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The Saltwater Review - June 19, 2003

Volume 17. 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 season opened May 1 and ran through Sunday, June 15. Now that the spring trophy season has closed, anglers should report all catches (when kept) of striped bass 32 inches and greater. By regulation, 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 agency web site (click here for form).

Since the end of last year, regulations for black sea bass, grey trout and red drum have been modified.

For black sea bass, the minimum size limit has been upped to 12 inches while the possession limit remains 25 fish but closed periods of September 2 through September 15 and December 1 through December 31 have been added.

The minimum size limit for grey trout is 12 inches and the possession limit is 7 fish year round.

The cobia run is officially underway, as dozens of citation fish were landed the past week, including a pair that topped 90 pounds and another that weighed 87 pounds. The early season hotspot has been off Grandview and Buckroe beaches but citation winning cobia were also recorded off Cape Charles and along the northern section of the CBBT complex. Anglers fishing from Buckroe and Grandview piers also recorded citation cobia last week.

As the spring black drum run continued to wane off Cape Charles, the equally as large but more stream-lined red drum numbers continue to increase. Peeler crab, fished on the shoals after dark, has been the most productive method for the drum. Last week alone, nearly 150 red drum releases were registered in the VSWFT.

Chincoteague -

Donna from Captain Bob's reported a few more flounder were caught the past week, as warm weather prevailed most of the period. Buoy 4 and 5 at Four Mouths, the old lighthouse at the north end of the island and Black Narrows had all produced a few flatfish at times last week. Sea mullet were biting at the inlet, around buoy 12 while some big trout were caught around the pilings of the Queen's Sound Bridge on peeler crab. Reginol Marshall registered a citation trout of 30 inches and 9-1/4 pounds. Outside the inlet, several mako shark were boated at the lumps while blue shark were holding in 20 to 30 fathoms.

Barnacle Bill's said flounder fishing remained slow and had "nowhere special" to suggest for the flatfish enthusiast. Outside the inlet, the black sea bass bite over the wrecks was rated "excellent" plus a few mako shark were in the same waters. 

Wachapreague -

Captain Zed's reported decent numbers of flounder were being caught but nearly all measured less than the 17-1/2-inch minimum size limit. The shop suggested the Hummocks and both Green and Drawing channels as the top picks for flounder. Black drum still linger around the mouth of the inlet, where grey trout to 7 pounds were caught last week. Outside the inlet, wrecks remain loaded with hungry black sea bass to nearly 5 pounds while the offshore hills hold plenty of chopper bluefish.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported the black drum bite finally slowed but the red drum bite improved. The shoals around Fishermen's Island provided the best red drum action while some black drum still linger around buoy 13. Donnie Brittingham had one of the top catches of red drum at Fishermen's Island, releasing award winning fish of 46, 46 and 45 inches. Robert Carpender, Jr. (10 pounds, 3 ounces) and Frankie Brady (10 pounds, 9 ounces) boated big sheepshead at buoy 13 while Scottie Stiles decked an 11-3/4-pounder at buoy 16. David Thornes boated a 58-pound, 5-ounce cobia at 9-Foot Shoals and Stancil Lanier decked an 8-pound, 7-ounce flounder near buoy 36A. John Barr earned a release citation for a 23-inch spadefish and Richard Natch boated a 9-pound, 9-ouncer. H. C. Lamborn boated a 10-pound trout on a live spot at the CBBT pilings. Bottom fishermen at the Kiptopeke State Park Pier caught mostly croaker and a few pan trout.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported very good catches of large croaker plus some taylor bluefish, spot, sea mullet but very few pan trout "about six miles off Onancock," in 30 to 40 feet of water, "along the drop-offs." Inshore are the islands, speckled trout remain scarce.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina registered citation spadefish from the 9-Foot Shoal area of the CBBT complex and Tower Reef while citation tautog were boated at the First and Fourth islands. The marina also heard of cobia caught at Latimer Shoals.

Lou from Bubba's Marina said the shop registered numerous red drum citations and several cobia citations over the weekend and the Inner Middle Ground and the 12 MP were the hot spots. The flounder bite remains slow along the CBBT and around the Lesner Bridge, according to Lou.

Dr. Jim Wright fished on the bayside of the 12 MP on Thursday and boated a 58-1/2-inch, 61-pound cobia and tagged a 41-1/2-inch fish, using bunker heads for bait. Dr. Wright said Spanish mackerel had arrived in the rips of the CBBT islands and pan trout were abundant at the 12 MP.

Wallace's Marina said cobia staged an excellent showing the past week, as over 30 citation-winning fish were registered. Two 90-pound plus fish were boated, a 99-1/2 pounder by John Costulis off Grandview and a 92-pounder by Richard Saunders off Grandview and Ricky Steppe caught an 87-pounder. John Aldrich boated a 7-1/2-pound flounder at the Third Island of the CBBT but most of the crew's attention, that fish out of Wallace's, was focused on cobia.

Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina said customers caught a mixture of trout, croaker and flounder at the Third and Fourth islands while trollers working the Hot Dog found loads of big bluefish but only the occasional bluefin tuna.

Chuck at A & S Feed and Bait Supply said the shop registered five cobia weight citations and one release award over the weekend. The two top spots were York Spit and the Swash. The shop indicated other customers had good success Friday night on red drum at the CBBT. Inside the York River, croaker remain abundant and range in size from pinhead to nearly two pounds. A few spot and the pan trout are mixed in with the croaker.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club say big amberjack have arrived at the South Tower, where Steve Powell released jacks of 49, 53 and 60 inches, Jorj Head released a pair of 49-inchers and Ken Neill released amberjack of 46, 49 and 50 inches. John Costulis set a new club record for cobia, boating a 99-1/2 pounder off the rockpile at Grandview Beach. Prior to the end of the spring striper season Bobby Scott released a 43-inch bass at the Third Island that hit a plug. Other members enjoyed good spadefish action at the Tower Reef. Richard Madison fished the Baltimore Channel for flounder two days running and boated an 8-pounder on the second day.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported 335 boats participated in last weekend's 20th annual Reedville Bluefish Derby. The boat skippered by John Fowler boated the events heaviest bluefish, a 4.00 pounder. The second place bluefish weighed 3.61 pounds and was caught aboard the vessel skippered by Jim Dawson while the third place blue weighed 3.43 pounds and was caught aboard the boat skippered by Thomas Burke. In the rockfish division, the crew aboard the Chesapeake Angler Magazine weighed the heaviest striper, at 28.62 pounds. The boat skippered by Max King came in second place with a 26.68 pound striped bass while the crew fishing with Woody Robertson finished in third place with a 26.10 pound rockfish. Roger indicated the bluefish were not concentrated in any one location while the best striped action was in the area known locally as "the Triangles" and the around the Northern Neck Reef site. The most unusual catch of the event was a 31-pound jack crevalle that was caught at Cut Channel. Participants that anchored and chummed also recorded good catches of croaker.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said small to medium spot and croaker are still in the creeks but the bigger croaker have moved into deeper water. Bottom fishermen working in 40 to 50 feet of water at the lower end of Cut Channel and around buoy 40 made the best hauls of big croaker over the weekend. Six citation spadefish were registered at the shop the past week. Two were caught at the Cell (Joel Wilson, 10-3/4 pounds and Richard Taylor, 9 pounds, 13 ounces) and four were pulled from Wolftrap Light (Michael Hanhart, 10 pounds, 9 ounces; Robert Rilee, 9 pounds, 14 ounces and 9 pounds, 10 ounces; and Phillip Yates, 9 pounds, 4 ounces) but all were caught on clam pieces. Big grey trout also cooperate at the Cell and Wolftrap with best chances on a trophy trout coming during the late evening hours. The week's biggest trout was caught at the Cell by David Wickler at the Cell. It measured 32-1/2 inches, weighed 9 pounds, 1 ounce and hit a jig.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen fishing off the Silos recorded fair to good hauls of croaker. Top baits include peeler, crab, bloodworm and squid.

Tommy Lewis at Garretts Marina said few folks fished recently due to the weather and "there just isn't much going on."

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said bottom fishermen the waters surrounding the Nassawadox Reef site and the Cell produced good weekend hauls of 14 to 16-inch croaker. Trout were caught "right on the Cell" with jigs tipped with peeler crab while flounder were active around buoy 42. Spadefish were active at the Cell, but, "you've got to get there early," cautioned Captain Thompson.

Virginia Beach -

Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported good catches of spadefish at the Tower Reef, where fish to over 9 pounds were boated the past week. Pete Bregant registered release awards for black (53 inches) and red drum (54 inches) at the CBBT complex on the same outing. Offshore, the Triangle wrecks produced good hauls of black sea bass on full day trips aboard the headboats. The six-pack fleet found loads of chopper bluefish and a handful of dolphin on the lumps while bluefin tuna remained scarce. Trout to 9 pounds still linger inside the inlet, where the occasional keeper flounder and a few big spot to over 16 ounces were landed last week.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said spadefish at the Chesapeake Light Tower provided consistent action while the bluewater fleet remained frustrated by the lack of warm water (and tuna) offshore.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Bottom fishermen caught sea mullet (most abundant), spot, pan trout and croaker over the weekend and a 64-pound cobia was decked Saturday.

Buckroe Beach - Cobia of 58 and 32 pounds were landed over the weekend. Other catches included croaker, spot, sea mullet (including two citation-winning fish) and taylor bluefish.

Harrison - Charlie said anglers spent much of the week "dodging rain drops." Spot made a decent showing and fish to 17 ounces were decked. Croaker continue to dominate the action and most run small to medium. Spadefish have also arrived and saucer-shaped fish to 6-1/2 pounds were caught last week.

Lynnhaven - Bottom fishermen are seeing mostly sea mullet while casters are catching taylor blues in the early morning and evening.

Virginia Beach - Sea mullet provided the bulk of the action the past several days, though some taylor bluefish and a few Spanish mackerel were also reported. Water temperature around the pier pilings was 68 degrees.

Sandbridge - Water temperature at pierside was a seasonable 70 degrees on Thursday when a strong run of Spanish mackerel occurred. By Friday afternoon the same waters had cooled to 64 degrees, as taylor bluefish and sea mullet dominated over the weekend.

Outer Banks, NC -

Anglers fishing along the beaches and piers in the Nags Head area endured muddy and relatively cool waters as southwest winds prevailed over the weekend. Sea mullet, with a few topping 1-1/2 pounds, was the dominate catch while an occasional spot and bluefish was also reported.

South of Oregon Inlet, beach fishermen at Cape Point in Buxton had mixed catches of panfish--sea mullet, small flounder, pompano, croaker and spot plus the day's only cobia was beached about 3 PM. Several good-sized pompano were reported from the Point on Saturday and a large cobia was "almost" beached at the northside of the Point. On Sunday, small croaker provided continuous action in the morning plus a few sea mullet and puppy were landed. Surf waters began to clear Monday, as the winds shifted to the north, and catches from the beach included a 40-pound cobia and some sea mullet, flounder and pompano.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported most of their fleet returned with limit catches of yellowfin tuna on Friday but very few dolphin. On Saturday it was more of the same--limit catches of yellowfin and a scattering of dolphin plus a few skipjack tuna. One boat did find a concentration of dolphin and came in with three dozen dolphin and a limit of yellowfin. Same story on Sunday--limit catches of yellowfin tuna the norm plus some dolphin and skipjack tuna. For the weekend, inshore boats had good catches of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues while headboat anglers caught mostly croaker.

Few of the fleet normally sailing from Hatteras Inlet fished Friday due to poor weather conditions and the fact that many fished hard during the Big Rock Marlin tournament last week. Wayne Wray of Roanoke, VA boated a 37.8 pound dolphin aboard the GAMBLER, as some gaffer dolphin and several wahoo were the only catches reported. On Saturday, seas were rough but the "catching" made the trip worthwhile. Dolphin dominated the action with decent numbers of yellowfin tuna, king mackerel and a few wahoo. Several boats recorded limit catches of yellowfin on Sunday and the fleet enjoyed excellent catches of gaffer dolphin. The dolphin bite slowed Monday but yellowfin tuna continued to make a good showing, as several boats returned with limit catches of tuna.

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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