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The Saltwater Review - June 13, 2001

Vol. 15, No. 6
by Lewis S. Gillingham
OVERVIEW Chincoteague Wachapreague Cape Charles Onancock
Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel Virginia Middle Bay Virginia Beach Virginia Piers Grandview
Buckroe Beach Harrison Lynnhaven Sandbridge Outer Banks, NC

 
OVERVIEW
Virginia's Trophy Striped Bass season opened May 1 and runs through June 15. This special season carries a 32-inch minimum size limit coupled with a one-fish bag limit. From May 1 through May 16, anglers may possess one-fish, 32 inches or greater. From May 16 through June 15, anglers are 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 our homepage web site (see address above). 

The VMRC held a public hearing to finalize the closed period for the 2001 Recreational Summer Flounder fishery, Tuesday, May 22, 2001. The minimum size limit for Summer Flounder will remain at 15-1/2 inches and the possession limit is 8-fish but the closed period has been extended and will be 24 July 2001 through 7 August 2001.

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 angling category retention limit for Atlantic bluefin tuna for the upcoming season. A copy of this notice is attached.

Spectacular catches of huge spadefish highlighted last week's fishing, as fish to nearly 13 pounds were weighed. The greatest number of citation spadefish (and fishermen, especially on the weekend) were located at Tower Reef, particularly around the legs of the Chesapeake Light Tower.

Cobia took second stage last week but with the crowds of anglers anchoring and chumming off Grandview Beach and the Inner Middle Ground Shoals, it was a close second.

Chincoteague -
Donna from Captain Bob's reported Donna Trovinger was drifting a live minnow in the main channel and hooked and landed a 6-pound, 9-ounce flounder. Linda Clift was drifting a squid and minnow "sandwich" at Queens Sound and landed a 6-1/4-pound flatfish. Donna said the waters from "right off Captain Bob's" and up to marker 25 produced the better catches of flounder while trout were caught inside Queen's Sound and at Chincoteague Point. Outside the inlet, good-sized sea bass are holding on the inshore ocean wrecks while yellowfin tuna and several mako shark were boated at the lumpy bottom.

Barnacle Bill's said flounder have moved well back, inside the inlet and are occupying the deeper holes. Large trout still linger around the bridge pilings with fresh peeler crab the preferred bait. Offshore, weekend catches included yellowfin tuna just east of the Parking Lot while mako, blue and dusky shark were caught along the 30 fathom line.

Wachapreague
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Wachapreague Marina told of a good yellowfin tuna bite near the Washington Canyon, as several large shark were boated and released near the lumpy bottom. Ronald Anson scored a citation 82-2 yellowfin tuna, as Jeff Pitts released an 84-inch shark, David Nickel a 78-inch shark and Willy Nickel a 72-inch shark. Doug Bonnie was fishing just off Pungoteague Creek (bayside) and hooked and released a 45-inch cobia. Other award winning catches from the bayside included spadefish for William Floyd (10-1/2 pounds), William Phillips (9-3/4 pounds), Richard Gaskill (9-1/2 pounds), Daniel Ewing (8-1) and Roger Mullins (8 pounds). A pair of citation flounder were registered, as Charles Henderson boated a 7-7 flatfish at Schooner Bay and 5-year-old Angela Waters landed an 8-11 flounder at Folley Creek.

Captain Zed's said flounder action was holding up well despite the warmer weather. Largest flatfish of the week was decked aboard the CANYON LADY by Jackson Wallace and weighed 6 pounds, 9 ounces. Several large spadefish were weighed from the bayside, including a 12-10 fish for Walter Zuchel, a 10-14 fish for D.M. Colver, a 9-10 fish for Daniel Kidd, an 8-12 fish for Richard Gaskill plus an 8-11 spadefish for Steven Gaskill.

Cape Charles
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Chris' Bait and Tackle had "way too many citation spadefish to list," but Dennis Register had the heavyweight at 9 pounds, 13 ounces. The shop also had registered nearly two dozen red drum releases, including a 52-inch drum for Robert Savage, Jr. Most were boated and released near Fisherman's Island but Robert's fish was caught from one of the barrier island beaches. Other citation catches included nearly a dozen flounder from both bayside and seaside and several black drum releases, including a pair for 11-year-old Trae Jones.

Onancock
-
Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported excellent catches of large croaker in 8 to 35 feet of water. A few trout measuring up to 24 inches, spot, bluefish, flounder and porgy are mixed in with the croaker but "the catch is over 90% croaker," according to Captain Wil. Waters off Onancock have warmed to low 70's but red drum and speckled trout action remains slow.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -
Cobbs Marina reported good weekend catches of large flounder and jumbo spadefish. Carl Herring boated a pair of citation-winning flounder (9-6 and 6-2) at the Fourth Island, where his fishing buddy Bob Hartsel nailed a 6-1/4-pound flatfish. The Tower Reef was the hotspot for award-winning spadefish, as Raymond Wilson (8-13), David Haysle (8-3), David Bridgen (8-3) and Marsha Rand (8-1) all registered citation catches.

Chris at Bubba's Marina also told of excellent weekend catches of spadefish at the Tower Reef but suggested the oceanside of the First and Second islands as the top spot for flounder. Offshore, trollers found some yellowfin tuna near the Norfolk Canyon but the biggest fish, a 181-pound bigeye tuna boated aboard the HARD WORK, was caught at the Washington Canyon.

Dr. Jim Wright said the Light Tower was loaded with big spadefish but "the place is just crazy on the weekends," as a fleet of boats jockey for position nearest the legs of the tower. Offshore, Dr. Jim knew of catches of yellowfin tuna and dolphin and said a school of bluefin tuna was spotted in 30 fathoms but "none were caught." Federal regulations governing the recreational catch of Atlantic bluefin tuna will change Friday, June 15. A copy of this adjustment is included in this report.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Bait and Tackle hosted the 6th annual Hampton Creek Cobia Tournament over the weekend. The one-day event drew over 40 boats and 21 cobia were weighed-in. Jason McCormick reeled-in the tournament winner, a 58 pounder. Dave Smith was second at 48-1/2 pounds and Melvin Lawrence finished third with a 36 pounder. The biggest cobia of the day weighed 70 pounds but the angler was not a participant in the tournament. Donnie also indicated many of his customers had fished the Tower Reef for spadefish with good success.

Sunset Marina checked-in a 57-1/2-pound cobia for Scott Roberts but most of the weekend's top catches were for spadefish from the Tower Reef. Dustin Hottinger of Midloathian bested an 8-9 spadefish, as Poquoson anglers Joshua Seand (8-1/2 pounds), Steven Jones (8-1/4 pounds) and Casey Graham, Jr. (8-1) made award-winning catches while Mickey Baker of Richmond boated an 8-pound, 5-ounce spadefish. The marina indicated that decent numbers of small to medium-sized flounder were caught at Hampton Bar over the weekend while good numbers of croaker up to 2-1/2 pounds were caught at the HRBT. The only downside for the weekend was that large trout were suddenly scarce around the HRBT and CBBT. 

Alan Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle weighed several cobia to 49 pounds (just one-pound shy of qualifying for a citation) over the weekend. Anglers returned from the CBBT with fair to good hauls of flounder and trout but "nothing real big."

Salt Ponds Marina told of good cobia action off Grandview Beach plus fair numbers of croaker and trout around the Salt Ponds entrance jetty. Customers also told of good catches of spadefish at the Tower Reef and decent flounder action at the mouth of Back River.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club caught cobia off Grandview beach, flounder to 21 inches at Hampton Bar and wire-lined school stripers, flounder to 23 inches, pan trout and croaker at the CBBT complex. Offshore, dolphin, white marlin, yellowfin and bigeye tuna have moved into the Norfolk Canyon.

Virginia Middle Bay -
Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported the two-day, 18th annual Reedville Bluefish/Rockfish Derby drew nearly three hundred participants (boats) and nearly all the prize winning fish were caught by chumming, either at anchor near the Northern Neck Reef site or anchored along the edge of Cut Channel. John Stech had the first place bluefish at 4.05 pounds. Fred Browning was a close second at 3.95 pounds and George Pendergraph was third with a 3.76 pound bluefish. In the rockfish division, Mike Atkinson finished first with a 25.44 pound striper, Chris Ellis was second at 24.01 pounds and Dicky Dost was third at 22.12 pounds. Weather during the event was ideal, "you could have fished out of a canoe both days," quipped Roger. Some big croaker also moved up into the chum lines and Roger suspected some of these fish would have topped 3 pounds. 

Dan from Smith Point Marina said most anglers looking for striped bass over the weekend chummed at the Middle Grounds and enjoyed good success for school-sized fish. Fair numbers of jumbo spot are showing around the jetty, where Ralph Martin (16 ounces) and Melvin Sheton (16 ounces) each landed citation-sized fish. Dan indicated 2-pound plus croaker are plentiful, as the marina weighed croaker up to 3 pounds, 5 ounces the past week while flounder "are more numerous than usual" off Smith Point. Some large grey trout are still holding around Smith Point Light.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service said bottom fishermen had to hunt for croaker along the western shore and many crossed the Bay and fished off Silver Beach, where croaker were larger and more abundant. The big trout action at the Cell slowed but some fish were coaxed into striking jigs tipped with fresh peeler crab. Micheal Hanhart of Hopewell boated a 7-7 flounder just inshore of the Cell on Sunday while David Nova of White Stone released a 60-inch cobia at Poquoson Flats. The shop indicated large spadefish were holding around the Cell and Wolf Trap Light. Todd Hawkins boated an 8-3 spadefish at the Cell on Saturday while Jason Holaday nailed citation winning spadefish at Wolf Trap of 11-5, 10-6 and 8 pounds on Sunday.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen have loaded coolers with spot and croaker in recent days. Best action has been off the Silos, upriver of the White Stone Bridge and off Parrot Island. Striped bass and flounder are also biting around the White Stone Bridge.

Garretts Marina reported good catches of croaker but little else except for a handful of spot. Best hauls of croaker are made at Bowlers Rock.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina rated bottom fishing as just "so-so" in the Rappahannock, "except Butlers Hole and Windmill Point Bar held good numbers of large croaker and some pan trout." Many anglers opted to run across Cut Channel and fish near the range light, where large croaker were more abundant. Spanish mackerel have moved into this area and Jim's party on Sunday caught the mackerel "on regular bottom rigs baited with squid." Other catches included fair numbers of 16 to 20-inch trout, taylor blues and several shark.

Virginia Beach -
The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the charter fleet trolled in the vicinity of the Norfolk Canyon but the tuna bite was not on par with last week. Still yellowfin tuna to 77-1/2 pounds were weighed and several billfish were caught and released. The headboat fleet was back working on black sea bass with fair to good results. Huge, hungry spadefish are holding around the legs of the Chesapeake Light Tower, where limit catches (six fish) are normal and the fish average near 7 pounds. For the weekend, twenty-two citation-sized spadefish were checked-in and the heaviest weighed 10 pounds, 10 ounces. Some big flounder are holding around the inshore ocean wrecks, as one angler bagged a 7 pounder. 

Paula Owen Fisherman's Wharf Marina checked-in several citation dolphin from the Norfolk Canyon and described the gaffer dolphin bite as "pretty fair for this early in the year." Charter boats also recorded fair catches of yellowfin tuna along the north wall of the Norfolk Canyon. Inshore action is highlighted by the excellent bite of large spadefish at the Tower Reef.

Virginia Piers
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James River - Bob Wharton said bottom fishermen were kept busy with spot and croaker but added the croaker were now running smaller than at the beginning of the season. Some keeper striped bass up to 25 inches (the spring season closes June 15), flounder to 22 inches and the occasional trout round out the catches.

Grandview - Patty said several cobia were decked the past week and the largest measured 56 inches and weighed 54 pounds. Other catches include Spanish mackerel, sea mullet, trout, spot and a few flounder. 

Buckroe Beach - Pier jockey's managed to deck "a couple of cobia each day," according to the pier spokesman, and the largest measured 48 inches. Live eel has been the preferred bait. Other catches include flounder, striped bass and shark plus Spanish mackerel made a strong showing over the weekend.

Harrison - Charlie said "we've been doing real good as far as big fish," as a 51-pound red drum was decked Sunday morning followed by cobia of 40 and 61 pounds a few hours later. Spanish mackerel have provided a consistent bite from late afternoon until near dusk while 1/2 to 1-pound croaker are biting in the evenings.

Lynnhaven - Sea mullet, bluefish, pan trout, striped bass, medium croaker and small spot provide steady action from dusk to dawn (depending on tide) while the daytime bite has been slow.

Virginia Beach - Spanish mackerel, taylor blues and sea mullet provided good action for the weekend crowd. Bottom fishermen also recorded scattered catches of small to medium croaker and spot plus some skate. The water temperature at pierside was 72 degrees on Monday.

Sandbridge - Several cobia have been decked in recent days but overall action is slow. Bottom fishermen are catching a few spot and sea mullet and some pan trout around dusk.

Outer Banks, NC

Beach and pier anglers along the Nags Head area beaches were finally treated to summer-like conditions, as inshore waters warmed to the 70-degree mark and humid afternoons threatened with thunderstorms. Surf fishermen caught an assortment of bluefish, sea mullet, spot, pan trout and flounder but none were abundant. Clear water conditions produced runs of snapper blues and Spanish mackerel early and late in the day for anglers stationed on the ends of the piers. Several small cobia were decked while many more and larger fish were seen cruising past the piers. Bottom fishermen had to be satisfied with the occasional sea mullet, spot, triggerfish or spadefish.

On Hatteras Island, surf fishermen at Cape Point beached several cobia and the heaviest weighed 70 pounds. Other catches included sporadic catches of taylor bluefish, Spanish mackerel and shark. On Saturday, a half-a-dozen cobia were beached plus scattered catches of Spanish mackerel, bluefish and large sea mullet. On Sunday, nearly a dozen cobia were pulled from the surf but large schools of Spanish mackerel remained just outside casting range. Anglers did mange some bluefish and shark. On Monday, Spanish mackerel and bluefish staged blitzes at sunrise and sunset. In between, a cobia and a 48-inch red drum were caught.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center recorded excellent catches of dolphin and fair numbers of tuna on Friday. Virginia angler Scott Grady boated a 35-pound dolphin aboard the HOOKER and the crew on the REEL MAGIC returned with an 88-pound yellowfin tuna. On Saturday, the FIGHT-N-LADY boated bigeye tuna of 106, 144 and 155 pounds. The PELICAN landed a 164-pound bigeye and released a sailfish. Virginia anglers Stone Strotmeyer (118 pounds) and George Mills (158 pounds) landed bigeye tuna aboard the DREAM GIRL. The day's heavyweight bigeye weighed 176 pounds and was caught aboard the WILDFIRE. MARLIN FEVER had three citation yellowfin tuna. Sunday produced lots of dolphin and fair numbers of yellowfin tuna. TUNA FEVER boated three citation yellowfin with the largest weighing 90 pounds. The HOOKER released two blue marlin and a sailfish, as the GALOMINE released a blue marlin. Monday was more of the same (plenty of dolphin and fair numbers of yellowfin) plus several bigeye tuna. The largest bigeye was landed aboard the FISH-N-FOOL and weighed 198 pounds. During this time period, the headboat recorded decent catches of spot and croaker while the half-day boats, fishing near the mouth of the inlet, had good catches of taylor blues and Spanish mackerel plus several cobia. 

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet found excellent numbers of gaffer-sized dolphin on Friday, as most boats returned with their limits. Other catches included yellowfin tuna, wahoo and king mackerel. The crew aboard SHOWTIME recorded the season's first Grand Slam--a blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish release. The HATTERAS BLUE weighed the day's heaviest dolphin at 50 pounds. Saturday produced another big catch of dolphin and included more yellowfin tuna than Friday. The crew aboard the TUNA DICK reeled-in the day's heavyweight dolphin at 56 pounds. Sunday produced good catches of gaffer dolphin, fair numbers of yellowfin tuna and a scattering of wahoo and king mackerel. William Taylor of Suffolk boated a 61-pound cobia.

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.

Click on Newsletter link to get to the index of previous Saltwater Reviews


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