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The Saltwater Review - June 25, 2003

Volume 17. No. 7
by Lewis S. Gillingham

Chincoteague | Wachapreague | Cape Charles | Onancock | Lower Bay/CBBT | Middle Bay | Virginia Beach Virginia Piers | Outer Banks, NC


Due to the observance of the Fourth of July holiday, the Virginia Saltwater Review will not be published the week of July 1-5.

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.

Cobia are nearing their early summer peak and at least five fish of over 80 pounds were boated in recent days. The waters surrounding an area located off Grandview Beach known as Bluefish Rock has been a favored location but big cobia were also boated at York Spit and Latimer Shoals.

It took longer than most anglers wanted it to take but big spadefish have finally turned-on at the Tower Reef, dozens, possibly hundreds, of citation-sized fish were caught the past week. Now, getting a spot to fish is more problematic than catching these saucer-shaped fish, especially on the weekends.

Offshore, bluefin tuna appear poised to stage a strong showing on the inshore lumps and hills but chopper bluefish dominated these areas over the weekend. Further offshore, boats looking for yellowfin tuna ran "way south" early in the week for their quarry but were able to find yellowfin east of the Cigar by Monday, June 23.

Chincoteague -

Donna from Captain Bob's described the flounder bite as "pretty good" the past week with keeper flatfish boated inside Chincoteague Bay, near the old lighthouse, along the Chincoteague Bay channel, Four Mouths and Tom's Cove. Trout, taylor blues and the season's first croaker were caught in Queen's Sound. Outside the inlet, Roland Bock boated a 5-pound, 3-ounce, 21-inch black sea bass on one of the ocean wrecks while James Fink released a 7-foot long dusky shark at the Parking Lot.

Barnacle Bill's said some small croaker and flounder plus a few trout were caught inside the inlet but overall action was slow. Outside the inlet, the ocean wrecks remain productive for sea bass while bluefin tuna have arrived off Chincoteague. A party out Tuesday, June 24, boated a six-fish limit while chunking just east of the Parking Lot.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported bluefin tuna to 60 pounds were caught during the weekend MSSA Tuna Tournament while the top bluefish weighed 13 pounds. Bluefin tuna remained scarce with the 26 Mile Hill the best location while chopper blues were abundant on the all the hills and lumps. Inside the inlet, flounder, trout and croaker were pulled from the channel that runs in the front of the old Coast Guard Station.

Captain Zed's knew of at half-a-dozen bluefin tuna up to 70 pounds that were caught over the weekend but most trollers complained they "couldn't stay away from the bluefish." Black sea bass on the inshore ocean wrecks remain abundant and both the SCORPIO and CANYON LADY ran successful trips. The shop indicated bluefish had moved into the inlet and were at Drawing Channel, along with trout, flounder and triggerfish.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported excellent catches of croaker around Plantation Light and over at the High Rise section of the CBBT, cobia at Latimer and 9-Foot shoals, nice trout at the ships and High Rise and decent catches of flounder at buoy 36A. Steve Cigginato released a 48-inch red drum and boated a 69-pound, 13-ounce cobia at buoy 13 while Ron Harrell nailed a 68-pound cobia at buoy 16. Natyhan Reynolds landed a 3-pound, 10-ounce croaker at the Cell, where Robert Savage, Jr. released a pair of large spadefish (21-1/2 inches and 21-1/4 inches). Edward Simms boated the week's only citation flounder, an 8-pound, 10-ounce beauty, at the High Rise. The shop also indicated croaker were just starting to show on the seaside, out of Oyster.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported good catches of croaker in 30 to 40 feet of water off Onancock. The fish range in size from pinheads to jumbos of 2 pounds or more with most of the bigger croaker preferring shrimp for bait. Some spot and taylor blues are mixed in with the croaker while pan trout remain scarce. Flounder are available along the deepwater ledges. Water temperature in the channel off Onancock was a seasonal 74 degrees mid-week.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Kathy from Cobbs Marina reported Dana Hupman registered a 45-inch red drum release on Saturday and George Sparrow boated a 10-pound, 20-1/4-inch spadefish at the Tower Reef on Sunday.

Bubba's Marina described the spadefish bite at the Tower Reef as "excellent" with many of the fish topping 9 pounds and 21 inches. Red drum remained active at Latimer Shoals last week, where several cobia were boated. Decent catches of flounder were made at the small boat channel and around the Lesner Bridge and medium-sized croaker have moved inside the inlet.

Dr. Jim Wright said several of the Rudee Inlet fleet caught yellowfin tuna last week but they ran 85 miles or more to find the tuna. The Tower Reef was loaded with big spadefish, "not just at the Chesapeake Light Tower," but several hundred yards away. A try at the Anglo African wreck site failed to produce any spadefish but triggerfish obliged.

Wallace's Marina said 38 boats participated in last weekend's 8th annual Hampton Creek Cobia tournament, headquartered at the marina. Jason McCormick won the event with a 71-pound cobia. The winning fish hit a live eel at Bluefish Rock. Keith Price finished second with a 63-1/2-pound cobia at Bluefish Rock that hit a live croaker and Richard Billeter came in third with a 55-1/2-pound cobia, also from Bluefish Rock on a live eel. On Monday, three 80-pound plus cobia were checked-in. Luke Lenix had an 83 pounder (live croaker, Bluefish Rock), Nathan Johnson an 81 pounder (live eel, Bluefish Rock) and Andrew Williams an 81 pounder (live croaker, rockpile). The flounder bite improved last week at Back River Reef, where Carl Dyer boated a 7 pounder Saturday. The shop also saw some grey trout, up to 5 pounds, from the High Rise section of the CBBT and good numbers of croaker and spot from Factory Point and just inside Back River.

Sunset Marina weighed cobia to 80 pounds, from the second hump, and saw flounder up to 5 pounds but indicated the flounder bite was "scattered and sporadic." The marina had an in-house trout tournament Saturday and the winning fish was 5-3/4 pounds. A 20-ounce spot was checked-in Monday. The huge spot was caught from one of the Fort Monroe finger piers.

Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina checked-in a 51-inch, 50-pound cobia on Saturday but indicated most customers recorded catches of small flounder and medium croaker.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said cobia were biting from "the Swash to Grandview Beach." The shop weighed two citation cobia last week, as Tony Kellum landed a 65 pounder and Anna Cooper had a 71 pounder. Both fish were caught at York Spit. Inside the York River, "croaker fishing is really good," noted Jimmy, with good hauls made off Cheatham Annex and the public pier at Gloucester Point. Weekend anglers also recorded fair catches of keeper flounder up to 22 inches in the Gloucester Point area but very few spot were reported.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club say the season's first yellowfin tuna off Virginia Beach were caught east of the Cigar in 100 fathoms while several bluefin tuna were boated at the Hot Dog and 26 Mile Hill, though both seamounts hold more bluefish than bluefin. On Saturday, the Club held its annual cobia tournament. Jason McCormick won the event with a 71-pounder, Dave Teeson finished second with a 48-1/2 pounder and Brian Gross came in third with a 32-1/2 pound cobia.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported good numbers of croaker plus some pan trout were holding around the N2 buoy and nearby channel edges while keeper flounder were caught at Blackberry Hang and around the Smith Point Jetty.

Dan from Smith Point Marina also heard of keeper flounder from the jetty area but was more enthused about the huge croaker coming from the Smith Point Light area and nearby channel edges, as the shop weighed several fish in excess of three pounds over the weekend. Anglers not interested in bottom fishing have been running into Maryland waters, above the Triangle, and chumming for striped bass. Dan rated the action as "great."

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said spadefish continue to bite at times at the Cell and around Wolftrap Light. Alex Day of Gwynn Island boated a 21-1/2-inch, 9-3/4-pound spadefish on a piece of clam at the Cell. The shop also registered its first citation cobia of the season, as Charles Akins of Cobbs Creek checked-in an 84-1/4 pounder that was caught on cut bait at York Spit.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen enjoyed good hauls of both spot (fish to 14 ounces) and croaker (to nearly 2 pounds) last week. The Towles Point area produced the best hauls of spot while the 20 to 30 foot contour at Parrots Rock was best for the larger croaker. Some keeper flounder were also pulled-in at Parrots Rock.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina told of very good catches of croaker to 19 inches plus a sprinkling of spot near the IR buoy located on the Middle Grounds off Gwynn Island. Bottom bouncers also found plenty of croaker across the Bay, at buoy 40A in 35 to 40 feet of water, where pan trout and flounder were also reported.

Virginia Beach -

Folks at the Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the headboat fleet had good catches of sea bass while the charter fleet split time between inshore and offshore. Inshore trolling trips produced good hauls of chopper bluefish plus some Spanish mackerel and false albacore while others anchored on the Tower Reef area and caught lots of big spadefish to over 9 pounds and 21 inches. Offshore, boats ran "way south" early in the week and found good numbers of yellowfin tuna plus some dolphin below Triple 0's. Monday, June 23, several boats found yellowfin tuna off Virginia Beach and the season's first bluefin (for the Fishing Center) was recorded.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said some yellowfin tuna were caught east of the Cigar, over the 100-fathom, but the tuna bite remains more consistent south of Rudee Inlet along the 900-line. Paula rated the current spadefish bite at the Tower Reef as "as good as it can get," with many of the fish making citation weight and length.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Karen said bottom fishermen caught plenty of croaker, fair numbers of flounder up to 5 pounds and a few spot and pan trout. One small cobia was caught and released in recent days but several cobia to nearly 60 pounds were decked earlier in the week.

Buckroe Beach - Bottom fishing was fairly slow with scattered daytime catches of spot, croaker and small flounder. After dark, croaker became more active and pan trout moved into the shadows of the pier lights. One small cobia was decked and was released.

Harrison - Charley said their first cobia of the season was decked Friday. The fish measured 52 inches and weighed 37 pounds and hit a live eel fished off the end of the pier. A few Spanish mackerel and flounder are caught during the day while croaker and spot provide steady action after dark. Charley warned bottom fishermen, "the whole Bay is full of rays," so keep a close watch on your tackle, as these critters are capable of pulling rod and reel overboard if the line doesn't break first.

Lynnhaven - Weekend fishermen enjoyed a mixed bag dominated by medium spot but including some croaker, sea mullet, taylor bluefish, Spanish mackerel and even several sheepshead.

Virginia Beach - Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish provided decent action for casters working the end of the pier in recent days while bottom fishermen reported sea mullet, spot, croaker, small flounder and the occasional speckled trout. Water temperature at pierside was 70 degrees on Tuesday.

Sandbridge - Spanish mackerel and taylor blues made regular appearances "early and late" in the day when water conditions allowed. Bottom fishermen reported 

Outer Banks, NC -

Along the Nags Head area beaches and piers water temperatures were generally at or slightly above the 70-degree mark, which put Spanish mackerel within casting range, especially from the piers. Bottom fishermen caught mostly sea mullet and spot (and the ever present skate) with some the best action coming after sunset. A few pompano have moved into the surf. Anglers fishing from the catwalk on the southside of the Oregon Inlet Bridge enjoyed an excellent run of large spot plus some sheepshead.

South of Oregon Inlet, beach fishermen at Cape Point on Buxton recorded excellent catches of pompano to 2-1/2 pounds in the gin clear waters on Friday. Two cobia were beached on the north side of the Point but Spanish mackerel were remarkably absent, despite near ideal conditions. Saturday morning, Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish bit at daybreak while the excellent run of pompano continued through the day. On Sunday, casters got Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish "early and late" in the day while six cobia were beached in the evening.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported excellent offshore action for yellowfin tuna and dolphin with many of the fleet returning with a limit of tuna and the BLUE DEVIL had a limit of each (dolphin and tuna). The CAROLINIAN boated a 140-pound bigeye. Amberjack were plentiful on the inshore wrecks and the half day boats trolled near the inlet and caught Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish. Many of the fleet returned with a limit of yellowfin tuna Saturday and Sunday but dolphin numbers were down from Friday. On Monday, dolphin made a much better showing but the tuna numbers were down.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet recorded good catches of mixed sizes of dolphin, as most boats returned with limits plus a scattering of yellowfin and king mackerel. Saturday's results were similar but most parties had more yellowfin plus several wahoo were boated. Catches of dolphin and yellowfin tuna were down Sunday but rebounded Monday.

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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