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The Saltwater Review - 29 June  2006

Vol. 20, No. 6

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

OVERVIEW

Due to the observance of the July 4 holiday, the SWR will not be published the week of 3-7 July.

Virginia's Trophy Striped Bass season opened May 1 and 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 could 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). (Click here for the online report form).

The federal bluefin tuna regulations will change on 1 July 2006. A copy is enclosed (http://www.nmfspermits.com/)

Juvenile bluefin tuna have been implanted with archival tags in a cooperative effort to determine the migration pattern of northwest Atlantic bluefin tuna. These fish have a green streamer tag near their dorsal fin and a light stalk sticking out of their belly. If you catch one of these fish, it is worth $500 but you must keep the fish. These fish will not count against your daily limit of bluefin tuna and you can keep them even if they are below the current minimum size limit. To receive your reward you must contact Jon Lucy at the VIMS: (804) 684-7166, lucy@vims.edu . A copy of this announcement is enclosed. 

A 14-pound spadefish caught on June 17, 2006 by Austin Edwards has been certified as the new Virginia state record by the VSWFT. Click here for story.

Cobia action was excellent the past week, despite less than ideal weather conditions. Although no triple-digit fish were registered, the VSWFT had one of its biggest week's for cobia citations, as 83 fish (56 weigh-ins and 27 releases) were registered.

Chincoteague

Donna at Captain Bob's reported the heaviest tuna weighed-in during last weekend's MSSA Tuna-A-Ment went 67-1/2 pounds. The talk on the island was a 223-1/2-pound mako caught aboard J.J's TOY. The crew entered in the tournament but mako shark was not an eligible species. Donna said a few yellowfin tuna were caught during the week at the Washington Canyon but with the price of fuel "it equates to about $25 a pound" for the tuna. Inside the inlet, the flounder bite is slowing plus the ratio of "throw-backs" is increasing daily. Captain Mac MacDowell boated a fat 6-pound flounder while drifting the main channel right in front of Daisey's Dockside. Donna suggested Assateague Channel was a good spot on days when the main channel was too rough plus sea mullet were still hanging around buoys 13 to 15. A few croaker have also moved inside the inlet and crabs (nearly all female) are abundant throughout area waters.

Wachapreague

Wachapreague Marina reported last weekend's MSSA Tuna-A-Ment produced fish up to 82 pounds, 6 ounces and dolphin to 22 pounds. Dale Driks boated a 72-pound yellowfin at the Washington Canyon aboard the HEAT WAVE and Patrick Picard had a 71-pound yellowfin aboard the QUIET TIMES. Inside the inlet, flounder have moved into the deeper parts of the channels. Over the weekend, the charter boat MIYOT had over two-dozen keeper flatfish at Green and Drawing channels.

Captain Zed's described flounder fishing as "fair," noting that catches now include a greater percentage of under-sized flounder. "One charter caught 50 flounder yesterday but could only keep 11." Best action has been in the channel that runs by the Coast Guard Station and along the backside of Cedar Island. Offshore, the 26 Mile Hill is loaded with school-sized bluefin tuna but few that meet the current 47-inch minimum size limit. "One boat over the weekend caught 17 bluefin but all had to go back," because of the size limit. 

Cape Charles


Chris' Bait and Tackle saw plenty of cobia over the weekend and many qualified for citation awards. Danny Baugh weighed-in the week's heavyweight, at 79 pounds, 9 ounces, (caught at 9-Foot Shoal) but Joseph Valente released a 72-inch cobia at buoy 13 that may have weighed even more. Stanford Quarles, Jr. (70 pounds, 9 ounces), James Atkins III (release 50-1/2 inches), Charles Charlson (release 54 inches) and Tyler Van Selow (release 52 inches) caught citation cobia at Latimer Shoals. Eugene Dry, Jr. (release 62 inches) and Frank Kaszyc (released 49 and 50 inches) caught trophy cobia at Middle Ground Shoals. Mike Barbee (release 50 inches and 66-1/2 pounds), Dave Barbee (53 inches) and Ronald Heylinger (56 pounds, 3 ounces) caught award-winning fish at buoy 13. Tara Faircloth caught and released a 50-inch cobia just off Fishermen's Island. Donnie Gleason was fishing solo, drifting for flounder at buoy 36A, and caught a 55-1/2-pound cobia. The same areas also produced a number of red drum and several were long enough to qualify for a release, including a 46-1/2-inch drum caught by Steve Anthony at Latimer Shoals, where Estell Perkinson released a 47-inch fish. Andrew Guthrie caught and released a 51-1/2-inch red drum at the Middle Grounds. Flounder were caught at the Cell and from buoy 36A to buoy 42 but weekend catches were poor due to the wind. Christian Seay had the shop's lone citation flounder of the week, an 8-pound, 6-ounce specimen that was caught at buoy 36A. Billy Birch boated a 10-pound, 7-ounce spadefish at the High Rise section of the CBBT. Bottom fishermen enjoyed good catches of croaker around buoys 38, 40 and 42.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported good catches of croaker "when we got out," but it was "not a good week to fish because of the weather." Along with coolers full of croaker, bottom fishermen saw a few more 12-inch plus pan trout last week. Parties also had decent numbers of keeper flounder, "nothing huge but nice flounder in the 18 to 21-inch range." Spot have yet to make a significant showing off Onancock.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel
-

Cobbs Marina reported spot have begun to show at the CBBT complex, where anglers are catching good-sized sheepshead and flounder. Spadefish are also showing along the CBBT but the week's lone citation fish, a 9-pound, 2-ouncer boated by Darrell Worley, Jr., was caught at the Tower Reef on a small piece of clam. Roy McCausely (46-1/2 inches) and Tyler Olah (46-3/4 inches) each released a trophy red drum at the Inner Middle Grounds last week. 

Bubba's Marina told of good weekend action for cobia near the CBBT and indicated some boats caught as many as seven in a single outing. The shop registered several citation cobia and the heaviest one went 57 pounds. Anglers fishing the CBBT complex also caught flounder, sheepshead and spadefish.

Dr. Jim Wright told of good cobia action near the 13 MP of the CBBT and off the Cement Ships, where some outings are producing a half-a-dozen or more cobia. Dr. Jim also heard that amberjack had taken up residence at the Southern Towers, located some 50 miles southeast of Rudee Inlet.

Sunset Boating Center said croaker and some keeper flounder were caught at Hampton Bar and around Thimble Shoals but some of the biggest croaker are caught around the HRBT.

Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina told of good catches of flounder, bluefish and cobia from the bay and bluefin, yellowfin and dolphin offshore. Joseph Tippett boated a 66-pound cobia at Bluefish Rock aboard the FINFINDER early in the week and Jack Lawson had a 7-pound, 6-ounce flounder aboard the PELICAN at the CBBT, where Andy Brunfield boated a 55-pound cobia aboard the KELLY D. Ralph Goodman decked a 31-1/2-pound dolphin at the Fingers aboard the TANGA RAY. The same trip produced a big catch of chopper bluefish and yellowfin tuna for the rest of the crew and saw a white marlin swim through the baits.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said the weather kept many anglers in port the past week but cobia were caught at York Spit by the handful of anglers that ventured out. Croaker remained abundant inside the York River and good hauls were recorded by anglers fishing the public pier at Gloucester Point.

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, described the week's tuna fishing as "very good," with some bigeye tuna around "to bust up your tackle," a lot of yellowfin and some bigger (100 plus pound) bluefin tuna on the Fingers. The gaffer dolphin bite is "the best we have had in several years." Spadefish are still biting with most area structures having fish, according to Neill. "The trick is to find the structure with big fish that want to eat. The Tower Reef has been good." The Tower Reef has also been a good place to catch Spanish mackerel and trollers are also catching mackerel along the CB buoy line while their bigger cousins, king mackerel, are being caught out at the Fish Hook. The cobia bite is very, very good. And there are a lot of fish in the bay of all sizes, 100 pounders and double digit catches. All of the cobia spots are producing, noted Neill, as most anglers are chumming at areas like Bluefish Rock, York Spit, and the Inner Middle Grounds but fish are also being caught off of the buoys. The flounder bite is very good. Some monster fish are falling to live spot at a number of structures with the CBBT being very good. Big croaker are being caught up in the rivers with 3 pound fish up in the York. Big sheepshead have arrived and were caught at the CBBT last week. 

Dr. Julie Ball, IGFA International Representative for Virginia Beach, contributed the following:

Are we bored with cobia yet? Not yet, but anglers are certainly having their fill with some boats catching enough fish per trip to push double digits! Most anglers fishing with cut bait are scoring with release and weight citation fish on all the popular shoals. Jenny Manus released her first 51-inch citation while chumming at York Spit. The Inner Middle Grounds, and Bluefish Rock have also been very productive cobia spots. Bob Manus reported many juvenile cobia schooling in their slick.

Flounder are ahead of schedule, and soaring to impressive citation counts for this time of year. Big fish can be tricked drifting, but most of the fat flatties are laying on the lower bay structures. James Daughtry pulled a pair of 8-pound doormats from one of the tubes at the CBBT using a bucktail tipped with a strip of croaker. Live bait such, as small spot, croaker, and mullet, is also an extremely effective flounder enticer. Spadefish are still available from the Chesapeake Light Tower up to the Cell in the middle bay area. Although a little more finicky than a month ago, persistent anglers are scoring with nice fish. Try drifting bobbers or free-floating lines adorned with clam on an extra small hook. Many large spades have been spotted around the structure of the Bay Bridge Tunnel. Inshore wrecks are producing small tautog, while a few citations are still hitting on the CBBT structures. Sheepshead are on the loose! Many huge specimens have been boated from the CBBT using fiddlers. Be sure to donate the leftover remains to area marinas for the ODU sheepshead study. Pan-sized gray trout are an easy target at the Inner Middle Grounds and the high-rise section of the Bridge Tunnel, where Captain Steve Wray loaded up for his charter after limiting out on spadefish at an inshore wreck. Big croaker are hitting at the Cell, the York River, and the entire span of the CBBT, where a few 3-pound thugs were caught at the 2nd island. Red drum are still lurking about the shoals of the lower bay, occasionally surprising cobia anglers with some fish measuring over 50-inches. Black drum are schooled around the artificial islands of the CBBT, but boat traffic makes it hit and miss action. Spanish mackerel are providing trollers with decent catches. Darren Foster scored with an impressive fish stretching to 24-inches while trolling off Virginia Beach in sloppy seas. Expect small blues mixed in with the Spanish from the Tower to Cape Henry. Tarpon are sketchy, but available in the usual Eastern Shore hot spots near Oyster. Anglers at the Seagull Fishing Pier have been lucky with nice triggerfish and croaker, while the Little Island pier has seen a mix of croaker, spot, and sea mullet.

If the weather holds, offshore action will take off for the holiday weekend. Look for nice yellowfin tuna and a few marlin at the Norfolk Canyon, while the Fingers and the Cigar promise a few big bluefin tuna and giant gaffer dolphin over 30 pounds. A few bigeye tuna are a pleasant surprise, along with some spotty billfish action. King mackerel are available at the Fishhook and other inshore seamounts. Big amberjack are hitting jigs and live bait near deeper structures. 

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported fishing had slowed in recent days because of the weather, "its either been blowing or raining or both." When folks did fish, bottom fishermen caught croaker and trollers had plenty of snapper bluefish. Spanish mackerel have arrived in area waters, "they're catching them in the fish traps," noted Roger, but no rod and reel catches had been reported. Roger added that some keeper flounder were biting around the jetty. 

Dan from Smith Point Marina said the fleet fishing the Middle Grounds had just started catching bluefish, which was timely news since the striper bite had just about come to a halt (Maryland waters). Bottom fishermen working the same area are making nice hauls of large croaker and the marina weighed in several that topped the 3-pound mark. Closer to the dock, persistent anglers were catching some keeper flounder at the mouth of the Little Wicomico River.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters saw two citation flounder and several "near misses" come through his shop the past week. Jeremy Healy of Gloucester was one of the lucky flounder pounders (7-1/2 pounds: buoy 42) and Wendell Sparrer, Jr. of Seaford (7 pounds, 6 ounces; buoy 42) was the other. Timothy Wilder of Sandston was drifting for flounder near the Cell and caught and released a 50-inch red drum. Jerry noted the threat of severe weather kept many would-be anglers off the Bay on Friday and Saturday while Sunday was simply "unfishable." Water temperatures were up to 74 degrees at the Cell on Saturday and Jerry indicated the warmer water had the spadefish in a better feeding mood. "We fished on Saturday, boated a dozen spadefish and lost several others. Previously it had been typical for boats to have only a fish or two." Bottom fishermen are still catching large croaker around the Cell while boats fishing near the mouth of the Rappahannock caught lots of small spot.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen were catching mostly spot at Butlers Hole but were seeing more variety, including croaker, pan trout and spot, between Cherry Point and the White Stone Bridge.

Garretts Marina said the fishing activity had been "very slow," due to the weather, "we just don't have anyone fishing."

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I said bottom fishing slowed off the Eastern Shore the past week. "We chased them (schools of croaker) as far as the Range Light and up the cut channel but the large schools were scarce." Decent catches of croaker were still coming from the middle bay region, according to Captain Thompson, but the weather played havoc with anglers fishing here the past week. Closer to the dock, bottom fishermen can catch plenty of pinhead-sized croaker and small spot at the mouth of the Rappahannock near the spike buoy and a little farther up river at Butlers Hole. Cherry Point, located inside the Piankatank River was also producing but "only about an hour around the tide change." 

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the charter boat WHITE HOT had a good catch of yellowfin tuna, a gaffer dolphin and a 110-pound mako shark just prior to the weekend. The BACKLASH had a near limit of yellowfin tuna and a gaffer dolphin, fishing north of the inlet over the weekend. The marina indicated larger bluefin had moved into the Fingers while chopper bluefish numbers had declined.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said the fleet was plagued by several "blow-day" due to the weather last week but some decent catches of tuna had been made between the Triple 0's and 870-line and just above the Norfolk Canyon. One boat got out Wednesday (28 June) and had nice bluefin tuna and gaffer dolphin inside the Cigar along the 200-line.

Virginia Piers -

James River - Croaker and spot plus the occasional snapper bluefish bite sporadically during the day. The action improves after sun set.

Ocean View - Small spot, croaker and skate compete for bottom-fished baits during the day. Add small shark and snapper blues to the list after sundown. 

Lynnhaven - Small spot and croaker provide fair action during day light hours. The catches improve after sun set. Casters are seeing some snapper bluefish. Crabbing is still decent.

Virginia Beach - Three-to-the-pound spot dominated catches over the weekend. A few of the spot were larger, even topping 12 ounces. Casters working the end of the pier caught snapper bluefish and the occasional Spanish mackerel.

Sandbridge - Bottom fishermen happy with small spot and croaker plus a sprinkling of sea mullet and small flounder enjoyed a good weekend. Casters working the end of the pier caught some snapper bluefish and Spanish mackerel. A strong run of Spanish and bluefish developed Monday. 

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach and pier fishermen along the Nags Head area beaches saw water temperatures drop into the mid to low 60's over the weekend due to a steady southwest wind. Bottom fishermen pulled-in a mixture of croaker, spot, sea mullet and snapper bluefish. Due to the cooler water, Spanish mackerel stayed outside of casting range, even for the guys working the ends of the piers.

Snapper bluefish dominated the action at Cape Point on Buxton, although occasional catches of pompano, sea mullet and flounder were recorded. Two large red drum were beached Friday—one was caught on metal by a caster seeking bluefish. Sunday, catches of sea mullet and pompano improved. There were no recent reports of any cobia.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported tuna were hard to locate Friday, although several parties did manage near limit catches by the end of the day. The tuna bite improved markedly Saturday and Sunday, as several bluefin tuna topping 100 pounds, bigeye from 120 to 191 pounds and good numbers of yellowfin tuna were recorded. Many of the yellowfin exceeded 70 pounds, topped by several that went 82 pounds apiece. The offshore fleet was weathered-in Monday and Tuesday. 
For the weekend, inshore trollers caught lots of snapper bluefish and some Spanish mackerel. Folks fishing aboard the headboat have enjoyed mixed catches of spot and croaker plus some decent speckled trout and small flounder.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed good catches of king mackerel and gaffer dolphin on Friday and limit catches of king mackerel and bailer dolphin on Saturday. David Hall (Virginia Beach) and Rockwell Moulton (Charlottesville) each released a white marlin aboard the BITE ME on Saturday. Sea conditions were deteriorating Sunday and only a few boats fished offshore but those that fished did well on king mackerel and some dolphin. The fleet was weathered-in Monday and Tuesday.

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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