumping but few could be enticed to bite.  Mixed sizes of bluefish were caught throughout the day.  Boats working near the Frisco Pier landed cobia up to 92 pounds.  Monday, winds of sand-blasting velocities kept folks off the beach.

The fleet sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center recorded good inshore catches of Spanish mackerel to 6 pounds, taylor blues and landed several cobia up to 60 pounds on Friday.  Offshore boats reported fair catches of yellowfin tuna but good hauls of gaffer dolphin.  Saturday, the bluewater fleet returned with a fair catch of dolphin to 45 pounds and yellow tuna to 83 pounds.  Folks on the headboat caught sea bass, croaker and flounder.  On Sunday, the inshore fleet reported cobia  up to 50 pounds, plus Spanish mackerel and taylor blues.  Monday and Tuesday were rough and few boats fished offshore but those that did returned with good hauls of tuna and gaffer dolphin.  For the period covered, boats working the Manns Harbor Bridge area recorded steady catch and release action on school stripers.

Boats fishing the 8th annual Hatteras Village Offshore Open landed twenty blue marlin, three white marlin and one  spearfish during the event.    The charter boat OUTLAW won the tournament by landing a 682-pound blue marlin.  As for the general Hatteras report, Friday saw good catches of dolphin and yellowfin plus some wahoo.  Louis Tyler of Alexandria caught and released a white marlin aboard the CITATION.  The big news Saturday was the 682-pound blue marlin boated by the crew on the OUTLAW.  Sunday's action was highlighted by excellent numbers of gaffer dolphin and some yellowfin tuna.  Monday the winds arrived.

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 to get to the index of previous Saltwater Reviews

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