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The Saltwater Review - 23 June 2005

Vol. 19, No. 7
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 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.

Small school bluefin tuna are making one of their better showings in recent years off Virginia Beach and at the 26 Mile Hill. Check the bluefin tuna regulations (and identification chart) to make certain you know what is legal to keep before it goes into the cooler.

For Bay anglers, last weekend was one of the best this season for big flounder. Top locations included the buoy 42 area, the Hump, Back River Reef, Bluefish Rock, Magothy Bay and nearly the entire length of the CBBT complex.

Spadefish are becoming a more dependable catch on the inshore ocean wrecks and the Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT complex while cobia remain fairly elusive in their normal haunts.

Chincoteague -

Donna at Captain Bob's reported good catches of flounder the past several days with some of the best hauls coming from Chincoteague Channel up near Black Narrows, both sides of the Queen Sound Bridge and Cockle Creek. Taylor bluefish up to 24 inches were caught around Four Mouths while decent numbers of sea mullet have moved into the canal and near the CV marker. Some croaker were caught in front of Captain Bob's off the sand bar located on the west side. Dogfish and skate are found throughout the inside waters.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina credited the crew aboard the LUCKY DAWG with the season's first tuna catch at Wachapreague just prior to the weekend. Over the weekend, offshore trollers scored on a mixture of bluefin and yellowfin tuna. The BIMINI TWIST released a dozen bluefin, kept a 47-pounder and boxed six yellowfin tuna. The HEAT WAVE, PLAYING HOOKY and LUCKY DAWG also flew tuna flags inside the inlet. The best yellowfin action was at the tip of the Washington Canyon while the better bluefin numbers were inshore.

Captain Zed's also told of a mixture of bluefin and yellowfin tuna near the Washington Canyon. Waters inside the inlet continued to produce decent numbers of flounder, some sea mullet and a few croaker. Top flounder locations included the channel in front of the Coast Guard Station, Green and Drawing channels.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported good catches of croaker with some of the better hauls coming from the Morley's Wharf area and around buoy 38A. The bigger fish, some of which top 2 pounds, are generally coming from deeper water. Several big flounder were checked-in over the weekend, including citation-winning flatfish for Michele Chaney (9 pounds, 7 ounces; High Rise), Gray Moss (9 pounds, 1 ounce; Magothy Bay), J.R. Burgess (9 pounds; Fourth Island) and Joe Sawyer (8-1/4 pounds; Maggoty Bay). The waters surrounding the Cell produced citation sized spadefish for Robert Savage, Jr. (12 pounds, 5 ounces) and Scott Hubbard (10 pounds, 3 ounces) while Christian Seay pulled-in an 11-pound, 6-ounce grey trout at the CBBT. The run of big drum, both blacks and reds, tapered off to a trickle last week. The lone citation catch, a 48-inch red drum, was beached and released on one of the barrier islands by Ronald Mattson, Sr.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen reported excellent bottom fishing the past week, highlighted by loads of croaker up to 20 inches. Some hand-sized spot are mixed in with the croaker. Schools of taylor bluefish are roaming area waters and part of a typical day's catch. Captain Wil described the flounder bite as "hot or cold," adding, "we had twenty-two keepers one day but only three the next." Pan trout remain scarce and many of the fish caught are under the 12-inch minimum size limit.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported several customers recorded good hauls of flounder from the CBBT complex. Fair numbers of the flatfish were in the 5 to 6-pound range and two met citation minimums. Roy McCausey released a 26-1/4-inch flounder aboard the REEL NAUTI and Stan Oloh boated a 7-1/4-pound flounder aboard the PEE WEE. The shop also heard good numbers of spadefish had arrived at the Tower Reef.

Bubba's Marina also spoke of spadefish at the Tower Reef and around the Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT. The shop indicated flounder were biting "real good" and registered numerous citation flatfish. Most of the citation winning fish were caught either around the First Island or along the Small Boat Channel. Spanish mackerel had arrived in the bay and were caught by trollers working between Lynnhaven Inlet and Cape Henry. The marina weighed a pair of citation cobia and both came from the High Rise section of the CBBT, where anglers working the nearby shoals were catching and releasing large red drum. Large croaker were also providing good sport near the Third Island, "but only in the evening."

Captain Jim Wright said yellowfin tuna and some gaffer dolphin were biting south of Rudee Inlet, near Triple 0's. Spadefish are holding on most inshore wrecks and around some buoys but the fish are not always willing to bite.

Wallace's Bait and Tackle told of an excellent weekend flounder bite, as the shop registered an even dozen citation flatfish from Friday to Sunday. Top locations included Back River Reef, Bluefish Rock, the buoy 42 area, and the Oceanside of the Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT. The crew aboard the DEBRA ANN wire-lined the CBBT and boxed a five-man limit of flounder with two fish over 7 pounds. The crew aboard the BREAK TIME had flounder to 8 pounds, 2 ounces and the crew two-man crew aboard the REEL REBEL limited out at Back River Reef with flatfish to 6 pounds in just three hours "dock-to-dock." The lunker of the weekend went to the crew aboard the TALES-N-SCALES with a fat 9-pound, 14-ounce flounder. The cobia continue to trickle in. Skip Ross had a 55 pounder on Sunday and "Big" Will nailed a 59-pounder earlier in the week. The week's biggest cobia weighed 85-1/2 pounds and was caught Tuesday (June 21). Bluefish Rock, and "back-of-the-bar" off Buckroe and Grandview beaches have all produced some fish. The black and red drum bite slowed the past week but several good-sized black drum were caught around the CBBT islands. Croaker are abundant inside Back and Poquoson rivers plus a few keeper spot are mixed in. Speckled trout remain scarce.

Sunset Boating Center said Jose Pedreira Defreitas landed a 9-pound, 7-ounce flounder at the Third Island aboard the SELL FISH. The weekend croaker bite was very good on Hampton Bar plus some keeper flounder were mixed in with the more aggressive croaker. Steven Hux landed a 46-inch, 25-pound dolphin at the Cigar aboard FOREPLAY.

Cindy from Salt Ponds Marina said husband and wife team of "Gibby" Gibson (8 pounds, 5 ounces) and Katherine Gibson (7 pounds, 1 ounce) turned in the best flounder catch of the week but "everybody's been catching flounder." The crew aboard the THRILLS & GILLS had a nice flounder haul plus a mixed bag of other bottom fish and FREE TIME also recorded a good flounder haul. Lewis Graves released a 48-inch red drum at 9-Foot Shoals. Bill McBab caught three cobia in the 40-inch range and kept a 44-incher.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said cobia started biting last week at York Spit and the biggest so far weighed 65 pounds and was caught by Jason Dustin. Flounder fishing was good last week with most of the better hauls made at the CBBT and buoy 42 area. Croaker remain abundant inside the York River plus some spot are mixed in.

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said the tuna action is very good right now and fish are being caught from the Triple 0s on up to the Washington Canyon. Both yellowfin and bluefin tuna are available in numbers. Be sure to check the bluefin regulations since they can change at any time, warned Neill. The gaffer dolphin bite remains good and more billfish are showing in the trolling spreads. Amberjack have arrived at the towers and spadefish can be caught at the Chesapeake Light Tower. Some of the better catches of spadefish are being made over coastal wrecks and structures in the Bay like the CBBT, Wolftrap Light, and the Range Tower. Flounder action has been very good along the Baltimore Channel, at the Hump, and around Back River Reef. Cobia are being caught at all the normal chumming spots throughout the lower Bay and red drum can still be caught on the shoals. Black drum are holding around the CBBT islands. Spanish mackerel have arrived in the lower Bay and "that gives us yet one more species to fish for," said Neill.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported bluefish numbers and sizes are on the rise with fair numbers of 5 to 8-pound fish caught the past week. Some customers are running up into Maryland waters, where the striped bass season remains open, and catching limits of school stripers. Bottom fishermen are enjoying a steady croaker bite with a few pan trout mixed in. Some of the better hauls have come from the N2 buoy area.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said big spadefish are holding at the Cell and Wolftrap Light but continue to be "very finicky." Still, the shop did register five citation spadefish the past week and the largest was caught by Roane Booker of Gloucester at Wolftrap Light and weighed 12-1/4 pounds. Robert Rowe of Gloucester was also fishing at Wolftrap Light for spadefish and boated a 10-pound, 15-ounce sheepshead. Anglers fishing from the shore at Gwynn Island continue to recorded nice catches of croaker plus some spot.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishing picked-up the past several days and anglers have come-in with good mixed hauls of croaker and spot. Top locations include Cherry point and Parrot Island.

Tommy Lewis at Garretts Marina saw very few anglers fishing this section of the river the past week. "They are catching catfish but only a few croaker," noted Tommy. Tommy heard good-sized spot were biting "three or four miles downriver" and some flounder had been boated near buoy 8.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the charter fleet enjoyed good weekend catches of yellowfin tuna, gaffer-sized dolphin and chopper bluefish. On Friday, the RENEGADE boated yellowfin to 35 pounds and brought in several chopper bluefish. On Saturday, the entire fleet fished and caught yellowfin tuna, a few gaffer dolphin plus chopper bluefish. On Sunday the bite cooled somewhat but most boats still returned with a mixture of yellowfin tuna, dolphin and chopper bluefish.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said Friday and Saturday there was a good yellowfin tuna bite around the 950-line in 45 to 50 fathoms but "after that blow (Sunday) the water got cold again." The good news was that small school bluefin tuna were all over the SE Lumps with plenty of chopper bluefish as well.

Virginia Piers -

James River - Bottom fishermen are catching decent numbers of croaker and spot with the best action coming after sunset.

Harrison - The pier is presently closed but 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 - Fishing action was "so-so" the past week with a mixture sea mullet, croaker and bluefish.

Virginia Beach - On Saturday a nice sized cobia was hooked but cut-off around the pilings. Then on Sunday a 41-inch, 19-1/2-pound cobia was decked. Bottom fishermen recorded mixed catches of sea mullet and spot.

Sandbridge - Water temperature around the pier was 72 degrees on Saturday but overall fishing action was rated "slow" with a mixture of taylor blues, spot and sea mullet. Spanish mackerel could be seen jumping but remained out of casting range. On Sunday a 48-inch, 31-pound, 5-ounce cobia was decked. Other catches included bluefish, spot, Spanish mackerel and a surprising number of spadefish.

Outer Banks, NC -

Along the Nags Head area beaches surf fishermen recorded good catches of spot plus some taylor bluefish, croaker and sea mullet. Catches were similar at the Avalon Pier plus a strong run of Spanish mackerel developed on Friday, as water temperatures climbed to 74 degrees. Anglers fishing from the shore at Oregon Inlet and the catwalk over the Sound caught a mixture of spot, sea mullet, bluefish and trout.

South of Oregon Inlet, at Cape Point on Buxton there was an excellent bluefish bite Friday morning while Spanish mackerel and several cobia were caught in the evening. On Saturday, nearly two dozen cobia were beached and the heaviest weighed 76 pounds. Spanish mackerel weighing as much as 4 pounds made a decent showing near sunset. On Sunday about a dozen cobia up to 71 pounds were caught. An angler launching a kayak from the beach had the best chance on cobia. On Monday the weather turned nasty and no fish were reported.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center described catches as "mixed" on Friday with a fair number of yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin plus several billfish releases. Saturday saw good hauls of yellowfin tuna plus some gaffer dolphin. The fleet released three whites and two blue marlin. Sunday and Monday were blow days and boats stayed in port. On the days the inshore boats could fish the inlet, good numbers of taylor bluefish, some Spanish mackerel and several cobia were caught. The headboat had flounder, pigfish and some blues.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed good hauls of gaffer dolphin and king mackerel but saw only a handful of yellowfin tuna on Friday. On Saturday, catches of yellowfin tuna were up plus the fleet released a white marlin and three blue marlin. Sunday's bite was rated "fair" for dolphin and tuna plus a few wahoo were boated. Monday's weather turned nasty and the boats stayed in port.

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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