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The Saltwater Review - June 6, 2001

Lewis S. Gillingham
OVERVIEW Chincoteague Wachapreague Cape Charles Onancock
Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel Virginia Middle Bay Virginia Beach Virginia Piers Grandview
Buckroe Beach Harrison Lynnhaven Sandbridge 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 web site

The VMRC held a public hearing to finalize the closed period for the 2001 Recreational Summer Flounder fishery, Tuesday, May 22, 2001. The minimum size limit for Summer Flounder will remain at 15-1/2 inches and the possession limit is 8-fish but the closed period has been extended and will be 24 July 2001 through 7 August 2001.

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).

Since the last Saltwater Review, cobia and spadefish have burst onto the fishing scene. Citation cobia to 93 pounds were caught last weekend and the list of award-winning spadefish is already a very long list. The early season hotspot for cobia has been the Buckroe/Grandview Beach area and 9-Foot Shoals while big spadefish are most often mentioned taken at the Tower Reef and the Cell.

The spring run of huge black drum has likely peaked off Cape Charles but these huge bottom feeders normally linger around the CBBT islands throughout most of the summer.

Last weekend produced the first lucrative bluewater trolling excursions of the season, as yellowfin tuna made a strong showing in 68 degree water at the Norfolk Canyon. Dolphin and several bigeye tuna were also boated in the same area.

Chincoteague -
Donna from Captain Bob's reported anglers are catching large flounder and trout. Robert Cross boated an 8-6 flounder while his wife, Donna, landed a 6-5 flatfish. Both citation-winning flounder were caught at Queen's Sound on live minnows. William McKim was casting a rubber-tailed jig at Chincoteague Point when he landed a 28-1/2-inch and 9-pound, 6-ounce weakfish. Donna said good hauls of flounder were also made in the main channel near Captain Bob's and at Black Narrows. Offshore, tautog, black sea bass and chopper blues are holding over the ocean wrecks. 

Barnacle Bill's said flounder fishing was going "very well" with good catches coming from Queen's Sound and Chincoteague Flats. Good-sized grey trout plus a few striped bass were holding around the pilings of the Queen's Sound Bridge and Assateague Island Bridge. Offshore waters hold chopper blues, lots of blue shark and a few mako shark. Terry Conrad weighed-in a 270-pound mako last week.

Wachapreague Marina reported steady catches of flounder near the mouth of the inlet and at Green and Drawing channels. Steve Jarvis boated an 8-13 spadefish at the Cell while Ron Anson (53 inches), Kate Evans (51 inches) and Otis Evans (48 inches) each released large black drum near the CBBT.

Captain Zed's saw several large flounder the past week. Pennsylvania angler Jim Weaver boated an 8-1 flatfish on the seaside while Ellis Blake (9 pounds, 7 ounces) and his wife Susan (8 pounds, 11 ounces) landed citation flounder out of Pungoteague Creek. Jerimy Van Zile was drifting for flounder at Drawing Channel and boated a 10-1 weakfish. Both black and red drum remain available just outside the inlet at Dawson Shoals.

Cape Charles
Chris' Bait and Tackle reported the black drum bite off Cape Charles slowed the past week, when over 60 black drum releases were registered. Still the shop registered six releases and the largest was a 50-inch fish released by Nathan Reynolds. Waters between buoys 13 and 16 have been the favored location for black drum with sea clams the preferred bait. As many as half-a-dozen cobia on a single outing were reportedly caught by anglers working the Inner Middle Grounds, though the shop checked-in just citation cobia. William Petka had a 73-6 cobia at the Inner Middle Grounds while a 50-inch was caught and released by a flounder fisherman out of Oyster and a 48-inch cobia was released at Latimer Shoals. John Stiglice landed a 6-10 flounder off Cobb Island and Gregory Coats caught a 9-6 weakfish at the Little Bridge. Spadefish have moved into the lower Bay and are holding around structure and several of the buoys. The Barban party, fishing aboard the BUCCANEER had three citation spadefish at the old buoy 10 site. One each for David (9 pounds), Phillip (8-1/2 pounds) and Mark (8-1/4 pounds).

Captain Wil Laaksonen at Fish and Finn Charters reported "all you want" croaker off Onancock with most fish running between 1 and 2 pounds. Flounder and spot numbers are increasing while the trout bite has slacked-off. Other catches include blowfish, sea mullet, porgy and bluefish. Black drum still linger in local waters but red drum became scarce last week, as speckled trout remained scarce.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -
Cobbs Marina reported fair to good catches of flounder along the CBBT and excellent action for spadefish at the Tower Reef. John Serre weighed the weekend's heaviest CBBT flounder at 7 pounds and 26 inches while Mike Poole earned a release award for a 48-inch black drum at the Second Island. Cobia action is improving at 9-Foot Shoals while the bite of large grey trout at the CBBT has slowed--at least temporarily.

Dimitri from Bubba's Marina also told of good cobia action on the eastern side of the Bay for cobia and spadefish at the Tower Reef. Good-sized croaker have moved into the waters surrounding the Third Island while striped bass are holding over the tubes. Flounder action remains steady along the CBBT complex while the early spring bite of large grey trout has slowed.

Dr. Jim Wright told of a good weekend tuna bite at the Norfolk Canyon. Anglers also caught some gaffer-sized dolphin and several bigeye tuna. A mid-week trip for red drum off Fisherman's Island produced a simultaneous triple hook-up but only one, a 40-inch fish was brought to the boat. Dr. Jim also indicated the best concentration of pan trout seemed to be located at the High Rise, rather than the 12 MP. 

Wallace's Marina weighed 16 cobia on Sunday, including a 93-pounder for Bruce Goble, an 87-1/2 pounder for Steve Taylor and a 75 pounder for David Pierce. Most of the cobia were caught off Grandview Beach. The marina also registered four red drum releases, ranging from 46 to 48 inches, which were caught at 9-Foot Shoals plus an 8-pound spadefish for Eric Kennedy of Newport News.

Johnny at Sunset Marina said large black drum were still biting in the buoy 13 to 16 area, as Steve Jones (56 inches), Stanley Madlock (55 inches), John Hogg (52 inches), Bruce Edmons (51 inches), Pat Jensen (46 inches) and Mike Clarke (45-1/2 inches) all earned release awards the past week. Johnny added that large croaker to 19 inches and keeper sized flounder were biting at several locations including the ammo dock (located off Hampton Bar) and the HRBT. The shop weighed just one cobia over the weekend, a 37-pound fish, that was caught off Buckroe Beach.

Allen Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle said Sonny Riss boated a 6-1/2-pound flounder off Back River on Monday and Allen knew of weekend catches of cobia from both the two local piers and from boats anchored off Grandview Beach. 

Salt Ponds Marina said trollers were catching school-sized striped bass around the CBBT islands while the ocean wrecks were starting to produce good catches of sea bass.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said Gene Hunsucker boated a citation-winning 3-1/4-pound croaker off Cheatham Annex, where weekend anglers also scored on pan trout and school-sized striped bass. Flounder were caught around the mouth of the Perrin River and along the Yorktown side of the Coleman Bridge. The shop's first cobia of the year was checked-in by Carol Ladoux. It was caught off Salt Ponds and weighed 46-1/2 pounds.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club reported big spadefish are holding on the Cell, certain locations along the CBBT complex and at the Chesapeake Light Tower. School-sized stripers still linger around the CBBT but the season will close June 15 and remain closed until October 4. Good-sized sea bass continue to move inshore and can be found as close as the Tower Reef. Scott Kufro boated a 6-pound, 2-ounce flounder at the CBBT while other club members reported catching flounder at the Back River Reef site. Ken Neill tagged and released a 44-1/2-inch cobia at the mouth of Back River.

Virginia Middle Bay -
Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported croaker were "everywhere" including all the local creeks. Anglers chumming near buoys 62 and 72 and at the Triangle found plenty of school-sized stripers plus the occasional bluefish. Grey trout to 8 pounds were caught at the Target Ships and around Smith Point Light while keeper-sized flounder remain available at the jetty.

Smith Point Marina weighed a 3-1/2 pound, 20-inch croaker from Smith Point Light for Ryan Rogers. Most of the charter fleet has been chumming for school stripers and the occasional bluefish. Trout and blowfish are available at the Tangier Target Ships. 

Jerry Thrash from Queens Creek Reel and Downrigger Service said weekend catches of flounder were slow in the Cell/buoy 42 area but Chris Lawrence boated a 7-1 flatfish at the White Stone Bridge. Bluefish and grey trout remain active at the Cell. Last week produced the areas first catches of Spanish mackerel. Jerry indicated that most of the croaker on the western shore were running small to medium while bigger croaker had moved into the Bay and could be found off Silver Beach. Fair catches of spot were recorded off Gwynn Island and in the mouth of the Piankatank while spadefish were biting at the Cell and at Wolf Trap Light, where Paul Hutson nailed a pair of citation winners at 9 pounds, 11 ounces and 8 pounds, 10 ounces.

Jack from Locklies Marina said anglers chumming the bridge caught limits of striped bass in the 24 to 28-inch range. The same area produced two citation-sized spot, as more of these popular bottom feeders are arriving, though croaker remain the dominant catch.

Garretts Marina reported excellent weekend catches of large croaker around buoy 16 and 19 with squid and bloodworm the preferred baits. 

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said the lower portion of the river holds mainly small to medium croaker with bigger fish holding near Tangier Light. Fair numbers of pan trout are mixed in with the croaker on the eastern side of the Bay while flounder numbers are improving at the Cell. Spadefish have also arrived at the Cell.

Virginia Beach -
The Virginia Beach Fishing Center recorded their first catches of yellowfin tuna for the season over the weekend, as boats visiting the Norfolk Canyon returned with good hauls of tuna. Several charter boats ran inshore trips to the Tower Reef and loaded up with big spadefish. In fact, the Center had a large stack of citation spadefish--too long to list. The headboats fished the lower Bay on their most recent outings and returned with good hauls of croaker and trout.

Paula from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said boats trolling the Norfolk Canyon Saturday, Sunday and Monday averaged 10 to 15 yellowfin per boat plus a few gaffer dolphin. Several charters ran to the Tower Reef for spadefish and their passengers returned arm weary.

Virginia Piers
Grandview - Fair to good catches of flounder, trout, Spanish mackerel, croaker and spot. Dawn, dusk and nighttime around the lights has seen the best action. Several cobia have been decked and the largest measured 43-1/2 inches.

Buckroe Beach - Spanish mackerel highlight daytime catches, though some flounder and a few spot and croaker are caught. Several cobia have hit the deck with a 56-1/2 pounder the heaviest thus far. Pan trout and croaker provide steady action after dark.

Harrison - Daytime action has been limited to a few mullet and flounder with sea mullet, croaker and school-sized striped bass providing decent action after dusk. One keeper cobia (37-inch minimum) was landed last week. Headboats leaving the pier are fishing Hampton Bar and returning with big catches of pound-sized croaker.

Lynnhaven - A few flounder and sea mullet are being caught during the day while nighttime action features pan trout, sea mullet and taylor blues. The season's first blue crabs are just arriving.

Virginia Beach - Casters working the end of the pier enjoyed sporadic runs and Spanish mackerel and taylor blues while bottom fishermen had taylor blues, sea mullet, some spot and a few "just legal" flounder (15-1/2 minimum size limit). The water temperature around the pier's piling has warmed to a comfortable 71 degrees.

Sandbridge - Spanish mackerel are showing nearly every evening at the end of the pier. Tuesday evening saw a particularly strong bite of Spanish. Bottom fishermen are catching some pan trout, croaker, sea mullet and spot. One cobia was landed last week.

Outer Banks, NC

Surf fishermen along the Nags Head area beaches found fair to good numbers of snapper blues plus some sea mullet and small flounder. Beach fishermen in the Duck area reported a scattering of spot, puppy drum and pan trout in addition to snapper blues and sea mullet. Anglers fishing the piers enjoyed fast action for Spanish mackerel and bluefish at times with the most consistent bite coming at dawn and dusk. The several speckled trout were decked at the Nags Head Pier while Rodanthe and Avon piers reported better hauls of sea mullet, spot, bluefish and grey trout. 

On Hatteras Island, loads of taylor blues and a few Spanish mackerel provided good action at Cape Point on Friday. A 39-inch cobia was beached in the morning and several red drum in the 40 to 50-pound range were caught and released during the incoming tide. Saturday saw several more drum caught and released from the Point, where fair catches of blues and Spanish were recorded while sea mullet provided decent action on the South Beach. On Sunday, "dirty" water conditions limited catches to sea mullet and a few bluefish during the day but several red drum were beached after sunset. Monday produced some of the season's first pompano plus sea mullet, snapper blues and Spanish mackerel.

The charter fleet sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported good catches of dolphin and yellowfin tuna plus some king mackerel and a few bigeye tuna on Saturday. The crew on the FLYING FISHERMAN decked a 150-pound bigeye. Sunday saw limits of dolphin, good numbers of yellowfin plus several bigeye tuna. The FIGHT-N-LADY boated a 43-pound dolphin. The TUNA FEVER weighed a 70-pound yellowfin and a 113-pound bigeye. The yellowfin bite was even better Monday, as the DREAM GIRL returned to the dock with four citation tuna. During this period, inshore boats generally recorded limit catches of taylor blues and Spanish mackerel plus a few king mackerel and cobia.

The charter fleet fishing out of Hatteras Inlet recorded limit catches of dolphin plus yellowfin tuna and wahoo on Saturday. A white marlin and a sailfish were released aboard the RELIANCE. Carlton Pallett of Smithfield, VA boated a 54-pound wahoo aboard the GECKO. Sunday produced more limit catches of dolphin with individual fish to 55 pounds, a fair number of yellowfin tuna plus some king mackerel and wahoo. On Monday the dolphin numbers were down but more tuna and wahoo were boated.

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.

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