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The Saltwater Review - 19 May 2004

Vol. 18,No. 3
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 (see address above). A reporting form is also enclosed in this report.

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 are showing inside the bay, along the Eastern Shore, but the most consistent action has been along the shoals off Fishermen's Island and from the beach at several of the Barrier Islands.

Big bluefish remain available on offshore lumps off Virginia Beach, most notably the Hot Dog. The few charter boats that have targeted these fish enjoyed fast action on trolled spoons, jigs and plugs.

The schools of spadefish that moved into several offshore wreck sites, most notably the Tower Reef, last week, "turned-on" over the weekend. The fish became so aggressive that several anglers reported the saucer-shaped fish tried to eat their bobbers!

Chincoteague -

Donna from Captain Bob's reported warm weather heated up the flounder bite last week, as some of the local anglers returned with limit catches of 17-inch or better flatfish. The Four Mouth area and the waters surrounding the Wallops Island Bridge produced the best action. Bottom fishermen are also catching a few pan trout and snapper blues. Outside the inlet, the inshore ocean wrecks still hold good numbers of black sea bass.

The folks at Barnacle Bill's said the flounder bite improved the past week with some of the best action around marker #5 and inside Queen's Sound. Bottom bouncers are also catching a few pan trout and snapper bluefish. Outside the inlet, the inshore ocean wrecks remain very productive for black sea bass and a few, but large tautog.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported fair to good flounder action at Green and Drawing channels, where some parties limited-out (6-fish possession limit per person) over the weekend. Huge black drum are still holding around the shoals at the mouth of the inlet and the marina weighed drum as heavy as 81 pounds the past week.

Captain Zed's described last week's flounder bite as "pretty good," as more of the keeper-sized flounder are moving into the flats adjacent to Green and Drawing channels. Anglers bottom fishing with sea clam along the backside of Paramour Island caught large black drum and several red drum. A recent outing aboard the charter boat CANYON LADY, skippered by Captain Jimmy Wallace, produced citation tautog for Adamarek Waldemar (18 pounds, 2 ounces), Robert Sobalaski (14 pounds, 11 ounces) and Donald Rock (14 pounds, 4 ounces).

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle registered well over 50 black drum release citations the past several days and nearly all were caught on either sea clam or a clam/peeler crab "sandwich." Top locations for the larger drum were buoys 13, 16 and 36A. Red drum provided nearly as much excitement the past week, as the shop registered over two dozen release awards. Top locations were Smith and Fishermen's islands, "either from the beach or a boat," while fresh peeler crab or bunker were the preferred baits. Joe Lawson (9 pounds, 3 ounces) and Bill Perron (10-1/2 pounds) boated citation grey trout while casting around the Third Island, where Mike Gietka nailed a 10-pound tog. Mark Pierce ran out to the Tower Reef and landed a 9-pound, 3-ounce spadefish. The shop also indicated schools of pan trout were holding off the Cement Ships (12-inch minimum size limit) while croaker are abundant "straight off Cape Charles" and off Guys Point.


Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters described the bottom fishing action off Onancock as "real good," for croaker ranging from 9 to 18 inches and good-sized spot. Mixed in with the croaker and spot are some snapper blues, flounder, silver perch and small trout. Anglers fishing for black and red drum are "still catching a few" but the spring peak appears to have passed.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina registered a variety of citation fish the past several days. Bobby Hayden (22-1/2 inches) and Anthony Gower, Jr. (22-3/4 inches) both caught and released big spadefish at the Tower Reef on clam while fishing aboard the REEL WORLD. Ron McCausey released a 22-1/2-inch spadefish at the same location later in the week. Kelly Millard also used clam to tempt a 47-1/2-inch black drum at Nine-Foot Shoal, which was released. John Rickers boated a 9-pound, 13-ounce grey trout while casting a bucktail around one of the CBBT islands. Mike Wroton caught and released a 47-1/2-inch black drum on a piece of crab. John Adams (10 pounds, 5 ounces) and Donald McKinney (9 pounds, 6 ounces) were casting off Ocean View and each decked citation winning grey trout.

Lou from Bubbas Tackle Shop told of a strong run of black drum along the northend of the CBBT and the Middle Grounds. Anglers are searching and sight casting the drum with artificials around the CBBT while those fishing the Middle Grounds and anchoring and fishing bottom rigs baited with peeler crab or clam. Lou indicated the spadefish holding at the Tower Reef had really turned-on the past week and the shop weighed several fish in excess of 10 pounds. School-sized stripers were easy marks around the CBBT rock islands in the evening while the spring run of tog at the CBBT was rapidly winding down.

Dr. Jim Wright caught and released black drum in excess of 46 inches near buoy 36A and red drum to 47 inches on the shoals at Fisherman's Island last week. Offshore, the Tower Reef was loaded with hungry spadefish, many of which were "just shy" of the 9-pound citation minimum, chopper bluefish to 36 inches were holding on the lumps off Virginia Beach and yellowfin tuna had moved into the Triple 0's.

Wallace's Marina said huge black and red drum were caught at Nine-Foot Shoals, near the 12 MP of the CBBT and near the green can buoy 13, located just off the High Rise section of the CBBT. David Jack (47 inches) boated and released the lone red drum long enough for a release but Tim Litz (48 inches), Matthew Crim (48 inches), Robert Blanton, Jr. (48 inches), Charles Jack (50 inches), Wayne Noble (48 inches), Betty Noble (46 inches) and Wade Greene (50 inches) all qualified and registered black drum releases. Big spadefish cooperated at the Tower Reef over the weekend, as Don Lancaster (23-1/4 inches), Don Foreman (23-1/2 inches), Robert Schutt (22 inches) and Bill Caldwell (22 inches) all registered release citations. A few large grey trout were boated along the CBBT with the best hauls recorded by Dandy Williams and Doug Dense. The pair fished around the Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT and landed several trout between 6 pounds and 8 pounds, 10 ounces.

Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina said Mike Lincoln caught and released a 22-1/2-inch spadefish at the Tower Reef over the weekend, where other anglers enjoyed good success on spadefish. Flounder were reasonably plentiful around the Third Island, according to customers but "we didn't have any citation fish." A pair of anglers did catch and release big black drum near the High Rise section of the CBBT but failed to measure the fish.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said the York River remains loaded with large croaker and the shop weighed-in three last week that were better than 3 pounds. Mobjack Bay is yielding some speckled trout, but, cautioned Ash, "you've got to work for them."

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club enjoyed excellent black drum catches with some of the best action near buoy 13 and at Nine-Foot Shoal. Club members Ken Neill (53 inches) and Charles Southall (46 inches) earned release awards for black drum. Jorj Head boated and released a 46-1/2-inch red drum off Fisherman's Island. Tautog remain active at the CBBT and Anglo African but most Bay fishermen are focused on drum while ocean wreck fishermen are chasing spadefish.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported good catches of slot limit (18 to 28 inches) striped bass. Anglers trolling spoons, jigs and umbrella rigs are catching bigger fish but strikes can be far apart. Chumming is productive, especially on the slot size limit fish, as the Northern Neck Reef site is the favored location. Bottom fishermen are catching plenty of croaker, especially in the Great Wicomico River, where a few scattered spot are mixed in with the croaker. Anglers drifting around the jetty are picking up a few keeper sized flounder (17-inch minimum size limit).

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said the Piankatank and Rappahannock rivers are loaded with croaker. The store weighed a huge, 22-inch, 4-pound, 7-ounce croaker for Frank Martin of Hudgins. The citation fish was caught on a piece of squid at Milford Haven. Young Joshua Baker nearly had a citation croaker while fishing next to the Piankatank River with fresh peeler crab. His 19-inch fish weighed 2 pounds and 13 ounces. Bottom fishermen are also starting to catch some pan trout and spot. School-sized stripers are holding around shallow water structure, such as grassy points in the river, the islands at Hole-in-the-Wall and Stingray and Windmill Point lights. Big grey trout were caught at the Cell the past week and several that topped 9 pounds were weighed-in at the store. Two of the biggest were caught by Greg Thayer of Gloucester on a jig tipped with cut bait. The largest was 32-1/2 inches and weighed 12-3/4 pounds. The "smaller" trout weighed 10 pounds, 5 ounces and measured 31 inches. Eddie Inge of Port Haywood landed a 31-inch trout that weighed 11 pounds, 5 ounces. Michael Hugins also boated a 31-inch trout and it weighed 9 pounds, 13 ounces. Gina Thayer landed another 31-inch trout and it weighed 9 pounds, 9 ounces while her four-year old son caught an 8-pound, 7-ounce trout. Jerry indicated spadefish had arrived at the Cell but as of Sunday "they're not biting yet." Michael Hanhart (48 inches) and Wesley Jones, III (50 inches) each boated and released big black drum on chowder clam while bottom fishing at Latimer Shawls.

Locklies Marina said the waters surrounding Parrot Island continued to produce big hauls of large croaker last week. Bottom fishermen are also catching some spot and school stripers. The pilings of the Route #3 Bridge offered the best chance for keeper-sized striped bass (18 to 28-inch slot).

Garretts Marina said bottom fishermen working around buoy 19 loaded-up coolers with big croaker, some topping 2 pounds and a few spot and blue catfish.

Captain Jim Thompson from Deltaville described last week's fishing as "awesome" for huge croaker. A group bottom fished near the Cell, "about 5 miles off the Eastern Shore" and loaded up on "medium to monster" croaker. The same area also produced a scattering of flounder up to 24 inches. On the Rappahannock River, decent catches of croaker and spot were recorded at Sturgeons Bar with lesser but promising action at Butlers Hole.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center checked-in citation spadefish that were caught at the Tower Reef and grey trout weighing more than 9 pounds from the Fourth Island of the CBBT. The offshore fleet returned with its first "bluewater" catches of the season this week, as warm water and yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin were located near Triple 0's. Several charter vessels fished "about 30 miles from the inlet" and they "slayed the big bluefish," catching all the party wanted in short order. Inside the inlet, spot and a few keeper-sized flounder were caught near the mouth of the inlet.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina also indicated thick schools of chopper bluefish were holding off Virginia Beach, in the vicinity of the Hot Dog and were hitting "just about anything." The marina said 30-pound class yellowfin tuna and gaffer-sized dolphin were caught at Triple 0's.

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 in this area.

Harrison - Closed indefinitely.

Lynnhaven - A good run of sea mullet developed on Saturday and some fish approached 16 ounces. Sea mullet dominated the catches on Sunday but more croaker were decked. Other catches include a scattering of pan trout, school stripers after dark and the ever present skate.

Virginia Beach - Strong runs of spot early in the week, gave way to a decent showing of sea mullet plus some pan trout and croaker as the weekend approached. Water temperature at pierside remains a cool 60 degrees.

Sandbridge - Spot and sea mullet dominated the action through the week with only a scattering of taylor bluefish, pan trout and croaker reported.

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach fishermen enjoyed decent catches of sea mullet plus a few taylor blues in the Corolla/Duck area while anglers working the Nags Head area managed a few speckled trout to 3 pounds in the early morning hours and spot, sea mullet and bluefish throughout the day. Avalon Pier (the only pier open north of Oregon Inlet) reported water temperatures from 56 to 60 degrees and a good mixture of panfish, including spot, sea mullet bluefish to 3 pounds, puppy drum, grey and speckled trout and even a "yearling" black drum. Shorebound anglers at Oregon Inlet caught a mixture of spot, mullet and bluefish with some of the best hauls made from the Catwalk over the inlet.

South of Oregon Inlet, beach fishermen at Cape Point enjoyed a steady bite of snapper blues with an occasional Spanish mackerel mixed in on Friday. Anglers working the South beach picked-up some pompano and trout. On Saturday, several pompano topping 2 pounds were beached but snapper blues provided most of the action. A 46-inch red drum was beached and released that evening. On Sunday, Steve Parrish released a 49-inch red drum. Snapper blues were plentiful throughout the day plus some trout and flounder were also reported. Monday evening, an excellent run of Spanish mackerel up to nearly 5 pounds developed. Mixed sizes of bluefish (some of the blues weighed nearly 8 pounds) provided consistent action most of the day.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported their fleet returned with yellowfin tuna weighing as much 80 pounds and dolphin up to 30 pounds on Friday. Several billfish were also caught and released, including a blue marlin estimated to weigh 500 pounds. On Saturday 33 boats went offshore and all recorded good mixed catches of yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin. One mako shark was boated and a sailfish was caught and released. Thirty-three boats fished again on Sunday and caught lots of dolphin but only a scattering of yellowfin tuna and wahoo. For the three day period, inshore boats caught plenty of taylor blues and some Spanish mackerel, cobia and red drum. The headboat returned with mostly bluefish and mullet plus a scattering of trout the past several trips. A cobia was decked on Friday.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet recorded excellent catches of dolphin and scattered catches of yellowfin tuna and wahoo on Friday. The crew aboard the TUNA DUCK released a pair of blue marlin, the CAPT'N B a blue marlin, the LUCKY CHIP released a blue and a sailfish and the GAMBLER released a sail. Saturday's catches were similar with plenty of dolphin and a handful of yellowfin tuna. A few blackfin tuna were also landed. Benton Leonard from Charlottesville caught and released a blue marlin aboard the TUNA DUCK and Frank Aldeman of Christiansburg boated a 56-pound wahoo aboard the SUNDOWN. The strong run of gaffer dolphin continued on Sunday plus yellowfin tuna numbers improved. Craig Floyd of Roanoke released a white marlin and Randy Elliott of Lexington released a sailfish aboard the NANCY K.

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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