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The Saltwater Review - 16 June 2005

Vol. 19, No. 6
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 closed 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 were able to 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 our homepage web site (see address above). The reports are due by July 1.

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.

Spadefish sightings are common but the fish remain reluctant to bite most of the time. Cobia catches have become more common and no single location has emerged as the hot spot. The biggest fish of the week topped 80 pounds and was caught near buoy 36A by an angler drifting for flounder. He had tossed out a cobia rig with a live croaker as bait "just in case."

The red drum bite off Fishermen's Island and the Barrier Islands continues to improve while the spring black drum run appears over off Cape Charles but considerable numbers of fish have into the CBBT islands.

Bluewater anglers now have a good excuse to burn some fuel, as the Rudee Inlet charter fleet recorded fair to good hauls of yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin, several mako shark and had sightings of billfish in their trolling spreads over the weekend.


Donna at Captain Bob's rated last week's fishing on a scale of one to ten, "an eight," with flounder highlighting the action. Flounder were biting "everywhere" with Queen's Sound, Four Mouths, "right in front of Captain Bob's," Chincoteague Channel, Black Narrows and the inlet were some of the top locations. Live minnows are the preferred bait, with or without a bright teaser. The warm weather sent flounder into deeper water and only anglers working the shallow flats for flatfish fared poorly. Croaker made their seasonal debut and most of the action was in the channel. Sea mullet also made a decent showing over the weekend with best hauls coming between buoy 11 and 14 and the Assateague Island surf. Local anglers are still seeking the first mako and bluefin tuna, though both fish have been landed at nearby Ocean City.


Wachapreague Marina reported flounder remain active despite the recent hot weather. The charter boat LUCKY DAWG landed nearly two-dozen keeper-sized flatfish up to 5-1/2 pounds on a recent outing. The group drifted the area just inside Cedar Island and used standard bottom rigs. Black seas bass and tautog are available on the ocean wrecks but fishing pressure has been very light. Several boats did try for tuna over the weekend. The FRISKY PHILLY trolled the 26-Mile Hill area but only caught bluefish and a cobia. Other boats also recorded catches of chopper blues.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported excellent weekend catches of red drum, croaker and flounder. Red drum led the citation parade with 25-30 citation releases issued. Most of the drum were caught on cut bait or peeler crab and came from the Smith Island/ Fisherman Island area. The flounder bite was "pretty good all over the place," including the seaside out of Oyster. A citation 8-pound, 1-ouncer was caught off the Cement Ships by Ken Brumgarner and a 7-pound, 15-ouncer was caught at buoy 36A by Art Carpenter. Croaker seemed abundant any place a baited hook was dropped but the lone citation fish, 3-1/4-pounder, was caught by Jiles Harrell, II, at buoy 38. The shop checked-in two big cobia. Paul Skomal caught a 64-1/2-pounder at 9-Foot Shoals and Fren Kuhn nailed an 87-pound, 7-ouncer at buoy 36A on a live croaker. Robert Edwards caught and released a 25-inch sheepshead aboard the BUCCANEER. The party was fishing near buoy 13 for black drum. Robert Savage, Jr. boated and released a 22-1/2-inch spadefish at the Cell while James Brady, Sr. weighed a 9-pound, 7-ounce spadefish from Plantation Light.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen at Fish and Finn Charters reported excellent catches of large croaker the past week with some of the best hauls coming from the flats (10 to 12 feet of water) that run between Pocomoke and Tangier sounds. The flounder bite was rated just "so-so" by Captain Wil, who then noted, "the water has been so brackish and choppy I think it put the flounder off their feed." Still most trips produced some keeper flatfish in the 17 to 23-inch range. Taylor bluefish are plentiful throughout the area plus some porgy, spot and sea mullet were caught. Pan trout remain scarce, though some grey and speckled trout were caught in shallow water around the grassy sections of the islands. A few black and red drum still linger in area waters but "I think that's just about done."

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Patrick at Bubba's Marina reported anglers fishing around the CBBT islands are seeing and catching a lot of 25 to 40-pound black drum. Most of the drum are either caught sight casting, a chartreuse jig is preferred, or using fresh clam as bait. Spadefish are loaded-up around the Tower Reef but "they aren't always biting," cautioned Patrick. Several would-be spade fishermen have had better luck enticing these finicky fish at the Second Island of the CBBT. Flounder were biting at numerous locations and the shop weighed a pair of flatfish that made citation weight (7 pounds or more). Some of the better flounder hauls were made by anglers working the channel between the First and Second islands, the small boat channel and the Lesner Bridge area. Despite the warm weather, tautog were still very active at the CBBT islands. Big red drum were caught on the shoals near the High Level Bridge with the best action coming after sun down.

Dr. Jim Wright said nice-sized gaffer dolphin and chunky yellowfin tuna had come within range of the charter fleet sailing from Rudee Inlet. Some of the dolphin topped 20 pounds and some boats landed as many as 10 yellowfin an outing. Mako sharks are often mixed in with the tuna and dolphin and several of these aerobatic sharks were caught the past week. Just inshore of the tuna, chopper bluefish remain abundant. Before the striped bass season closed June 15, anglers working the Third Island area were catching plenty of stripers in the upper 18-28-inch slot. Schools of pan trout were holding near the 12 MP of the CBBT and nice-sized sea mullet were mixed in with the trout. Bluefish were in the same waters and often attacked a hooked and struggling trout.

Wallace's Marina weighed-in a 72-pound cobia for Bernard Hopkins and saw about a dozen other cobia the past week. Hopkins caught his big cobia off Grandview on a live eel. Several customers reported good numbers of large spadefish at the Tower Reef, though the saucer-shaped fish would not always cooperate. Spadefish were also seen and caught around the Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT. Flounder continue to make a good showing along the CBBT. Sherri Lupton boated the week's biggest flatfish, a fat 8-pound, 2-ouncer, at the Third Island on a strip of squid, spiced with a minnow. The five-man crew aboard the DEBRA ANN took a limit of flounder at the CBBT complex and their biggest weighed 6 pounds, 11 ounces.

Crystal at Sunset Boating Center said Scott Vinson and two separate crews tagged and released nearly two hundred flounder over two outings last weekend. Their fishing location was not divulged but John Derrick and a fishing partner boated a limit of flatfish, with individual fish up to 23 inches, at Hampton Bar. Other reports indicated good numbers of flounder were caught at the HRBT, though many were under the 16-1/2-inch size limit. The season's first cobia also crossed the dock last week. Peter Spicher aboard SALT TREATED weighed a 36-pound cobia while the crew aboard DELBORN landed a 40-inch fish at Nine Foot Shoals.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait described the flounder bite at the CBBT complex as "real good," adding that flounder were also biting at Gloucester Point. The York River remains chalk-full of croaker plus some spot have moved into the river. Anglers fishing from the public pier at Gloucester are also seeing plenty of croaker and some spot. Speckled trout were still available on the grass flats inside Mobjack Bay but Chuck expects this fishery to come to a halt with the hot weather, as the flats heat up. Cobia had arrived at the mouth of the York River and several had been boated at York Spit.

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said cobia have arrived in force. Spadefish are being caught at the Cell, Wolftrap, the Chesapeake Light Tower, and along the CBBT. A lot of small gray trout can be found at the Concrete Ships and near the high rise of the CBBT. The red drum bite continues to be strong while black drum are being caught by anglers targeting red drum on the shoals and by anglers casting jigs at the islands of the CBBT. Offshore, there has been good action on gaffer dolphin in the Triple 0s area, with several billfish encountered in the same area. Yellowfin and bluefin tuna can be found on the Fingers and bluefin tuna are also on the inshore humps like the Hot Dog, 26 Mile Hill, and 21 Mile Hill. "The only problem with trying to catch a tuna is all of the bluefish that are around," according to Neill.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported the 22nd annual Reedville Bluefish Derby drew 235 participating vessels. The top bluefish weighed 11.58 pounds and was caught by team Nova (who also captured the second place bluefish). The prize-winning bluefish was reportedly caught off Cape Charles. The biggest bluefish in the youth category was caught by Logan Chapman (team Wyatt) and weighed 5.26 pounds. The heaviest bluefish caught by a female angler was reeled-in by Amy Sanderson for team Wyatt and weighed 4.3 pounds. The heaviest striped bass caught during the two-day event weighed 35.09 pounds and was caught by team Poore. The second place striper weighed 34.81 pounds and was landed by team Shackleford. Heaviest striper pulled-in by a female angler was a 27.45 pounder by Marcella Wilder for team Green. Biggest striper in the youth category went to team Evans and was caught by Austin Evans. It weighed 21.25 pounds. Roger was not certain on the location for any of the winning striped bass but indicated the Northern Neck Reef area was very popular for chummers.

Jerry Thrash at Queens Creek Outfitters said customers were seeing loads of spadefish but the fish remain reluctant to bite. The Cell holds good numbers of large spadefish but the week's only citation catches were recorded at Wolf Trap Light, where Paul Hutson of Diggs boated a 10-pound, 7-ounce fish, Ted Newton of Chesterfield landed an 11-pound, 10-ouncer and David Crittenden of Chesterfield pulled-in a 9-pound, 6-ounce spadefish. All three fish were caught on clam. Flounder catches continued to improve in the buoy 40/42 area and the Cell. Loretta Smith of Toano boated a 7-1/2-pounder at buoy 40 and her son, Johnnie, had a 6-pound, 6-ounce flatfish. Bottom fishermen working deepwater are catching plenty of croaker around the Cut Channel Range Light and east of the Cell. Beach fishermen at Gwynn Island and other Mathews County public beaches caught croaker plus some spot, striped bass and a few pan trout. Lew Lawrence of Gloucester caught and released a 50-inch red drum at the Hump (located off York Spit) on a flounder rig.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen were still catching decent numbers of croaker but more spot were mixed with the croaker. Top locations included Carters Creek, Parrot Rock and off White Stone beach in water as deep as 40 feet.

Tommy Lewis from Garretts Marina said the croaker bite had slowed "some what" but some of the croaker that were caught topped 2 pounds. Bottom fishermen are seeing more and more spot. Most of the better catches the past week were made in deep water, as air temperatures topped 90 degrees for several days.

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I described the past week as "very good for fishing" with improved catches of flounder from Cape Charles to the Cell. A strip of fresh cut croaker was a favorite bait for the flatfish and Captain Thompson recommended, "power drifting" as a means to increase the catch. Schools of barely legal pan trout (12 inch minimum size limit) are moving through the area. Croaker are "thinning out" but decent catches are still made between Cape Charles and the range light located off Silver Beach. Most of these fish run 12 to 21 inches. Spot are starting to show inside the Rappahannock River at Sturgeon Bar.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the charter fleet enjoyed mixed catches of tuna and dolphin the past several days. On Friday, the VIRGINIAN and WAVE RUNNER each had a big mixed catch of yellowfin tuna, gaffer-sized dolphin and chopper bluefish. On Saturday gaffer dolphin dominated the catches and the FROG PILE had a pair that topped 20 pounds. On Sunday the BLASHLASH had a good catch of dolphin and on Monday, boats returned with as many as ten yellowfin tuna plus a scattering of dolphin.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin had finally moved within range of the fleet. On Monday, one boat came in with nine nice yellowfin tuna and a gaffer dolphin. The party fished somewhere east of the Cigar.

Virginia Piers -

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 - Anglers recorded mixed catches of sea mullet, small flounder (most under the 16-1/2-inch minimum size limit), pan trout, small to medium croaker and some taylor blues.

Virginia Beach - Bottom fishermen enjoyed a strong run of spot on Friday and mixed catches of spot, sea mullet and a few bluefish on Sunday and Monday.

Sandbridge - Weekend anglers saw mixed catches of spot, sea mullet and bluefish over the weekend plus a healthy dose of skate. Monday near shore waters were muddy and full of skate.

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach and pier fishermen had good catches of taylor bluefish plus a scattering of sea mullet, small flounder and a few croaker on Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, some nice-sized spot moved into casting range and bottom fishermen landed some bluefish, sea mullet, pan trout and speckled trout.

On Buxton, at Cape Point, the big news was over a dozen cobia were beached Friday. On Saturday, a handful of cobia were pulled from the surf and a 46-inch red drum was released at sunset. Anglers also caught some bluefish, Spanish mackerel, sea mullet and a few flounder. On Sunday, four cobia were beached and only a scattering of bluefish. On Monday six cobia hit the sand and heaviest weighed 87 pounds! There was a strong bluefish bite in the early morning and again around sunset.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported fair catches of yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin on Friday. Most of the tuna were 35 pounds plus. Two bigeye tuna (103 and 108 pounds) were also in the day's catch. On Saturday, most boats recorded big catches of yellowfin tuna weighing as much as 74 pounds. Boats that worked the grass lines loaded-up on dolphin. Inshore of the Point, king mackerel made a good showing. Sunday's catches were a mixture of tuna, dolphin and king mackerel-plus several cobia. For the weekend, trollers working around the inlet found plenty of taylor blues, decent numbers of Spanish mackerel and a few cobia.

Boats sailing from Hatteras Inlet released several blue marlin, one an estimated 600-pounder, on Friday. Others catches included an array of "meatfish," including gaffer dolphin, yellowfin tuna and king mackerel. The big news on Saturday was the arrival of schools of cobia just outside the inlet. Numerous fish were caught and the heaviest weighed 81.2 pounds. On Sunday the offshore fleet released three white marlin and a sailfish and boxed a fair catch of dolphin and yellowfin tuna. Monday's catch included mixed sizes of dolphin, a scattering of yellowfin tuna and a few wahoo.

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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