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The Saltwater Review - June 6, 2003

Volume 17. No. 4
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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


Commissioner Pruitt has designated June 6, 7 and 8 as Free Fishing Days. No saltwater fishing license will be required to fish in the tidal waters of the Commonwealth of Virginia that are under the jurisdiction of the Marine Resources Commission during this time period. This exemption does not apply to charter boats, head boats or rental boats.

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.

The highlight of last week's action was the continued impressive spring run of huge black drum off Cape Charles. Nearly 700 release citations have been issued this spring.

The same area but in shoal waters, is producing a nice run of red drum and over 100 release citations have been issued this season.

Chincoteague -

Donna From Captain Bob's reported decent catches of flounder the past week. Albert Rang nailed a 7-1/4-pound flatfish at Queen's Sound and catches of flatfish to over 5 pounds were made at the CV marker, red buoy 20 and along the southside of the Queen's Sound Bridge. Taylor blues remain abundant at Four Mouths, near buoy 5, and along Chincoteague Channel, near buoys 25 and 27.

Barnacle Bill's described the weather as "terrible" and the flounder fishing as "slow" but some flatfish were being caught around the flats in Chincoteague Bay. Inside Queen's Sound, yearling black drum and striped bass from 20 to nearly 50 inches were caught on chunks of peeler crab. Outside the inlet, wreckfishing for black sea bass remains productive "whenever they can get out there," and plenty of chopper blues have arrived on the offshore seamounts.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported flounder action remains poor but the ocean wreckfishing for large sea bass is very good. Biggest sea bass of the week weighed 5 pounds and was caught near buoy 10 by Ron Meadows aboard the LUCKY DAWG. On the bayside, the spring run of trophy black drum continued and Mary Young (48 inches), Ashley Littleston (45 inches) and Keith Clayberg (45 inches) all registered for black drum release awards at the marina.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported another excellent week of trophy drum fishing--both black and red. The shop registered 75-plus black drum releases last week and nearly two dozen red drum releases. The buoy 13 area remained the top black drum spot, where David Doudty caught and released a 52-inch fish. For red drum, anglers fished either peeler crab or cut menhaden around the shoals off Fisherman's Island, where the longest recorded catch measured 49 inches. Other impressive catches included a 13-pound sheepshead, caught by Charles Parks at buoy 13 while soaking sea clam for black drum, a 10-pound grey trout, caught at the Cell on a live fish by Gary Seay and a 13-pound, 15-ounce tautog, pulled from the Anglo-African wreck by Bill Perron.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen at Fish and Finn Charters reported good hauls of large croaker just south of Cranny Hack in 30 to 40 feet of water. Catches of spot have been sporadic and the fish are "either very small or very big." Other catches include decent catches of sea mullet and blowfish but very few trout the past week. The past week did produce the best catches of flounder this season with fish to 26 inches. A few red drum still linger in the shallows while the spring run of speckled trout has yet to materialize. Water temperature off Onancock was 61 degrees on Tuesday.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Ruth Cobb from Cobbs Marina reported good catches of croaker plus some flounder from the Third Island area of the CBBT but "not many people are fishing because of the weather."

Lou at Bubba's Marina said fair numbers of mostly undersized flounder were biting at the mouth of the inlet while grey trout to over 9 pounds and some school stripers and taylor blues were caught around the Lesner Bridge. Out at the CBBT, school stripers and pan trout are abundant plus a few spadefish are starting to show. Lou said one customer landed a 10-pound plus spadefish while casting a plug at one of the islands for striped bass.

Dr. Jim Wright said a school of big grey trout moved into the waters surrounding the south jetty at Rudee Inlet Saturday and several citation trout were caught. At the CBBT complex, a pair of 50-pound class black drum were caught by an angler casting a yellow bucktail. Hordes of pan trout have arrived at the 12 MP while big black and red drum are hitting large chunks of peeler crab fished at 9-Foot Shoals.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Bait and Tackle said customers are still catching plenty of black and red drum at Latimer Shoals on sea clam, chowder clam and peeler crab. Some of the best action has been centered around buoy 13, where W.H. Gousse (50-1/2 inches), Loraine Gousse (49 inches), Wayne Gousse (48 inches) and Graham Johnson (48 inches) all earned release awards for big black drum. The flounder bite remains slow but some flatfish were caught at Hampton Bar and along the oceanside of the Third and Fourth islands. Grey trout numbers continue to increase with most of the best reports coming from the CBBT complex and HRBT.

Debbie at Sunset Marina said several customers caught and released big black drum near buoy 13, where Barry Buchannon (45 inches) and David Gay (44-1/2 inches) each earned release citations. The Hooters Fishing Team caught 40 flounder casting jigs around the HRBT and kept 8 flatfish to 26 inches. Ben Harra boated a near miss citation flounder at the M & M crossing that weighed 6-3/4 pounds. The results of the Jim Baugh Fishing Tournament were: First Place Flounder, 5 pounds, 4 ounces, 23-1/2 inches, caught by Frank Belton, Jr. at Fort Wool; First Place Trout, 6-1/2 pounds, 26 inches, caught by David Wydie at the HRBT; First Place Striped Bass, 12-1/4 pounds, 33 inches, caught by Jim Whorton at the CBBT; First Place Croaker, 2 pounds, 6 ounces, 16-3/4 inches, caught by Kathy Odem and First Place Oyster Toad, 2 pounds, 2 ounces, caught by Paul Anderson.

Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina said Terry Stokes released a 50-inch black drum at the CBBT and Devin Moore boated a 32-inch, 10-pound grey trout aboard the MISS HOPE at the HRBT. Other customers reported mixed catches of pan trout, croaker and flounder at the CBBT.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said bottom fishermen working from the Gloucester Point Pier caught decent numbers of flounder but "only about 1 in 10 is big enough to keep," and plenty of nice sized croaker. Anglers fishing the grass beds in the York with peeler crab for speckled trout are seeing very few specks but enough striped bass and croaker to keep them interested. From other areas, Chuck heard big trout were hitting at the Cell and fair numbers of flounder were caught off Cape Charles.

Several Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club boated big black or red drum in the buoy 13 to 9-Foot Shoal area, including Matt Rinck (47-inch red drum) and Steve Powell (51-1/2 red drum). Other members cashed-in on the steady bite of school stripers at the HRBT and CBBT. Pan trout arrived at the 12 MP of the CBBT while some larger trout were caught around the Third and Fourth islands. The flounder bite remains "hit-or-miss" with Hampton Bar and the buoy 36A area the most consistent locations.

Virginia Middle Bay

Heidi Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported the charter boats are catching loads of school stripers while chumming at buoy 62 and around the Northern Neck Reef. Croaker and a few taylor blues are also showing in the chum lines. Weather continues to be a problem, "we had terrible weather over the weekend (again) and just didn't have a lot of people fishing."

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters reported good bottom fishing for croaker and spot along Cut Channel in 35 to 40 feet of water and off Gwynn Island in 25 to 30 feet of water. Jerry was happy to report that spadefish had finally started to cooperate at the Cell and around Wolftrap Light. Trout to over 9 pounds were also boated at the Cell. Chumming for school stripers has been productive "around any structure," such as rockpiles, lighthouses and bridge pilings. Down the bay, trophy-sized black drum remain active from buoy 16 to the CBBT. Michael Hanhart of Hopewell boated a 33-inch, 9-pound, 13-ounce grey trout on a bucktail/grub at the Cell, where Aaron Inge of Port Haywood decked a 34-inch, 9-pound, 14-ounce trout on a piece of clam. Steven Yates of Hayes nailed a 10-pound, 7-ounce spadefish on clam at Wolftrap Light and Charles Martin of Mechanicsville landed a 7-pound sheepshead on peeler crab in the Rappahannock River.

Jack from Locklies Marina said the past week saw striped bass to 42-1/2 inches pulled from the pilings of the Whitestone Bridge. The best action has been with peeler or soft crab on slack water. Bottom fishermen saw an influx of small croaker the past week but pods of 2 to 2-1/2-pound croaker and hand-sized spot are still found locally.

Tommy Lewis at Garretts Marina said even with all the rain "people are still fishing like crazy." Croaker dominate the catches and range in size from pinhead to over 2-1/2 pounds. "The croaker are biting from the Tappahannock Bridge to the mouth of the river," according to Tommy.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said catches of croaker and spot in the river have slowed due to low salinity levels caused by all the rain. The better bottom fishing has been at Butlers Hole and near the range light. School stripers are also active at Butlers Hole.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported several large spadefish were caught at the Tower Reef last week and largest weighed 11 pounds, 9 ounces and was caught by Matt Lagana. The Center said the headboat fleet had good hauls of nice sea bass on their all-day trips and registered several citation sea bass (5 pounds or greater) up to 5 pounds, 6 ounces. Anglers fishing near the mouth of the inlet caught some nice grey trout and plenty of taylor blues.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina said chopper blues are holding on the lumps off Virginia Beach but "nobody wants to fish for them." Instead, the charter fleet has run to the CBBT complex, where school stripers are a sure bet.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Anglers caught plenty of croaker and bluefish last week plus some sea mullet, keeper flounder up to 23-1/2 inches, spot and a scattering of Spanish mackerel and pan trout. Two "pup" cobia were decked and released and several customers claimed to have hooked bigger cobia that "got away."

Buckroe Beach - Bottom fishermen recorded a mixed bag of keeper flounder, school striped bass, sea mullet, croaker, bluefish, shark, Spanish mackerel and the ever present skate.

Harrison - Overall daytime action was slow with only a handful of flounder and a few school stripers reported but the evenings produced good hauls of croaker plus some spot, sea mullet, bluefish and striped bass.

Lynnhaven - Saturday was slow but Sunday produced decent catches of school stripers and sea mullet. On Monday, a few Spanish mackerel were caught in the evening while sea mullet and school stripers provided the bulk of the action.

Virginia Beach - Taylor bluefish and hand-sized spot provided fair to good action the past several days. A sprinkling of flounder were caught but the largest was just over 16 inches. water temperature at pierside was 61 degrees on Tuesday.

Sandbridge - On Friday, water temperature in the surf was in the upper 60's and bottom fishermen enjoyed good mixed catches of sea mullet, spot, bluefish, croaker, trout and the ever present skate. By Monday, the same waters had cooled 10 degrees and the action had come to a standstill.

Outer Banks, NC -

Surf and pier fishermen along the Nags Head area beaches caught mostly taylor blues and skate Friday and Saturday in surf waters that were in the low 60's. Sunday's NW winds cooled the surf waters below 60 and "muddied them up" and panfish responded with improved catches of bluefish, spot, sea mullet, croaker and even a few speckled trout. Anglers fishing from the shoreline at Oregon Inlet reported decent catches of snapper blues, croaker and pan trout.

South of Oregon Inlet, at least five cobia of up to 70 pounds were beached between ramp 41 and the South Beach (on Buxton). Surf fishermen also scored on bluefish, sea mullet, flounder and pompano at Cape Point. On Saturday, a dozen or more cobia were beached at or near Cape Point, plus a mixture of bluefish, sea mullet and pompano. Sunday, the wind shifted and increased, and the bite slowed. By Monday, waters had already cleared and anglers recorded catches of bluefish, sea mullet and Spanish mackerel.

The fleet at the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center enjoyed good catches of yellowfin tuna all last week and bigeye tuna appeared in the catches mid-week. On Friday the fleet boated "at least" 24 bigeye tuna averaging 150 pounds each with a 240-pound lunker boated on the ESCAPE. Inshore boats had good catches of taylor bluefish, Spanish mackerel and cobia while croaker dominated the catches aboard the headboat. The offshore fishery came to a standstill Saturday and Sunday due to rough seas. Monday saw decent catches of yellowfin tuna and a scattering of gaffer dolphin. The crew aboard the ROCK SOLID boated an 87-pound cobia.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed excellent catches of dolphin all of last week. On Friday, the fleet returned with limit catches of dolphin with individual fish to 48 pounds and some wahoo while recording four blue marlin releases and two for sailfish. Catches were similar on Saturday, plus some yellowfin tuna were landed. No boats sailed Sunday due to rough sea conditions. June 3, the boats released eleven billfish; six sailfish and five white marlin. Dolphin dominated the day's catch but some yellowfin tuna and a few wahoo were also caught. The crew aboard the BITE ME had the biggest dolphin of the day, a 40-pounder, and released a white marlin.

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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