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The Saltwater Review - May 23, 2002

Volume 16. No.4
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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

Due to the observance of Memorial Day, May 28, the Virginia Saltwater Review will not be published the week of 28 May-June 2.

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 ( 

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).

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

Given the weather, it is hard to gauge the status of flounder and grey trout but despite the poor weather, some anglers enjoyed good success on both species the past week.

The spring black drum run off Cape Charles appears to have peaked. These fish should begin to show around the CBBT islands early next month.

Only an handful of red drum were reported last week but this fishery typically runs well into the month of June.

Offshore, the season's first citation dolphin (weight citation) and white marlin (release) were recorded. Both fish were caught south of Rudee, near the Triple 0's.

Chincoteague -

Donna from Captain Bob's reported good catches of flounder "when the wind wasn't blowing." Even though it blew most of the week, some anglers managed to limit-out on flatfish with individual fish up to 7 pounds. The shallows around the old lighthouse, Black Narrows and Queen's Sound produced many of the better hauls with some flounder also caught at Four Mouths. Anglers soaking chunks of peeler crab near buoys 15 and 16 around dusk also boated some trout.

Barnacle Bill's said the weather slowed the fishing but "they're catching fish whenever the wind cooperates." Flounder are scattered throughout the protected waters inside the barrier islands with Four Mouths and Chincoteague Channel two of the better locations. Weakfish have been caught at several spots but the best concentration has been just north of the Queen's Sound Bridge. Striped bass are holding around the pilings of many bridges and piers.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported the inlet and the flats at Hummock Channel produced good catches of flounder "whenever you can get out there," which was not the case for most of the week. Tautog and sea bass should be active on the inshore ocean wrecks but it was "too windy" the past week.

Captain Zed's painted much the same picture, "the flounder fishing has been right good" but the weather just has not cooperated recently. The shop suggested Green Channel and the channel in front of the old Coast Guard Station as the top flounder spots. Besides the flounder, both black and red drum were biting over the shoals located just outside the inlet.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported a strong run of large black drum at buoys 13 and 16 early in the week, when the shop registered over a dozen release citations. At 55 inches, R.T. Scott released the week's longest drum but Chris Snook (54 inches) and Lewis Graves (50 inches) equaled or topped the 50-inch mark while James Donahonue and Brandi Beaseley released fish just an inch shy, at 49 inches. Walter McHan released a 46-1/2-inch red drum just off Fishermen's Island while Don Barrios released a 44-inch red at the High Rise section of the CBBT. The weekend winds kept anglers close to shore but those working Stingsilvers just off the Cement Ships recorded good catches of trout to 22 inches. Flounder fishermen out of Oyster were not so lucky, as winds stirred the waters to a dingy shade of chocolate and the flounder did not cooperate.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters said last weekend's cold spell slowed the bottom fishing "for a day or two" but recent trips produced a good catch of croaker, decent numbers of 14 to 18-inch grey trout and a few spot up to 12-1/2 inches. The larger croaker have been biting best in the evenings, as they move into shallow water to feed. The croaker are biting during mid-day but often in water as deep as 65 feet. More flounder are showing in the catches, though water temperature in the lower Pocomoke Sound is a cool 63 to 64 degrees. Speckled trout were caught in the grassy shallows in the evening on artificials. 

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina had no activity to report due to poor weather conditions. A weekend trout tournament that was to be headquartered at the marina was cancelled due to strong winds.

Chris at Bubba's Marina said not enough anglers were going out in recent days (due to the weather) to know what was biting. He did volunteer that a few under-sized flounder had been caught and released in some protected areas inside Lynnhaven.

Dr. Jim Wright managed a mid-week trip off Cape Charles for black drum. After several hours of no activity, the drum turned-on about 6:30 PM. The party boated six drum, three measuring over 44 inches and qualifying for a release award. The group also spotted a cobia that followed one of the hooked fish to the surface. Dr. Jim also heard of an excellent spadefish bite at the Tower Reef but few boats have been able to reach this area the past week due to the weather.

Wallace's Marina clocked weekend winds to 58 miles per hour and needless to say, these conditions greatly limited fishing activity. Prior to and since the weekend, anglers found flounder, trout and tautog. Scott Hall and his fishing party wire-lined near the 12 MP and limited-out on trout. Terry Lowry caught, tagged and released a 22-inch tautog at Back River Reef plus several other lesser tog while keeping trout and flounder. Good catches of flounder were also recorded at buoys 15 and 16.

Johnny from Sunset Marina said only a handful of anglers fished over the weekend and those generally stayed near the mouth of Hampton Creek. Stan Page and his group managed some keeper flounder off Fort Monroe while another party boated flatfish to just over 3 pounds at the HRBT. Tom Mattioli had a 34-inch striped bass.

Alan Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle said few, if any, anglers fished recently, "with the exception of the piers." On a trip to the CBBT nearly a week earlier a group of three anglers had a banner day, earning five release citations. Evan Prevatte released a 52-inch red drum and a 45-1/2 inch striped bass, Robert Maier released a 45-inch red drum and a 45-inch striped bass while Scott Clark released a 49-inch red drum.

Salt Ponds Marina described the past week as "very slow" but the crew aboard the BIG MINNOW did manage to fish the CBBT and returned with a mixed catch of trout, croaker and flounder.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Supply said the wind kept everyone but a handful of anglers in port. The shop did hear of a few flounder that were caught near the Gloucester Point boat ramp and a scattering of croaker from the nearby public pier.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club, like nearly everyone else that planned to fish the lower Bay the past week, were stymied by the weather. Those that fished for black drum at buoys 13 and 16 (which had been the hot spots earlier in the week) were blanked. The spadefish bite at the Anglo African wreck was equally disappointing. Croaker did cooperate and saved the day for trips meant for other species. Trout and bluefish did oblige on the lee sides of the CBBT islands but coming and going was painful.

Virginia Middle Bay -

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported chummers recorded good catches of school stripers at the Northern Neck Reef and around the Asphalt Pile while bottom fishermen working between the Northern Neck Reef site and Cut Channel loaded-up on croaker plus some trout and taylor bluefish.

Dan from Smith Point Marina told of good catches of croaker at Blackberry Hang but "the striped bass fishing was slow last week." Bottom bouncers working amongst the rocks at Smith Point Light wrestled-up tautog to 8 pounds while anglers drifting for flounder managed some keeper fish to 20 inches just outside the jetties.

Larry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said a mid-week trip to the Cell by Captain Jim Strickler and Chris Newsome produced an impressive array of grey trout from 5 to 8-1/2 pounds. The heaviest trout was caught by Chris on a flyrod rigged with lead core line. The structure at the Cell also harbors big spadefish while flounder, bluefish and pan trout are holding in the surrounding waters. Billy Balduron and Lewis Brothers fished aboard the Ruby B, skippered by I.B. Wilson on Monday (May 20) at Wolftrap Light using pink Stingsilvers and the threesome limited-out on trout to 8 pounds. The group attributed part of their success to the fact the Stingsilvers were tipped with fresh peeler crab. Speckled trout are biting off Gwynn Island at Hole-in-the-Wall and inside the Piankatank River. The creeks and shallows of the river are loaded with croaker plus some pan trout and spot.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen were catching loads of croaker plus some trout, spot, flounder and school stripers in the 20 to 23-inch range. The waters just off Parrots Island and those surrounding the Whitestone Bridge have been the most productive.

Garretts Marina said croaker were the catch of the day by the few that fished over the weekend.

Captain Jim Thompson at Windmill Point Marina reported good numbers of 12 to 16-inch croaker and pan trout at the mouth of the Rappahannock River (plus some spot if you use bloodworms). Captain Thompson indicated flounder were plentiful around the Cell while large spadefish were holding at the structure. Inside the river at Butlers Hole, the trout ran up to 22 inches on Saturday.

Virginia Beach -

Headboats sailing from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center recorded good catches of sea bass when they were able to fish the ocean wrecks and nice hauls of croaker and trout at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay on days it was too rough to fish offshore. A charter trip out to the Cigar aboard the VIRGINIAN produced a good catch of dolphin, including citation fish of 23.5 and 21.3 pounds. Mike Leeson checked-in an 11-1/2 pound spadefish that was caught at the Third Island and the Fishing Center registered several spadefish releases and a 5-pound, 10-ounce sea bass from the Tower Reef. Lee Johnson pulled-up a 9-pound, 2-ounce tautog at one of the Triangle wrecks. The Center also indicated chopper bluefish were holding on the nearshore lumps but no bluefin tuna had yet been reported.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said the crew aboard the charter boat HIGH HOPES caught and released the season's first billfish--a white marlin. The fish was reeled-in by James Wright, who later landed a 5-pound, 7-ounce sea bass. The group was fishing south of Rudee near Triple 0's and also caught several dolphin.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Vickie said daytime anglers scored on keeper-sized flounder of 18 to 19-1/2 inches while croaker and trout provided good sport after dark. The longest trout of the week was caught by Lonnie Gibbs and was just shy of 23 inches. Spanish mackerel made their seasonal debut and other catches included spot, shark and sea mullet.

Buckroe Beach - Casters managed a handful of taylor bluefish and Spanish mackerel during the daylight hours. Nighttime bottom fishermen scored on croaker, trout and a few keeper striped bass, such as the 22-inch, 4-pound, 9-ouncer decked by Walter McCough. One cobia was hooked but lost the past week while several small shark were landed.

Harrison - Charley said the past several nights had been slow except for croaker, as the current muddy water conditions seem to have pushed the trout out into deeper water. Earlier in the week, Chris Grivas decked a 4-pound, 10-ounce flounder.

Lynnhaven - Very few folks have fished recently due to the weather and catches were limited to a scattering of sea mullet, trout and small spot. Several keeper flounder were decked over the weekend.

Virginia Beach - Sporadic catches of spot, striped bass, skate, mullet and snapper blues were made the past few days. Water temperature at pierside dropped to 62 degrees.

Sandbridge - Overall action has been slow the past several days except for a steady bite of clear nosed skate. Other catches include a few bluefish, croaker and spot. Water temperature at pierside was 65 degrees on Tuesday.

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach and pier fishermen in the Nags Head area were not treated kindly by the weekend weather, which produced steady winds in excess of 20 knots much of the time. Anglers fishing from the piers did have the advantage of being able to fish beyond the breakers and by late Sunday some of these fishermen caught bluefish, croaker, pan trout, spot and even a few yearling black drum. Another spot shorebound anglers could avoid the pounding surf was the catwalk over Oregon Inlet, where after dark hours produced catches of trout, striped bass and croaker.

At Cape Point on Buxton, a 74-pound cobia was beached on Thursday, as surfcasters wrestled with chopper bluefish plus a few red drum and Spanish mackerel throughout the day. On Friday, fair catches of sea mullet, bluefish and shark were reported. Saturday morning saw a decent run of bluefish and puppy drum but that quickly ended as the coldfront arrived mid-day. Sunday and Monday were days nobody wanted to be on the beach with strong wind and rain on Sunday and dirty water and strong wind on Monday.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported fair catches of yellowfin tuna to 88 pounds plus some dolphin, wahoo and king mackerel on Friday. Inshore boats had decent catches of taylor blues and Spanish mackerel while the headboat returned with a mixed catch of croaker, flounder, sea bass and triggerfish. Boats fishing inside the inlet found some grey and speckled trout near the Bonner Bridge while those fishing around the Manns Harbor Bridge enjoyed excellent catch and release action on school stripers. On Saturday, seas were building but so was the size of the yellowfin, as over a dozen citation tuna were caught with heaviest weighing 101 pounds along with gaffer dolphin up to 54 pounds. No boats fished offshore on Sunday due to strong winds but half-day boats trolling near the inlet managed decent catches of taylor bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Monday was a "no sail" day for the entire fleet.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet released three blue marlin, two sailfish and a white marlin on Friday, as Bobby Lester of Portsmouth, fishing aboard the BITE ME, released one of the blue marlin. At the dock, gaffer dolphin dominated but some above average size yellowfin and wahoo also found their way in the fish boxes. Saturday, only a handful of boats fished due to the wind and they came in early but had good hauls of dolphin and king mackerel. The fleet was "blown-out" both Sunday and Monday.

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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