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The Saltwater Review - 9 June 2005

Vol. 19, No. 5
by Lewis S. Gillingham

Chincoteague | Wachapreague | Cape Charles | Onancock | Lower Bay/CBBT | Middle Bay | Virginia Beach Virginia 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.

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 closed season has been eliminated.

For Summer Flounder, the minimum size limit has been reduced and the winter-closed period has been eliminated. The minimum size limit decreased from 17 inches (2004) to 16-1/2 inches for 2005. The winter-closed period from 1 January through 28 March has been eliminated for 2005/2006.

The biggest news since the last report (prior to the Memorial Day weekend) was the arrival and first catches of spadefish and cobia. The first citation spadefish was caught the prior week at Wolftrap Light while the season's first citation cobia was caught Monday (June 6) at York Split.

The red drum bite off Fishermen's Island and the Barrier Islands continues to improve while the spring black drum run is slowing off Cape Charles but considerable numbers of fish have arrived at the First and Second islands of the CBBT.

School sized stripers remain available at many locations throughout Virginia's portion of the Chesapeake Bay and tributaries. Anglers seeking a fresh striper dinner are reminded the spring striped bass season (Bay) closes June 15 at midnight.


Donna at Captain Bob's reported the warmer weather has helped the flounder catch and the fish are now biting at numerous locations. "One of the best spots is directly in front of Captain Bob's," noted Donna. Keeper flounder were also boated inside Cockle Creek, at Four Mouths, Queen Sound and on either side of the Queen's Sound Bridge. Anglers are still catching more "throwbacks" than keepers; the ratio is about 3-to-1, according to the shop. Taylor bluefish, plus a few larger specimens of nearly 7 pounds, have arrived inside the inlet but are most concentrated near the mouth of the inlet. Bluefish are also biting in the surf, at Assateague Island, where several red drum and even a few striped bass were beached. Outside the inlet, black sea bass and tautog are active on the wrecks, where chopper blues are either a welcome addition to the day's catch or a problem, depending on your point of view.


Wachapreague Marina reported flounder remain in good supply but more of the flatfish are under the 16-1/2-inch minimum size limit than earlier in the season. Greg Lawerance at Green Channel landed the biggest flounder of the week and it weighed 9-1/4 pounds. More black sea bass are showing on the ocean wrecks but tautog are still active, as William Phillips weighed a 28-1/2-inch, 13-pound, 15-ounce monster tog. Red and black drum, plus the occasional striped bass are available on the shoals surrounding the inlet. From the bayside, Chris Budd released a 47-inch red drum at Parkers Island and Charlie Floyd nailed a 10-pound, 1-ounce trout at the Cell.

Captain Zed's said the best recent flounder bite was at Green and Drawing channels, Bullshead and the Hummocks. The shop did not weigh any citation flounder (7 pounds or greater) but saw several fish in the 4 to 6-pound range. Black sea bass and tautog were biting in the inshore ocean wrecks.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle registered over a dozen red drum releases over the weekend, including a 49-inch fish for Matt Johnson (9-Foot Shoals) and 46 and 48-inch reds for Woo Davis (off Smith Island). Lara Jenrette registered three black drum releases at 46, 46-1/2 and 49 inches. All three drum were caught at buoy 16 aboard the BUCCANEER. Robert Savage, Jr. released a 30-1/2-inch grey trout at the Cell. The weekend flounder hot spot was buoy 36A and was no secret, as a flotilla of boats worked the site. The shop weighed six flounder over 7 pounds and heaviest was 8 pounds, 10 ounces and was caught by Stanley Parnell. No croaker of 3 pounds or more were seen but the bottom around buoy 36A was paved with 12 to 18-inch fish. Anglers fishing the Kiptopeke State Park Pier caught sea mullet and croaker throughout the day and had taylor bluefish and pan trout move in the shadows of the pier lights after dark.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen at Fish and Fin Charters reported excellent bottom with "all the croaker you want." Most of the croaker ranged from 9 to 15 inches but some were nearly 4 pounds. The most productive water depths were from 20 to 36 feet. Bottom fishermen are also seeing decent numbers of keeper flounder in the 17 to 22-inch range, plenty of snapper bluefish, some spot but very few trout.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported good weekend action on black drum, as the shop registered several releases each from the First Island and Cabbage plus another one from 9-Foot Shoals. The shop described the flounder bite as only "fair," even though Debra Powers nailed a 27-1/2-inch, 7-pound, 5-ouncer at the First Island of the CBBT. Customers had reported seeing spadefish at the Tower Reef but the fish could not be coerced to bite last week but this weekend the spadefish began to "nibble a little bit," according to the shop, and several were caught.

Lou at Bubba's Marina said spadefish were caught over the weekend at the Tower Reef and around the Third Island but "they're not biting real good yet." Anglers fishing with peeler crab at Middle Ground Shoals caught a mixture of black and red drum with "more reds than blacks." Off Kiptopeke, croaker cover the bottom at buoy 36A and good numbers are also available around the Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT. Anglers caught plenty of taylor bluefish plus some school-sized stripers and the occasional keeper flounder around the mouth of Lynnhaven Inlet.

Dr. Jim Wright said the Fourth Island area of the CBBT held plenty of school stripers and catching a limit was not any problem. Big black drum still lingered on the nearby shoals and Dr. Jim heard pods of these huge bottom feeders had moved into the First and Second island areas. A mid-week trip offshore produced loads of chopper blues to 35-1/2 inches (it takes a 36-inch fish to qualify for a release award) and several times, all four rods were hooked-up simultaneously.

Wallace's Marina weighed their first cobia of the season Tuesday, June 7. The fish was caught at Latimer Shoals on cut bunker by Tim Elliott and weighed a respectable 49-1/2 pounds. The shop indicated several lesser cobia were caught the same day near Bluefish Rock.

Sunset Boating Center said school stripers were cooperating after dark around all the local bridges, such as the HRBT, M & M and James River Bridge. Bottom fishermen report steady catches of croaker plus some keeper flounder at Hampton Bar. Flounder catches were more consistent out at the Hump and the Third Island area of the CBBT.

Salt Ponds said trollers recorded mixed catches of striped bass, flounder, trout and bluefish out at the CBBT complex. Most customers headed for either the Third and Fourth island area.

A & S Feed and Bait Supply said croaker remain abundant throughout the York River. A few stripers and keeper flounder were caught around the Coleman Bridge but anglers fishing around York Spit and off Tue Marsh recorded better results.

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said the red drum bite is on fire in the lower Bay. Black drum are still being caught at buoy 13 and on the shoals by anglers targeting red drum. Spadefish are here in force and so are the spade fishermen. Everything has been a little late this year but cobia should be here now, according to Neill, who expects to hear of some catches over this week. Small gray trout are being caught at the CBBT and some bigger trout continue to be caught at the Cell. Plenty of 20-inch plus striped bass can be found at the CBBT. Flounder fishing has been steady and all the normal summertime flounder holes are producing. The seamounts, like the Hot Dog, are loaded with big bluefish and sand eels so there should be some bluefin in the area. Capt. Steve Wray will be the speaker at the monthly Peninsula Anglers Club meeting, Tuesday, June 21. Captain Wray will be talking about cobia fishing around the CBBT.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported anglers seeking striped bass are split "50-50" between trolling and chumming but both methods are catching fish. Roger conceded that the bigger fish are generally caught by trolling while chummers often catch greater numbers of fish. Croaker are abundant with some of the top catches made around the mouths of Dividing Creek and the Great Wicomico River. Bottom fishermen are also starting to see some pan trout along the channel edges while anglers drifting near the Smith Point Jetty are catching a few keeper flounder. Taylor bluefish are reasonably abundant. "I expect to see some bigger bluefish this weekend at the Reedville Bluefish Derby weigh-in."

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters reported trophy-sized grey trout still linger at the Cell. Bobby Flippin boated three citation trout (10 pounds, 2 ounces; 10 pounds even; 9 pounds, 10 ounces) casting Storm jigs and Gary Power got a 10-pound, 11-ouncer on a similar lure. Huge spadefish have become an even bigger draw at the Cell and the saucer-shaped fish are also biting at Wolftrap Light. The shop weighed seven citation spadefish the past week and all were caught on clam. Robert Rilee had the biggest at 10-3/4 pounds and boated a 9-pound, 13-ounce fish on the same trip. The flounder bite improved in the buoy40/42/Cell area and three flatfish over 7 pounds were checked-in. The biggest went 8 pounds, 7 ounces and was caught by W.L. Amiss on cut bait. Speckled trout showed signs of life near the Hole-in-the-Wall and around Cherry Point. Croaker started biting in deepwater and were caught in good numbers at buoy 41A, the R1 buoy and around the Cut Channel Range Light. Good numbers of croaker remain in the creeks and close to shore and were joined last week by decent numbers of #2 spot. A 59-inch, 72-pound cobia, caught on a live eel at York Spit, was checked-in Monday (June 6).

Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen were still catching good numbers of croaker up to 2 pounds. Hand-sized spot made a nice showing last week and some of the fish topped 8 ounces. Striped bass were biting "all day long" at the Route #3 Bridge, according to the shop.

Tommy Lewis from Garretts Marina said croaker remained abundant but the fish had moved into deeper water or "down the river."

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I said the warmer weather has been good for the fishing, as croaker started biting around the Cell/buoy 42 areas, where the flounder bite is slowly improving. Croaker are also starting to show off Gwynn Island, the mouth of the Rappahannock and Piankatank rivers. A few pan trout are mixed in with a day's catch of croaker.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the headboats are splitting time between bay trips and ocean wreckfishing trips. Excursions in the Bay yield a mixture of trout, croaker and taylor bluefish while the wreck trips yield mostly black sea bass plus a few chopper bluefish. On Saturday the BACKLASH had a big catch of chopper bluefish with some weighing nearly 17 pounds. Another charter boat went out Monday and loaded up on gaffer dolphin and the FROG PILE fished Tuesday and had a big catch of chopper bluefish. The Fishing Center weighed its first citation spadefish of the season, a 9-pound, 11-ouncer, on Sunday. The citation catch was made at the Tower Reef.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina said one of their charter boats fished in Bluefish Alley and caught all the chopper bluefish they wanted. The group moved off into deeper water and tried "sharking" with fresh bluefish fillets but only more bluefish showed any interest in their bait.

Virginia Piers -

James River - Croaker continue to provide most of the action with the best catches coming near dusk and after sunset. Anglers are also catching an occasional keeper striper, some taylor bluefish and a few spot.

Harrison -The pier is presently closed and is in the process being rebuilt. Plans call for a portion of the pier to open this season, perhaps as soon as the end of July.

Lynnhaven - Casters continue to enjoy a steady diet of taylor bluefish with an occasional fish topping 5 pounds. Some pan trout and the occasional striped bass are after sunset, beneath the pier lights. Bottom fishermen are catching sea mullet and small to medium croaker.

Virginia Beach - A 21-pound striped bass was decked last Thursday but taylor bluefish dominated the action. A few blues weighed nearly 8 pounds and a handful of small Spanish mackerel were decked. Bottom fishermen caught sea mullet, a few spot and croaker. Water temperature at pierside reached 66 degrees over the weekend.

Sandbridge - Top weekend catch was a 32-inch red drum. Taylor blues came into casting distance in the evenings and mornings. Several larger bluefish, up to nearly 8 pounds, were decked. Casters also caught a handful of Spanish mackerel while chasing the blues. Bottom fishermen scored on sea mullet, pan trout and small flounder.

Outer Banks, NC -

Along the Nags Head area beaches taylor bluefish dominated the action with sea mullet a close second. Water temperatures at the Avalon Pier climbed to 68 degrees and casters decked lots of taylor bluefish plus some Spanish mackerel. Nice-sized spot made a decent showing over the weekend. Other catches included sea mullet, croaker up to a pound, grey and speckled trout. Anglers fishing from the causeway to Manteo recorded a mixture of spot, croaker and a few keeper flounder.

South of Oregon Inlet at Cape Point on Buxton, casters caught taylor bluefish "all day" on Friday and some Spanish mackerel moved into casting range around dusk. Several large red drum were also landed during the late evening hours. On Saturday, bait fishermen caught a mixture of sea mullet, small blues and black drum while casters scored on more taylor bluefish and a scattering of Spanish mackerel. Several red drum were beached that evening. Sunday, the season's first cobia, a 50-pounder, was beached at Cape Point and anglers caught lots of taylor blues. Monday, a pair of small cobia were caught and casters scored on taylor bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Early Tuesday morning, Fred Steinke beached a 68-pound cobia.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported charter vessels either had good catches of tuna or a big haul of gaffer dolphin on Saturday. The fleet released one blue marlin. Inshore boats found plenty of taylor bluefish and some Spanish mackerel near the inlet. The catch of the day was yellowfin tuna on Sunday and only a handful of dolphin and one or two wahoo were boated. The fleet did release three white marlin. The big news Monday was the overdue arrival of cobia, as fish from 44 to 70 pounds were boated. Best concentration of cobia was off Pea Island. Offshore anglers had a banner day, returning with good hauls of yellowfin tuna and dolphin. The fleet released four white marlin, one blue marlin and three sailfish.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet released ten white marlin and a sailfish on Friday and returned with decent numbers of dolphin and a few yellowfin tuna and several wahoo. The fleet released five white marlin and a sailfish on Saturday and boated good numbers of gaffer dolphin plus some tuna and wahoo. Several boats had limit catches of king mackerel. Dolphin dominated the catches on Sunday with a few king mackerel and yellowfin tuna mixed in with the catch. The fleet released a pair of sailfish, one white marlin and a blue 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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