Due to the observance of the Fourth of July holiday, Thursday and Friday, July 4 and 5, the Virginia Saltwater Review will not be published the week of July 1-5.
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 the VMRC web site (see address above) by June 30, 2002.
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 bluefin tuna per vessel, measuring 27 to less than 73 inches curved fork length.
Cobia, red drum, flounder and spadefish share the spotlight in the Bay while offshore anglers landed bluefin, bigeye and yellowfin tuna, plenty of chopper bluefish and loads of gaffer dolphin. Cobia of over 70 pounds were caught off Bluefish Rock, York Spit, the Cabbage Patch and Latimer Shoals, red drum were on the shoals near the northern-most sections of the CBBT while the Cell and CBBT produced big flounder and spadefish. Offshore, bigeye tuna appeared between the Washington and Norfolk canyons over the weekend, while gaffer dolphin and yellowfin were caught inshore. Some bluefin were caught on the inshore lumps, where they were greatly out-numbered by chopper bluefish.
Donna at Captain Bob's reported decent catches of flounder at Queen's Sound early in the week plus plenty of snapper blues around the inlet. Some trout were taken near buoy 14 in the evenings. Offshore action continues to be dominated by a strong run of bull dolphin. Some yellowfin are showing in both canyons while chopper blues, false albacore and a few bluefin tuna were caught in the vicinity of the Parking Lot.
Barnacle Bill's said inshore fishing was "very slow" but rated offshore action as "excellent." "It almost seems as though the flounder packed-up and left," noted the shop's spokesman. A handful of diligent anglers did manage the occasional keeper flatfish. Croaker are just beginning to show and a few trout and snapper blues were caught the past week. Offshore, many anglers are setting their sights on bluefin tuna, as bluefin to 80 pounds were caught "chunking" at the lumpy bottom recently but chopper bluefish remain very abundant. Wreckfishing was also very productive, according to the shop and catches included good hauls of sea bass plus some triggerfish and tautog.
Henry at Wachapreague Marina reported bigeye tuna "all over the place" as the annual MSSA Tuna Tournament was held last weekend. The crew aboard the LIVE WIRE decked a 149-pound bigeye, the SEAWITCH had a 136 pounder and the WHITE HOT had a 96-1/4 pounder and a 93 pounder. Mike Fox was trolling south of the Norfolk Canyon aboard the LIVE WIRE and boated a 24-1/2-pound dolphin while Mike May was trolling aboard the HOBO at the 26 Mile Hill and boated a 25-pound, 6-ounce dolphin. Henry said in addition to dolphin, waters around the 26 Mile Hill were holding some bluefin tuna and loads of chopper blues.
Randy Lewis at Captain Zed's also saw a number of tuna but mostly bluefin and yellowfin that were caught at the 26 Mile Hill, the lumpy bottom and Sam's Hill. Gaffer-sized dolphin and plenty of chopper blues were in the same waters. From the local fleet, both the CANYON LADY and SCORPIO had good weekend catches of tuna and dolphin. Inshore, keeper-sized flounder were hard to come by, though Robert Joseph boated an 8-pound, 7-ounce flatfish at Drawing Channel.
Cape Charles -
Chris' Bait and Tackle reported Dave Hoskins landed a 76-1/2-pound cobia and released a 45-inch red drum at Latimer Shoals, where William Bailey released a 53-inch cobia and Ladma Young decked a 69-pound cobia. Charles Carlson boated a 70-pound cobia at the Cabbage Patch, where Dave Grifths released a 47-inch cobia. Other citations included Virginia Anglers Club member Dennis Cline with a 51-inch red drum release from the beach at Cobb Island, Seth Rux with a 5-1/4-pound sheepshead at the Cell and Roger Williams with a 7-pound, 7-ounce flatfish off the Cement Ships.
Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported excellent catches of croaker to over 2-1/2 pounds and limit catches of 14 to 20-inch trout plus sea mullet, bluefish to 4 pounds, small shark, flounder and blowfish. Spot remain iffy, "one day we'll catch several dozen and the next we don't see any," noted Captain Wil. Best action has been in 30 to 60 feet of water during the day and 17 to 25 feet in the evening.
Cobbs Marina reported decent catches of flounder along the CBBT at the Second, Third and Fourth islands. A spokesperson for the marina said "everybody's been getting croaker at the CBBT."
Chris from Bubba's Marina said the flounder bite slowed last week but some decent flatfish were taken at the small boat channel and around the Third and Fourth islands. The CBBT complex is also holding large croaker "at all the islands" and trout at the Fourth Island and High Rise. The shoals adjacent to the northern section of the crossing are producing large red drum after dark while nearby Latimer Shoals was the favored spot for cobia. Chris also indicated the South Tower held plenty of hard-pulling amberjack.
Dr. Jim Wright said the 26 Mile Hill was covered with 31 to 34-inch bluefish but he and his fishing partner worked through "at least a 100" on Tuesday (June 25) before finding a pair long enough to qualify for a release award (36 inches). The same trip produced several gaffer dolphin but no bluefin tuna. Further offshore, charter boats from Rudee recorded excellent catches of yellowfin tuna, gaffer dolphin and mako shark on the 100-pound range. Inshore ocean wrecks, such as the Tiger, are holding a mixed bag of spadefish, tautog, triggerfish, flounder, sea robin and of course, sea bass. Sizeable spot, exceeding 8 ounces, made a surprise summer showing inside Lynnhaven at Long Creek last week.
Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina said big cobia are available from Bluefish Rock and "all the way to the beach," as William Crosby of Hampton stopped-in to weigh a 69-1/2-pound cobia he decked on Grandview Pier. Crosby had to haul the citation fish from the pier because "it bottomed out the pier's scales." Billy Suggs, Jr. landed a big cobia at Bluefish Rock on Tuesday (June 25) that weighed 65-1/2 pounds back at the dock. Donnie indicated Back River Reef continued to produce nice catches of keeper flounder but the week's heaviest flatfish was caught right outside Salt Ponds by Bill Reynolds and it weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces. Flounder and trout were also reported from various locations along the CBBT complex. Several groups of anglers ran from Wallace's to the offshore grounds recently and "they all returned with pretty good catches of gaffer dolphin and yellowfin tuna," according to Donnie. The crew aboard the REEL HARD had a big haul of gaffer dolphin including citations by Michael Owen (31-1/2 pounds) and Mark Edwards (21-1/2 pounds). Terry Jones of Fox Hill registered the shop's first billfish release for a white marlin.
Johnny from Sunset Marina said Luke Lenix nailed a 74-1/2-pound cobia at Bluefish Rock last week, as Tom Mattioli and Scott Curtis each boated 6-3/4-pound flounder at Hampton Bar. Johnny indicated flounder in the 20 to 24-inch range and plenty of large croaker plus some pan trout were caught off Fort Wool.
Cindy from Salt Ponds Marina said numerous customers fished offshore the past week and reported good catches of tuna and dolphin. Most of the tuna were yellowfin but several bluefin to over 80 pounds were brought to the docks. Cindy also heard of cobia and flounder caught in the vicinity of Bluefish Rock.
Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said bottom fishing for croaker remained excellent in the York River, especially above the Gloucester Bridge at the lump, where decent numbers of pan trout are also being caught. Folks fishing the public pier at Gloucester Point are also reporting good catches of croaker while cobia were taken at York Spit and the Swash and flounder were off the Perrin River. Jim Leiffer of Hayes boated a 7-3/4-pound flounder at buoy 42, where John Gale, Jr. of Richmond nailed a 59-pound cobia. Scott Stewart weighed the week's heaviest cobia at 74 pounds and Calvin West of Hayes had the longest cobia release at 51 inches. Both fish were caught at York Spit.
Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club recorded limit catches of trout, some flounder and even an 8-pound, 12-ounce sheephead while wirelining the CBBT near the 12 MP. Offshore, several parties trolled in the vicinity of the junction of the 400/900 lines, in 20 to 30 fathoms, and had good success on yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin. One party of anglers traveled down to the South Tower (A Tower) with a goal of wrestling with big amberjack but found the Navy conducting diving exercises. The group decided to travel farther south to the B Tower and found it loaded with hungry amberjack to 53 inches.
Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware rated bottom fishing as "really good" the past week, as croaker to over 3 pounds were caught in the vicinity of Smith Point Light. Roger indicated that some pan trout and taylor bluefish were mixed in with the croaker while several keeper flounder were boated near the jetty. Trollers working along the shipping channels are catching decent numbers of taylor blues and a few Spanish mackerel.
Dan from Smith Point Marina said bottom fishermen are still loading up on croaker while chummers working in Maryland waters are catching taylor blues and school stripers (Maryland's striped bass season is currently open). Anglers drifting for flounder are catching a few keepers at the mouth of the Little Wicomico while trollers working near the Smith Point Light are starting to see some Spanish mackerel mixed in with the taylor blues. Tautog remain active at Smith Point Light, as several fish near 7 pounds were caught the past week. The waters surrounding Smith Point Light also yielded a 37-pound red drum.
Jerry Thrash at Queen's Creek Outfitters weighed-in four big flounder from the Cell/buoy 42 area the past week. Brian Parrish of Richmond had the heaviest at 29 inches, 9 pounds, 2 ounces while Charles Akins of Mathews had the longest at 8-3/4 pounds, 29-1/2 inches. Sherwood Fisher of New Kent earned a citation for a 7-pound, 14-ounce flounder and Troy Major of Hayes registered a 7-3/4 pounder. Gray trout, bluefish and medium spadefish are on the Cell. Jerry said large croaker were holding near the 41A buoy and just east of the CB buoy while spadefish and trout were caught at Wolftrap Light. William Bohannon of Topping decked a 61-1/4-pound cobia on a live eel at New Point.
Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen are catching good numbers of fat croaker and spot to over a pound. Kevin Blake had the week's heaviest spot at 1-pound, 3-ounces, 12-1/2 inches. The citation catch was made at the bridge on a piece of peeler crab. The best action has been "from the bridge down," some locations are yielding all spot while others produce a mixture of spot and croaker. Parrot Rock produced some of the better "mixed" catches, which included a few trout to 4-1/2 pounds.
Tommy Lewis at Garretts Marina said local waters from 10 to 15 feet deep were producing plenty of croaker weighing up to 3 pounds.
Captain Jim Thompson at Windmill Point Marina told of tremendous hauls of 15 to 18-inch croaker off Gwynn Island about 5 miles. Small, juvenile shark, taylor blues and pan trout up to 22 inches were caught mixed in with the croaker. Inside the Rappahannock, spot to nearly 12 inches are active at Butlers Hole while some Spanish mackerel were caught near Windmill Point Light. Across the Bay, waters surrounding the range light off Tangier Island hold good numbers of croaker, some cobia and flounder up to 8 pounds.
The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the headboat fleet was catching plenty of sea bass plus some flounder while inshore boats had spadefish and several cobia early in the week. Offshore, yellowfin tuna and good numbers of gaffer dolphin were brought in by the charter fleet. The Fishing Center had a stack of dolphin citations for fish ranging from 22 to 38 pounds. Most of the offshore fleet fished between the Norfolk Canyon and Cigar.
Fisherman's Wharf Marina told of mixed catches of bluefin and yellowfin tuna, gaffer dolphin and several billfish releases. The shop also weighed several citation dolphin (in addition to the billfish release awards) and indicated most of the boats fished between the Fingers and Cigar.
Grandview - Croaker and pan trout provided most of the action, though a few keeper flounder were decked and several cobia "pups" released.
Buckroe Beach - No cobia were decked the past week but bottom fishermen enjoyed good action on snapper bluefish and croaker plus a few spot, trout and small shark. Casters caught a handful of Spanish mackerel early in the week but "none since then."
Harrison - Charley said bottom fishermen are mostly catching medium croaker, a few nice spot up to 11 ounces and some pan trout.
Lynnhaven - Daytime action remains slow, "except the crabs have started running." The action picks up around dusk, "especially after the pier lights have been on for a while." Catches include pan trout, spot, sea mullet and bluefish.
Virginia Beach - Spot and sea mullet provided most of the action but some snapper blues, small shark, crabs and pan trout to 20 inches were also caught. Water temperature at pierside was a comfortable 77 degrees on Wednesday (June 26).
Sandbridge - Hand-sized and larger spot dominated the catches the past several days, though some taylor bluefish, sea mullet, croaker and the occasional flounder were caught. Water temperature at pierside was 72 degrees on Tuesday (June 24).
Surf fishing was slow along the Nags Head area, as winds with an easterly component put clear, warm water on the beach most of the week. Some small croaker, snapper bluefish and sea mullet were caught. Folks fishing from the area piers fared better for larger "game fish" but general bottom fishing was about the same as from the beach. Cobia, jack crevalle and even big bluefish to 14 pounds were decked. Casters enjoyed some good runs of Spanish mackerel and snapper blues. Folks fishing from the shore at Oregon Inlet had sea mullet, spot and snapper bluefish.
Things were more exciting from the beach south of Oregon Inlet, on Hatteras Island at Cape Point, where an angler landed his third cobia in as many days on Friday--an estimated 55 to 60 pounder! Plenty of large rays were seen and hooked and a good run of Spanish mackerel developed about dusk. Saturday saw more large rays and at least one cobia beached. Sporadic catches of Spanish mackerel and bluefish were recorded. Sunday produced a full day of great beach weather but only so-so fishing action. One cobia was beached and later released. A handful of Spanish mackerel were caught at dusk. Monday produced a good run of Spanish mackerel and many casters "limited-out." Snapper blues, sea mullet and a cobia were also landed.
Boats docked at the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center recorded good catch and release action on striped bass at the Manns Harbor Bridge on Friday. The headboat had mixed catches of flounder, trout, croaker and triggerfish. Only one boat went offshore due to the weather but the crew had a good catch of dolphin and several yellowfin tuna up to 83 pounds. On Saturday, most of the offshore fleet had great catches of dolphin plus some wahoo and several billfish. Inshore catches included cobia, bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Sunday produced another big catch of dolphin, even more wahoo than Saturday and a scattering of yellowfin tuna. Monday's results were similar, plenty of dolphin, some wahoo to 51 pounds and yellowfin tuna.
The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet reported excellent catches of dolphin and yellowfin tuna plus some wahoo and nine billfish releases on Friday. Donna Funkhouser of Portsmouth boated a 44-dolphin aboard the CAP'N B. On Saturday, dolphin numbers were good but the catch of yellowfin and wahoo was down. Michael Marks of Richmond released a blue marlin aboard the TOP BILLIN. On Sunday, catches of dolphin, wahoo and yellowfin tuna were down, though some boats limited-out on dolphin and the tuna ran large in size. Dolphin were abundant plus there was a good sprinkling of yellowfin and wahoo on Monday. Shannon Simmons of Moneta, VA decked a 92-pound yellowfin aboard the BITE ME. Tuesday was one of the best billfishing days of the season as the fleet recorded 39 releases and the GAMBLER registered a grand slam!
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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