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The Saltwater Review - June 8, 2007

Vol. 21, 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 15, 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.

Since the end of last year, regulations for summer flounder have been modified and new restrictions for tilefish, grouper and sheepshead have been adopted.

For Summer Flounder, the minimum size limit has been increased, the possession limit has been reduced and a winter and summer closed period has been added. The minimum size limit has increased from 16-1/2 inches (2006) to 18-1/2 inches for 2007. The possession limit has been reduced from 6 to 5 flounder. The winter-closed period runs from 1 January through 31 March and the summer-closed period is from July 23 through July 28.

Over the past two years, "deep-dropping", a relative term that generally applies to recreational bottom fishing in water greater than 300 feet, has become more popular. Several species of fish, primarily blueline tilefish, golden tilefish, wreckfish and snowy grouper, which had been rarely seen by Virginia recreational fishermen, have become the focus of this new deepwater fishery. The Virginia Marine Resources Commission recently set limits for commercial and recreational fishermen. Recreational possession limits are 7 tilefish in aggregate and 1 grouper of any species per person.

A possession limit of four sheepshead has been established.

The NMFS has adjusted the Angling Category Bluefin Tuna retention limits for the period of June 1 through July 31, 2007. See the attached notice for details.

Chincoteague -

Donna at Captain Bob's reported fishing improved markedly as warm weather arrived. Bottom fishermen are seeing good numbers of flounder plus some trout, bluefish, dogfish and skate while working inside the inlet. Outside the inlet, the inshore ocean wrecks are holding good numbers of black sea bass. Deeper ocean waters hold plenty of chopper bluefish and a few mako shark. The season's first mako, a 150-pounder, was weighed last weekend and several customers recorded limit catches of black sea bass. Most trollers are hoping for tuna when they encounter the bluefish and chose to release the blues. Top locations for keeper flounder include Queen's Sound, Cockle Creek and Chincoteague Channel. Over on the Assateague Island surf, beach fishermen are catching a nice mixture of 10 to 25-pound black drum, mixed sizes of bluefish, sea mullet, skate, shark and even an occasional 28-inch plus striped bass.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported keeper-sized flounder were caught on the flats near Green and Drawing channels and over on the Hummocks the past week. Depending on which fishermen is consulted; the ratio of throwbacks (flounder measuring les than 18-1/2 inches) to keepers is running from 10-20 to 1. Chopper-sized bluefish and mako shark are holding near the 30-fathom mark. The season's first bluefin tuna could be caught any day.

Captain Zed's told of decent catches of flounder on the flats near the old Coast Guard Station and indicated croaker have already arrived inside the inlet. Black drum are biting on the shoals around the mouth of the inlet while the ocean wrecks are producing nice catches of black sea bass.

Cape Charles -

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported the strong spring run of black drum at buoys 13 and 16 continued through the weekend, as the shop registered nearly equal numbers of release awards for both red and black drum. Much of the red drum action was near the shoals located off Fishermen's Island, and around on the seaside, off Smith and Wreck islands. Thomas Heath weighed a monster 89-pound, 3-ounce black drum. The citation fish was caught near buoy 13. Weekend croaker catches were only "so-so" with some of the better hauls coming from the Cherrystone Reef area. Flounder were a hit or miss situation for most anglers, although most managed to put a few keepers in the boat if they stayed after the flatfish. Keith Keeter weighed the weekend's only citation flounder, 7-pound, 5-ouncer, caught at buoy 36A. Some of the other locations mentioned by successful flounder fishermen included buoy 38, 40 and 42. Big spadefish were active at the Cell, around Occohannock Tower and out around the Third and Fourth islands. Decent numbers of pan-sized sea mullet have moved into Latimer Shoals. Several anglers mentioned seeing cobia but the shop saw only one fish, a 44-incher. Anglers fishing from the Kiptopeke State Park Pier after sundown were rewarded with decent catches of pan trout and some snapper bluefish.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported the croaker off Onancock have spread out and are of mixed sizes, with the best concentrations of the bigger fish usually found in the deeper water. Mixed with the croaker are a few pan trout "up to about 14 inches," snapper bluefish and some keeper flounder up to 20 inches. "We caught our first spot of the year this week but we haven't been using bloodworm, so maybe there's more spot here. It's really hard to say because there just isn't any fishing pressure here, so it's hard to know." Some of the local anglers are fishing off Parkers Island and catching and releasing large red drum in the evenings and after sunset. Black drum have been caught off Cranny Hack and up around Saxis.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel

Cobbs Marina reported good-sized flounder were available at the CBBT, where Jimmy Litman boated a fat, 26-inch, 7-pound, 6-ouncer last week. Anglers fishing the CBBT complex are also catching some croaker, school stripers and taylor bluefish.

Bubba's Marina said tautog weighing as much as 12 pounds were caught at the CBBT complex the past week. The waters surrounding the crossing also produced decent numbers of keeper-sized flounder "but no citations this past week." School-sized striped bass are holding around all four of the rock islands while black drum were still biting off Cape Charles, through the past weekend.

Wallace's Bait and Tackle saw their first cobia of the season last Friday (June 1). The fish was caught off Grandview and weighed nearly 40 pounds. The shop also indicated several customers had fished the Tower Reef and been very successful with spadefish weighing as much as 10 pounds.

Sunset Boating Center said their customers were returning with good catches of flounder and striped bass. Anglers wirelining the CBBT were having the most success on the bigger flounder. As for the stripers, most were running 18 to less than 28 inches but the shop did see several "trophy-sized" fish of over 32 inches. Bottom fishermen are catching croaker and mostly under-sized flounder at Hampton Bar.

Salt Ponds Marina checked-in citation flounder of 10 pounds, 2 ounces and 8-1/2 pounds in the past 10 days. Both flatfish were caught at the CBBT complex. The shop also indicated big spadefish had arrived at the Tower Reef, where a 9-pound, 5-ounce fish was landed last week. Other customers reported success on big black and red drum off Cape Charles.

A & S Feed and Bait Supply registered a 48-inch red drum release that was caught off Fishermen's Island on a piece of hard crab by Wayne Summerfield. The shop indicated bottom fishermen were catching lots of croaker all along the York River shoreline and from the Gloucester Point Pier. Anglers on the York River were also scoring on school-sized striped bass.

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said the fireflies have arrived and so have the cobia. As expected, the early season bite of big cobia is in the western side of the bay in the waters off of Grandview Beach. The black drum bite at buoy 13 remains strong but Neill expects the action will be winding down soon. Red drum action has been unreal the past two weeks and shows no signs of slowing down. The shoals at the mouth of the bay are loaded with big red drum and the shallow waters, like those on Poquoson Flats are loaded with puppy drum. Spanish mackerel have arrived in the bay and have been caught at Cape Henry so everything is here now. Flounder are being caught at their usual haunts but keepers hard to come by. The Hump has been one of the better locations for keeper flatfish. Spadefish are being caught at the Chesapeake Light Tower, the CBBT, the Cell and Wolftrap Light. Sheepshead are available on the structure of the CBBT. Several Virginia boats fished offshore the past week and scored on mixed catches of nice yellowfin tuna and some big gaffer dolphin. The most consistent action was from the 100-fathom curve southeast of the Cigar.

The Wilcox Bait and Tackle/PSWSFA Triple Threat Tournament was won by Jorj Head with an 8.5-pound spadefish that was caught at the Cell. The 2nd and 3rd place fish were also spadefish caught on that same trip. Matt Rinck took 2nd place honors and Tim Hatok came in 3rd.

Dr. Julie Ball, IGFA International Representative for Virginia Beach, contributed the following:

The weather is warm and the fish are here, so it's time to bait up and hit the water. The spadefish are the main attraction lately, with folks swarming to the Chesapeake Light Tower (CLT), the Cell, and Wolf Trap Light, to intercept these mighty fighters. Most anglers are finding the fish biting, with many catching their limits with 5 to 7-pound fish, and some topping the 9-pound mark. Bob Hartsell of Chesapeake showed off with a nice 10.5-pounder, and Mark Roberts of Virginia Beach had a 22-inch release from the CLT. Cobia catches are becoming more prevalent as these covert fish make their way to the spawning grounds. Many of the biggest fish will come from off the Grandview, Back River, and Buckroe areas early in the season. Try soaking fresh cut bait on the bottom while anchored in 15 to 20-feet of water. Red drum are providing plenty of action with the passing full moon. Many boats are releasing dozens of bulls from the seaside of Fisherman's Island and the Nine Foot Shoal area, where Kelly Miccard of Virginia Beach released a 48-inch red this week. Peelers and blue crabs are working very well for these scavengers. Although the black drum bite should wind down soon, big blacks are still taking clam and crab offerings near buoys 13 and 16 on the bayside of the Eastern Shore. These fish are also schooling around the islands of the CBBT, where anglers are finding some success casting grubs. Flounder pounders are sifting through many under-sized flounder to get their bounties, but a few big fish are rounding out some catches. Most flatfish are coming from drifting strip baits near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, buoys 36A, 40, 42, the Cell, and within Lynnhaven Inlet. Small gray trout are hitting grubs worked around the HRBT, while anglers jigging Sting Silvers around the concrete ships are also scoring. The Sally-T is also having some luck with keeper grays off Sewell's Point near the carrier piers, as well as decent flounder up to 21-inches and bluefish up to 5-pounds. Striped bass are still available live baiting over the tubes and near the rocks of the artificial islands of the CBBT, as well as at the curve approaching the 3rd island. The tautog action seems it will never slow, as limit catches of fish are still routinely made by anglers fishing over the tubes of the CBBT and using fiddler or blue crab for bait. Nice fish are also available on deeper water ocean wrecks such as the Triangle wrecks, along with decent hauls of sea bass. The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reports that spot showed up within Rudee Inlet this week, with fish up to 14-ounces hitting bloodworms and FishBites. Keeper flounder and Taylor blues are also still available within the inlet. Pier anglers along the oceanfront are picking through a few small flounder, small croaker, and bluefish. Anglers trolling off Cape Henry are now catching decent Spanish mackerel, along with bluefish.

Offshore, good water is creeping closer to the Virginia fleet, where good catches of nice yellowfin tuna, and dolphin are happening. Carolina waters are still yielding good yellowfin tuna catches, nice gaffer dolphin, and some blue marlin and sail fish.

Virginia Middle Bay -

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported many customers are fishing for striped bass and nearly all have switched to chumming. These anglers are catching a mixture of school-sized stripers and taylor bluefish. Those anglers looking for a larger class of striped bass are trolling with only occasional success. Bottom fishermen working up inside the rivers are catching decent numbers of croaker.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said most of his anglers are chumming for striped bass at the Northern Neck Reef site and enjoying good catches of schoolie stripers. Some bluefish are mixed in with the stripers but most weigh less than 2 pounds. Bottom fishermen working near Smith Point Light are reporting nice catches of chunky croaker up to 2 pounds while anglers drifting near the jetties are catching some keeper-sized flounder.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said big spadefish are biting and expects the action to last through the month. The shop has already weighed five citation fish meeting the minimum qualifying weight of 9 pounds with the most recent, a pair (11 pounds and 9-3/4 pounds) caught by Brenda Hanhart on clam at the Cell. Thrash indicated the top speckled trout action is in the Ware Neck and East River areas, where the crab shed is in "full swing." Not surprisingly, fresh peeler crab is the premier bait at this time. It certainly worked well for Homer Thomas, who boated a 27-inch, 10-1/4-pound speck at Ware Neck over the weekend. William Prillaman caught and released a 29-1/2-inch trout the same day but he was casting a lightweight jig over on the North River. Medium to large croaker were caught in good numbers in open water from the R1 buoy, and east, towards Cut Channel, in 30 to 40-feet of water the past week. Bottom fishermen working the shorelines of Mobjack Bay, the Rappahannock and Piankatank rivers are still reporting nice catches of good-sized croaker as well. Several big flounder were checked-in recently but Thrash estimated 60% fewer "keepers" were being landed because of the 18-1/2-inch minimum size limit. Barbara Sabol had the biggest flounder of the week, an 11-pound, 13-ounce monster that measured 30-1/2 inches. It was Sabol's first ever keeper flounder! She was fishing aboard the PATRIOT near the Cell and rigged with a 10-inch strip of squid and a large live minnow. Walter Green was likewise drifting for flounder at the Cell and baited-up with squid, when he caught and released a 46-inch red drum.

Locklies Marina said croaker plus some spot made a good showing the past week just below the bridge, around Parrot Rock. Anglers working amongst the bridge pilings have having little problem catching school stripers. Some anglers are fishing bottom rigs baited with peeler crab while others are casting artificials for the stripers. Bottom fishermen are also seeing lots of flounder but "I haven't heard of any keepers yet."

Tommy Lewis from Garretts Marina said bottom fishermen are catching "lots of big old croaker," as the tasty bottom feeders average nearly 2 pounds with an occasional fish to 3 pounds. Bottom fishermen do not have to run far for the action, as best catches have been "right off Garretts Marina," according to Tommy, around buoy 19.

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I told of good bottom fishing for croaker in the 12 to 16-inch size range, southwest of the range light. Squid and shrimp are the two preferred baits. The Cell is holding some good-sized flounder and many range from 22 to 28 inches. Spadefish are holding directly over the structure at the Cell, where grey trout, occasionally topping 5 pounds, are reported. Butler's Hole and Sturgeon Bar, located on the lower Rappahannock River, produced scattered catches of croaker last while week some spot have shown in the Piankatank River near the number 5 day marker.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported good inshore and offshore action the past week. Inshore charters are enjoying the first wave of large spadefish, as schools of these hard pulling fish are swarming around the Tower Reef. Offshore boats are making a long run southeast of the Cigar and returning with a mixture of nice yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin. At least one mako was brought to the dock last week. Inside the inlet, anglers are catching taylor bluefish plus an occasional blue of nearly 10 pounds, some 2 to 5-pound speckled trout and puppy drum plus lots of flounder but very few keepers.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina said their offshore season is finally underway, as several boats ran to a warm water eddy, located some 65 to 70 miles southeast of the Cigar, last week, and returned with a mixture of yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin. Big bluefish are available on the inshore ocean lumps but few anglers seem interested.

Virginia Piers -

James River - Croaker provide the bulk of the action with the better hauls coming in the evenings and after sunset. Anglers are also catching some school-sized stripers, bluefish, pan trout and the occasional catfish.

Ocean View - Anglers are seeing a mixture of snapper blues and medium croaker. Small flounder are reasonably common but only the occasional flatfish meets the 18-1/2-inch minimum size limit.

Lynnhaven - Late evenings have provided the best opportunities for snapper bluefish and croaker. Some pan trout and school stripers have been pulled from the shadows created by the pier lights after sunset.

Virginia Beach - Snapper bluefish have provided the most dependable action recently, although bottom fishermen are catching a mixture of croaker, spot, sea mullet, skate and shark.

Sandbridge - Bottom fishermen are seeing a nice mixture of panfish but only skate have been abundant. Recent catches have included small croaker, medium spot, snapper bluefish, sea mullet, small speckled trout, shark and even several striped bass.

Outer Banks, NC -

Along the Nags Head area beaches and piers water temperatures were in the low 60's and fishermen enjoyed mixed catches of snapper bluefish, sea mullet and spot plus some pan and speckled trout and plenty of skate.

South of Oregon Inlet, at Cape Point on Buxton, a solid bite of Spanish mackerel developed late in the afternoon on Friday. Bottom fishermen caught a mixture of sea mullet, pompano black drum and cobia to 67 pounds. On Saturday, three cobia were beached. Casters scored on a mixture of bluefish and Spanish mackerel while bottom fishermen caught pompano to 3 pounds, 7 ounces, puppy drum and sea mullet. On Sunday, wind and rain prevailed until nearly sunset, when a handful of taylor bluefish and puppy drum were caught. Monday morning saw three large red drum beached and released plus several slot-sized pups. Casters and bait fishermen enjoyed steady catches of taylor bluefish nearly all day.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported the bluewater fleet recorded good hauls of yellowfin and bigeye tuna plus some nice gaffer dolphin on Friday while the inshore boats had nice catches of king mackerel and cobia to 63 pounds. Saturday saw some boats return with limit catches of tuna plus fair to good numbers of dolphin. Several bigeye tuna, weighing as much as 145 pounds, were boated. Inshore boats had mixed catches of cobia, dolphin and a few king mackerel. The headboat recorded mixed catches of croaker and pan trout. Sunday and Monday were both "no sail" days, due to the weather.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet returned with excellent catches of dolphin plus a scattering of yellowfin tuna and wahoo on Friday. Michelle Mendoza of Richmond released a blue marlin aboard the BOSS LADY while Michael Mumford of Mechanicsville released a sailfish aboard the HATTERAS BLUE. Saturday produced nice hauls of yellowfin tuna and dolphin for the offshore trollers while the inshore boats scored on cobia and Spanish mackerel. Richard Higgins of Williamsburg landed a 43-pound cobia aboard the HATTERAS BLUE. No boats fished offshore Sunday or Monday due to rough sea conditions.

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.

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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