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The Saltwater Review - 12 July  2006

Vol. 20, No. 7

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


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, .

Flounder and cobia were the focus for many anglers fishing inshore last week.  The fishing was very good and was reflected in the citation totals for the week.  Sixty-four citation cobia were registered the past week, bringing the season’s total (release and weight citations) to 182.  Ironically, sixty-four flounder citations were likewise recorded in the same time period, bringing that species season’s total (release and weigh citations) to 313.

Bottom fishermen are witnessing an annual transition, as the larger (mature) croaker have begun leaving the upper portions of the rivers and congregating in the deeper portions of the Bay, spilling over into the Eastern Shore seaside inlets.  Spot numbers are good in several of the rivers but many of these tasty bottom feeders are only small to medium in size.

Offshore, bluefin tuna in excess of 100 pounds highlighted the week’s action, as twenty-six citation bluefin were caught.  Last week’s bluefin take doubled the number of citations registered, and brought the season’s total (release and weight citations) to 52.

Besides bluefin tuna, dolphin and yellowfin tuna were well represented in the offshore catches last week.  Bluewater trollers are also picking up some billfish and wahoo.  The best opportunity for billfish comes in waters of 100 fathoms and deeper but most trollers are fishing inside the 100-fathom contour, where the tuna and dolphin are most abundant.  Some chopper bluefish still linger on the inshore lumps, where a stray king mackerel is reported from time to time.  Amberjack have arrived in good numbers on the south towers and some fish should be available on wrecks and structure in the vicinity of the Tower Reef.


Donna at Captain Bob’s reported the tuna action took off last week, as good catches of yellowfin tuna were recorded at the Crotch (located a little east of the Parking Lot).  Closer inshore (about 20 miles from the dock) the 11 Fathom Lump produced gaffer dolphin and large bluefin tuna.  Donna indicated half her fleet is trolling while the other half is chunking.  Inshore, a few keeper flounder are biting out in the deeper portions of the channels.  Croaker have arrived and some fish measure as much as 20 inches.  Some legal-sized pan trout have also moved inside the inlet, most of the keepers are in the 13 to 14-inch range.  Sea mullet continue to provide dependable action around the inlet, along Chincoteague Channel, at Four Mouths and even from the Assateague Island surf.


Wachapreague Marina registered numerous citation bluefin tuna the past week topped by a 158-pounder from the TEASER.  Catches of bluefin tuna of 100 pounds or more were recorded by the CLASS ACT (120 and 103 pounds), the POSIDEON (108 and 112 pounds), the FISHING FINACTIC (112 pounds), the RASINETTES (110 pounds), SQUID ROE (106 pounds) and the HEAT WAVE (103 pounds).  The marina indicated that good numbers of bluefin in the 80 to 90-pound range were also landed plus the fleet landed some yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin, including citation dolphin aboard the LIVE WIRE (33 pounds), ELECTRIC BILL (25 pounds) and CLASS ACT (23 pounds).  Most of the action came along the 20-fathom line on rigged ballyhoo.   

Captain Zed’s told of an excellent offshore bite for tuna plus some dolphin, king mackerel and even white marlin.  The shop registered several citation bluefin tuna (100 minimum qualifying weight), including a 112-pounder for Troy Keeler aboard the FOXY LADY.  Billie Gill released a white marlin aboard the AMERICAN MADE and Raymond Koelsch boated the season’s first citation king mackerel aboard the MARLIN MAGIC.   The crew aboard the CANYON LADY had a good catch of black sea bass on one of the inshore ocean wrecks.  Inside the inlet, flounder fishing is holding its own.  A pair of anglers recorded limit catches two days in a row last week.  Top locations include the channel in front of the Coast Guard Station and the backside of Cedar Island.  Croaker have moved in and “they’re in thick,” according to the marina. 

Cape Charles

Chris’ Bait and Tackle reported good numbers of cobia were caught off Cape Charles the past week.  Many of the fish were in the 37 to 42-inch range (and many of those were released) but several citations were registered.  Aaron Pugh landed the week’s heaviest, at 82 pounds, 15 ounces, at Latimer Shoals.  Robert Buckman, Jr. nailed a 78-pound, 9-ounce cobia at buoy 16, where Lisa O’Brien caught and released a 60-inch fish and Dudley Duffer boated a 63-pound, 6-ounce fish.  The channel edge off Cape Charles continued to produce some quality flounder.  Fishing partners Eddie Jones (7 pounds, 13 ounces) and Wayne Barefoot (7 pounds) each landed citation flounder off buoy 40.  Ten-year-old Brandon Moore decked a 7-pound flounder off the Cement Ships and Howard Gearinger, Jr. landed an 8-pound, 1-ounce flounder at the High Rise.  Out of the seaside port of Oyster, good numbers of croaker arrived, decent catches of keeper flounder were made and the season’s first tarpon, a 78-inch fish, was caught and released by veteran local angler Barry Truitt.  David Griffith was angling for tarpon off Oyster and caught and released an 84-inch shark.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported bottom fishing remains very good off Onancock with large croaker dominating the catches.  Spot and pan trout numbers are increasing with a scattering of sea mullet, white perch and snapper bluefish part of the daily catch.  Best catches of the bigger croaker have come from 14 to 35 feet of water, “any deeper and we start catching smaller fish,” noted Captain Wil.  On the downside, flounder numbers have been a disappointment the past two weeks.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel

Jackie from Cobbs Marina reported bottom fishermen caught plenty of croaker and flounder around the CBBT, where some spot have started to show.  Greg Kampsen boated a 26-3/4-inch, 8-1/4-pound flounder at the CBBT, where Mike Gleighman released a 46-1/2-inch red drum.

Bubba’s Marina told of good weekend catches of large flounder and registered several citation fish in the 7 to 9 pound range.  The four islands of the CBBT and the waters just off the Cement Ships produced most of the better flounder catches.  The marina indicated sheepshead and spadefish were active at the CBBT over the weekend and knew of several cobia, up to 48 pounds, that were boated near the crossing.

Dr. Jim Wright described the amberjack action at the South Tower as “awesome,” as his group quickly went through 60 to 70 live baits on the hungry, aggressive jacks.  Most of the handsome fish ran 44 to 48 inches but the party managed to land six (50 to 57 inches) long enough for release awards.  The group also boated a large barracuda and a cobia long enough for a release award.  Dr. Wright indicated the Rudee Inlet fleet enjoyed some good catches of yellowfin tuna into double-digits, earlier in the week.

Sunset Boating Center saw several citation cobia the past week, including a 53-1/2-pounder on Sunday.  Bottom fishermen caught plenty of croaker plus some keeper flounder at Hampton Bar last weekend but the biggest flounder of the week came from the CBBT.  Kenneth Kelly nailed a 29-inch, 10-1/2-pound flounder at the Third Island, where Donald Kormhaus boated a citation 7-pound, 6-ounce flatfish.  The shop also had good reports of bluefin, yellowfin and king mackerel from the Fingers to Norfolk Canyon.

Salt Ponds Marina said John Perry caught a 7-pound, 2-ounce flounder at the CBBT aboard the FREE BIRD last week.  Dick Harris also fished near the CBBT and landed a 49-inch cobia aboard the MISS MATTIE.  Offshore, several customers caught good-sized tuna over the weekend.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said the summer cobia run was still strong at York Spit while the York River remained loaded with croaker.  Folks fishing the public pier at Gloucester enjoyed a good run of hand-sized spot Tuesday evening (July 11).

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said despite all of the fresh water being pumped into the bay, fishing remains rather good.  Neill indicated the cobia bite “was just fantastic” with “a lot of fish all over the bay,” of various sizes.   Most of the bigger fish are being caught on the western side of the bay.  Big flounder are being caught along the structure of the CBBT and up around the Cell. Sheepshead are being caught at the CBBT but the action has not been red hot.  Big spadefish are available at the 3rd and 4th islands and Spanish mackerel fishing has been very good along the Virginia Beach oceanfront and around the Chesapeake Light Tower. The South Tower is loaded with big amberjack.  Farther offshore, the bluewater action was described as “just fantastic.”  The few boats that have headed out past the 100-fathom curve have encountered billfish but not many boats have run that far because of the great tuna fishing closer in.  Big bluefin tuna (100-200 pounds) are available on the Fingers. Yellowfin are being caught on the Cigar and from Wayne’s World on out to the Norfolk Canyon.  Dolphin are everywhere with good numbers of gaffers weighing in over 25 pounds. Throw in some big wahoo and it is a great time to head offshore. The Peninsula Anglers Club concluded its annual, weeklong Youth and Ladies Tournament. This year’s winners were:

Ladies flounder: 1st-Brandi Clifford, 2nd-Kerri Henderson, 3rd-Tricia Neill.
Ladies croaker: 1st-Ruth McCormick, 2nd-Kerri Henderson, 3rd-Janet Fahy.
Youth flounder: 1st-Cole Henderson, 2nd-Hunter Southall, 3rd-Cameron Neill.
Youth croaker: 1st-Hunter Southall, 2nd-Nathan Gross, 3rd-Cole Henderson.

Dr. Julie Ball, IGFA International Representative for Virginia Beach, contributed the following:
The red-hot flounder and cobia action continue to duel for the top position with anglers. Cobia chummers are content, with most every boat departing the shoals with multiple fish and many trophies in the mix. Bluefish Rock and the Inner Middle Grounds are both producing monster fish with no discernable difference, both are excellent locations. Michael Siezak proudly weighed in a massive 79-pound trophy, while Adam Evans settled for an 85-pounder; both boated from the Inner Middle Grounds near the CBBT. Heavy flounder are tipping the scales daily at local tackle shops from anglers pounding the lower bay structures with live bait. Live spot and croaker are the favorite, with the 3rd and 4th islands of the Bay Bridge Tunnel proving very productive. Andrew Heart fishing aboard the BADA BING scored with a 9-pound, 5-ounce doormat from the Third Island Sunday.

Red drum have made a late season comeback, with multiple large fish thrilling cobia anglers and renewed drum hunters who are venturing out to the lower bay shoals for an outstanding nighttime bite. Sheepshead continue to provide outstanding action for those who have figured out the pattern. Try fiddlers or clam along the span of the CBBT, or over the tubes on any of the four artificial islands. Kevin Gurecki scored with a fat 11-pound, 8-ounce sheepshead at the 1st island. Be sure to contribute your remains to the ODU sheepshead study, where coolers stand ready at local tackle shops. Although tautog should be done by now, anglers are busy shucking through countless numbers of hungry tog while looking for the prized sheepshead, but they aren’t complaining! A few scattered triggers in the same area are also keeping things interesting. If Spanish mackerel are your pleasure, these are an easy target along the Virginia Beach oceanfront, Cape Henry, and the CBJ buoy-line. Troll with small spoons on small planers, and you can’t miss. This is a good family activity. Spadefish action is still sketchy at the Tower, and small to medium-sized fish are available on the upper bay structures. Bigger spades are lurking around the High Rise span and the 4th island of the CBBT, if you can slow them down. If you are a Jaws fan, the good new is big sharks are lurking in our bay waters and striking an occasional bait. Fred Pratt and crew wrangled and released a massive 84-inch sand bar shark in bay waters this weekend. Hardhead hunters are in heaven with big croaker at every bend of the Bay Bridge Tunnel and the Cell. Expect a few nice one-pound sea mullet in the mix. If you are eligible to enter the tarpon scene, the action is on the up-rise, with many sightings and a few jump-offs and boated fish. Knowing someone is the best way to target these elusive silvers. Amberjack are swarming at accessible wrecks and navigation towers. Expect to pick through a lot of pups at the South Tower, but the big boys will be happy to pull you to your knees if given the chance. Pier anglers on the oceanfront are scoring with a good number of taylor blues and Spanish mackerel at first light and in the evenings casting Got-cha plugs and similar surface plugs.

The offshore season is in full swing, and only getting better. Marlin have made a strong showing in deeper waters, while tuna are going off at all the popular haunts. Decent yellowfin tuna can be had from the Norfolk Canyon to the Fingers, while marlin are erupting out of Hatteras, and over the 100-fathom line. Look for big bluefin tuna on the 21-fathom fingers, and all the chopper bluefish you want. Gaffer dolphin with many large enough to qualify for state citations are scattered all the way down to Hatteras. 

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported trollers received their first “taste” of Spanish mackerel last week, as decent catches of these speedy fish were caught off Smith Point Flats and off Dividing Creek Saturday and Sunday.  Bottom fishermen continued to find plenty of croaker near the N2 buoy and along the eastern side of the channel, south of buoy 62.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said the season’s first Spanish mackerel were caught last week.  The Spanish were good size but only a handful were caught.  Most of the fleet has been spending time at the Middle Grounds (located in Maryland) anchored and chumming for striped bass and bluefish.  Dan indicated anglers are also catching some huge croaker in the chum lines, as some fish top 3 pounds.

Jerry Thrash from Queen’s Creek Outfitters reported the Cell/buoy 42 area continued to serve-up trophy-sized flounder, as the shop weighed nine citation flatfish from this area the past week.  Rick Schutt of Richmond boated the week’s lunker, a 9-pound, 27-3/4-inch fish, at buoy 42 on squid.  A group fishing aboard the C-Breeze boated a dozen keepers flounder at buoy 42 that included three citation fish from 7 to 7-pounds, 15 ounces.  A party fishing aboard the PATRIOT decked eleven keeper flounder to 25-1/2 inches, lost a nice fish at boatside and had just two “throwbacks.”  Small to medium-sized spadefish are active around Wolftrap Light and the Cell.  Bottom fishermen caught plenty of small and medium spot, but only the occasional large or jumbo, on the lower Rappahannock River.  Jerry indicated bloodworm and the artificial bait, FishBites, were working equally well for the spot.  Jerry saw a 40-pound cobia, caught at York Spit, early in the week and weighed a 75-pound, 59-inch cobia for Chris Buckner from Mobjack Bay on Sunday.

Locklies Marina described bottom fishing as “steady” for a mixture of medium spot and croaker with some of the better hauls coming from Carters Creek, Coles Point and off the Silos.  The past several weeks has seen a surprising number of keeper flounder from around the Route 3 bridge pilings, where a pair of citation flatfish were boated last week.

Tommy Lewis from Garretts Marina said the river is loaded with small to medium spot “from Tappahannock to White Stone” but the croaker appear to have disappeared. 

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I said bottom fishermen caught spot “hand over fist,” last week at the mouth of the Rappahannock River, around the spike buoy.  Butlers Hole produced some decent catches of spot as did Cherry Point on the flood tide.  A few pan trout are mixed in with the spot but many are under the 12-inch minimum size limit.  Few croaker are in these areas but the waters just below the Cell, around buoy 40A, still hold plenty of large croaker. 

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported excellent bluewater action the past several days.  On Thursday the fleet had good catches of yellowfin tuna.  James Murphy boated a pair of citation yellowfin (75 and 76 pounds).  On Friday, Erik Halliday released a white marlin aboard the FROG PILE and Tony Birch decked a 49-pound dolphin aboard the WHITE HOT.  On Saturday the WAVE RUNNER and BACKLASH had big catches of yellowfin tuna plus some dolphin and king mackerel.  On Sunday the FROG PILE and WAVE RUNNER each returned with a large catch of yellowfin tuna plus several big bluefin tuna.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina told of good catches of yellowfin and bluefin tuna plus some gaffer dolphin between the Fingers and Norfolk Canyon.  Schools of amberjack have arrived at the South Navy Towers and will readily hit live croaker or spot.

Virginia Piers -

James River – Bottom fishermen are catching mixed sizes of croaker and small to medium spot plus an occasional pan trout and flounder.

Ocean View - The heat of the day is producing very little but during the early hours of the day and around sun down bottom fishermen are catching a mixture of spot, croaker, flounder and bluefish.

Virginia Beach – Bottom fishermen had a mixture of medium spot, croaker and sea mullet while casters working the ends of the pier caught snapper bluefish and several Spanish mackerel.

Sandbridge – Weekend bottom fishermen caught good numbers of medium spot plus some sea mullet, croaker and small flounder while casters working Gotcha plugs at the end of the pier caught snapper bluefish.

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach and pier fishermen along the Nags Head area beaches caught a mixture of mostly small panfish, including croaker, snapper bluefish, spot, flounder and trout over the weekend.  Best catches came on an early morning or late evening high tide.  An 8-pound bluefish was decked on Avalon Pier Saturday, as well as some Spanish mackerel.  Water temperatures were seasonal, running from the low to mid 70’s. 

South of Oregon Inlet, at Cape Point on Buxton, anglers caught a scattering of Spanish mackerel in the early morning hours on metal and some snapper bluefish and croaker on cut bait the remainder of Friday.  A 175-pound bull shark was landed right at dusk.  Saturday saw an influx of small croaker and a handful of puppy drum.  Sunday and Monday produced a scattering of sea mullet, bluefish and spot but overall action was slow.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported good catches of chunky yellowfin tuna plus some bigeye, ranging from 109 to 139 pounds on Friday.  Most of the bluewater fleet remained in port Saturday and Sunday due to weather considerations.  Monday saw good hauls of mixed sizes of dolphin, several billfish releases but very few tuna.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed good catches of yellowfin tuna plus some dolphin and king mackerel on Friday.  On Saturday John Martin of Richmond released a white marlin aboard the BITE ME.  Rough seas limited the fleet, who recorded only fair catches of king mackerel.  On Sunday it was limits of dolphin plus a scattering of king mackerel, wahoo and yellowfin tuna.  Tyson Kuhn of Quinton and Rick Evans of Norfolk each released a white marlin aboard the BITE ME.  David Epperson of Fredericksburg, Ralph Holecek of Falmouth and Bryan Booth of Virginia Beach each released a blue marlin aboard the TUNA DUCK.  Monday’s action was again dominated by dolphin and billfish with a few king mackerel and yellowfin tuna also boated.

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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