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The Saltwater Review - June 12, 2002

Volume 16. No.6
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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


The Virginia Marine Resources Commission, by emergency action on May 28, 2002, established a statewide 17-1/2-inch minimum size limit, an eight fish possession limit with no closed summer period for Summer Flounder. In accordance with 28.2-209 of the Code of Virginia, a public hearing on the adoption of the proposed emergency amendments as part of the final regulation will be held at 12:00 noon on Tuesday, June 18, 2002, at the Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, Virginia. Please refer to the attached notice for additional information.

The second segment of Virginia's Trophy Striped Bass season opened May 16 and runs through June 15. During this period, 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.

Anglers are reminded that a 12-inch size limit and 4-fish possession limit is in effect from May 1 through August 15 for weakfish (grey trout).

The NMFS has adjusted the Angling Category Retention limit for Atlantic Bluefin tuna. Effective June 15 through October 31, 2002, the angling daily retention limit in all areas is four per vessel, measuring 27 to less than 73 inches curved fork length. For details, see the enclosed notice.

The impressive offshore bite of billfish and large dolphin continued last week. Most of the billfish have been blue marlin but one boat released a pair white marlin recently. Inshore, bluefin tuna have joined chopper bluefish on the inshore lumps. Spadefish and sea bass remain aggregated on most inshore wrecks and reefs.

Inside the Bay, most of anglers attention have been focused on cobia and flounder. Cobia of over 70 pounds were caught last week while flounder up to 12 pounds were caught on the seaside.

Chincoteague -

Captain Bob's reported poor catches of flounder over the weekend due to the windy weather but indicated flounder were caught earlier in the week at Four Mouths, where James Shruely boated a 30-1/2-inch, 12 pounder! Outside the inlet, Patrick Byerly landed a 157-pound mako near the Parking Lot and Larry Pearson had a 40-inch, 25-pound striped bass at Winter Quarter Shoals.

Barnacle Bill's said catching keeper flounder at the new 17-1/2-inch minimum size limit had slowed this fishery down but some were caught along Chincoteague Channel and inside Queen's Sound. Offshore, mako shark were in reasonable supply at the lumpy bottom and Parking Lot while gaffer dolphin were caught from the lumpy bottom and out to the canyon. The shop also indicated that bluefin tuna up to 90 pounds were caught at the 26 Mile Hill.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported the flounder fishing was "OK" but the weekend weather was "crappy." Earlier in the week, Dorothy Elliot boated a 7-pound, 14-ounce flounder at Mill Stone Creek. Also earlier in the week, good hauls of gaffer dolphin were made at Norfolk Canyon, where Kate Evans landed the biggest at 28-1/4 pounds.

Randy Lewis at Captain Zed's said keeper sized flounder were harder to come by with the new 17-1/2-inch minimum size limit but some were caught in the channel in front of the Coast Guard Station, in Mill Stone Creek and at the mouth of Bradford Bay. Prior to the weekend, the crew aboard the AMERICAN MADE had an exceptional day at the Norfolk Canyon, as Byron Keehn and James Parks each released a blue marlin.  All onboard shared in a big haul of gaffer dolphin with Edward Smith (20-1/2 pounds), Ted Marshall (20-3/4 pounds) and James Parks (23-1/2 pounds) all boating citation fish.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported decent cobia action at Latimer Shoals, where Gregory Green (51 pounds) and Robert Edwards (53 pounds, 6 ounces) each landed citation cobia aboard the SAFARI. Robert Edwards also reeled-in a 10-pound, 15-ounce sheepshead. Larry Shyne had a good day on flounder at the Fourth Island and weighed a pair of citation flatfish at 9 pounds, 10 ounces and 8 pounds, 2 ounces. Charles McCall decked a 7-1/2-pound flounder at the Cell. Other action included a steady bite of grey trout to 5 pounds and croaker topping 2 pounds at the Cement Ships.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported catches of "real pretty fish," last week. The action was highlighted by loads of croaker to 2-1/2 pounds. Best catches of the larger croaker have come in the evenings, from 15 to 20 feet of water, while the most consistent action during the day has been in 50 to 60 feet. Most parties caught limits of trout ranging from 15 inches to 23 inches and weighing as much as 5 pounds. Flounder to 24 inches were also part of the typical days take, "not a lot of flounder but all good size," noted Captain Wil. Shark to slightly over 3 feet have moved into local waters and sea mullet numbers are on the increase but spot catches have been inconsistent--some days dozens of the fish were caught while other trips only produced a handful.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Chris at Bubba's Marina said anglers were "slamming" spadefish at the Tower Reef, catching good-sized stripers over the tubes and flounder were biting best along the First and Third island channels while huge croaker up to 3 pounds had moved into the small boat channel area. Chris added that several cobia had been boated at Latimer Shoals. 

Dr. Jim Wright said waters around the Norfolk Canyon were still holding plenty of gaffer dolphin heading into last weekend, although Saturday's blow may have moved the fish. A trip to this area Tuesday (June 11) revealed this area was still holding billfish and gaffer dolphin, as the day's crew released two white marlin and one blue marlin and boated over two-dozen gaffer dolphin. Dr. Jim added that spadefish are on holding on all the inshore ocean wrecks and "not just at the Tower Reef."

Wallace's Marina served as headquarter's for last Sunday's annual Hampton Creek Cobia Tournament, which drew 44 boats. David Smith and the crew aboard the COBIA 1 won the single day event with a 68-1/2 pounder. The overall second place winner and the winner of the ladies division was a 66-1/2 pounder caught by Connie Booth. Other catches during the week included good sized grey trout from the Cement Ships and Third and Fourth islands, flounder around buoys 15 and 16, the Hump and at Back River Reef plus spadefish at the Tower Reef.

Johnny at Sunset Marina said Shawn Edwards caught a 51-1/2-pound cobia on a live eel off Grandview Beach and Chris Hall landed a 51-pound cobia at Bluefish Rock. Croaker of up to 2 pounds were caught inside Back River on squid while slot limit stripers were pulled from around the rocks of the Third Island.

Cindy from Salt Ponds Marina heard of cobia caught around Bluefish Rock, off Grandview and out near the CBBT but had no specific catches to report. The shop did weigh-in a 10-pound flounder early last week. One party, who regularly wirelines the northern section of the CBBT, caught a nice mix of flounder and trout on their most recent outing.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said several cobia were caught at the Swash (mouth of Mobjack Bay) and at York Spit over the weekend. The biggest weighed 71 pounds and was boated at York Spit. Chuck added that keeper flounder were caught near the Gloucester Bridge and the public fishing pier along with "tons of croaker." Pan trout are also available in the York River with peeler crab the top bait.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club wirelined the CBBT and caught flounder and trout up to 23 inches, anchored and chummed for cobia off Back River with Jeff Dail releasing a 45 incher and fished the Cement Ships, where spadefish and trout were caught. Offshore, two trips to the 26 Mile Hill produced a load of chopper bluefish, one bluefin tuna, and several skipjack and false albacore.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported anglers are catching limits of striped bass around the Northern Neck Reef site. Chumming with ground menhaden is the preferred method but fresh menhaden have suddenly become scarce. Trollers are picking up some Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish off Dividing Creek towards Cut Channel. The Target Ships are producing some large trout in the late evening and after dark while anglers drifting near the jetty are catching some keeper flounder. Bottom fishermen say croaker are abundant and "everywhere" but spot remain scarce.

Smith Point Marina said their charter boats were returning with limits of striped bass plus some bluefish and loads of croaker. In addition, some of the private boats also reported catching flounder.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Marina said flounder, spadefish, trout, bluefish and croaker are being caught in the Cell/buoy 42 area. Spadefish are also holding around Wolftrap Light but not in the concentrations found at the Cell. Croaker topping 2 pounds plus some shark are hitting at the R1 buoy and towards Silver Beach. Gordon West and party caught seven cobia at York Spit last Monday. The shop registered four Citation spadefish last week and all were caught at the Cell. Ronnie Hendrick of Richmond boated the week's heavyweight at 11 pounds, 2 ounces, 23 inches. The others were caught by Todd Hawk of Maidens (9 pounds, 3 ounces), Kristin Bailey of Richmond (9-1/2 pounds) and Grey Snelson of Richmond (9 pounds, 6 ounces).

Jack at Locklies Marina said waters surrounding the R1 and R2 buoys were loaded with croaker up to 2 pounds. Pan trout up to 3 pounds are scattered throughout the river while fair to good numbers of spot were reported off the Silos, around Parrots Island and at Taylor Rock.

Garretts Marina also told of excellent bottom fishing for croaker "just out from the marina but that's all." The problem is "the croaker are so thick, you can't get a bait past them."

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said the lower portion of the river bottom is paved with croaker and bottom fishermen are mopping up. Catches also included a few shark up to 36 inches and trout as long as 28 inches. The best chance for the larger trout are during the slack portion of the tide. A party on Saturday boated flounder up to 26 inches at the Cell and then proceeded to fill the cooler with croaker and some trout.

Virginia Beach -

Headboats sailing from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center are making decent hauls of sea bass at the Tower Reef and Triangle Wrecks while inshore trips to the mouth of the bay are producing pan trout and croaker.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said the best bluewater action had shifted slightly south from the prior week, with "all you want" gaffer dolphin holding along the 140-line. On Tuesday, the crew aboard the HIGH HOPES released two white marlin and one blue marlin and returned with a large catch of dolphin. Inshore, schools of bluefin tuna have arrived on the inshore lumps while some keeper flounder had been pulled from inside Rudee Inlet.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Two cobia, one of 47 inches and the other 41 inches, were caught here last week. Other catches included croaker, keeper flounder, spot and trout.

Buckroe Beach - A 42-inch cobia was decked here on Monday but overall catches were dominated by pound-size croaker and some spot to 12 ounces. Other catches included keeper flounder up to 3-1/2 pounds, shark up to 3-feet after dark and 1 to 2-pound trout plus a few slot stripers.

Harrison - Good hauls of nice sized croaker and some small to medium spot were caught the in the evening and after dark hours. Pan trout are showing around the pier lights after dark. A cobia was hooked but lost at pierside on Monday.

Virginia Beach - The weekend produced a strong run of large spot with some weighing nearly a pound plus some medium croaker. 

Sandbridge - Two large bluefish were decked last week while big spot, croaker and sea mullet staged a strong weekend showing. Catches slowed considerably by Monday.

Outer Banks, NC -

Weekend surf and pier fishermen along the Nags Head area beaches did not fare well due to strong NE winds. As wind and surf began to build on Friday, several of the piers did see good runs of spot and croaker but by Saturday it was too rough to hold bottom. Conditions began to improve by late Saturday but remained unfishable from the beach. Again, pier anglers fared better, reporting decent catches of spot, croaker, bluefish and trout. At Oregon Inlet, anglers fishing from the Catwalk caught sheepshead to 11 pounds plus a mixture of croaker, trout and pigfish.

Further south, on Hatteras Island at Cape Point in Buxton, beach fishermen caught some bluefish and Spanish mackerel Friday morning and enjoyed a solid run of Spanish mackerel that evening. By Saturday, 25 to 30 knot NW winds sandblasted everyone off the beach. Conditions improved Sunday and catches were highlighted by a pair of cobia, the largest weighed 50 pounds. Spanish mackerel and bluefish were caught at dusk. Monday, two more cobia were beached, as bluefish and Spanish mackerel provided most of the action.

The bluewater fleet sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center had a very good catch of gaffer dolphin plus a few yellowfin and bluefin and several wahoo on Friday. Saturday, no boats fished offshore but inshore boats caught Spanish mackerel around the inlet or fished the Manns Harbor area for "catch and release" striped bass (the internal waters are currently closed). Sunday and Monday saw a return of good hauls of gaffer dolphin plus a few yellowfin tuna, wahoo and king mackerel. Inshore boats caught Spanish mackerel, bluefish and cobia. On Tuesday, a pending state record "true" albacore tuna was landed aboard the HAPHAZARD by Tim Burns. It weighed 61 pounds.

Out of Hatteras, the bluewater fleet was chased in early (due to winds) on Friday but still had good hauls of dolphin plus a few yellowfin and wahoo. Only a handful ventured out Saturday, and again, the boats returned early and with a good catch of gaffer dolphin. Dolphin dominated Sunday's catch. On Monday, the dolphin bite was rated as "fantastic" plus more yellowfin tuna were caught. The fleet also released one blue marlin, a sailfish and eight 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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