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The Saltwater Review - May 21, 2003

Volume 17. No. 3
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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


Due to the observance of Memorial Day, Monday, May 26, the Virginia Saltwater Review will not be published the week of 26-31 May.

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.

Black drum off Cape Charles highlighted last week's action, as hundreds of the huge bottom feeders were caught by a fleet of boats. Best action has been in the vicinity of buoys 13 and 16. Some fish were also caught around various seaside inlets.

Red drum also cooperated off the Eastern Shore, as fish were caught from the beach at Smith Island and from boats working the nearby shoals.

Spadefish have arrived at the Tower Reef and several parties caught fish on rod and reel mid-week but ocean waters cooled and were too rough over the weekend to fish.

Chincoteague -

Donna from Captain Bob's reported loads of 2 to 3-foot long sand shark, some taylor bluefish and some keeper flounder. Local angler Bill Callahan weighed the heaviest flatfish of the week at 8-3/4 pounds.

Barnacle Bill's described overall action as "slow because the weather just won't cooperate." Some keeper flounder were caught in Queen's Sound and at Four Mouths. Bottom fishermen are also catching some taylor bluefish and blowfish.

Wachapreague -

Captain Zed's reported the weekend was nearly a compete blow-out, as gusty northeast winds dominated. Earlier in the week some keeper flounder had been caught at Green and Drawing channels and black drum were caught on the shoals around the inlet.

Wachapreague Marina told of similar weekend results, as the weather halted nearly all fishing plans. The marina said that wreckfishing for large black sea bass had been especially productive earlier in the week.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle registered over 100 black drum citations between Wednesday and Sunday and "many of those forms contained several released fish." Needless to say, the spring run of black drum was hitting a peak. Most of the drum were caught and released from one of three locations; buoy 13 or buoy 16 on the bayside or the narrows which is on the seaside out of Oyster. Sea clam is the favored bait, though drum were also caught on chowder clams and peeler crab. Several red drum were registered at the shop, as Carl Moore of Richmond released a pair (48 and 50 inches) and James Johnston of NJ released five from 44 inches to 48 inches while surf fishing at Smith Island. Fred Barnes of Chesapeake released a 50-1/2-inch red drum off Smith Island and Skip Powers released a 48-inch drum. Cut bunker and peeler crab was the bait of choice for the reds. Folks bottom fishing just outside the Cement Ships at Kiptopeke loaded-up on croaker while anglers on the Kiptopeke Park Pier caught blowfish, snapper blues, croaker and a few pan trout.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters described the past several days as "nasty and windy," with Saturday being the worst. On Sunday, good numbers of croaker were caught but the fish averaged smaller than before the poor weather arrived. On Monday, catches improved with bigger sized croaker plus some spot, pan trout and bluefish. Captain Wil said big black drum were biting "straight off Onancock," in 12 to 23 feet of water and some anglers caught and released as many as 20 fish in a single outing. Anglers fishing the shallows around Fox Island caught some red drum but only a precious few small to medium speckled trout on peeler crab.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported very little weekend activity due to the weather but prior to the weekend tautog were biting along the CBBT and large grey trout were caught at the High level Bridge but flounder were "hit or miss."

Bubba's Marina registered a 30-1/2-inch grey trout release from the CBBT complex for Thomas Elkins. The marina said decent numbers of tautog and school stripers were caught but just a scattering of flounder were reported.

Dr. Jim Wright and party caught, tagged and released 27 black drum, ranging from 29 inches to 52 inches on a recent outing. The group anchored in 22 feet of water at Latimer Shoals and used sea clam for bait. Most of the drum were over 45 inches in length and "we left them biting," noted Dr. Wright. Dr. Jim expects these big bottom feeders to linger in the area for "another three weeks or so." Inside Lynnhaven, good-sized taylor blues were caught in the turning basin and back inside Lynnhaven. Some school stripers are holding around the pilings of the Lesner Bridge. Dr. Wright said one lucky angler hooked and landed a 7-pound speckled trout while casting for stripers to the pilings with a Storm Wildeye jig. Flounder are making a decent showing in the lower portion of the inlet but most run 15 to 17 inches and must be released.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina said Jack Pinter from Beaver Dam, VA, boated a 9-pound, 2-ounce grey trout at the Third Island on peeler crab. The citation trout was the biggest of "a real nice cooler of trout" that the party caught. Wallace's also registered black drum releases for Chris Boyce, who works at Wallace's (46 inches, Cabbage Patch) and Virginia Marine Police officer Tim Litz (46-1/2 inches, Latimer Shoals). "The only thing we need is good weather because the fish are here," noted Donnie.

Debbie at Sunset Marina said Eugene Clayton of Hampton fished the James River Bridge area and boated several dozen croaker fat croaker. The largest weighed nearly 3 pounds. Several customers caught school stripers in the vicinity of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel but one of the stripers, a 32-inch fish, was decked at the Engineer's Pier at Fort Monroe by "Bull" Willis. His catch included several other lesser stripers plus some puppy drum and were caught on peeler crab. Debbie also knew of trout up to about 20 inches that were caught at the James River Bridge and HRBT.

Cindy from Salt Ponds Marina said few anglers fished recently due to poor weather conditions and those that did reported only so-so catches of striped bass, croaker and flounder.

Jimmy Lewis at A & S Feed and Bait Supply said croaker continue to provide good action in the York River and the biggest fish are still found in shallow water. Anglers fishing the Gloucester Point Pier are catching plenty of croaker plus an occasional keeper flounder. Inside Mobjack Bay, the spring run of speckled trout has yet to materialize.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club told of excellent catches of black drum off Cape Charles, between buoys 13 and 16 in 18 to 28 feet of water. Sea clam is the favored bait but the big drum are also hitting chowder clam and peeler crab. Some groups have recorded catches of over 20 drum in an afternoon with individual fish measuring to 50-1/2 inches.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported many anglers have gone to chumming with ground menhaden, now that the 18 to 28-inch slot spring striped bass season is open (May 16 through June 15). Most chummers favor the Northern Neck Reef site, where taylor bluefish are also attracted by the chum. Anglers seeking the larger trophy bass are trolling and nearly all working up in Maryland waters. Bottom fishermen are catching croaker and the best hauls of the bigger fish are coming from the mouths of the rivers. The mouth of the Great Wicomico has been especially productive and Roger reasoned good catches of croaker could also be made at Blackberry Hang.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said school stripers were caught around the jetties, despite "really lousy weather." The charter fleet is shifting from trolling to chumming and having the best chumming success on school stripers. Trollers seeking larger stripers are working north of the Potomac River and several fish in excess of 40 inches were landed last week.

Jerry Thrash at Queen's Creek Outfitters checked-in a pair of citation grey trout last week, as Sean Dixon of Richmond landed a 32-inch, 9-3/4 pounder on a MirrOlure at Cherry Point and Glenn Timberlake of Port Haywood jigged-up and released a 31-3/4-inch trout at the Cell. Jerry said large trout had also been caught at Hole-in-the-Wall. Bottom fishermen are catching plenty of croaker plus a few spot and pan trout in the shallow portions of the local rivers and creeks. No speckled trout or spadefish have been reported, though Jerry said puppy drum to 30 inches were caught inside Mobjack Bay.

Jack Locklies Marina said fishing pressure has been unseasonably light due to the cool, windy weather but bottom fishermen are catching plenty of croaker with good numbers of fish in the 2 to 3-pound range. Best catches come from waters 20 to 35 feet, "they haven't moved off to the deeper holes yet because of the cool weather," noted Jack. Other catches include some keeper flounder to nearly 4 pounds and a surprising number of medium-sized to nearly 10-ounce spot. School stripers are holding around the bridge piling and the most consistent catches have been on peeler or soft crab.

Garretts Marina said bottom fishermen are catching croaker "when they can get out" but few anglers fished last weekend due to the poor weather.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina recorded decent catches of croaker to 19 inches at Butlers Hole and landed croaker to 20 inches just off the Silos in recent outings. Captain Thompson said some spot and pan trout are mixed in with the croaker.

Virginia Beach -

The headboat fleet sailing from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center recorded good hauls of large black sea bass and registered four citation sea bass last week, ranging in size from 5 pounds to 5 pounds, 7 ounces. Taylor bluefish, some keeper flounder and large grey trout were caught inside the inlet. The Fishing Center recorded two 30-inch trout releases and another at 31 inches.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said one of their boats fished the shoals along the northern section of the CBBT Tuesday night and caught a pair of red drum but "we really don't have anyone fishing yet," thanks to the weather. Paula heard that some large spadefish have been caught at the Tower Reef.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Karen rated the croaker bite as excellent with some of the fish topping three pounds. Eddie Mulholland had the biggest of the week and it weighed 3-1/2 pounds and measured 19-1/2 inches. Anglers are also catching some flounder and striped bass. A 29 inch, 13-pound red drum was caught and released.

Harrison - Charley said 1/2 to 1-pound croaker and pan sized sea mullet provided steady action over the weekend. Good numbers of blowfish decked in recent days. A few school striped bass are being caught each evening.

Lynnhaven - Sea mullet and taylor blues provide most of the action here but other catches include spot, striped bass and trout.

Virginia Beach - Pier goers enjoyed decent catches of small to medium spot, sea mullet and taylor bluefish.

Sandbridge -Sea mullet and spot provided most of the action in recent days. Other catches include several chopper bluefish, taylor blues, blowfish and school stripers. Water temperature is in the low 60's.

Outer Banks, NC -

Surf and pier fishermen along the Nags Head area beaches enjoyed mixed catches of sea mullet, spot, pan trout, taylor bluefish and even a few scattered Spanish mackerel, prior to, and after the weekend northeaster. The surf around Oregon Inlet yielded some taylor bluefish and sea mullet.

South of Oregon Inlet, Spanish mackerel and mixed sizes of bluefish made a good showing at Cape Point on Buxton on Friday. The same day, a group of anglers fishing the shoals, about a half-a-mile off the Point, landed a 113-1/2-pound cobia, which is a new pending state record. On Saturday, northeast winds kicked-in and the waters of the Point, and northward, were nearly unfishable. Conditions along South Beach made fishing possible and anglers reported some flounder and trout plus a cobia. The was not fishable on Sunday but black drum, croaker, sea mullet and snapper blues were caught at South Beach.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported good catches of yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin on Thursday. Most of the tuna ranged between 30 and 60 pounds but the crew aboard the HAPHAZARD boated an 85-pounder. Catches were similar on Friday but some boats also found king mackerel and the crew aboard the QUALIFIER released a white marlin. Inshore boats encountered schools of big black drum and a number of drum ranging from 50 to 70 pounds were caught. No boats left the inlet Saturday, Sunday or Monday due to rough sea conditions.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed excellent catches of gaffer dolphin plus some yellowfin tuna and wahoo on Friday. John Manzer of Ashburn, VA decked a 56-pound wahoo and Brian Miller of Staunton, VA landed a 55-pound dolphin. On Saturday, the weather began to deteriorate by afternoon but decent catches of dolphin plus some yellowfin and wahoo were brought to the docks. The fleet released four sailfish and the crew aboard the SEA CREATURE boated a mako shark. No boats fished offshore Sunday or Monday due to rough sea conditions.

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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