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The Saltwater Review - June 6, 2002

Volume 16. No.5
by Lewis S. Gillingham


The Virginia Marine Resources Commission, by emergency action on May 28, 2002, established a statewide 17-1/2-inch minimum size limit, an eight fish possession limit with no closed summer period for Summer Flounder. In accordance with 28.2-209 of the Code of Virginia, a public hearing on the adoption of the proposed emergency amendments as part of the final regulation will be held at 12:00 noon on Tuesday, June 18, 2002, at the Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, Virginia. Please refer to the attached notice for additional information.

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 (see address above).

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).

Catches of large spadefish are nearing a frenzied peak with one tackle shop registering over 40 citations the past week. Hot spots include the Tower Reef, CBBT, the Cell and the range light off Tangier Island.

Sizeable cobia were landed the past week but the peak of the run is likely a week or two away. Expect a big weekend crowd at such early season hot spots as Bluefish Rock and the sloughs just off Grandview Beach. Still, cobia have a mind of their own and can show anywhere in the Bay and inshore ocean waters.

Offshore action is highlighted by unprecedented numbers of blue marlin at or near the Norfolk Canyon with one boat catching and releasing four in a single outing. The same waters hold loads of large dolphin, many of which top 20 pounds, as one boat registered seven. Inshore, several mako shark have been boated and chopper bluefish and football-sized bluefin tuna are holding on the 21 and 26 Mile hills and the Parking Lot.

Chincoteague -

Donna from Captain Bob's weighed several flounder in excess of 6 pounds from Queen's Sound plus a citation flatfish for Woodrew Knotts. Robert Callhan decked an 8-pound, 13-ounce flounder at Four Mouths and the same waters produced an 8-pound, 2-ounce flounder for Nancy Pryar, a 7-1/2 pounder for Claude Marcum and a 6-pound, 6-ounce flatfish for Dan Reynolds. Gerald Angle boated a 7-pound, 1-ounce flounder at Cockle Creek. In addition to Four Mouths and Queens Sound, flounder and some trout were also biting along Assateague Channel. Offshore, Jim Bishop landed a pending new state record thrasher shark at 30 fathoms. The fish weighed 274-3/4 pounds and measured 12 feet, 4 inches. The crew aboard RUMOR-HAS-IT brought-in one of the season's first mako sharks and it weighed 147 pounds. Donna also indicated that chopper bluefish were available at the Parking Lot.

Barnacle Bill's said 14-year-old Mikaela Lefrek was flounder fishing for the first time and boated a 29-inch, 8-pound, 10-ounce flatfish in Chincoteague Channel. Offshore, the shop indicated the Washington Canyon was loaded with gaffer dolphin. Inshore of the canyon, Rick Seibel boated a 238-pound mako shark.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported offshore action "exploded" last weekend, as several billfish were caught and released and numerous 20-pound plus dolphin were landed at the Norfolk Canyon. The crew aboard the TEASER caught and released an estimated 400-pound blue marlin and Greg Ford registered the heaviest dolphin at 26 pounds, 7 ounces and 44 inches. The marina also indicated that football-sized bluefin tuna and chopper bluefish were holding at the 21 and 26 Mile hills. 

Randy Lewis from Captain Zed's said the crew aboard AMERICAN MADE released a blue and a white marlin at the Norfolk Canyon, where good weekend hauls of gaffer dolphin were recorded. Victor Shreves registered a 20-1/4-pound citation dolphin. Judith Gimgel boated a 5-pound, 2-ounce sea bass on an ocean wreck while Joseph Wolf caught a 7-1/4-pound flounder at Bullshead. Randy also indicated both red and black drum were still available at Dawson Shoals (located just outside the inlet), where sea mullet had been caught in recent days.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle felt the drum bite was "about over," though registered several dozen the prior week. The prior week also produced four sheepshead citations from 6-3/4 pounds up to Wesley Mills 13-pound, 9-ounce monster. All were caught on clam while fishing for black drum. This week, John Farris boated a 12-pound, 14-ounce spadefish at the Cell, where Jeff Swank (9 pounds, 9 ounces and 9 pounds, 4 ounces) and Nathan Reynolds (9 pounds, 9 ounces) also boated citation spadefish while William Reynolds caught a 3-pound, 2-ounce croaker. Phil Morris boated a 9-pound, 3-ounce grey trout off Plantation Creek and Jeremy Mariano decked a 9-pound, 1-ounce trout off Fishermen's Island. Robert Gaskill was jigging for trout with a diamond jig at the Cement Ships and landed a 54-3/4-pound cobia. Larry Corrigan was bait fishing at Latimer Shoals and hooked and released a 48-inch cobia.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Fin Charters reported excellent bottom fishing for good-sized croaker and trout in the 15 to 20-inch range. Captain Wil said more flounder are showing daily and most range from 18 to 24 inches. Anglers fishing the Target Ships are catching larger trout plus some striped bass while anglers working the grass beds around Watts Island are managing the occasional speckled trout. Captain Wil also indicated that big spadefish were holding around the range light.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported Michael Irby (47 inches) and David Irby (45 inches) each caught and released award winning cobia while soaking chunks of bunker on the bottom near the High Rise section of the CBBT. Adriano Culanding boated a 9-pound, 10-ounce spadefish on a piece of clam at the Fourth Island, Mike Kelltner landed a 9-pound, 1-ounce fish at the Tower Reef while Bill Daver earned a release award for a 21-inch spadefish at the Tower Reef. The shop said Jessie Norris was casting a rubber-tailed jig at the First Island and caught and released a 31-inch grey trout.

Chris from Bubba's Marina told of good catches of flounder at the Second, Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT on minnows and squid, spadefish on clam bits at the Tower Reef and red drum on cut bait and peeler crab at the Inner Middle Grounds.

Dr. Jim Wright fished aboard the HIGH HOPES on Tuesday ( June 4) at the Norfolk Canyon and the group caught a load of large dolphin up to 27 pounds, 11 ounces and raised several blue marlin. A prior outing to the Anglo African wreck site produced a citation sheepshead of 6 pounds, 11 ounces.

Cobia was the word from Donnie Wallace at Wallace's Marina, as Bubba Renn had just weighed a 76 pounder and Bernard Hophins a 58 pounder. The shop had already tallied over 20 cobia for the season, and, as usual, the waters just off Grandview Beach were the favorite spot. Donnie indicated flounder and trout continue to "hold their own" at the CBBT and Back River Reef site. Jay Wall registered a 30-1/2-inch grey trout release from the high Rise section of the CBBT and Scott Gibson boated a 9-3/4-pound sheepshead at the Anglo African wreck site. Donnie added that plenty of spadefish were still holding around the Tower Reef but decent numbers of fish had also moved to the CBBT islands.

Sunset Marina said cobia were biting at Bluefish Rock, school stripers were active in the evenings at the First Island, trout, croaker and striped bass were hitting at the HRBT and large flounder were caught off Fort Wool. Nick Savage checked-in a 47-pound cobia boated off Buckroe Beach while Bill Harris decked a 51 pounder at Bluefish Rock. Bernard Lovett caught a 1-pound, 1-ounce spot on peeler crab at the HRBT on a trip that produced a cooler full of large croaker plus some trout and striped bass. Jim Newton had the week's heavyweight flounder at 8-1/4 pounds and it was caught off Fort Wool.

Alan Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle told of tautog and trout at Back River Reef and large croaker at Bluefish Rock but "still pretty slow on cobia."

Cindy at Salt Ponds said two citation flounder were weighed last week and both were caught at the CBBT. Other catches from the CBBT include striped bass, trout, bluefish and croaker.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said the mouth of the York River was covered with pound-size croaker and the season's first cobia, a 50 pounder, was caught at York Spit. In the Gloucester Point area, bottom fishermen caught a mixture of taylor bluefish, croaker and a few keeper flounder from the public pier. Reports from upriver of the bridge indicate some trout are mixed in with a larger class of croaker. 

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club reported flounder to nearly 7 pounds at the mouth of Back River, limits of trout and flounder to 23 inches plus croaker and bluefish at the CBBT and big spadefish and good-sized sea bass over inshore ocean wrecks. Amberjack have also arrived off the Virginia coast and were spotted at the Gulf Hustler and Triangles last weekend. Offshore action has heated up with blue marlin and dolphin of over 50 pounds caught between the Norfolk Canyon and 340-line. Club member nine-year-old Brandon Bartlett captured his twenty-fifth citation, a 49-inch red drum release at Nautilus Shoals, qualifying him for the coveted Master Angler Award.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported good hauls of large croaker of up to 2 pounds plus some lunkers that top three pounds. Tom Nethers was bottom fishing at the Northern Neck Reef and boated a citation-winning 19-inch, 3-pound, 5-ounce croaker. Anglers chumming for striped bass also favor the Northern Neck Reef site, where most bass fall in the 18 to 28-inch slot, though Roger knew of one striped bass that measured 37 inches the past week. Taylor blues also regularly visit the chum line. Spanish mackerel have arrived in area waters, with Cut Channel the early hot spot, where mackerel up to 30 inches were rumored to have been caught. For anglers seeking pan trout, Roger suggested drifting the channel edge from the #1 buoy and south.

Dan from Smith Point Marina described the weekend striper bite as "a little off" around buoy 62 and the Northern Neck Reef but still stripers to 35 inches and a decent number of taylor bluefish were boated. Flounder were caught around the mouth of the Little Wicomico River while grey trout and tautog were pulled from the rocks at Smith Point Light. Bottom fishermen continue to load up on croaker at Blackberry Hang and Smith Point Light. 

Jerry Thrash from Queens Creek Outfitters said the Cell continues to produce big spadefish. A recent outing aboard the private boat FISH GETTER yielded five citation spadefish ranging from 10 pounds, 7 ounces to 9 pounds, 4 ounces. The lucky anglers were Todd Hawk, with three and Buffey Hawk and James Thomas with one each. Some big spadefish are also holding at Wolftrap Light, where Glenn Hubbard (10 pounds, 2 ounces) and Michael Carroll (9 pounds, 14 ounces) each landed citation fish. Jerry said trout up to 8 pounds are also being caught at the Cell while surrounding waters are yielding bluefish, croaker and some big flounder. Terry Fisher weighed the biggest flatfish of the week at 8 pounds, 14 ounces and 30 inches. Charles Akins also registered a citation flounder from the Cell at 8 pounds, 10 ounces. Jerry added that anglers anchoring near the Stingray Point and Windmill Point lighthouses and chumming are catching school stripers and a few taylor blues.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishing for good-sized croaker and pan trout remains excellent. Bottom fishermen are starting to see more spot--especially when they bait-up with bloodworm. Linda Judkins had just reeled-in a 13-inch, 19-ounce spot at Taylor Rock, where Galyle Rose boated a 19-ouncer earlier in the week. Other catches include school stripers around the bridge and large spadefish at the Cell.

Tommy Lewis at Garretts Marina said bottom fishermen were catching loads of croaker up to 2 pounds "anywhere in the river," around the marina.

Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said croaker run from 12 to 20 inches off Gwynn Island in 34 to 38 feet of water. Captain Thompson suggested bigger baits tend to catch the bigger croaker, adding that the croaker are hitting squid, shrimp and cut bait equally well. Mixed in with the croaker are some pan trout of up to 22 inches, taylor bluefish and flounder to 23 inches but "very few spot."

Virginia Beach -

Captain Fred Feller from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the headboat fleet was splitting time between hauling in sea bass at the Tower Reef and Triangle Wrecks and fishing the High Level Bridge area at the CBBT for croaker and pan trout.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina was ecstatic about the past week's bluewater action at Norfolk Canyon. "It's been all the gaffer dolphin you could want," as one boat registered seven citation dolphin from a single outing. Even more impressive has been the blue marlin bite, as the High Hopes released four, the Poor Girl released three and the Canyon Express two blue marlin on individual trips. 

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Bottom fishermen are mainly catching croaker, spot and pan trout with the best action in the late evening and after dark. Other catches include a few keeper flounder to 19 inches and a smattering of Spanish mackerel. No cobia were landed in the past four days.

Buckroe Beach - Casters working the end of the pier caught Spanish mackerel "off and on" with the largest weighing 2-1/2 pounds, according to the pier spokesperson. Other daytime catches include sea mullet, small flounder and a few croaker. A 41-inch cobia was caught and released on Wednesday. After dark, pan trout, croaker and spot become active. 

Harrison - Weekend action was slow but Monday and Tuesday saw good catches of croaker and spot plus a few sea mullet. A 40-inch cobia was decked Tuesday. After the sun goes down, anglers are catching some pan trout and a few shark and striped bass.

Lynnhaven - Daytime action has been "real slow," according to the pier spokesperson. After dark fishing improves greatly and catches include pan trout, spot, sea mullet, croaker and bluefish.

Virginia Beach - Weekend catches were just "so-so" but a SE wind put big spot, some nearly 12 inches long, within casting range Monday and Tuesday. Other catches included a few sea mullet and croaker. Water temperature at pierside Tuesday was a comfortable 70 degrees.

Sandbridge - Sunday and Monday's action was rated "slow" by a pier spokesperson but Tuesday saw several chopper bluefish, a few Spanish mackerel, at least two cobia hooked but lost and plenty of sea mullet and spot. Water temperature on Tuesday was just 64 degrees. 

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach fishermen in the Nags Head area managed a scattering of bluefish, croaker and sea mullet while pier fishermen enjoyed good action on taylor blues and good-sized Spanish mackerel. Several cobia and jack crevalle were also decked the past week. A 16-pound barracuda and several 8-pound class bluefish were landed on Avalon Pier Monday, June 3. Water temperature in the surf zone is 70-plus degrees.

South of Oregon Inlet, beach fishermen at Cape Point on Buxton caught shark and puppy drum at first light on Saturday with some good-sized sea mullet and pompano later in the day. At dusk, a school of large red drum moved within casting distance and about a dozen up to 53 inches were beached. Sunday's action was uneventful until about dark, when a dozen or so red drum were caught. Monday saw some Spanish mackerel and a few bluefish up to 8 pounds.

The bluewater fleet sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center enjoyed good to excellent gaffer dolphin catches Friday through Sunday. On Friday, other catches included a scattering of yellowfin tuna, several wahoo and two sailfish releases. Saturday produced similar results plus some king mackerel. On Sunday, the yellowfin bite at the Point improved plus a 159-pound bigeye tuna was landed. The dolphin catches dropped slightly Monday but a number of large yellowfin to 91 pounds made up the difference. Inshore boats for this same time period recorded decent catches of taylor bluefish, Spanish mackerel and cobia to over 90 pounds. Some half-day boats even took advantage of a color change just 15 miles outside the inlet and caught dolphin. The headboat worked rough bottom near the inlet and reported decent catches of sea bass and triggerfish.

Gaffer dolphin dominated the catches of the offshore fleet at Hatteras Inlet, Friday through Monday. Other catches included a scattering of yellowfin tuna and wahoo and a few billfish (blue and white marlin and sailfish). Inshore boats have concentrated on the good run of large cobia of up to 105 pounds (new North Carolina State record).

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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