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The Saltwater Review - June 19, 2002

Volume 16. No.7
by Lewis S. Gillingham


The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has finalized the Summer Flounder regulations for 2002 and established a statewide 17-1/2-inch minimum size limit, an eight fish possession limit with no closed summer period for Summer Flounder. 

The second segment of Virginia's Trophy Striped Bass season opened May 16 and ran through June 15. During this period, 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 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) by June 30, 2002. 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 first weekend following the start of the summer bluefin season saw tuna of over 100 pounds off the Virginia coast, near the Cigar. School bluefins appear available on many of the inshore lumps (21 and 26 mile hills and Parking Lot) but chopper bluefish are very abundant.

Cobia, flounder and spadefish share the spotlight in the Bay and each has a large following. Cobia of over 70 pounds were caught off Bluefish Rock and at 9-Foot Shoals while the Cell and CBBT produced big flounder and spadefish.

Chincoteague -

Captain Bob's reported good catches along the main channel in front of Captain Bob's and the north and south ends of Queen's Sound. Offshore, bluefish, false albacore and the occasional bluefin tuna are caught at the Parking Lot while a smattering of yellowfin tuna plus good numbers of large dolphin are holding in the canyons.

Barnacle Bill's said flounder fishing was slow, "we're catching fish but most are under 17-1/2 inches." Some trout are holding around various bridge pilings while taylor blues are around the inlet. Offshore, several mako shark were boated at the 30 fathom line while a few bluefin tuna and loads chopper blues are at the lumpy bottom.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported Steve May released a blue marlin at the 100 fathom line, where Michael May boated a 23-pound dolphin. Danny Moon (26-1/4 pounds) and Sean Dunn (21 pounds, 2 ounces) each reeled-in citation dolphin aboard the LUCKY DOG out in the Washington Canyon. Inshore, Larry Holmes released a 78-inch shark at the bell buoy while flounder were caught at Green and Drawing channels. Janice Smith stopped-in to weigh a 3-1/2-pound croaker that was caught at the Cell.

Captain Zed's said some keeper flounder were caught in front of the Coast Guard Station and at the Hummocks. Offshore action was dominated by chopper bluefish and school bluefins at the lumps and sea bass on the inshore ocean wrecks.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported trout were hitting around the Cement Ships but the action "really slacks-off around mid-day." The flounder bite was "on" over the weekend at the Fourth Island, where Larry Shyne nailed a 7-pound, 6-ouncer. The Fourth Island was not the only place big flatfish were caught, as Forrest Reid, Jr. decked a 7-1/4 pounder near the 11 MP, Larry Howell, Jr. landed a 9-pound, 2-ouncer off Kiptopeke and Earl Edwards boated a 7-1/2 pounder at the Cell. The shop also registered citations for big spadefish. Robert Savage, Jr. released a 22-1/2-inch spadefish at the Cell and the same waters produced "weigh-ins" for Andre Guimona (9 pounds, 5 ounces) and Hugh Munsford (11 pounds, 9 ounces). Ed Lantschlager decked a 9-pound, 1-ounce fish at the Fourth Island and Steven Smith landed a 10-1/4 pounder nearby.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Fin Charters reported bottom fishing remains very good for an assortment of fish. Croaker, most in the 12 to 15-inch range, are the most abundant, though "easy limits" of trout up to 26 inches were the norm on most trips. Shrimp proved to be the favored bait by the croaker while the trout bit best "between the tides." Other catches included sea mullet, bluefish, flounder up to 24 inches and lots of small shark in the 3-foot range. Best action came on the channel edges, "sometimes in 30, 40 or even 60 feet of water," noted Captain Wil.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported good catches of flounder at the CBBT and off Cape Henry, trout in the deep hole at the High Level Bridge and plenty of croaker plus some spot throughout area waters. Grady Knichton was wireline trolling near the Third Island and boated a 7-3/4-pound, 26-inch flounder while William Coohsey, Jr. was drifting squid strips on the bottom off Cape Henry and landed an 8-pound, 3-ounce, 28-inch flounder. Keith Cole decked a 54-pound, 3-ounce, 56-1/2-inch cobia off Grandview on menhaden. 

Chris at Bubba's Marina told of good weekend catches of flounder to 9 pounds at the small boat channel, spadefish to 12 pounds at the Third and Fourth islands, good-sized trout at the Fourth Island and High Rise and cobia on the shoals.

A party fishing with Dr. Jim Wright on Thursday anchored and chummed near the 12 MP of the CBBT and hooked several cobia. The best action came on the slacking tide. Offshore, Dr. Jim said bluefin tuna to over 100 pounds were caught inside the Cigar while waters east of the seamont hold plenty of gaffer dolphin plus some billfish. 

Donnie at Wallace's Marina said Wanda Elliot had the biggest cobia of the week. The fish weighed 75 pounds and was caught at Bluefish Rock. The crew aboard the FLOOD TIDE registered three citation cobia, as Authur Hale released a 51-inch fish, Arch Hale boated a 62 pounder and Graham Johnson a 57 pounder. All three fish were caught in the vicinity of Bluefish Rock. Donnie added that the crew aboard the A-TEAM, skippered by Don Foreman, had several cobia releases on Wednesday (June 19). Scott Hall and his buddies had a big haul at the CBBT, where they wirelined a limit of trout and kept over a dozen flounder. Donnie also told of good catches of flounder at Back River Reef and the hump, adding that sharks were a problem from time to time at the hump.

Johnny from Sunset Marina said croaker in the 2-pound range plus a few big spot were hitting peeler crab at the HRBT, where John Gray landed a 17-ounce spot. Tom Mattioli and friends had several keeper flounder at the HRBT up to 5-1/2 pounds while flatfish to 5 pounds were also reported off Fort Monroe.

Vanasse Bait and Tackle indicated the recent warm spell created "a little bit of a lull" in the fishing action. Flounder catches have been "hit or miss" in recent days with the waters off Fort Monroe, around Back River Reef and along the CBBT producing the most consistent flatfish action. Several cobia were boated in the vicinity of Bluefish Rock and York Spit Light while jumbo croaker were caught over the HRBT tube.

Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina heard of trout and croaker caught around the CBBT but had "no big fish" to report this week.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said there were plenty of croaker throughout the York River with some of the best concentrations and biggest found off Cheatham Annex. The same waters are yielding some trout, especially to bottom fishermen using chunks of fresh peeler crab.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club caught flounder to 24 inches, keeper trout and large croaker while wirelining the northern section the CBBT. On the offshore grounds, good numbers of gaffer dolphin, some exceeding 20 pounds, are available east of the Cigar, where blue marlin still lurk.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported 281 boats participated in the 19 th annual Reedville Bluefish Derby, held June 14 and 15. Dave Stevens of Heathsville weighed the heaviest bluefish, at 11.50 pounds. Bill Pipkin was second with a 9.82 pound bluefish. Jim Dawson (5.85 pounds) finished third, Bill Pipkin (4.65 pounds) was fourth and Ray Cordrey (4.35 pounds) finished fifth. In the rockfish category, Wayson Christopher of Heathsville had the heaviest rockfish at 30.35 pounds while Ivan Evans finished second with a 21.80 pound rock. David Harper (18.70 pounds) took third place, Chris Ellis (18.02 pounds) was fourth and Jason Anderson (17.57 pounds) finished fifth. In the youth awards, Andrea Davis had the heaviest bluefish at 3.17 pounds while Sam Stokes boated the biggest rockfish at 12.25 pounds. Roger indicated that nearly all the fish (bluefish and striped bass) were caught while chumming. Other recent action included some flounder up to 24 inches at the jetties, big trout at the Target Ships after dark, hit or miss Spanish mackerel for trollers along Cut Channel and around the # 1 buoy off the Great Wicomico and "plenty of croaker everywhere."

Dan from Smith Point Marina said the bottom off Smith Point was paved with croaker and some are 3 pounds or better. The marina weighed a pair of citation croaker over the weekend and the heaviest weighed 3-1/2 pounds. Fair numbers of small to medium spot are mixed in with the croaker. Some keeper flounder were caught at the mouth of the Wicomico while good-sized trout are available around the lighthouse with tautog to 8 pounds pulled from the rocks at the base of the light.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Marina said the Cell/buoy 42 area is producing good-sized flounder but "not many citation fish." The same waters are "plagued" with large croaker near 2 pounds, a real obstacle for flounder fishermen. Gray trout in the 3 to 5-pound range and spadefish of over 9 pounds are holding in the structure of the Cell. Robert Rilee weighed the biggest spadefish of the week at 11 pounds, 2 ounces. Todd Hawk boated a 10-pound, 1-ounce spadefish at the Cell, where Terry Liptak landed a 9-pound, 1-ouncer. Some big spadefish remain available at Wolftrap Light, where James Marshall caught a 9-pound, 2-ounce spadefish . Speckled trout action remains slow but cobia were reported at New Point Light, York Spit and Latimer Shoal last week.

Tommy Lewis at Garretts Marina said bottom fishermen are catching a few spot but mostly croaker, "anywhere you want to go."

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina found good numbers of 15-inch plus croaker, pan trout and shark up to 3 feet six miles off Gwynn Island in 36 feet of water over the weekend. Inside the Rappahannock at Butlers Hole, bottom fishermen had limit catches of pan trout plus croaker, perch and spot. Flounder up to 26 inches were caught at the Cell, where at least one cobia was boated on Saturday. Captain Jim added that trollers are catching Spanish mackerel at the mouth of the river.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported good catches of spadefish on the inshore ocean wrecks, sea bass at the Tower Reef and Triangle and amberjack, cobia, billfish and dolphin offshore. 

Fisherman's Wharf Marina said weekend catches consisted of some yellowfin and bluefin tuna, good numbers of gaffer dolphin plus the occasional billfish. Anglers aboard the HIGH HOPES released a large bluefin on Tuesday (June 18) just inshore of the Cigar. 

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Keeper flounder to 22 inches and good-sized croaker to 16 inches plus some sea mullet, taylor bluefish, Spanish mackerel and trout kept folks busy. Three cobia were decked the past week and the longest measured 42 inches.

Buckroe Beach - Action was described as "kinda slow" the past week, though Edwin Wright decked a 47-inch cobia. Other catches included spot, croaker, pan trout, speckled trout, keeper flounder and several flurries of Spanish mackerel.

Harrison - "It's been real slow during the daytime," confided the pier's spokesman but "real good at night." Croaker and a good run of surprisingly large spot, "8 to 15 ounces," provided the bulk of the action.

Lynnhaven - Daytime action was rated "real slow," but beginning about dusk, spot, sea mullet, croaker, trout and bluefish are being caught. Crabs have started running.

Virginia Beach - Mixed sizes of spot, sea mullet, small to medium croaker, pan trout, Spanish mackerel and bluefish provided decent action over the weekend. Water temperature at pierside was a mild 75 degrees.

Sandbridge - Weekend action was good for large spot and medium croaker. A 45-inch cobia was decked on Monday (June 17).

Outer Banks, NC -

Catches for beach fishermen in the Nags Head area were limited to small croaker, some sea mullet and snapper bluefish. Piers fishermen in the same area had a larger mixed bag including Spanish mackerel, snapper blues, croaker, spot and grey trout plus several cobia and jack crevalle.

On Hatteras Island at Cape Point, cobia up to 60 pounds were beached on Thursday and Spanish mackerel blitzed the beach just before sunset. Friday was a day of pretty weather but poor fishing, as the Point was "grassed-up." Saturday was slow overall but lots of cobia were sighted and several landed in the surf and nearby piers. Bluefish and Spanish mackerel were caught at first light on Sunday and just before dark while only a scattering of sea mullet were caught during the day. On Monday, bluefish were caught early in the morning and one cobia was beached during the day. Spanish mackerel came on very strong in the evening--one of the better runs of the season. 

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported excellent offshore catches of gaffer dolphin, fair to very good inshore catches of Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish plus the occasional cobia while croaker plus a few pan trout provided the bulk of the action for the headboat Friday through Monday. Friday's offshore catch also included several wahoo and king mackerel plus a few yellowfin tuna. Saturday saw several bigeye tuna up to 145 pounds while Sunday produced a better catch of yellowfin tuna up to 83 pounds and several billfish releases. Monday's catches included yellowfin and bluefin tuna, wahoo and king mackerel plus several billfish releases.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed good mixed catches of gaffer and bailer dolphin and released several billfish on Saturday. Michael Vaughan of Smithfield released a blue marlin aboard NATIVE SON while David Alezander of Sterling had a blue marlin release aboard the TUNA DUCK. Sunday produced a moderate catch of dolphin, including a 39 pounder for Michael Pates of Fredericksburg aboard the RELEASE. Monday saw better action on the dolphin with some limit catches plus a reasonable number of yellowfin tuna and several 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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