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The Saltwater Review - July 18, 2008

Plans and Statistics Department
2600 Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor
Newport News, VA 23607-0756

Vol. 22, No. 14

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


Plans and Statistics Department Staff


Record-breaking king mackerel were caught at the local piers this week. Most of the usual players (croaker, spot and sea mullet) are showing up at the piers, tarpon have arrived as well. In the Outer Banks, swells from Hurricane Bertha continue to roll in, and this seems to have had a positive impact on fishing over the past week. Offshore, tuna remains hot, and billfish action is improving.

REMEMBER: The flounder fishery is closed Monday, July 21 through July 30 in Virginia.

The Fishing Reports

Chincoteague -  

Staff at Captain Bob's report that fishing continues to be successful around Chincoteague. Flounder and kingfish are still keeping anglers busy with the best catches coming in from Buoy 15 and the waters in front of Captain Bob's. Offshore action has remained productive as well—a 96-pound bluefin tuna was recently recorded.

Wachapreague -

Loads of bluefin tuna were reported from the Wachapreague Marina. Most are in the 80- to 90- pound range, although some are bigger. The yellowfin tuna bite has started, and anglers are also finding dolphin, wahoo, tilefish, and grouper. Inshore, flounder fishing continues—a 7.5 pound flounder was weighed in last week. 

According to staff at Captain Zeds, offshore action has been fantastic. Bluefin tuna were plentiful at the Lumpy Bottom; there were 3 citations, and the biggest was 226 pounds. Dolphin citations came in from the 30 Fathom Line. Overall, the catch was a mix of wahoo, dolphin, bluefin tuna, and yellowfin tuna. There were also rumors of white marlin. Inshore, bottom fishing was still doing well with flounder catches by Cedar Island and the Coast Guard Station. Numerous kingfish were found inside and outside of the
Wachapreague Inlet. Wreck fishing produced catches of black sea bass.

Onancock -

Captain Wil reports slow fishing in Onancock. Everyone can catch a few fish, but very few big ones. Large croaker have been sighted, but only the small ones are biting. Small bluefish are available mixed with sea mullet and spot. A few small shark are beginning to show up. Very few flounder large enough to keep are being hooked. The best fishing is late evening and early morning, due to the heat. Water temperatures are in the 80s.

Cape Charles -

According to staff at Chris' Bait and Tackle, a citation croaker (over three pounds) was hooked at Oyster this week. Anglers are also catching spot at the Cape Charles and Kiptopeke Piers. Limits of flounder were caught this week, and 6 citations were awarded between the Cell and Buoy 42. Spadefish are biting Fishbites brand easy clam strips around the Chesapeake Light and the 4th island of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Offshore action includes nice catches of dolphin and bluefin tuna; the best spots were at the Crotch area.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel

Several citations were reported from Sunset Boating Center this week. The first was a 9-pound, 8-ounce flounder caught off of Cape Henry. A 69-pound, 69-inch cobia was landed in the Bluefish Rock area where there are reports of numerous cobia. Offshore, a 185-pound blue marlin was recorded. It was a busy weekend at Salt Ponds Marina. Drum citations include a 47-inch and a 48-inch black drum caught at Cape Henry and three red drum (46 to 48 inches) caught at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel using bucktail. Two 8-pound, 2-ounce flounder were caught at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (one was at the High Rise), and another 8-pound flounder was landed at bluefish rock. Spadefish up to 24 inches were biting at the Light Tower.

A flounder fishing tournament was held last weekend at the York River Fishing center benefiting the Gloucester Boys and Girls Club. There were four citations, and the winner was 9 pounds, 2 ounces. The flounder bite was really great around the Cell and Buoy 42, but the largest fish was caught at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Also, there was plenty of action at the Gloucester Point Pier.

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

The weather is great, its summer time, and the fish are here. So what could be better? The debut of the much anticipated and prized Virginia king mackerel. The arrival of these toothy hunters kicks off the pier angler's big scene. These fish are one of the most desirable species within range of the fishing piers. And a big scene it is, since once again the first reported king landing of the year is coming from the Little Island Fishing Pier this week. Two kings, with one smoker exceeding 50- pounds, were hooked from the pier using live bait on a pin rig, while another king was also landed from the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier using similar techniques. 

Although king mackerel will dominate much of the interest along the beaches, nice Spanish mackerel continue to hit small spoons trolled at 6 to 8 knots along the beach in about 25 feet of water. Use small planers or 4 to 6 oz in line sinkers to place the spoons within range. 

Flounder seem to be on everyone's mind as folks find good luck with limits of nice fish, with several weighing in at over 10-pounds. Most of the larger fish are hitting live bait along lower bay structure, but drifters are also scoring with respectable fish. The hottest spots for dragging baits for flounder are the Baltimore Channel, the eastern section of the Thimble Shoal Channel, and the Cell and Buoy 36A areas. For live baiters, the Cell, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and inshore wrecks are still providing very good results. Be mindful of the flounder closure from July 21st to the 30th. 

Cobia are starting to show signs of their late summer pattern as they begin grouping in the lower bay and along coastal waters. More cobia are cruising the top waters, but most of the fish within the bay are only ranging to around 30-pounds. A few larger fish to over 70-pounds are coming from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel structure and from the oceanfront buoy lines and wrecks. 

Big red drum also continue to provide good top water action as they school around lower bay shoals and structure. Ben Shepherd and Rudy Levasseur, both of Chesapeake, had a good day when they released six bull reds hooked from a school they spotted while flounder fishing this week. Although not drawing much interest lately, black drum are also still hitting for casters around the 3rd and 4th islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on Storm lures and grubs. 

Grey trout averaging around 16 inches are mixed in with nice sea mullet and croaker near the Concrete Ships and the Kiptopeke Pier right now, while greys are also available around the high rise section of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Respectable croaker are also making their usual run within the back waters of Oyster. Puppy drum are hitting within lower bay inlets, along with ˝- pound spot, and some keeper-sized flounder. 

Spadefish are schooled around ocean wrecks and buoys, the Chesapeake Light Tower, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and the Cell. Although some larger fish are noted within the schools, most spadefish are raging to about 5 pounds. Triggerfish are also out in full force in these same locations, basically becoming a nuisance. Sheepshead catches are still very scattered, but the biggest fish are coming from the Seagull Fishing Pier located at the 1st island of the Bay Bridge Tunnel, where a sheepshead over 12 pounds was landed this week. 

Another highly esteemed species is also stirring a subdued rumbling among Eastern Shore anglers. Reports of hookups and landings of tarpon are circulating throughout the community this week. 

Amberjack are taking live bait and jigs at the Southern Towers, as well as several offshore wrecks, which offer a great fight for those ready for a brawl. 

Offshore, the billfish are gaining more consideration with white and blue marlin catches on the rise. This should be a good weekend for marlin, with an easterly wind complimented by a full moon. A few large yellowfin tuna are now showing up at the docks, but the main catch is still revolving around nice bluefin tuna ranging to over 100 pounds. Most boats are also encountering dolphin, king mackerel, as well as some big wahoo.

Virginia Middle Bay -

Roger, of Jett's Hardware, reports there has been very good fishing action over the past week with Spanish mackerel making a good showing around Buoy 62 and south to the mouth of the Rappahannock River. Large drum are also in the mix with a 44" fish released this week. Bluefish continue to work the same areas as the mackerel. Small croaker and spot are still available, as well as flounder around the Smith Point jetties and Light, although the current size limit means a lot are being returned to the water to grow up. 

Dan at Smith Point Marina reports the number of people fishing has declined some, but there are some nice flounder to be found by those willing to put in the time. The popular spot for these flatties is still the jetties and light around the mouth of the Potomac River. 

At Garrett's Marina, reports of croaker of varying sizes have come in. There are still striped bass to be played with, but they are currently out of season. 

Capt. Jim Thompson reports that spot fishing has been great this week. The Spike off Deltaville and Cherry Point in the Piankatank River have been winners. The spot are growing very fast, and some larger ones are arriving each day. Anglers are also catching numerous flounder in both the Rappahannock and Piankatank rivers, at the mouth of each. Flounder fishing at the Cell is hit and miss, but it's worth the trip to try your luck. Plenty of bluefish at Windmill Point along with good size Spanish mackerel, but the run is not yet in full swing. 

Jerry Thrash, of Queen's Creek Outfitters, contributed the following:

Spot are biting well and the catch includes a few #1-sized fish. The best places for spot are the Spike and at Butlers Hole. Large croaker were available east of Buoy 42, and some fish were up to 16 inches in length. Along Windmill Bar, bluefish and Spanish mackerel were available. Seven citation flounder were weighed in this week. Flounder fishing at Buoy 42 and in the Cell area improved dramatically during the week, and several anglers caught their limits. Small to medium spadefish continue to bite at the Cell and at Wolftrap Light. Speckled trout fishing improved this week in local waters. Three citations were reported. Speckled trout are being caught in the Piankatank, at Cherry Point, and at the Hole-in-the- Wall. Small red drum mixed with croaker and spot are available in the creeks and along shorelines.

Virginia Beach -

There were numerous tuna catches last week, according to staff at the Virginia Beach Fishing Center. Most of the catch is bluefin, but a few yellowfin were caught as well. Several dolphin and marlin were hooked, and Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, and wahoo were reported offshore as well. Inshore, taylor bluefish and Spanish mackerel were caught, and the headboats reported large catches of small croaker. In the inlet, flounder were found with a one in ten keeper rate. Scattered spot, puppy drum, and taylor bluefish were found there as well. 

According to staff at Fisherman's Wharf Marina, offshore fishing has been really hot. Numerous bluefin tuna were reported, mostly from the 26-Mile Hill. Marlin fishing has been excellent around the 100-line.  Inshore, anglers have been very quiet, so staff has little to report.

Virginia Piers -

Anglers are catching spot, croaker, flounder, and bluefish at the Ocean View Pier. This week, spot fishing has been especially productive in the morning, and fishing for the other species has been successful just after dark.

Numerous spot were reported at the Lynnhaven Pier, along with nice-sized sea mullet, croaker, and flounder (with a few keepers). Spanish mackerel were biting, and bluefish were around in the mornings. At the Virginia Beach Pier, catches included bluefish, Spanish mackerel, sea mullet, spadefish and spot. The first king mackerel in many years was also caught this weekend. The citation-sized fish weighed in at 20 pounds.

A 53-pound, 2-ounce king mackerel broke the pier record this Tuesday at the Sandbridge Pier (also called the Little Island Fishing Pier). Other catches consisted of bluefish, spot, skate, and sea mullet, with an additional king mackerel and a few tarpon.

Outer Banks, NC

Offshore fishing in the Nags Head area has provided a bounty of yellowfin and bigeye tuna. The billfish action to continue to be solid as well with catches of all three species. The dolphin action has slowed, but this should improve again as this is usually a busy time of the year for dolphin. Midrange anglers continue find triggerfish, black sea bass, amberjack, and striped bass. People fishing just outside the breakers have been able to catch bluefish and Spanish mackerel.

Anglers fishing from the piers and surf have seen strong bursts of activity from bluefish as well as good bottom fishing for sea mullet and croaker. Red drum landings have also been on the rise lately for the surf fishermen. Inshore anglers have been rewarded with good keeper ratios of flounder and speckled trout, and red drum action around the Melvin Daniels Bridge. Some weakfish have been caught in the green Island Slough as well.

Surf fishing south of Oregon Inlet has been hurt by the strong north-east winds. Only a few flounder, bluefish, and spot were being found early in the weekend with the action picking up for bluefish by Monday in the ramp 43 and 55 areas. In the sounds, the speckled trout action has been good for people looking to get out of the wind.

The offshore action out of Cape Hatteras has been good for billfish as well as a few dolphin, amberjack, and wahoo. Inshore, the speckled trout, red drum, and Spanish mackerel fishing has provided a good variety for those wetting their lines.

If you have additional information or would like further details contact Joe Grist at (757) 247-2237.

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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