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The Saltwater Review - 8 June  2006

Vol. 20, No. 3

Chincoteague | Wachapreague | Cape Charles | Onancock | Lower Bay/CBBT | Middle Bay | Virginia BeachVA Piers | 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 homepage web site (see address above).  A reporting form is also enclosed in this report (Click here for the online report form)..

Juvenile bluefin tuna have been implanted with archival tags in a cooperative effort to determine the migration pattern of northwest Atlantic bluefin tuna.  These fish have a green streamer tag near their dorsal fin and a light stalk sticking out of their belly. If you catch one of these fish, it is worth $500 but you must keep the fish. These fish will not count against your daily limit of bluefin tuna and you can keep them even if they are below the current minimum size limit.   To receive your reward you must contact Jon Lucy at the VIMS: (804) 684-7166, .  A copy of this announcement is enclosed.

A 13-pound, 5-ounce spadefish caught on May 29 by Michael Hanhart of Huddleston, VA has been certified as the new Virginia state record by the VSWFT. 

The top story since the last edition is the arrival of spadefish and cobia in Virginia waters.  Already a new state record (see above) has been set for spadefish (the 13-pound, 5-ounce fish was boated at Wolf Trap Light) and cobia weighing as much as 91 pounds (caught near Back River Reef) have been weighed.  Top areas for the spadefish include the Tower Reef, the Cell, Wolf Trap Light and the range light off Occohannock Creek while the waters surrounding Bluefish Rock and off Grandview Beach have produced many of the early season cobia.

Offshore, the bluewater season got an early jump-start, as citation yellowfin tuna and bigeye tuna were registered Memorial Day weekend.  Gaffer-sized dolphin are also available in numbers off the Virginia Coast. Chopper bluefish are being reported in huge numbers on all the inshore lumps, much to chagrin to anglers hoping for a legal-sized bluefin or king mackerel.


Donna at Captain Bob’s reported big flounder were biting at Queen’s Sound and Four Mouths.  Ray Johnson Sr. had the week’s lunker, a 7-pound 15-ouncer, at Four Mouths on a windy day.  Travis Richey boated a 7-pound flounder at Queen’s Sound.  Sea mullet are biting at the inlet and around markers 14 and 15.  Offshore, Hurland Parker had a 9-pound tautog at Winter Quarter Shoals.  Further offshore the big news has been the early season showing of tuna—not so much bluefin but an impressive showing of yellowfin and even several bigeye tuna.  Inshore, the Parking Lot is chock full of chopper bluefish.


Wachapreague Marina reported decent catches of flounder with the best action coming from the “deeper channels.”  Outside the inlet at the Norfolk and Washington canyons, trollers enjoyed good action on yellowfin tuna up to 60 pounds plus a few dolphin.  Inshore, the 21 and 26 Mile hills are loaded with chopper bluefish and a few bluefin tuna.  Over on the bayside, B.W. James caught and released a 51-inch red drum off Onancock Creek while Tom Savage (9-3/4 pounds) and Daniel Ewing (10 pounds, 5 ounces) each boated citation spadefish off Occohannock Creek.

Randy Lewis from Captain Zed’s said the flounder fishing was “holding up pretty good,” plus a few sea mullet and occasional pan trout were caught along with the flounder.  The channel that runs past the Coast Station and Cedar Island Cove has been two of the better recent flounder locations.  Offshore, the crew aboard the MARLIN MAGIC boated a 91-pound bigeye tuna near the Washington Canyon.  Some school bluefin tuna and loads of chopper bluefish are holding around the 21 and 26 Mile hills.

Cape Charles

Chris’ Bait and Tackle saw its first cobia of the season last week, as Chuck Ward weighed-in a 68-pound, 13-ouncer from the CBBT and John Peer caught and released a 50-inch cobia at buoy 42.  The spring run of large black drum off Cape Charles appears to be winding down, though anglers are still seeing numbers of 15 to 30-pound fish.  Still, Joe Rose (54 inches, Cabbage Patch) and Chris Harrell (50 inches, near buoy 13) earned release awards for trophy sized black drum last week.  The spring red drum shows no signs of slowing, as Jake Mapp (47 inches), Scott Hubbard (47 inches), Hunt Addison (47 inches) and Joe Peirson (47 inches) all released trophy reds on the Smith Island Shoals, George Kohler released a 49-1/2-inch drum at Cobb Island and Bill Mariner released a pair (46 and 46-1/2 inches) at Smith Island flats.  The week saw an improvement in the flounder bite on seaside while the shop described the bayside action as “hit or miss.”  Their numbers may have dropped off but the week’s biggest flounder were caught on the bayside, as James Clowney nailed an 8-pounder at buoy 36A and Neil Lessard had a 7-pound, 6-ounce flatfish at the same location.  The week also produced a citation 11-pound, 7-ounce sheepshead for Jonathan Harrell (buoy 13) plus an 11-pound, 3-ounce trophy spadefish for Julie Seay (Cell).  Bottom fishermen at the nearby Kiptopeke Park Pier enjoyed a mixed bag of croaker, bluefish and pan trout with the best action near sundown.

Onancock -

No report available

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported excellent action on spadefish out at the Tower Reef over the weekend.  Fresh clam is the preferred bait.  Flounder and large croaker were caught by bottom fishermen drifting the edges of the Baltimore Channel.  The shop also heard of good catches of tuna out at the Norfolk Canyon.

Bubba’s Marina said flounder and a few school stripers and snapper bluefish were holding around the Lesner Bridge while the CBBT was a better location for larger flatfish and large croaker.  Several customers reported seeing spadefish at several locations along the CBBT.

Dr. Jim Wright said Tuesday (June 6) was “pretty windy” but his party punched their way out, east of the Fingers, caught and released several small yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin and boated a 55-inch, 86-pound bluefin tuna on a Green Machine.

Wallace’s Bait and Tackle saw their first cobia of the season last weekend and registered several citation-winning fish.  The Bluefish Rock area and the waters off Grandview Beach have been popular with the cobia crowd.  Flounder and tautog are biting at nearby Back River Reef while persistent anglers managed an occasional speckled trout and school striper at Poquoson Flats.

Sunset Boating Center said cobia were biting out at Bluefish Rock and one party returned with a 40 and 50-pounder.   Flounder were biting best across the bay at buoy 36A but keeper-sized flatfish and plenty of croaker were available at nearby Hampton Bar.  The shop also indicated that bottom fishermen were catching a mixture of black and red drum at Latimer Shoals with the best action in the late evenings and after sunset.

Cindy from Salt Ponds Marina said many of her customers told of catching keeper-sized flounder, up to nearly 7 pounds and loads of croaker, along the CBBT complex and around the entrance to Salt Ponds.  Nick Hite caught and released a 47-1/4-inch red drum at Fishermen’s Island Shoals while Hoke Oliver released a 48-inch red at nearby Bluefish Rock.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said croaker were abundant throughout the York River with some of the better hauls coming from above the Coleman Bridge at the lumps.  Anglers fishing from the Gloucester Point Pier were also catching croaker plus a few keeper flounder.  Flounder were also biting “right under the bridge” on the Yorktown side and near the mouth of the river off Tue Marsh.  The week’s biggest flounder, a 7-pound, 5-ouncer, was caught near buoy 42 by Sherri French.  Perhaps the top catch of the week was made by James Eversole of Hayes, who weighed in a 91-pound cobia.  The huge cobia was caught about two miles from Back River Reef on a live croaker.  Robert Rillie landed an impress 12-1/4-pound spadefish at Wolf Trap Light but that was the only one for the trip.  The spring speckled trout bite inside Mobjack Bay continued into June with some of the best action around Ware Point.  Robert Kellum boated a 7-pound, 5-ounce speck at the Severn River.

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club said, “Summertime fishing is in full swing.” Offshore, there was a good tuna and gaffer dolphin bite along the 100-fathom curve last week.  Occasionally, a pack of bigeye tuna makes things very interesting. Further inshore, places like the Hot Dog and 26 mile Hill are loaded with chopper bluefish and some are long enough to earn a release citation (36 inches) but all appear too skinny to make weight (16 pounds).  Persistent anglers working these areas with spoons and cedar plugs and trolling at higher speeds have managed to catch a few bluefin tuna and king mackerel. Spadefish are around the Chesapeake Light Tower and over all of the inshore wrecks. Cobia fishing is moving into full swing. Chumming with ground menhaden is the technique of choice. I expect there are amberjacks on the southern towers though I have not talked to anyone who has made the run yet. We will be giving it a try soon. The black drum bite has wound down but their red drum cousins are still plenty active. Striped bass are still falling to live bait fished over the tubes of the CBBT. Big sheepshead are available along the structure of the CBBT. Flounder fishing is decent with some nice fish being caught at the Cell area. Structure fishing has become more productive. Big flatfish have been caught at the Back River Reef by anglers fishing live bait while anchored up on the structure. Spanish Mackerel are here and can be caught by trolling small Clark spoons.

Dr. Julie Ball, IGFA International Representative for Virginia Beach, contributed the following:
Proof of the covert cobia invasion of the bay is materializing with each passing day. With the first brownsuit caught in the Bay over three weeks ago, the turnout for this year seems promising. Some fish in excess of 80-pounds are delighting patient chummers off of Grandview, Buckroe, and the Northern part of the Inner Middle Grounds. The bite is still scattered, but more fish are boated every day. The bonanza will launch into full-force once the large school off the Carolinas arrives in about a week. Choose a location near a shoal or shallow pass, and fish the bottom with cut bait or free-floating live bait. You may be lucky enough to snag a passing red drum among the fleet of sharks and cownose rays.

The red drum exploit has slowed a little, with the action expected to resume once the moon phase shifts toward the full cycle next week. Try trolling the ocean side of Fisherman’s Island, and Nautilus Shoals. The black drum have all but deserted the shoals of the Eastern Shore near buoys 13 and 16, but will regroup around the islands and structures of the Bridge Tunnel. Expect a few stragglers among the shoals while fishing for cobia and red drum. Spadefish are still commanding the most attention from anglers, while catches are still flourishing at the Chesapeake Light Tower, inshore structure fish are a little more finicky. The larger fish will continue to frequent the upper bay hot-spots, such as the Range Tower, the Cell, and Wolf Trap Light. Prepare for large crowds at the spadefish holes, up to 150 boats were counted at one popular location this past weekend. Pan trout fisherman can find plenty of takers schooling around the 12-mile marker, up to the High Rise section of the Bay Bridge Tunnel. Small bluefish, croaker, and nice roundhead are mixed in with the trout. Big hardhead are swarming most anywhere in the bay and lower and middle bay rivers. Look for scattered Spanish mackerel around tide rifts, along the Ocean Front, and along the island tubes early in the mornings or late evenings. Tautog are still putting on a show for wreck wranglers.  Justin Hurst reports his crew recently boated several smallish togs around the Third Island, and larger fish up to seven pounds at the High Rise section of the Bay Bridge Tunnel. Striped bass are no longer hitting live bait over the tubes of the CBBT, but are plentiful using the same method alongside the islands and at the curve in the span of the bridge approaching the 3rd island. Flounder fishermen are very busy, with several citation flatfish falling for strip baits near the Cell, the CBBT, and the Hampton Bar. Although not quite in full swing, sheepshead are settling in on the structures of the Bay Bridge Tunnel, with several respectable fish earning state citations for enduring anglers. These tasty fish will hit fiddler crabs, clam, or crabs. They have certainly been elusive this year, but some nice gray trout are chasing thrown grubs and Storm lures behind the 2nd and 3rd islands of the CBBT on the changing tide, with one reaching a hefty 9.5 pounds for a citation. Once the tide runs, expect small striper and bluefish to take over. A few big grays can also be found among chopper bluefish inside Rudee Inlet. Pier anglers are content with small spot, croaker, and sea mullet, with big hopes of encountering an occasional cobia.

Offshore, Virginia crews are facing mixed action. Some days are better than others with most of the action flip-flopping between the Norfolk Canyon, and the more southern locations around the 450 to 350 lines. Dr. Wright weighed in an impressive 86-pound blue fin tuna he encountered at the Canyon Tuesday aboard the High Hopes. Plenty of large dolphin and small to large yellowfin tuna are available. The Bada Bing captained by Steve Wray released a citation False Albacore trolling the Fingers Monday. Amberjack are ready and waiting at the south tower for anglers ready for a tug.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported bluefish had arrived in local waters but most were no larger than about three pounds.  Trollers working the Triangles are catching striped bass while anglers anchoring and chumming in the vicinity of the Northern Neck Reef site are catching plenty of school stripers plus some large croaker.

Smith Point Marina said most of their anglers are still running up into Maryland waters, in the vicinity of buoy 72, and chumming for striped bass. 

Jerry Thrash from Queen’s Creek Outfitters registered Michael Hanhart’s state record spadefish of 13 pounds, 5 ounces.  The fish was caught on a piece of clam suspended beneath a popping cork at Wolf Trap Light on May 29.  Since the record catch the shop registered citation spadefish for Jim Strickler (10-1/2 pounds; Cell), Benard Smith (12 pounds; Wolf Trap Light), Allen Scales (9-1/2 pounds; Wolf Trap Light), Jim Ruliffson (10 pounds, 13 ounces; Wolf Trap Light) and Milton Jones (10 pounds, 3 ounces; Cell).  Jerry said most of the spadefish were caught on pieces of fresh clam but clam flavored FishBites and Gulp! are also drawing strikes.  Several large speckled trout were weighed-in the past week including a 6-1/4-pounder, caught by Joseph Healy on peeler crab at the North River and a 5-1/2-pounder, caught by Tony Hudgins on a topwater lure in the Piankatank River.  Flounder were scattered around the buoy 42/Cell area and some fish have moved onto the flats between buoy 42 and 40A.  Geoff LaLand was drifting for flounder, using squid for bait near New Point Comfort and boated an 8-1/2-pound sheepshead.

Locklies Marina said top catch of the week was Brad Meatheny’s 6-1/2-pound flounder.  The near citation flatfish was pulled from piling #15 on the White Stone Bridge, where a handful of school-sized stripers were also boated.  Bottom fishermen had good numbers of medium spot and croaker at Butlers Hole and off the Silos.

Garretts Marina said the buoy 19 area is holding mostly spot plus some croaker.

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I has been running “across the Bay,” bottom fishing off Nassawadox near buoy 40A and catching jumbo croaker to nearly 20 inches. Mixed in with the schools of croaker are decent numbers of flounder and bluefish plus a few trout to 20 inches.  Shrimp has been the top bait.  Over on the Western side of the bay, spot to 10 inches were biting around the mouths of the Piankatank and Rappahannock rivers.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the offshore action has been very good the past ten days, as good numbers of gaffer dolphin and mixed sizes of yellowfin tuna weighing up to 86 pounds were caught.  The Fishing Center weighed in several large bigeye tuna and the heaviest went 184-1/2 pounds.  Inshore, the Tower Reef is loaded with spadefish but the place is a parking lot on the weekends. 

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said their charter fleet had “a real good Memorial Day weekend” on yellowfin tuna at the Norfolk Canyon but the past week the best tuna bite was around the 350-line.  Trollers were also catching some gaffer dolphin, bluefin tuna and bigeye tuna.  Inshore, chopper bluefish are on the inshore lumps and plenty of spadefish are holding at the Tower Reef. 

Virginia Piers -

James River –Croaker continue to dominate the action and seems to peak in the late evening and after sundown.  A few school stripers were decked the past week.  Spot are starting to show but most are small to medium in size.  

Ocean View – Bottom fishermen reported a mixed bag of small to medium croaker and spot, a few snapper bluefish and skate.  Rumors indicate several cobia have been hooked.

Lynnhaven – A mixed bag of panfish with sea mullet providing the most consistent action.  Bottom fishermen also caught some small flounder with only the occasional keeper, skate and some pan trout around the lights after sunset.

Virginia Beach – Bottom fishermen caught a mixture of sea mullet, croaker and spot while casters decked some snapper bluefish on Gotcha plugs around the end of the pier.

Sandbridge – Weekend results were limited to sea mullet and skate but sea mullet plus some snapper bluefish, smallish spot and croaker made a better showing on Monday and Tuesday.

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach and pier fishermen in the Nags Head area enjoyed a mixture of snapper bluefish, sea mullet, speckled trout, spot and even a few Spanish mackerel, although water temperatures remain in the low 60’s.  South of Oregon Inlet, at Cape Point on Buxton, the big news was the arrival of numbers of large cobia.  On Friday, at least six cobia were beached at the Point and the heaviest weighed 76 pounds.  Anglers also released several large red drum.  A 50-pound cobia was beached Saturday, along with several large red drum that were released.  Casters enjoyed a decent run of Spanish mackerel and snapper bluefish.  The action slowed Sunday due to the weather but four cobia were caught Monday.  Chopper-sized bluefish plus some taylor bluefish, flounder and even pompano rounded out action on Monday.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported good weekend catches of yellowfin tuna to 84 pounds plus some gaffer dolphin and a few wahoo.  Inshore, numbers of cobia have arrived and fish to 59 pounds were checked-in.  Inshore trollers enjoyed a good mixture of Spanish mackerel and snapper bluefish plus some king mackerel.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet, enjoyed good mixed catches of yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin plus some wahoo and king mackerel the past week.  Bradley Piland of Chesapeake decked a 70-pound yellowfin aboard the GOOD TIMES.  Inshore, the big news was the arrival of schools of cobia and some parties recorded “double-figure” catches of these inshore gamesters.  Alexander Brown of Roanoke boated a 50-pound cobia aboard the HAND ON.

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.


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