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The Saltwater Review - 9 June 2004

Vol. 18, No. 5
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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


The Virginia Saltwater Review will not be published the week of 14-18 June due to an Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting in Providence, RI, June 14-16.

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.

Since the end of last year, regulations for black sea bass and summer flounder have been modified.

For black sea bass, the minimum size limit remains 12 inches while the possession limit remains 25 fish but the late summer closed period runs from September 8 through September 21.  The winter-closed period remains December 1 through December 31.

For Summer Flounder, the minimum size and possession limit have both changed.  The minimum size limit decreased from 17-1/2 inches to 17 inches in 2004.  The possession limit likewise decreased, from 8 flounder last season to 6 summer flounder in 2004.

The season's first citation cobia was registered over the Memorial Day weekend and several lesser fish were caught just prior to the three-day weekend. Most reports of cobia are coming from the Grandview Beach/Bluefish Rock area of the Bay.

The season's first good hauls of offshore pelagics (tuna and dolphin in this case) occurred over last weekend, as the Rudee Inlet fleet found the fish a little south of Triple 0's in 50 to 200 fathoms of water. At least two white marlin were caught and released in same area.

Chincoteague -

Captain Bob's reported anglers drifting for flounder at Four Mouths and Queen's Sound are catching good numbers of flounder but many measure less than 17 inches.  Andy Skinner boated the biggest flounder recently, a 27-1/2-incher, caught at Queens Sound, that weighed 9 pounds, 5 ounces.  Big trout moved into the inlet just prior to the long Memorial Day weekend and several fish of 8 pounds or more have been caught.  William McKim caught the biggest trout the past week.    The trout measured 30-1/2 inches, weighed 9-1/2 pounds and was caught at Chincoteague Point on a bucktail.  Outside the inlet, black sea bass and a few tautog were pulled from the inshore ocean wrecks while chopper blues are holding on the inshore seamounts.

Barnacle Bill's told of decent catches of flounder near Four Mouths and nice hauls of black sea bass from the inshore ocean wrecks.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported decent catches of flounder inside the inlet at the Hummocks and Green Channel.  Offshore, boats trolling the Norfolk Canyon boated yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin.

Captain Zed's described the flounder bite as "pretty good," with charter boats returning with as many as a dozen-and-a-half keepers over the weekend.  Green and Drawing channels and the Hummocks have been the top locations.  Tony Brunette boated the biggest flatfish recently, a 7-1/4-pounder at the Little Y. Wreckfishing for black sea bass remains productive.  Inshore ocean waters have warmed to near 70 degrees and spadefish have arrived in local waters.  William Scott boated a 10-pound, 7-ounce spadefish at the # 10 buoy.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported good red drum action at the Inner Middle Grounds and the shoals surrounding Fishermen's Island.  The shop registered at least two-dozen red drum releases last week.  The longest measured 53 inches and was caught near Fishermen's Island by C. Alan Norford.  James Beasley, Sr. was fishing in the same area for red drum and caught and released a 72-inch shark.  Robert Savage, Jr. was fishing the Inner Middle Grounds for drum and boated a 7-1/2-pound sheepshead.  The other fishery drawing attention over the weekend was for spadefish.  Fish in excess of 9 pounds were boated at the Cell and buoy 36A.  Rhonda Annon caught the heaviest spadefish at buoy 36A and the fish weighed 11-1/4 pounds.  Bottom fishermen recorded good catches of medium to large croaker and some pan trout off the Cement Ships.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen at Fish and Finn Charters reported good catches of croaker and decent numbers of spot off Onancock.  The best action has come on either the early morning tide or late evening tide with catches during the mid-day period "hit or miss."  More keeper sized flounder are showing in the daily catch and "the majority are 20 inches or better," according to Wil.  Other catches include snapper bluefish, sea mullet, blowfish, shark, small porgy and hogfish.  "Just a nice mix of fish," quipped Captain Laaksonen.  On the downside, pan trout remain scarce but anglers fishing the edge of the grass beds around Watts Island in the evening are catching a few speckled trout.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina said anglers caught flounder, tautog, spadefish, striped bass and trout at the CBBT over the weekend.  Bob Hartseol nailed a 7-pound flounder on cut bait, Nat Blanton boated a 9-pound, 9-ounce spadefish on clam and Mark Roberts released a 46-inch red drum near the 12 MP.

Bubba's Marina told of a good red and black drum bite around the northern rocks islands of the CBBT and the adjacent shoals.  Large trout, weighing as much as 9 pounds, were caught along the CBBT while the Fourth Island area and small boat channel produced a pair of 11 pound flounder and another that topped 12 pounds over the weekend.   Inside Lynnhaven Inlet, bottom fishermen reeled-in croaker weighing over 3 pounds and spot to 16 ounces.  

Dr. Jim Wright said live baiting for striped bass at the Third Island tube was a sure bet while the spadefish bite at the Chesapeake Light Tower was sporadic.  "We could see hundreds of spadefish in the water but they were picky bitters."  Spanish mackerel arrived at the mouth of the bay last week and were caught on rod and reel in the rips off Cape Henry.  Offshore, yellowfin tuna have finally moved within range of the Rudee Inlet fleet.  The HIGH HOPES was just one tuna shy of its limit on Saturday.  

Wallace's Marina registered their first citation cobia Memorial Day weekend, as James Brown released a 53-inch cobia off Grandview.  Heaviest cobia weighed was caught by Carling Thomas, Jr. and went 50-1/2 pounds. The weekend also produced citation catches for Darrel Beaver (7-1/2-pound flounder from the CBBT) and Sam Llewellyn (red drum releases of 48, 46-1/4 and 46 inches at Nine-Foot Shoals).  In addition to several impressive flatfish from the CBBT complex, keeper flounder were also caught at Back River Reef, Bluefish Rock and the Hump.

Top weekend catch at Sunset Marina was a 78-1/2-pound cobia weighed-in by Jim Collins.  The citation catch was made off Grandview Beach. The marina also weighed-in a 94-pound black drum that was caught at the CBBT by James Newton and registered red drum release awards for David Gray (60 inches) and Pete Spicher (49 inches).  Both fish were caught at the CBBT complex.   The only other notable catch was reported by Mike Kyle and crew, who limited-out on spadefish at the Tower Reef.

Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina said customers caught plenty of average-sized croaker, flounder and even tautog but "we didn't have any citations registered."  Cindy added that most anglers fished waters near the CBBT.

Jimmy Lewis at A & S Feed and Bait Supply weighed a 7-pound, 1-ounce, 21-1/4-inch sheepshead for Hannah Cross.  The citation catch was made at Wolftrap Light.  Glenn Wilson boated a 67-pound, 58-inch cobia off Grandview and Brian Gross released a 47-1/2-inch red drum at the CBBT.  Inside the York River, big croaker, "and plenty of them," are holding off Cheatham Annex while flounder are biting near the Coleman Bridge.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club say good numbers of yellowfin tuna and a gaffer dolphin were located between the Triple 0's and the 100-line in 50 to 200 fathoms of water the past week.  The tuna were grouped along temperature breaks and multiple hook-ups were normal.  Large amberjack and big bluefish have set-up at the South Tower.  On an outing aboard the HEALTHY GRIN, Jorj Head earned a release citation for a 36-inch bluefish and Steve Powell released a 56-inch amberjack at the South Tower.  Both fish were caught on live croaker.  Black sea bass are available at the Triangle Wrecks but the bite is still sub-par.  A similar report was made for spadefish at the Tower Reef, where thousands of fish can be seen circling nearby but few show interest in baited lines.  Inside the Bay, sea mullet to over a pound were caught near the High Level section of the CBBT, pan trout were holding around the 12 MP and hungry stripers to over 32 inches were still active at the Fourth Island tube.

Virginia Middle Bay

Heidi Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported school-sized stripers, with some taylor bluefish mixed in, were caught in the vicinity of Smith Point Light over the weekend.  Bottom fishermen caught croaker to nearly 3 pounds at the Northern Neck Reef site and around buoy 62.  Chummers working the same waters are catching loads of school stripers while trollers are picking up fewer fish but of larger size.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said chummers were catching plenty of school stripers around the Northern Neck Reef site while trollers were catching a few larger fish by working the channel edges.  Croaker remain plentiful throughout area waters.  "They're catching them from the shore, private docks and just about anywhere place they try," according to Dan.  Flounder fishermen managed a handful of keeper-sized flatfish around the mouth of the Little Wicomico River while casters working the rocks at Smith Point Light boated a few trout.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said medium-sized croaker and small spot are plentiful in shallow waters while the best hauls of bigger croaker are coming from deepwater, just east of the Cell, where Andre Richardson of Richmond boated a 21-inch, 3-pound, 8-ounce fish.  Bigger spot are likewise found in deeper water with the best recent hauls coming from Parrot Island (located in the Rappahannock River) and the deeper holes in the Piankatank River.  Spadefish remain available at the Cell and Wolftrap Light but the fish were smaller, on average, last week.  Still, James Murable of Charles City (10-3/4 pounds) and Reggie Hall of Richmond (10 pounds, 1 ounce) managed to boat citation-sized spadefish.  Large trout still linger around the structure at the Cell and prefer a bucktail tipped with peeler crab, according to Jerry.

Locklies Marina described the past week's croaker bite as "average," which meant bottom fishermen caught plenty of fish weighing up to 2-1/2 pounds but "we didn't have any citations."   Decent numbers of spot are mixed in with the croaker and some of the spot are huge for late spring.  Gilbert Smith boated a 13-1/2-inch, 20-ounce spot off Towels Point while fishing partner Carlton Crawley boated a 17-ounce fish.  The marina also indicated the waters surrounding the old Pickle Factory held lots of white perch and some weighed as much as a pound.

Garretts Marina said, "the croaker are so thick off Waterview, you can almost walk across the river," with fish topping 2-1/2 pounds and 19 inches in many catches.  The marina weighed croaker up to 3-1/2 pounds last week.  Some white perch and catfish are mixed in with the croaker but "we're not seeing many spot."

Captain Jim Thompson, sailing from Deltaville, told of huge croaker in the vicinity of the Cell that seem to "get bigger every day."  Some fish already top 20 inches in length.  Captain Thompson said large spadefish are still holding around the structure at the Cell but grey trout numbers have dwindled since the prior  week.  Bottom fishermen recorded fair catches of spot in the Rappahannock River at Butlers Hole, Sturgeon Bar and Urbanna flats.

Virginia Beach -

Folks at the Virginia Beach Fishing Center say the charter boats FISH HAWK and OFOUR had inshore trips on Friday and worked the CBBT for limit catches of striped bass.  On Saturday, the FROG PILE ran offshore and returned with nine yellowfin tuna in the 30 to 60-pound class.  On Sunday, the FROG PILE was out again and boated over a dozen yellowfin tuna and Don Harris released a white marlin.  The FISH HAWK and OFOUR also returned with yellowfin tuna on Sunday.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina said several boats from the marina recorded good hauls of more than a dozen yellowfin tuna the past several days.  Most of the action was well south of the Cigar, near triple 0's, in about 100 fathoms of water.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview -Closed indefinitely.

Buckroe Beach - The pier was completely destroyed by hurricane Isabel. The city of Hampton has expressed an interest to build a pier in this area.

Harrison - Closed indefinitely.

Lynnhaven - Sea mullet and spot dominated the catches for bottom fishermen and several keeper flounder were decked on Sunday.  Casters working out near the end of the pier "early and late" in the day caught taylor blues and some Spanish mackerel.  Crabbing improved substantially the past week.

Virginia Beach - Big news here was the impressive run of spot.  Other catches included sea mullet and a few croaker and trout.  Casters caught bluefish and a sprinkling of Spanish mackerel.

Sandbridge - Weekend bottom fishermen pulled-in lots of sea mullet and spot plus some croaker, a few trout and the ever-present skate.  Casters caught Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish from the end of the pier in the evenings.

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach fishermen in the Nags Head area had a nice mixture of panfish including taylor blues, spot, sea mullet and small trout over the weekend.  Water temperatures at the Avalon Pier were in the 70's all week, as anglers pulled-in bluefish, Spanish mackerel, speckled trout, spot and sea mullet.  A cobia was hooked but lost on Sunday.  A 39-pound, 10-ounce king mackerel (the first since 2002) was decked on Monday and a 28-inch cobia was caught and released on Tuesday.

The week following Memorial Day produced a steady run of cobia at Cape Point on Buxton.  Dozens of the brown fish were beached Wednesday and Thursday but the action slowed Friday.  On Saturday, a cold front pushed through and only a handful of puppy drum were reported.  Sunday morning casters had mixed catches of bluefish and Spanish mackerel and one cobia was landed.  A strong bluefish bite developed Sunday evening and a 57-1/2-pound cobia was caught.  Monday saw good action on blues and Spanish plus some pompano, flounder, sea mullet, trout, shark, skate and rays.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center enjoyed very good catches of 25 to 40 pound yellowfin tuna plus a scattering of gaffer dolphin on Friday.  Inshore boats recorded mixed catches of taylor bluefish, Spanish mackerel and false albacore while the headboat caught croaker and bluefish.  On Saturday, 31 boats from the Fishing Center fished offshore.  Most boats caught some dolphin but tuna catches varied widely, as some boats caught their limit (18) and others only landed a handful.  Inshore boats caught loads of taylor bluefish, several large cobia and red drum and striped bass.  On Sunday, the fleet returned with fair to good catches of yellowfin tuna weighing to over 70 pounds, limit catches of king mackerel and a few gaffer dolphin.  Monday produced a hot tuna bite plus some gaffer dolphin, king mackerel, wahoo and skipjack tuna.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet returned to the dock on Friday with decent numbers of dolphin and yellowfin tuna plus one or two wahoo, despite dodging thunder storms and water spouts.  The GAMBLER and RELEASE both caught and turned-loose white marlin.  Only a small handful of boats fished offshore on Saturday due to thunder storms.  Those that fished returned with mixed catches of dolphin, tuna, king mackerel and wahoo.  On Sunday the weather stabilized and the fleet enjoyed good catches of tuna, dolphin and king mackerel.  Clifton Brown of Colonial Heights boated an 83-pound yellowfin tuna.  The offshore bite slowed Monday, though Brad Kaus of Dumpfries landed a 37-pound dolphin aboard the Nancy K.

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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