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The Saltwater Review - 18 May 2006

Vol. 20, No. 2

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


The next Virginia Saltwater Review will be published the week of June 3-7.

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 (Click here for the online report form).

This week (Monday, May 16) marks the start of the Bay spring slot striper season. School stripers have been off limits in Virginia since the 2005 season closed December 31, but anglers can now keep two fish ranging from 18 to 28 inches through June 15.

More good news for bay anglers, black drum and red drum action off Cape Charles was very good the past week. Many of the black drum thus far this season have been 20-pound class fish and only one citation black drum (80 pounds or more) has been registered but some trips have seen a dozen or more fish landed. On the other hand, many of the red drum have been long enough to qualify for a release award (46 inches or longer), as 23 reds were registered the past week, bringing the early season total to 59 for 2006. A reminder, no red drum over 26 inches or less than 18 inches may be kept.

Flounder fishermen had their good days and not so good days last week, as weather could usually be blamed for the not so good days. Some of the biggest flatfish continue to come from the edges of the deepwater shipping channels off Cape Charles.

Offshore, good numbers of chopper bluefish have moved into the lumps and seamounts located off Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore. 

Tautog are still active on the inshore ocean wrecks, where more black sea bass are arriving with each passing day.


Donna at Captain Bob's reported flounder pounders had "a tough weekend," following the thunderstorms and strong winds during the week. Waters at Four Mouths were murky and skate and ray were active. Queens Sound was fishable on Friday and some keeper flounder were caught. On Saturday and Sunday, this area was unfishable due to the wind. Despite the wind and still murky water, keeper flounder measuring up to 24 inches were caught on Sunday in Four Mouths near buoy 3 and 4.


Wachapreague Marina reported the season's first tuna were caught aboard the TEASER over the weekend. The crew fished east and north of the inlet and caught two tuna. Closer to the inlet, black sea bass numbers are improving on the inshore ocean wrecks, where chopper bluefish are beginning to arrive. Black and red drum are available on the shoals surrounding the inlet while flounder are still active inside the inlet.

Captain Zed's reported decent weekend catches of flounder at Green and Drawing channels, the nearby flats and at the Hummocks. Several red drum were caught on the shoals surrounding the mouth of the inlet, and farther offshore, black sea bass and tautog were caught on the inshore wrecks.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported black drum staged a "real good" showing off Cape Charles between buoy 13 and 16 last week. Chris described the bayside croaker bite as "only fair, unless you are drum fishing and then it's nearly non-stop." Flounder up to 7 pounds were caught off Kiptopeke from buoy 36 to the Cell with most of the action in 30 to 60 feet of water. Just how good was the flounder bite "depends on who you talk to," noted Chris, as some bottom fishermen worked hard for very few keepers while others limited-out on quality fish. A few pan trout are starting to show in the catches and tautog remain available around the Concrete Ships and around the High Rise section of the CBBT. Word from the seaside was plenty of small black drum (ranging from 10 to 20 pounds) were holding around the inlets while a few speckled trout from unmentioned seaside locations were reportedly caught. Anglers fishing from the Barrier Island beaches are scoring on large red drum, skate, rays and shark.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported very good weekend bottom fishing for croaker but "it was rough," referring to the sea conditions. The croaker are running good size and "fat and getting fatter," with a few pan trout mixed in. Flounder have arrived off Onancock, where best action has been along the channel edges in 20 to 40 feet of water. Captain Wil heard of a few black and red drum caught by local anglers in the past week plus a 46-inch striped bass was released aboard the Fish and Finn early in the week. 

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported the spring black drum is underway off Cape Charles and the shop had it's best reports from the Cabbage Patch area, where a customer released a fish in excess of 46 inches Tuesday night (May 16). The marina also had reports of decent catches of croaker and flounder but "nothing big enough for a citation."

Bubba's Marina said the Lesner Bridge pilings are holding snapper bluefish, some school stripers and a few keeper-sized flounder. Most bottom fishermen are running out to the CBBT and catching flounder and nice-sized croaker in the 1-1/2 to 2-pound range.

Dr. Jim Wright heard of large black drum, to nearly 80 pounds, where caught off Cape Charles. A trip aboard the BUCCANEER produced a pair of yearlings (30 and 31 inches). A trip earlier in the week to the shoals off Fishermen's Island produced non-stop action on skate, rays and shark but no red drum, even though the group went through over a 100 peeler crab and a bushel of sea clams as bait.

Sunset Boating Center had good weekend flounder reports from Hampton Bar, the Hump and the HRBT. Michael Voight decked a 7-pound, 2-ounce flounder at the Hump just prior to the weekend. The shop also had good reports of croaker at Hampton Bar.

Cindy from Salt Ponds Marina said a few boats were out last week in search of flounder and croaker and most indicated their best results came "right around the inlet" to Salt Ponds.

Jimmy at A & S Feed and Bait Supply described the croaker bite as "real good" for boaters working the York River and for shorebound anglers fishing the Gloucester Point public pier. Charles Belvin weighed-in the shop's first citation croaker of the season, a 3-pound, 1-ouncer, caught at the lumps located off Cheatham Annex. In addition to the croaker, some keeper flounder were caught around the Coleman Bridge and from the public pier while school stripers were active along the shorelines early and late in the day. The spring run of speckled trout is underway inside Mobjack Bay with some of the best catches (fish of over 5 pounds) coming from the Ware Point area. Boaters making the journey across the Bay to the Cape Charles area reported good success on flounder near buoy 38 and 40.

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said the drum bite, both red and black, "is going full force." Red drum are showing up all over to the surprise of some flounder fishermen, according to Neill but those targeting reds are having their best luck on 9-Foot-Shoal and along the beaches of Fisherman's and Smith islands. The best black drum bite has been in the area of buoy 13, where Tricia Neill caught and released a 46-incher, along with numerous skate. Flounder fisherman are finding a lot of short fish and are having to work for a limit of keepers. Decent-sized black sea bass have moved into the near shore wrecks and places like the Triangle Wrecks, Ricks, and Hanks have been producing limit catches of bass. Boats running farther offshore are finding big sea bass along with tilefish. Docked inside Rudee Inlet, Bill Fisher made a trip to the 50-fathom line and came back with tilefish to 14 pounds and sea bass to 5 pounds. Boats looking for bluefin tuna off of Virginia have been finding plenty of chopper bluefish instead. Rumors are plentiful about cobia, spadefish, and sheepshead, according to Neill, who noted the bay water temperature is warm enough for all three.  

Virginia Middle Bay

Dan from Smith Point Marina said the bigger striped bass are moving out of the area and many anglers are switching over to anchoring and chumming for school stripers around buoys 65 and 72. Now that Virginia's spring striper season slot season is open, Dan suggested the Northern Neck Reef site would be productive for 18 to 28-inch striped bass. Bottom fishermen are catching a few keeper flounder around the mouth of the river but croaker remain "hit or miss."

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters registered three citation fish the past week, a flounder, speckled trout and a black drum release. The flounder weighed 8 pounds, 5 ounces, was 28 inches long and was caught by James Stewart of Mathews at buoy 38. Wayne Smith weighed the citation speckled trout. The trout was caught in the North River on an artificial lure and weighed 6-1/4 pounds. William Whitley of Gloucester registered the black drum release. The citation drum was caught off Cape Charles, measured 51 inches and was caught on clam. Jerry indicated big grey trout have arrived at the Cell and are being caught on jigs, either tipped with fresh peeler crab or fished "naked." Bottom fishermen say croaker are biting in the rivers and creeks plus a few hand-sized spot are mixed in with the croaker.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen enjoyed a productive week on croaker with many of the fish running between 16 and 19 inches. The marina suggested fishing just above buoy 7 or on Butler's Hole in about 30 feet of water. Fair numbers of medium spot are mixed in with the croaker and a handful of keeper-sized flounder were landed off Cherry Point.

Tommy Lewis from Garretts Marina said croaker were biting "real good," most were running between 14 and 17 inches and decent numbers of catfish were mixed in with the croaker. Tommy suggested bottom fishermen seeking croaker work the channel between buoy 19 and White Stone while better hauls of catfish were made above buoy 19. 

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I described the bottom fishing as "fair" last week with the best catches coming across the Bay off the Eastern Shore. The croaker were running 2 to 3 pounds with a fair number of grey trout in the 16 to 20-inch range mixed in. Captain Thompson also heard of good-sized flounder measuring up to 28 inches. Bottom fishing in the Rappahannock, at least for the larger boats, remains slow. Croaker are feeding in the river but mainly in the early morning and evening, and then in shallow water.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported headboats had nice catches of medium to large black sea bass on the inshore ocean wrecks while several six-pack charters trolled-up dozens of chopper bluefish over the weekend.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said offshore fishing activity remains slow, although chopper bluefish were available on the inshore ocean lumps and several boats had fished for and caught striped bass around the CBBT complex. 

Virginia Piers -

James River - Croaker continue to dominate the action. With the onset of the spring bay season for striped bass, which began May 16, this pier offers one of the best shots at a keeper striper from a public pier. 

Ocean View - Taylor bluefish provided most of the excitement with the best action coming in the early morning and around sunset. Bottom fishermen also caught some sea mullet, croaker, skate and a few keeper flounder.

Lynnhaven - Mixed sizes of sea mullet hit the pier last week, as anglers caught bluefish up to 5 pounds, some keeper flounder and plenty of skate and some cow-nosed rays.

Virginia Beach - Spot and snapper bluefish were caught over the weekend and a 44-inch red drum was caught Tuesday (May 16).

Sandbridge - Bluefish, from half-pound snappers up to a 6-1/2-pound brute, were caught over the weekend. Bottom fishermen also decked fair to good numbers of smallish spot and sea mullet. Water temperatures have finally topped 60 degrees.

Outer Banks, NC -

Surf and pier fishermen in the Nags Head area enjoyed a fair mixture of small panfish over the weekend with a mixture of snapper bluefish, sea mullet, spot and speckled trout. Water temperatures were holding right at 60 degrees most of the weekend. Bottom fishermen working the little bridge to Manteo reported mixed catches of snapper bluefish, speckled trout, puppy drum and small black drum. 

South of Oregon Inlet, at Cape Point on Buxton, four large red drum were beached Friday, as well as numerous puppy drum, bluefish to 7 pounds and a few pompano. Twelve red drum were caught Saturday evening at the Point plus several sand tiger shark to over 8-feet. Six large red drum were beached Sunday morning and bluefish were caught throughout the day. On Monday a dozen drum and numerous puppy drum plus bluefish up to 10 pounds were caught.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center recorded good catches of yellowfin tuna up to 74 pounds on Thursday on the offshore grounds while inshore trollers caught lots of taylor bluefish. Friday's yellowfin catches ranged from fair to good among the fleet with some gaffer dolphin and wahoo to 70 pounds mixed in with the tuna while Spanish mackerel arrived on the inshore grounds to the delight of light tackle trollers. Saturday, catches were a mixture of dolphin, king mackerel and yellowfin tuna. The tuna were fewer in number but most weighed over 50 pounds. On Sunday, catches consisted primarily of king mackerel and dolphin with only a scattering of yellowfin tuna and several wahoo to 60 pounds.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed good yellowfin tuna action early in the week but as the weekend arrived the tuna numbers dropped but dolphin increased. Most boats also caught some king mackerel and wahoo. On Saturday, Samantha Stephenson of Glenn Allen, VA boated a 44-pound wahoo and Alfred Carter of Winchester decked a 43-pound wahoo on 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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