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The Saltwater Review - June 14, 2007

Vol. 21, No. 4

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

OVERVIEW

The next issue of the Virginia Saltwater Review will be published the week of June 24-29.

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 (http://www.mrc.virginia.gov/forms/sbtrophy.shtm). 

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 very good fishing during but the weekend action was slowed by unkind winds of up to 20 knots. Chincoteague Channel afforded the most protection from the wind and some decent flounder were caught. Sea mullet were biting around buoys 15 and 16 and did not seem to mind the murky water. Large black drum remained available through the weekend on the shoals at the mouth of the inlet. Queen Sound anglers were "eaten-up" by skate and dogfish while bottom fishermen at Tom's Cove did manage some croaker. The crew aboard the RUMOR HAS IT boated the season's first legal bluefin tuna. It weighed 67 pounds at the Parking Lot. 

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported decent numbers of keeper-sized flounder in recent days. "It's like a new school of fish (flounder) have moved in." Some of the best action has been on the flats surrounding the Hummocks, according to the marina. Good news for the blue water crowd, as the season's first tuna, a yellowfin, was brought back to the dock by the crew aboard the PELAGIC ASSALT. The party boated two yellowfin in 100 fathoms of water at the Norfolk Canyon but kept just the one. 

Randy Lewis from Captain Zed's said flounder pounders are still catching plenty of flounder but keepers remain scarce. The marina indicated boats are averaging 30 to 40 flounder a trip but only able to keep 4 or 5 at 18-1/2 inches or better. William Mizel managed the week's lone citation flounder, a 7-pound, 1-ounce flatfish, caught at Green Channel. Several other flounder in the 4 to 6-pound range were also checked-in. Bottom fishermen are also seeing some taylor bluefish, some small croaker and a few trout to 3-1/2 pounds. Offshore, a mixture of skipjack tuna, false albacore, king mackerel and chopper bluefish were caught in recent days. 

Cape Charles -

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported the spring run of huge black drum off Cape Charles was rapidly winding down, as the shop only registered one citation the past week, a release award, for George Kohler. The big drum measured an even 4-feet in length and was caught out of the seaside port of Oyster. As for red drum, reports indicate a very different trend, as the action remains excellent, as the weather was the major limiting factor the past week. The usual shallow water shoals are producing the most consistent action. Paul Shriver released a big 50-inch red out of Oyster. M. Lee Williams earned a release award for a 47-inch channel bass just off Fishermen's Island and Joe Pierson released a 47-inch red off Smith Island. Perhaps the top story for weekend anglers was the arrival of significant numbers of cobia off Cape Charles, anglers fishing Latimer Shoals recorded as many as three cobia per boat, according to the shop. Spadefish likewise made a strong showing the past week. Top spots include the CBBT, Occohannock Light and the Tower Reef. The latter location produced the week's lone citation spadefish, a 9-pound, 3-ouncer, for Larry Corrigan. Bayside croaker catches improved in recent days with some of the best hauls of 1 to 2-pound fish coming from the waters surrounding the tower off Morley's Wharf. Flounder action for the week, at least for keeping size flatfish was best described as "hit or miss," as the 18-1/2-inch minimum size limit has many anglers frustrated and looking for something else. 

Cherrystone Bait and Tackle said bottom fishermen are catching lots of croaker plus some pan trout from the boats fishing out near the channel. The nearby piers are producing only a handful of croaker but the crabbing has been very good at piers 3 and 4.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported nice catches of mixed sizes of croaker with the better catches of the larger fish coming from deep water. Other catches include pan trout, snapper bluefish, shark and keeper-sized flounder to 21 inches. School-sized striped bass are still available inside the bayside creeks. A few large red drum still linger off Parkers Island with the best action coming after sunset on fresh peeler crab.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel

Cobbs Marina reported Wayne Olah aboard the REEL NAUTI boated and released a 50-inch red drum. The citation fish hit a large piece of hard crab at Middle Ground Shoals. The marina indicated anglers were also catching some school stripers around the islands and a few keeper flounder.

Bubba's Marina told of decent catches of flounder along the CBBT complex and inside Lynnhaven Inlet. Waters inside Lynnhaven were also producing fair to good catches of puppy drum. The shop also heard of several cobia that were caught and many more that were seen swimming on the surface of the water.

Wallace's Bait and Tackle weighed-in the shop's first citation cobia of the year last week, an impressive 65-pound, 60-inch, caught on a live eel off Grandview. Since then, the shop has registered citation cobia for Issac Thompson (63-1/2 pounds, York Spit, live eel), Jerry Chip Rogers (64-1/2 pounds, Bluefish Rock, live croaker), Darrell Beaver (59-1/2 pounds, 9-Foot Shoals, cut bait) and William Jenkins, Jr. (55-1/2 pounds, live eel). 

Sunset Boating Center told of excellent catches of large spadefish at the Tower Reef, as several customers recorded limit catches of big fish topping 9 pounds. The marina registered three citation spadefish on Saturday alone. The likewise indicated doormat-sized flounder were caught at Back River Reef and the CBBT complex. Heaviest flatfish weighed the past week was caught by Wayne Ergbler at the CBBT complex. It weighed 10 pounds, 2 ounces.

Salt Ponds Marina told of excellent spadefish action out at the Tower Reef, where Steven Lightmen boated a 9-pound, 2-ounce, 23-1/2-inch fish. The marina indicated red drum were still active on the shoals off Fishermen's Island, where Chris Boyce boated and released a 48-inch red. 

Chuck Ash at A & S Feed and Bait Supply said cobia were biting "real good" in the vicinity of York Spit and mouth of Mobjack Bay. Flounder were reasonably abundant inside the York River but catching one measuring 18-1/2 inches was difficult. Bottom fishermen were catching and keeping plenty of chunky croaker "almost any where in the river," while anglers working the shoreline were catching a fair number of puppy drum and school sized stripers plus the occasional speckled trout. 

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said the cobia bite has really turned on this past week. The western side of the bay, near Back River, has been very good the past few days. Black drum action has slowed down but big red drum continue to be red hot. They are being caught on 9-Foot-Shoal and off of Fisherman's Island. There are plenty of flounder around. Catching them over the 18.5-inch minimum is the hard part. The Hump, 36A, and the structure of the CBBT have been giving up some nice flatfish. Spadefish are drawing big crowds to the Chesapeake Light Tower. Sheepshead are available around the pilings of the CBBT. Amberjack have arrived at the Southern Towers if you want to make the run for some serious pullage. Offshore action is still very good out of Oregon Inlet and getting better off of Virginia. Some tuna have shown on the Fingers. On the bottom out there in the deep, another pending state/world record snowy grouper was caught by Peninsula Anglers Club member Bob Manus. The potential record-setting grouper weighed in at 65.5 pounds.

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

Cobia have invaded the lower bay! The cobia season is off to a promising start with several catches of fish over 55-pounds already reported. The favorite brown-suit hot spots this week are Bluefish Rock and the Rock pile, with croaker, eels, and cut bait doing the trick. A few incidental red drum catches are also coming from the same areas. Spadefish are busting loose everywhere in local waters. A nice class of fish is hitting at the Chesapeake Light Tower, the Cell, and inshore wrecks, with several fish topping 10-pounds. This fast action should last at least a few more weeks until the jellyfish come through. Expect company if you plan to venture to the tower, the crowds are there all week long. Although a few black drum are still coming from the CBBT area, the hottest drum action is from the red variety. Nice red drum are still taking crab and bunker along the Eastern Shore side of the bay, with the Nine-Foot Shoal, Nautilus Shoal, and the Fisherman's Island area producing, especially in the evenings and after dark. Tautog are still hanging in there, with good catches of keeper fish coming from the CBBT and inshore wrecks. The first report of triggerfish came in this week, as one angler landed a 3.5-pound trigger on crab while tog fishing at the CBBT. Look for sheepshead reports from the CBBT complex to begin rolling in soon. Flounder are biting, but meeting the minimum size for this year is frustrating many flounder drifters. The most consistent catches of keeper flatfish are still coming from the Hampton Bar, the CBBT, and from within Lynnhaven Inlet, where fish are averaging five-pounds lately. Joseph Lang, III of Virginia Beach, boated a nice flattie on a jig near the 1st island, which tipped the scales at 8.5-pounds. Small to medium gray trout are lurking around the pilings north of the 4th Island of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Big croaker are biting around the CBBT, the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, the Cell, and the Hampton Bar. A few sea mullet were also caught recently off of Ocean View, along with bait-sized croaker. Look for a few Spanish mackerel in the Oceanfront tide rips, with taylor bluefish mixed in. The Spanish fishery should continue to improve over the next few weeks.

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reports that nice spot and croaker are now taking bloodworms and FishBites within Rudee Inlet. Spot are also showing within Lynnhaven Inlet and off the Willoughby Bay Jetties. Drifters are having some luck with a few keeper flounder within Rudee, and although catches are spotty, 3-pound speckled trout are also hitting grubs. Offshore action is beginning to heat up off Virginia. The Rudee Inlet Fleet has experienced some good success with yellowfin tuna in the 40-pound range and decent-sized dolphin. A few bluefin tuna reports are coming from the inshore lumps, where you can also find plenty of hungry bluefish averaging 10 to 15-pounds. Taylor bluefish are showing surf casters plenty of action, off the Oceanfront, along with some small to medium-sized croaker. Puppy drum are active within the lower bay inlets, especially Lynnhaven Inlet, where one boat reported very good luck using cut mullet on a fish-finder rig this week. 

Virginia Middle Bay -

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported good catches of bluefish and striped bass over the weekend, as the annual Reedville Bluefish Derby produced bluefish of over 9 pounds and striped bass topping 25 pounds. Croaker is a recent addition to the Derby and the top fish were all over 3 pounds! Roger thought most of the larger bluefish were boated "down south" near the CBBT while the larger striped bass "could have been caught locally." The large croaker likely were caught around the mouth of the Rappahannock River. 

Dan from Smith Point Marina had the same results from the Bluefish Derby, the winning bluefish was over 9 pounds and the top striper weighed in at slightly over 25 pounds. Dan indicated most of the anglers seeking striped bass were now anchoring and chumming with ground menhaden and the Northern Neck Reef site was the favored location. Dan added that good-sized croaker with most running 1-1/2 to 2 pounds, were caught in the vicinity of the Smith Point Light the past week while the waters at the mouth of the Little Wicomico produced some keeper flounder.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters reported a superb bite of huge spadefish the past week, as the shop weighed 10 citation fish up to an incredible 14 pounds! All the trophy spadefish were caught at Wolftrap Light on clams. Mark Ottarson boated the 14-pound lunker and it ties both the current state record and the IFGA All-Tackle Record for the species. On other fronts, the charter fleet is hammering large croaker from the range light, located at the bottom of Cut Channel, to buoy 42A. Most of the better hauls of larger fish have been in 40 feet of water. Some hand-sized spot are available around Gwynn Island but the spring speckled trout bite inside Mobjack Bay has slowed considerably.

Locklies Marina told of very good catches of croaker, plus some nice spot, at Parrot Rock and around the mooring buoy. The marina indicated bottom fishermen are also catching an occasional keeper flounder.

Tommy Lewis from Garretts Marina said bottom fishermen are loading coolers with big croaker. Quite a few of these tasty bottom feeders are near the 3-pound mark and a few have approached 4 pounds! "These are the biggest croaker I've seen in 25 years," noted Tommy. Waters surrounding buoy 19, located straight off Garretts marina and Moratico Bar are the top locations.

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I told of good catches of croaker in the main stem of the bay from the range light, and down to the Cell. Many of these croaker are "jumbos" which seem to bite best on the change of the tide. Some anglers using artificial jigs and catching just as many of the large croaker and those using bait. Citation-sized spadefish are active at Wolf Trap Light and the range light but to a lesser degree at the Cell. Some spot and snapper bluefish are available around the mouths of the Rappahannock and Piankatank rivers. 

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the blue water season is underway, as charter vessels returned with a mixture of tuna and dolphin the past week. The FROGPILE had a nice mixed catch of chopper bluefish, dolphin, false albacore and even an amberjack. The WAVERUNNER boated a nice bluefin tuna, plus some dolphin, chopper bluefish and false albacore. The SEA WITCH had a big catch of false albacore and chopper blues. Other boats had up to 5 yellowfin tuna plus a few gaffer dolphin. 

Fisherman's Wharf Marina told of decent catches of yellowfin tuna and gaffer-sized dolphin southeast of the Cigar. The marina heard of at least one large bluefin tuna in excess of 100 pounds landed the past week. Inshore action is highlighted by a super spadefish bite at the Tower Reef.

Virginia Piers -

James River - Croaker dominate the action but taylor bluefish, school-sized stripers and even a few trout available at times.

Ocean View - An estimated 30-pound cobia was landed on the end of the pier on Sunday. Other recent catches include snapper bluefish, croaker, small spot and a few sea mullet. 

Lynnhaven - Croaker and bluefish are showing on the evening tide and after dark. A few pan trout and occasional school striper are hooked after sundown.

Virginia Beach - Bottom fishermen are catching mostly small panfish including spot, sea mullet, snapper bluefish, shark and skate.

Sandbridge - Several small spadefish were decked recently. Several cobia have been hooked but lost in the past week with many more reported sightings. Bottom fishermen are catching a mixture of surf perch, puppy drum, occasional puppy drum, taylor bluefish, Spanish mackerel and even a pompano or two.

Outer Banks, NC -

Along the Nags Head area beaches and piers anglers enjoyed a nice mixture of taylor bluefish, sea mullet, and small croaker and spot. Folks on the Avalon Pier landed a 25-1/2-pound cobia on Saturday plus some Spanish mackerel, sea mullet, speckled trout and even a few triggerfish. Water temperatures at pierside rose to 70 degrees on Sunday and Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish made a strong appearance. Pier anglers enjoyed another day of steady mackerel and bluefish action on Monday.

South of Oregon Inlet, beach anglers at Cape Point at Buxton had a day mixed with bluefish and flounder on Friday. Several large shark were beached. On Saturday bluefish, sea mullet, flounder and several large rays were caught. Sunday saw cleaner water and the Spanish mackerel moved within casting range. Some bluefish, sea mullet and flounder were also caught. Anglers recorded sporadic catches of Spanish mackerel, bluefish and puppy drum throughout the day on Monday but enjoyed a strong run of taylor blues at dusk.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported very good catches of yellowfin tuna plus some gaffer dolphin on Friday. Inshore blues recorded catches of cobia to 60 pounds, king and Spanish mackerel plus taylor bluefish. Anglers fishing from the headboat had good catches of croaker plus a few flounder. Saturday and Sunday produced good hauls of yellowfin tuna weighing as much as 70 pounds plus some gaffer dolphin. Inshore boats reported good catches of king mackerel and Spanish mackerel. Several cobia up to 60 pounds were landed. Offshore boats had another solid day of yellowfin tuna action on Monday plus a few gaffers up to 30 pounds.

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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