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The Saltwater Review - July 11, 2002

Volume 16. No.9
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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

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.

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. For details, visit the NMFS Permit Web Site.

A potential state record cobia was boated at Latimer Shoals on Sunday. The fish was eventually weighed at Bubba's Marina and went 104-1/2 pounds.

Croaker continue to dominate the bottom fishing scene in most areas of the bay and its tributaries. However, spot numbers are on the increase in the mid and lower portion of the Rappahannock River, the Piankatank River, off Gwynn Island and off Onancock.

Flounder fishing has hit its mid-summer stride with the best chance of large flatfish coming in deepwater, especially the edges of the shipping channels.

Offshore, bluefin and yellowfin tuna continue to provide good sport. Chopper bluefish remain on the inshore hills off Eastern Shore while the best concentration of billfish the past week was south of Virginia Beach. The current run of gaffer dolphin has slowed somewhat but the week still produced several 20-pound plus fish.

Chincoteague -

Donna at Captain Bob's reported decent catches of keeper flounder but the "throwback" ratio is running about 5 to 1. The shop saw flatfish up to 26-1/2 inches the past week and indicated the main channel "right in front of Captain Bob's" and the north side of the Queen's Sound Bridge were two of the most productive locations. Offshore, trollers and chunkers are catching lots of bluefin tuna and loads of chopper blues. The lumpy bottom and Parking Lot are the favored locations with the lumpy bottom the top producer of the bigger bluefin. Mike Hoard weighed-in the biggest bluefin of the week at 107.8 pounds. Others with citation tuna included John Vaughn (106.9 pounds), Jim Navitsky (105.4 pounds), Joseph Milyko (105 pounds), Louis Clarkeson (104.7 pounds) and Stoney Whitelock (103.4 pounds).

Barnacle Bills said flounder fishing has improved in recent days, especially at Queen's Sound. Still many of the flatfish are under the 17-1/2-inch size limit. Croaker have arrived, as evidenced by commercial catches, but no rod and reel catches have been reported, yet. Two unusual catches were made the past week. First, a 30-pound amberjack was boated at the draw bridge and the second, a 64-pound tarpon (kept by the angler, who desired to mount the fish) was landed outside the inlet at the 2TL buoy. Further offshore, the shop rated the tuna bite as "excellent" with good reports coming from both the Parking Lot and lumpy bottom. Anglers are also catching some dolphin and loads of chopper bluefish.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported excellent offshore action for bluefin tuna, dolphin, a handful of yellowfin and even a sailfish release by Bobby Marshall. The crew aboard the JAMES GANG fought a large bigeye tuna, estimated at over 200 pounds, for several hours before the fish broke-off.

Randy Lewis from Captain Zed's said the crew aboard the AMERICAN MADE released a blue marlin but bluefin tuna, dolphin and yellowfin tuna provided most of the offshore excitement. The heaviest tuna of the week was boated by James Clements aboard the AMERICAN MADE. It was a bluefin and weighed 167 pounds and measured 67 inches. Others with citation bluefin included Brad Robertson (107 pounds), Bill James (103 pounds), Brad Robertson (97 pounds) and Sherri Hutchinson (91 pounds). Bryan Petka boated the first citation Spanish mackerel of the year, a 6-3/4 pounder, at Sam's Hill. Inshore, some keeper flounder were caught around the mouth of the inlet and behind Cedar Island. The largest brought by the shop was a 25-inch, 6-1/4 pounder.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle registered nearly a dozen cobia citations over the long Fourth of July weekend. Mike Lattuza released a 47-1/2-inch fish at buoy 18 and Tony Steigrwald released a 47-incher at the Cabbage Patch. Joe Simon weighed the heaviest of the group, at 75 pounds, 15 ounces, and it was caught at buoy 36A, where David Clark reeled-in a 67-pound, 5-ounce cobia and Kayla Willis boated a 65-pound, 3-ounce fish. The crew aboard the DAWN MARIE located a school of red drum off Fishermen's Island and boated and released five drum long enough for release awards. Those with red drum citations included Blake Norford (46-1/2 inches), Verna Joseman (46 inches), Dawn Joseman (45-1/2 inches), Carl Norford (45-1/2 inches) and Garrett Joseman (45 inches). William Burfield (47 inches) also earned a red drum release award while fishing at the High Rise section of the CBBT. Flounder meeting the minimum qualifying weight for a citation (7 pounds) were not abundant over the long weekend, as John Vaughn, Jr. registered the only citation flatfish, 7 pounds, 15 ounces. Over on the seaside, good numbers of croaker have arrived off Oyster but then, so have the tarpon, as Charles Carlson released a 73-incher inside South Bay. Offshore, trollers reported good action on bluefin and yellowfin tuna and dolphin. Garrett Joseman and Randy Joseman each released 68-inch white marlin at the Norfolk Canyon.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen at Fish and Finn Charters reported spot had "come on real strong" the past five days and most of the tasty bottom fish range between 8 and 10 ounces. Croaker remain a mainstay for bottom fishermen with taylor blues, flounder, trout (easy limits of 17 to 20-inch fish) and juvenile shark in the catches.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina described the overall fishing as "kinda slow" saying some cobia were caught at the First and Second islands while flounder bit best off Cape Henry, where L. Hanzlik landed a 7-1/2 pounder.

Chris from Bubba's Marina said a potential state record cobia was landed over the Fourth of July weekend. The huge fish was caught at Latimer Shoals by Steve Hasynic, measured 72 inches and weighed 104-1/2 pounds. Other weekend action included flounder around the First Island and small boat channel, good-sized trout at the Fourth Island and High Rise portion of the CBBT and croaker and small flounder inside Lynnhaven Inlet. Chris felt the arrival of large numbers of jellyfish had slowed the spadefish bite.

Dr. Jim Wright said the South Tower was loaded with hungry amberjack, many of which topped the 48-inch qualifying minimum for a release citation. Further offshore, yellowfin tuna, a few exceeding 70 pounds, were caught between the Fingers and Norfolk Canyon while large bluefin tuna were holding at the 26 Mile Hill and just east. The bigger bluefins could be fooled with a large ballyhoo rigged behind a blue and white Islander and it was just such a lure combination that produced a 60-1/2-inch bluefin tuna release during a recent outing.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina said cobia fishing remains good but many of his hard-core cobia fishermen have moved to offshore grounds for tuna. The Bluefish Rock "area" continues to produce many of the bigger cobia, as John Rumley (65 pounds), Graham Johnson (64 pounds) and Tracy Bloxon (61-1/2 pounds) all had 60-plus pounders the past week. Robert Sheene stopped-by the shop and weighed a 62-pound cobia he decked at Grandview Pier (the pier's scale only went to 60 pounds). Flounder action remains good around the CBBT, off Cape Charles and at Back River Reef. The biggest flounder weighed the past week, a 7-pound, 7-ouncer by Sheila Sweat, was boated at Back River Reef. Numerous groups of anglers fished offshore the past 10 days and nearly all recorded good catches on tuna and dolphin. Scott Hall and his crew returned with a pair of 90-pound plus bluefin tuna and several yellowfin.

Johnny from Sunset Marina said the Hampton Bar area was good for flounder up to 7 pounds and croaker up to 2 pounds, as John Fiedorowicz decked a 7-pound, 1-ounce flatfish at Hampton Bar and several anglers told of nice hauls of large croaker. Johnny also indicated waters off Cape Charles were holding decent numbers of flounder up to 26 inches.

Allen Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle rated bottom fishing as just "so-so" but said some of the guys have started going out for clams off Back River and are "doing real well." The shop weighed an 18-1/2-inch, 3-1/4-pound croaker for Jeffery Conner. The citation catch was made in the James River on a piece of peeler crab. Allen also heard of several cobia caught at Bluefish Rock and some spadefish pulled from the Cell.

Mark at Salt Ponds Marina said boats leaving from the marina were returning with good hauls of tuna and dolphin, "mainly from the Fingers," while inshore anglers were catching good-sized flounder at the mouth of the Bay, around the CBBT, particularly near the High Rise section.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said large croaker were biting at Back River Reef and "all up and down the York River." Cobia are receiving considerable attention and recent catches were made at York Spit, the Swash and New Point. A few keeper flounder were reported from inside the York River but most area anglers seeking flounder were fishing the Cell/buoy 42 area or the CBBT complex.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club recorded good catches of bluefin tuna at the 26 Mile Hill, yellowfin tuna at the Fingers, dolphin and billfish around Triple 0's and flounder to 9.42 pounds at buoy 42.

Virginia Middle Bay

Heidi Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported "wonderful" catches of pan trout and large croaker off Smith Point, especially around Smith Point Light and the Northern Neck Reef site. Trollers are catching some Spanish mackerel and taylor blues working the shipping channel near buoy 62 and inside the Great Wicomico River, off Haynie Point. Anglers fishing inside Maryland waters for striped bass (where the season is open through December 15) are reporting plenty of school-size fish.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said boats running up into Maryland waters are catching plenty of taylor blues, with an occasional fish to 8 pounds, and plenty of school stripers. Croaker remain abundant in local waters with some of the better hauls coming in the late evening and after dark. Trollers are catching bluefish and some Spanish mackerel along the channel edges just south of Smith Point Light.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said trollers are catching a mixture of taylor blues and Spanish mackerel around Windmill Point and inside Fleets Bay. Bluefish and medium-sized spadefish are biting at the Cell, where trout to upwards of 5 pounds are caught at dawn and dusk. Wolftrap Light also holds small to medium spadefish. Anglers seeking cobia are catching a few at New Point Light, York Spit and Latimer Shoals but young shark and rays are often more abundant. Croaker are scattered throughout area waters while spot have made a decent showing inside the local creeks and at the mouth of the Piankatank River and off Gwynn Island. The week's most unusual catch was made by Maxwell King aboard the Marlin Maniac off the Virginia Coast at the 20 fathom fingers, as a 9-foot long broadbill swordfish, estimated to weigh 200 pounds, hit a trolled ballyhoo and was brought to the boat and released. Other citations for the week included a 7-1/4-pound flounder, caught by Barbara Baker at the CBBT, and a 17-ounce spot, caught by Leslie Layne in the Rappahannock River, near Tappahannock.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen were catching plenty of croaker plus some nice-sized spot. Some of the best hauls were made off the Silos and Cherry Point.

Garretts Marina told of good bottom fishing for croaker and spot plus some pan trout. Best action has been near the marina, around buoy 19.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said Spanish mackerel were active at Fleets Bay while schools of taylor blues were showing between Windmill Point Light and Wolftrap Light. Spot made a fair showing at Butlers Hole. Most of these fish were medium-sized but a few were over 8 ounces.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported sea bass fishing on the wrecks had slowed somewhat but the headboats were returning with decent catches of bass plus some flounder and triggerfish. Inshore boats were catching Spanish mackerel and the occasional cobia while the offshore fleet was enjoying real good tuna action (mostly yellowfin) plus some white and blue marlin. Most of the offshore catches were made in the vicinity of the Fingers and Cigar.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said boats fishing the Fingers recorded good catches of yellowfin tuna plus a scattering of bluefin tuna and dolphin the past week. The best billfish action has been "down south," near the Triple 0's, where blue and white marlin and even a sailfish or two were caught and released. Paula indicated a few wahoo were also caught in the same area.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Anglers are catching some croaker, a few spot and flounder and pan trout. The catch of the week was a 62-pound cobia.

Buckroe Beach - Spot, croaker and blowfish provided decent action most of the week. Other catches included several cobia and some flounder and pan trout. Catch of the week was a 48-inch red drum.

Harrison - Charley said the best recent action had been the nighttime bite around the pier lights of pan trout. Bottom fishermen were managing only a handful of smallish croaker for their efforts, though the headboats, fishing just off the pier but in deeper water, were returning with nice hauls of good-sized croaker.

Lynnhaven -Bottom fishermen are catching a handful of small croaker, the occasional sea mullet and some snapper blues during the daylight hours. Nighttime activity improves, as pan trout move into the shadows of the pier lights and bottom fish become more aggressive. Crabs have become more numerous.

Virginia Beach - Bottom fishermen enjoyed several brief flurries of spot activity the past week but overall action was just "fair." Some sea mullet, croaker and small flounder were also caught. Casters working the end of the pier managed some snapper blues and occasional Spanish mackerel. Water temperature at pierside was a warm 77 degrees.

Sandbridge - Spot, small croaker, sea mullet and small flounder provided decent, though not spectacular action the past week. Casters working the end of the pier caught some Spanish mackerel and taylor blues. A 34-inch red drum was also reported.

Outer Banks, NC -

Surf and pier action along the Nags Head area has been limited to mainly "panfish" (small croaker, spot, sea mullet and snapper bluefish) the past week. Several of the piers did have brief blitzes of Spanish mackerel with a few fish topping 4 pounds.

South of Oregon Inlet, at Cape Point on Buxton, Spanish mackerel provided good action for casters on Friday, when several pompano, some sea mullet and small croaker were beached by bottom fishermen. On Saturday, the wind shifted and fishing was slow the next 36 hours. On Monday, Spanish mackerel and snapper bluefish provided good action in the morning and late afternoon while scattered catches of sea mullet were made during mid-day.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported bigeye tuna to 140 pounds, three blue marlin releases and a scattering of wahoo, dolphin and yellowfin on Friday. Inshore boats had decent catches of Spanish mackerel, bluefish, triggerfish and amberjack. On Saturday the offshore fleet returned with dolphin up to 35 pounds and bigeye tuna to 113 pounds. Three blue marlin, one white marlin and one sailfish were captured and released. On Sunday, the yellowfin tuna bite improved plus dolphin, blackfin tuna and wahoo were boated. Five white marlin, two blue marlin and a sailfish were caught and released. On Monday, dolphin dominated the catches which included some yellowfin tuna and wahoo up to 55 pounds while four white marlin, two sailfish and a blue marlin were released.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet reported good catches of dolphin and wahoo plus a scattering of yellowfin tuna on Friday. Marc Wolfe of Arlington released a sailfish aboard the NANCY K and John Buchanan of Midlothian released a sailfish aboard the ATLANTIC BLUE. On Saturday, limit catches of dolphin were the norm plus a decent number of wahoo were boated while yellowfin were scarce. Charles Keen of Virginia Beach released a blue marlin aboard the HATTERAS FEVER II, Ryan Ialian of Chesapeake boated a 45-pound wahoo aboard the BIG EYE and Kenneth Riddle of Newport News landed a 38-pound dolphin aboard the HATTERAS BLUE. Fish were scattered on Sunday, dolphin action was only fair and most were bailers.

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.

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

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