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The Saltwater Review - 15 June  2006

Vol. 20, No. 4

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 will closed through June 15.  This special season carried a 32-inch minimum size limit coupled with a one-fish bag limit. From May 1 through May 16, anglers could possess one-fish, 32 inches or greater.   From May 16 through June 15, anglers were 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 could 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 online here. (Click here for the online report form)..

Juvenile bluefin tuna have been implanted with archival tags in a cooperative effort to determine the migration pattern of northwest Atlantic bluefin tuna.  These fish have a green streamer tag near their dorsal fin and a light stalk sticking out of their belly. If you catch one of these fish, it is worth $500 but you must keep the fish. These fish will not count against your daily limit of bluefin tuna and you can keep them even if they are below the current minimum size limit.   To receive your reward you must contact Jon Lucy at the VIMS: (804) 684-7166, .

A 109-pound cobia, caught on June 10 by Joseph F. Berberich, is pending certification by the VSWFT as the new Virginia state record fish.   The potential record-setting catch was made at York Spit on a live eel.


The weather played havoc with the flounder fishermen over the weekend, as winds made it difficult to get a decent drift.  Some keeper-sized flatfish were caught at Four Mouths and Queens Sound, despite the poor conditions.  Recreational crabbers are reporting good catches of nice jimmy crabs.  Over on the Assateague Island surf, persistent anglers are catching a few striped bass to 36 inches but most settle for a mixture of surf perch and sea mullet plus the occasional bluefish.  Weather permitting, the inshore wrecks are producing a mixture of black sea bass and tautog.


Wachapreague Marina reported Allen Barefield boated a 147-pound bigeye tuna aboard the TEASER on Saturday.  The inshore hills are holding plenty of chopper bluefish plus some king mackerel and a few legal-sized bluefin tuna.  Inside the inlet, flounder action remains productive but most are coming from the deeper waters.

Captain Zed’s said flounder fishing has slowed “a little” and described the action as fair.  The shop suggested the channel that runs by the Coast Guard Station and channel along Cedar Island as the best bet for the flatfish.  Outside the inlet, trollers working in the vicinity of the Washington and Norfolk canyons caught some yellowfin tuna and a few gaffer dolphin the past week while the 21 and 26 Mile hills were loaded with chopper bluefish.

Cape Charles

Chris’ Bait and Tackle reported another windy weekend on the Eastern Shore side of the Bay.  One way to beat the rough seas was the pier at Kiptopeke State Park and the new community pier at Cape Charles, where bottom fishermen caught a mixture of croaker, small flounder, pan trout, snapper bluefish and sea mullet.  Billy Tadlock was drifting just outside one of the pound nets off Kiptopeke and boated a 7-pound flounder.  Keith Keeter boated a 7-3/4-pound flounder at buoy 36A and Ricky Sears decked a 9-pound spadefish at the Cell.  Gray Moss released a 48-inch red drum at the Inner Middle Grounds.  One customer boated a 44-inch cobia on Sunday but that was the only reported over the weekend.  Prior to the weekend, anglers were filling coolers full of croaker at Cape Charles.  Over on the seaside, the croaker have yet to arrive in large numbers but the flounder bite was improving.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported weather has been windy and “nobody’s been getting out much,” but when they do, croaker are available in good numbers and size.  Bottom fishermen are also starting to see some spot plus a mixture of flounder, sea mullet, snapper bluefish and pan trout.  Best action has been in 40 to 45 feet of water.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported weekend catches included mixed catches of yellowfin tuna, chopper bluefish and false albacore from the offshore grounds and flounder, croaker and sheepshead from the CBBT complex.

Bubba’s Marina said sheepshead are starting to bite along the CBBT complex and live fiddler crabs were the preferred bait.  Bottom fishermen are catching flounder and good-sized croaker plus some skate and shark.  Casters working around the rock islands are catching school stripers while anglers working over the tunnel tubes with live bait are catching the occasional 32-inch plus striper.

Dr. Jim Wright told of big spadefish at the Cell.  A mid-week outing produced a 9-1/2-pound, 23-inch citation winner for the doctor plus a number of “break-offs” as the hard-pulling fish were able to cut the line on structure.  “We were using drum-size tackle, 50-pound Powerpro, with the drags locked down and still the fish were able to get into the structure,” noted Wright.  The crew also landed some big croaker with the smallest near the 2-pound mark and the biggest was 19 inches and 2 pounds, 11ounces.  

Wallace’s Bait and Tackle served as headquarters for the annual Hampton Creek Cobia tournament last weekend and the winning fish is a pending new state record fish.  Joseph F.  Berberich landed a 109-pound cobia on a live eel at York Spit on Saturday, June 10.  

Sunset Boating Center weighed several cobia over the weekend but none met the 55-pound minimum qualifying weight.  Donald Kornhouse boated a 7-pound, 6-ounce flounder at the Cell on Saturday and the Center indicated the nearby Hampton bar had produced decent numbers of keeper flounder and plenty of croaker in recent days.  Weekend anglers also recorded keeper-sized flounder just off the Fort Monroe Officers Club.  Kevin Smith and his group limited-out on school stripers at the M & M crossing.

Salt Ponds Marina said customers were catching a mixture of flounder and croaker.  Most anglers were heading to the CBBT complex, weather permitting, but some were catching flounder and croaker just off the entrance buoy to Salt Ponds.  

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said the Gloucester Point Pier was producing good hauls of croaker and some keeper flounder.  “This has been a real good year for flounder in the river (York).  It’s one of the best we’ve had.”  Jimmy indicated some of the best catches of flatfish were coming from the area between the AMCO Pier and Tue Marsh Light.  Mike Mihlcoe was bottom fishing off Clay Bank (located on the York River) and pulled-in a 20-ounce spot.  Speckled trout are still biting at Ware Point, where Mark Cottee boated a 6-1/2-pounder.  The water surrounding Wolf trap Light produced citation spadefish for Robert Rilee (10 pounds, 2 ounces) and Scott Fuller (10 pounds).

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, asked the question, “is the cobia bite going off or what?”  Despite a very windy weekend many large fish were caught, noted Neill.  The areas of Bluefish Rock and York Spit were the two top locations. Though a lot of big fish have been caught, none are larger than the 109-pound cobia caught by Joseph Berberich. This fish is undergoing the process to become our new state record.   The same weekend, a 116.5-pound cobia was caught out of Oregon Inlet and this fish just may qualify as that state’s record fish. Two potential state record fish caught the same weekend, “it is looking to be a very good cobia season,” surmised Neill.  Offshore, the yellowfin tuna bite has took a bit of a breather but bluefin tuna were plentiful on the Fingers as were some hungry Mako sharks. Spadefish are still biting at the Chesapeake Light Tower, the Cell and Wolftrap Light, noted Neill. Hoards of chopper bluefish are roaming the inshore lumps and there are some king mackerel around if you can get away from the bluefish.  Flounder fishing has been decent inside Chesapeake Bay. Back River Reef has been one of the hot spots.   Sheepshead are available at the CBBT.

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

This is the week of the cobia. With catches improving, so are the sizes. Within 2 days, both the Virginia state record and the North Carolina state records were broken. The Virginia 109-pound record was caught near York Spit on Saturday by Joseph Berberich, and the North Carolina record, a 116.5-pound brute, and pending line-class world record, was boated Sunday by Billy Lucas, Jr. Early cobia catches were centered off Back River, Grandview, and Buckroe, but as of late, respectable catches have escalated closer to the mouth of the bay. Several brown-suit thugs ranging from 60 to 80-pounds have been pulled from the Bay Bridge Tunnel vicinity on live bait, where Capt Larry Wales subdued a 78-pounder at dusk Tuesday aboard the Tide Line.

On other fronts, sheepshead action is coming in strong. Anglers are seizing dozens per day along the structure of the CBBT, with most qualifying for state citations. Try dangling clam, fiddlers or hard crab near structure for these tasty fighters. Flounder-pounders are very content this week. Huge flatties, with many citations mixed in, are opting for live bait and strips of croaker near the islands of the Bridge Tunnel, the Cell, and buoy 36A. John Sonneberg, fishing aboard the Paige 2, took the lead position in the state this weekend with a 12-pound 11-ounce doormat. Black drum action has basically slowed to a crawl. Expect these docile fish to regroup soon around all four islands of the bridge tunnel, where they can be caught casting jigs and grubs. Although still available on the Inner Middle Grounds and Fisherman’s Island bottom fishing, red drum are losing popularity as more species debut in the bay.  Stripers up to 36-inches are still available live-baiting along-side the artificial islands of the Bridge tunnel, and at the curve, approaching the 3rd island, but be mindful of the spring season closes on the 15th. Spadefish are schooled around most inshore and bay structures. The biggest fish can be picked off the Cell, Wolf Trap Light, and the bridge pilings near the High Rise with clam offerings. Be sure to have plenty of rigs, these fish are known for breaking you off on the structure! Nice triggerfish up to 4-pounds are surprising spadefish anglers on a few select inshore wrecks. Two-pound croaker and decent sea mullet are hitting on bottom rigs along the entire span of the Bridge Tunnel while near-citations are scattered at the Cell. Gray trout to 20-inches are snapping at two-inch Tsunami lures and Sting Silvers jigged around the pilings north of the 4th Island of the CBBT. Tautog action seems it will never slow, with over 100 fish reportedly caught over the tubes of the CBBT this past week on fiddlers and blue crabs. Pier anglers on the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier are picking through a few keeper flounder, medium spot, and small croaker. The Little Island Fishing Pier in Sandbridge is reporting a mess of sea mullet, spot, and a smattering of taylor bluefish.

The offshore exploit has slowed considerably, when anglers can venture out at all due to questionable weather. Occasional yellowfin tuna and skippies are about all that is going on right now.  A few small bluefin tuna are mixed with chopper bluefish around the Fingers, while the Hotdog is holding plenty of false albacore, and bluefish. David Wright on the High Hopes limited out on king mackerel up to 42-inches trolling around the Fish Hook this week. Look for big amberjack on the South Towers and other offshore structures.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported the annual Reedville Bluefish Derby drew a field of two-hundred and one boats.  The winning bluefish weighed 5.9 pounds, was caught by team Nova, who also claimed third place with a 3.61-pound bluefish.  Team Chapman finished in second place with a 3.81-pound bluefish while team Dawson finished fourth with a 3.51-pound bluefish.  Roger thought most of the larger bluefish were caught near the Cell.  Team Sanderson had the first place striped bass, at 20.15 pounds.  Team Green came in second place at 17.93 pounds; team Fisher finished third at 16.04 pounds and team Burgess was fourth, at 15.22 pounds.  Roger indicated many anglers anchored and chummed the Northern Neck Reef for striped bass but likely the winning fish was caught trolling at the Triangles.  Croaker were added to the list of eligible species in this year’s event and four fish topping 3 pounds were registered.  Team Dawson took first place with a 3.26-pound croaker and team Bryant was second with a 3.14-pound fish.  Team Struck finished third with a 3.04-pound croaker and team Evans finished fourth with a 3.02-pound fish.  Roger said both Back River Reef and the buoy 62 area produced good catches of large croaker during the tournament.

Smith Point Marina said keeper-sized flounder were caught around the Little Wicomico Jetty the past week.  Most of the charter fleet has been chumming for a mixture of school stripers and taylor bluefish.

Jerry Thrash from Queen’s Creek Outfitters said weekend winds kept most anglers tied to the dock.  Joseph Healy of North caught a 6-1/4-pound speckled trout in the North River prior to the weekend.  Jerry indicated that the Cell/buoy 42 area was still holding flounder and fishermen were catching them “when they can get out there.”  Small to medium spot are biting in the local creeks, where croaker numbers have diminished.  Big croaker are abundant around the Cell, where several of the larger charter boats did well over the weekend.  Aubery Wade Sprouse weighed the week’s only citation spadefish, a 9-1/2-pounder, caught at Wolftrap Light.

Locklies Marina told of good catches of croaker at Cherry Point while bottom fishermen were catching spot “right at the mouth of Locklies Creek.”

Garretts Marina said spot were biting below the marina at Butlers Hole while bottom fishermen enjoyed mixed catches of catfish and croaker above the marina, near the utility poles.

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I said the best catches of croaker are coming from the Eastern Shore side of the Bay, where sea mullet, shark and pan trout are mixed in with the larger croaker.  Cobia are routinely sighted around the Cell by anglers fishing for spadefish.  In addition to the Cell, spadefish are also biting at Wolf Trap Light.  Over on the Western Shore side of the Bay, hand-sized spot are biting on the tide changes at Butlers Hole, the Spike buoy (Rappahannock River) and Cherry Point on the Piankatank River.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported good catches of yellowfin tuna in the 20 to 30-pound range and gaffer dolphin in the vicinity of the Norfolk Canyon.  Inshore trollers were catching a mixture of chopper bluefish, king mackerel and false albacore.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina told of good action on the inshore hills, such as the Fish Hook, where king mackerel and chopper bluefish provided almost non-stop action.  Farther offshore, trollers were catching fair numbers of yellowfin tuna and the occasional keeper-sized bluefin tuna.  Paula also heard of bigeye tuna caught above the Norfolk Canyon. 

Virginia Piers -

James River – Croaker continue to dominate the catches with the best hauls coming after sundown.

Ocean View
– Decent catches of croaker in the evening and after dark.  Small flounder (most under the 16-1/2-inch minimum size limit) and snapper bluefish are caught during the day.  Pan trout are a possibility after sunset around the pier lights.

– Crabs plus a few croaker and spot are biting during the daylight hours.  The action improves around sunset with sea mullet, snapper bluefish and plenty of skate.

Virginia Beach
– Bottom fishermen caught a few keeper-sized flounder, medium spot and croaker while casters working the end of the pier had some Spanish mackerel and bluefish.

The new pier lights have been installed and the pier is now open until 11 PM.  Spanish mackerel to nearly 4 pounds, spadefish and at least one keeper striped bass were decked Saturday—plus plenty of skate after sundown.  Sunday and Monday saw good runs of snapper bluefish and Spanish mackerel at the end of the pier and decent numbers of spot and sea mullet closer to the beach.

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach and pier bottom fishermen in the Nags Head area enjoyed a mixed bag of spot, croaker, small speckled trout and sea mullet while casters working the ends of the local piers scored on Spanish mackerel and snapper bluefish.  Water temperatures in the surf zone were in the upper 60’s.

South of Oregon Inlet at Cape Point on Buxton, casters took Spanish mackerel in the morning and bluefish to 10 pounds were caught on bait.  Some keeper flounder, a 38-pound cobia and large sea mullet were also reported.  On Saturday, at least a dozen cobia were beached at the Point and enough Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish to keep folks happy.  On Sunday several cobia were caught plus pompano to 3 pounds, shark and scattered bluefish.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported good numbers of yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin plus some king mackerel and one wahoo on Friday.  On Saturday the bite was off and only a scattering of yellowfin tuna and dolphin were landed.  The day’s catch did include a pair of bigeye tuna and the heaviest went 85 pounds. On Sunday the fishing improved.  Boats that went south caught dolphin to 35 pounds and boats that fished north of the inlet enjoyed good yellowfin tuna action with fish to 88 pounds.

The bluewater fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed good catches of dolphin plus some yellowfin tuna and king mackerel on Friday.  Greg Christansen of Chesterfield released a sailfish aboard the BITE ME. Saturday saw even bigger numbers of dolphin on the docks, as some boats returned with limit catches.  On Sunday, yellowfin tuna numbers were up and the fleet had another good day on dolphin weighing as much as 43 pounds.  Monday was another good day for dolphin.  Wayland Harris of Providence Forge boated a 36-pounder aboard BOSS LADY.  Other catches included a scattering of yellowfin tuna and king mackerel and several wahoo.  Douglas Sylvester of Hopewell released a white marlin aboard the SUSHI.

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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