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The Saltwater Review - June 29, 2007

Vol. 21, No. 5

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


Due to the observance of Independence Day, July 4, the Virginia Saltwater Review will not be published the week of 2-6 July.

Virginia's Trophy Striped Bass season opened May 1 and ran through June 15. This special season carried a 32-inch minimum size limit coupled with a one-fish bag limit. From May 1 through May 15, anglers could possess one-fish, 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 web site.

Since the end of last year, regulations for summer flounder have been modified and new restrictions for tilefish, grouper and sheepshead have been adopted.

For Summer Flounder, the minimum size limit has been increased, the possession limit has been reduced and a winter and summer closed period has been added. The minimum size limit has increased from 16-1/2 inches (2006) to 18-1/2 inches for 2007. The possession limit has been reduced from 6 to 5 flounder. The winter-closed period runs from 1 January through 31 March and the summer-closed period is from July 23 through July 28.

Over the past two years, "deep-dropping," a relative term that generally applies to recreational bottom fishing in water greater than 300 feet, has become more popular. Several species of fish, primarily blueline tilefish, golden tilefish, wreckfish and snowy grouper, which had been rarely seen by Virginia recreational fishermen, have become the focus of this new deepwater fishery. The Virginia Marine Resources Commission recently set limits for commercial and recreational fishermen. Recreational possession limits are 7 tilefish in aggregate and 1 grouper of any species per person.

A possession limit of four sheepshead has been established.

The NMFS has adjusted the Angling Category Bluefin Tuna retention limits for the period of June 1 through July 31, 2007. See the attached notice for details.

Chincoteague -

Donna at Captain Bob's reported the windy weekend weather made flounder fishing a real chore but keeper-sized flatfish were caught earlier in the week at Four Mouths and near buoy 20. Surf fishermen working the Assateague Island shoreline enjoyed a mixed bag of panfish, including spot, sea mullet, surfperch, the occasional keeper flounder and small bluefish plus a good dose of ray and skate. Inshore ocean wrecks proved productive for black sea bass, spadefish, triggerfish and tautog while bluewater trollers working the Poorman's Canyon found yellowfin to 65 pounds while the waters of the Washington Canyon produced a mixture of nice-sized yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported a recent overnight trip aboard the BUSHWHACKER produced an impressive catch of 19 tuna, seven gaffer dolphin and a mako shark. Frank Loratto boated a 137-1/4-pound bluefin tuna aboard the MONSTER FISH at the Washington Canyon, where yellowfin tuna weighing as much as 65 pounds were caught and John Lover, fishing aboard the TEASER, landed a 25-pound, 2-ounce dolphin. The marina also heard of a scattering of school-sized bluefin tuna around the 21 and 26 Mile hills.

Captain Zed's said anglers drifting for flounder are catching reasonable numbers of flatfish but only a few meet the 18-1/2-inch size limit. Some croaker and a few spot are mixed in with the typical day's take. The shop heard of some tuna offshore and indicated a private boat weighed-in a pair of nice golden tilefish, at 39 and 25 pounds.

Cape Charles -

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported good weekend catches of 30 to 40-pound class cobia at Latimer Shoals with some recording as many as 11 cobia in a single outing. The boats reporting the most success were often anchored in 18 to 20 feet of water, chumming and using fresh menhaden for bait. The shop indicated flounder fishing improved the past week, as good reports of keeper flounder came in from the seaside port of Oyster and buoys 36 and 38 on the bayside. Bottom fishermen looking for croaker did best off Morley's Wharf "near the range light," according to the shop while good-sized spadefish were caught at the Cell, around the northern section of the CBBT complex and out at the Tower Reef.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported the bottom fish, primarily croaker, are in their summer pattern of moving from shallow to deep in the course of the day. The Hacks Rock area is holding some of the larger croaker while waters off Crisfield are teeming with smaller croaker. Flounder are available off Onancock with the best action coming on the evening tide along the channel edges along the 25 to 30-foot contour. In addition to the croaker and flounder, bottom fishermen are catching a spot and taylor blues.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel

Cobbs Marina reported a mixed bag around the CBBT complex, including flounder, spadefish, triggerfish, cobia and even big black drum. Some of the better flounder catches were made near the First and Second islands, the Fourth Island and pilings northward offer the best opportunity for spadefish and triggerfish while cobia were caught nearby. Pods of black drum are feeding on the mussels around each of the four rock islands.

Bubba's Marina told of steady spadefish action around the northern sections of the CBBT and Tower Reef. Anglers seeking flounder reported good catches around the mouth of Lynnhaven Inlet, the Small Boat Channel of the CBBT and the Third Island. The marina indicated both the black drum and red drum action had slowed the past week.

Wallace's Bait and Tackle indicated flounder fishermen were catching some keeper-sized flatfish at nearby Back River Reef and the Hump but the better catches of larger fish were coming from the CBBT complex, where Robert Holland (7-1/4 pounds) and Ronnie Key (9 pounds, 2 ounces) each boated citation-winning flounder. The marina also registered a black drum release for Rob Bradshaw. The drum measured 48 inches and the catch was made on an artificial lure off Salt Ponds.

Sunset Boating Center saw cobia weighing as much as 74 pounds on Saturday and told of nice catches of spadefish and flounder along the CBBT complex. Meanwhile, nearby Hampton Bar holds lots of croaker and plenty of flounder. Most of the croaker are running a pound or better but most of the flounder measure less than the current minimum size limit of 18-1/2 inches.

Salt Ponds Marina indicated customers were catching flounder and cobia out at the CBBT complex. None of the flounder meet the 7-pound minimum qualifying weight for a citation but two cobia did. Bryan Rader checked-in a 63-pound, 1-ounce cobia last Friday and James Glenn weighed a 62-pound, 6-ouncer the next day.

A & S Feed and Fishing said customers were doing "real well" on good-sized flounder in the vicinity of buoy 42 and the Cell and spadefish around Wolftrap Light. Several anglers boated cobia at York Spit the past week while bottom fishermen working inside the York River, including those fishing from the Gloucester Point Pier and those fishing from the shoreline of the Yorktown Parkway, caught plenty of chunky croaker.

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said Virginia's offshore fishery has really turned on. A lot of yellowfin tuna are being caught in the 50-60 pound class with some weighing in at over 70 pounds. Bigeye tuna are busting up tackle while gaffer-sized dolphin are around in good numbers. Both blue and white marlin have made their seasonal appearance off the Virginia coast. One boat targeting billfish found giant bluefin instead. The crew managed to boat a 573-pound bluefin, which is a pending state record. It is time to head your boat east or to give your favorite charter captain a call. The Norfolk Canyon and the Triple 0s have been hot spots. Closer in, some yellowfin have shown on the Fingers while the inshore lumps, such as the Hot Dog and 26 Mile Hill, have given up a few bluefin tuna. Amberjack are at the south towers and there should be some available at wrecks like the Hanks, Ricks, and Gulf Hustler. They will show at the Chesapeake Light Tower also but fishing for them there would be rather tough with all of the spade fishermen there. Spadefish continue to be caught at the Light Tower and along the structure of the CBBT. The sheepshead bite along the CBBT has picked up and anglers targeting these fish are also catching good numbers of triggerfish and tautog. Flounder fishing has been tough. Plenty of fish are being caught but most are throwbacks. Some impressive fish are being caught however. Live-baiting the structure of the CBBT has taken off and a number of flounder weighing in at over 10 pounds have been caught there. Big flounder have also been caught at 36A and up at the Cell area. Croaker fishing is very good around the Cell. Cobia fishing has not been red hot but if you put your time in, you will catch some fish. All of the normal cobia spots are producing some fish. York Spit has been one of the better areas lately. Red drum fishing remains impressive. Puppy drum are being caught inside the creeks and inlets and up on the flats. They seem to be everywhere and the big reds are plentiful also. Not many people are targeting the red drum now but the drum have not been shy about eating baits meant for cobia.

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

The Independence Day holiday week is not the only event inspiring fireworks, as the saltwater action along the Mid Atlantic coast is also going off. Cobia chummers are content, with many boats departing the shoals with keeper fish and a few trophies. Bluefish rock, the Inner Middle Grounds, and Latimer Shoal have been excellent locations lately. Spadefish action is still going strong around the Chesapeake Light Tower, the Cell, and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, where the 4th island is producing steady spadefish catches. Red drum have been overshadowed by angler interest in cobia, but a few reds are still available along the Eastern Shore shoals. Most of the black drum catches are coming from the four artificial islands of the Bay Bridge Tunnel, where casters are picking up nice fish on bucktails and Storm Lures.

Sheepshead are still not on fire, but more frequent catches along the CBBT structure and the four islands are beginning to peak angler's interest. Fiddler crab, hard crab and clam are the baits of choice for herding the sheep. Be sure to contribute your sheepshead carcasses to the ODU sheepshead study, as coolers stand ready at local tackle shops. Although tautog should be about done by now, anglers are shucking through good numbers of tog while looking for the prized sheepshead, but they aren't complaining! A good showing of triggerfish in the same areas is also keeping things interesting. The flounder scene is finally looking up. Those bouncing live bait over structure began harvesting consistent doormat catches up to 11.5-pounds this week, particularly along the CBBT formations. The Hump and the Back River Reef areas are also provided some of the better flatfish results this week, as one boat boasted a flounder up to 26-inches on strips of croaker, a flounder favorite.

If Spanish mackerel is your pleasure, they are obtainable along the Virginia Beach oceanfront, Cape Henry, and the CBJ buoy-line, where catches are improving daily. These spotted fish are also providing good action from the ocean front piers, along with small blues, spot, round head, small spadefish, and a few keeper flounder up to 25-inches. The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reports that anglers within Rudee Inlet are busy with taylor bluefish, keeper flounder, speckled trout, puppy drum, and nice spot weighing up to 15-ounces. Lynnhaven Inlet is also holding lots of 8 to 12-ounce spot, flounder, and hoards of puppy drum.

After a slow start, the Virginia offshore season is showing a turn in the right direction. The Norfolk Canyon is finally holding good water, where boats are finding good catches of healthy yellowfin tuna in the 30 to 60-pound range, with a few nicer fish over 70-pounds also making a show. One boat weighed in an 80-pound yellowfin from the same area. The Fingers is another offshore formation showing promise for bluewater trollers. Bull dolphin up to 31-pounds are hitting the dock, and the first Virginia blue marlin was released on the Sea Witch captained by David Warren out of Rudee Inlet the past week and several more billfish were also released around the Triple 0's area. Amberjack are swarming around the local navigational towers, where Dennis Register of Chesapeake released a 51-inch bruiser for a Virginia state citation. The northern wall of the Canyon is holding big eye tuna and lots of smallish bluefin tuna in the 20 to 40-pound range. The big news is the new pending Virginia State record bluefin tuna hauled aboard the Episode, skippered by Johnny Savage. The angler, Bo Haycox of Virginia Beach, fought the monster tuna for 4 hours in 1000 fathoms on the 400 line. The giant bottomed out the scales at a whopping 573-pounds, at Fisherman's Wharf Marina, where a crowd of onlookers had gathered.

Virginia Middle Bay -

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported bottom fishermen were catching croaker "all over" but added the best hauls of the larger fish were made along the edges of the shipping channels in about 40 feet or up in the rivers and "real shallow." Schools of snapper bluefish are moving through local waters and anglers are catching plenty of these small blues while casting, trolling or chumming. Casters are catching a few pan trout and speckled trout in around the grass beds located inside Dameron Marsh while flounder fishermen are catching the occasional keeper flatfish around the jetties.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said bottom fishermen are finding plenty of croaker along the channel edge near Smith Point Light while trollers were catching lots of taylor blues in the same area. Anglers drifting for flounder near the jetties are picking up a few keeper flatfish.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters reported the bigger spadefish became scarcer at the Cell and Wolftrap Light the past week, as more schools of smaller-size spadefish became more prominent. Large spadefish still linger in at these locations, as several large specimens were hooked but broken off but it has become a chore to keep baits away from their smaller brethren. Anglers fishing for spadefish have been pleasantly surprised with keeper-sized tautog and good-sized weakfish. The fleet of bottom fishing boats found plenty of large croaker along the edges of the shipping channels in about 40 feet of water. Good-sized croaker are still biting along the shorelines of the Rappahannock and Piankatank rivers, Mobjack Bay and around Gwynn Island. Hand-sized spot and a few pan trout are biting off Gwynn Island and at Butler's Hole. Trophy-sized flounder are showing in their typical deepwater summer haunts, such as the Cell, buoy 42 and the channel edges off Cape Charles. One outing at the Cell by Henry Ireson yielded a pair of doormats at 7 pounds, 10 ounces and 7 pounds 14 ounces. Lefty Stone nailed a 9-pound, 14-ounce flatfish at buoy 42 while William Crewe (9 pounds, 2 ounces) and Alan Hall (10 pounds, 3 ounces) boated trophy flounder off Cape Charles.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen are getting mixed catches of decent sized spot and croaker running a pound or better plus the occasional pan trout, flounder and blowfish. The marina suggested the waters off the Silos as one of the better locations.

Garretts Marina said bottom fishermen are catching plenty of croaker from buoy 18 to just below Jones Point on the Rappahannock River.

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I said the croaker bite was excellent for most of last week with some of the better hauls made near Windmill Point Light, the Rappahannock Range Light and Cut Channel. Spadefish were very active at the Cell and attracted a big crowd each day that was fishable. When weather conditions cooperated, flounder fishing was good along Cut Channel and the waters surrounding the Cell. Hand-sized spot are available inside the Piankatank River around Cherry Point and the Mud Hole. Decent numbers of spot were also caught inside the Rappahannock River near the Spike buoy. Schools of snapper bluefish are holding just above Windmill Point.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the bluewater season had arrived, as the marina registered its first billfish of the season last week, as Corey Powers released a blue marlin aboard the SEA WITCH. The crew aboard the BACKLASH had a big catch of gaffer-sized dolphin, topped with a 29-pounder reeled-in by Michael Leeper. Others with citation dolphin the past week included Billy McBride (31 pounds), E.J. MacDonald (29-1/2 pounds) and Jesse Thompson (25 pounds). Inshore, the spadefish action remains excellent at the Tower Reef, where Dustin Patrick boated the week's lunker, at 11 pounds, 14 ounces. Antoinette boated a 9-1/4-pounder while George Small (22 inches) and Ryan Quesenberry (22 inches) released trophy spadefish at the same location.

Top weekend story from Fisherman's Wharf Marina was the weigh-in of a new pending state record bluefin tuna on Sunday. The monster bluefin weighed 573 pounds and was caught aboard the EPISODE by Bo Haycox out in 1000 fathoms along the 400-line.

Virginia Piers -

Ocean View - Anglers recorded a mixed bag of fish including spot, croaker, flounder and bluefish. Spadefish are holding around the pier pilings at times and cobia are sighted on a regular basis at the end of the pier.

Lynnhaven - Bottom fishermen are getting mixed catches of sea mullet, spot, bluefish and surfperch plus some keeper flounder up to 22 inches and plenty of rays.

Virginia Beach - Fishermen working the pilings were pleased with nice catches of small spadefish up to about 2 pounds. Other catches included small to medium spot, small croaker, sea mullet, snapper bluefish and Spanish mackerel.

Sandbridge - Small spadefish were holding around the pier pilings most of the week. These fish rarely exceeded 2 pounds but fight like 10-pounders. Other recent catches included snapper bluefish, croaker, and mostly under-sized flounder with a rare keeper and a scattering of Spanish mackerel.

Outer Banks, NC -

Along the Nags head area beaches and piers anglers enjoyed a mixed bag of bluefish, sea mullet, croaker and Spanish mackerel. Water temperatures ranged from 70 to 76 degrees at the Avalon Pier the past week, where a 32.6-pound king mackerel was decked on Saturday. Anglers fishing amongst the pier pilings caught spadefish and triggerfish.

South of Oregon Inlet, at Cape Point on Buxton, at least five cobia, the heaviest weighing 73 pounds were landed at the point on Friday. Other catches included large sea mullet and pompano plus big Spanish mackerel topping 6 pounds. Pompano, sea mullet, cobia, puppy drum, bluefish, flounder and big shark and ray kept anglers busy on Saturday at the Point. The action slowed considerably on Sunday and Monday, as folks complained the water was "too clear." With these conditions a few mullet, pompano and bluefish were reported.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center recorded good hauls of 30 to 50-pound yellowfin tuna plus a sprinkling of 60-pound plus fish all week. The heaviest yellowfin weighed 98 pounds. Bluewater trollers are also catching lots of dolphin, a few wahoo and king mackerel and several billfish. On Friday several 70 to 90-pound bigeye tuna were boated. The day's biggest yellowfin tuna went 72 pounds plus good numbers of gaffer dolphin were brought to the dock. Anglers trolling near the mouth of the inlet caught good numbers of taylor bluefish plus some Spanish mackerel. Folks fishing aboard the headboat had a good day on flounder. Saturday and Sunday saw big hauls of hefty yellowfin tuna and gaffer-sized dolphin. Inshore boats had mixed catches of taylor bluefish, dolphin, king and Spanish mackerel plus a cobia or two. Monday saw a good run of bigeye tuna and the day's heaviest was just shy of 200 pounds, weighing 196 pounds. Other catches included decent numbers of yellowfin tuna to over 70 pounds, gaffer dolphin and a few wahoo and king mackerel.

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.

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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