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The Saltwater Review - July 19, 2002

Volume 16. No.10
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 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.

Cobia continue to provide excitement for lower Bay anglers, as fish to 90 pounds were caught the past week. These catches were made on the heels of a new state record cobia, of 104-1/2 pounds, that was caught the prior week at Latimer Shoals.

Bottom fishermen continue to make impressive hauls of large flounder at various locations, including Back River Reef, the Hump, the Cell/buoy 42 area, the CBBT complex, off Cape Henry and around some of the inshore ocean wrecks.

Offshore, an excellent mid-summer bite of billfish, primarily white marlin, developed the past week south of Rudee Inlet, near Triple 0's. Yellowfin tuna continue to cooperate at the Fingers, where most anglers have chosen the "chunk" with butterfish. Bluefin tuna are most numerous on the inshore lumps off Wachapreague and Chincoteague, where tuna to over 150 pounds were landed last week. These same waters still contain large numbers of chopper blues, at times.

Chincoteague -

Donna from Captain Bob's reported good flounder fishing inside the inlet and excellent tuna catches offshore. Best catches of keeper flatfish have come on the morning tide between buoys 16 and 24. Croaker have arrived and a few Spanish mackerel and pan trout were caught near buoy 16. Offshore, the Parking Lot and Lumpy Bottom remain the hot spots for tuna (mostly bluefin) but chopper blues "can be a problem at times," according to Donna. Most anglers have switched to chunking, which encourages nearby bluefish to visit. The week's biggest tuna, a 140-pound bluefin caught by Paul Rippeon, was boated at the Parking Lot.

Barnacle Bill's said keeper flounder were "few and far between" but croaker had arrived and were biting inside Queen's Sound while sheepshead were holding amongst the bridge pilings. Outside the inlet, the inshore ocean wrecks are producing good numbers of sea bass plus some tautog and triggerfish. Further offshore, the tuna bite remains excellent with "chunkers" working the Parking Lot and Lumpy Bottom for bluefin while trollers find yellowfin along the 20 fathom line.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina told of excellent offshore action for bluefin tuna, as well as yellowfin and dolphin. The 26 Mile Hill produced the best bluefin tuna results but some tuna were also boated at the Lumpy Bottom but that spot was "still loaded with bluefish." Further offshore, trollers working from the 20 Fathom Fingers out to the Norfolk Canton reported yellowfin tuna, dolphin and even wahoo. Reed Belote, fishing aboard the EVEN FLOW, decked a 26-pound, 6-ounce dolphin at the 20 fathom line while John Johnson nailed a 45-pound wahoo at the Norfolk Canyon.

Captain Zed's said schools of croaker have moved inside the inlet, "they're big and there's lots of them." Offshore, the charter fleet has been returning with limit catches of bluefin tuna (four fish per permitted vessel) plus some yellowfin tuna, dolphin and even an occasional wahoo. The crew aboard the AMERICAN MADE weighed the biggest bluefin of the week, a 173 pounder, and released a 61-inch bluefin on the same trip.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported hordes of croaker had moved into the seaside waters located off Oyster, where Barry Truitt caught and released a 60-inch tarpon. Over on the bayside, Kevin Haxter boated the week's heaviest flounder, an 8 pounder, at buoy 38A. The same location produced citation-winning flatfish for Susan Smith (7-1/2 pounds) and George Giamanco (7 pounds, 7 ounces). William Kirk caught a 7-pound, 1-ounce flounder off Cape Charles and Frankie Newsome decked a 7-1/4 pounder at the Cell. James Kirtly weighed the week's heavyweight cobia, an impressive 74-pound, 5-ouncer. He was fishing aboard the Buccaneer at buoy 36A. John Barr released a 46-inch cobia and boated a 56 pounder at the Cabbage Patch aboard the MISS TERRE LEA while skipper Dave Elliot caught and released a 47-inch cobia.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported excellent catches of large croaker, many topping 2 pounds, the past week. Best action has been in 30 to 40 feet of water. Flounder catches were up last week while spot and trout numbers were down. Captain Wil suggested the best chance for trout was in the evenings inside Tangier Sound.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina weighed a 51-1/4-pound cobia for Mark West. The citation catch was made at Latimer Shoals on cut bait. The marina also indicated flounder were making a good showing around the First and Second islands of the CBBT, croaker were biting at the Ocean View Reef site and a few spot were available around the mouth of the inlet.

Lou from Bubba's Marina told of very good flounder catches around the First and Second islands and along the small boat channel with some of the flatfish topping 7 pounds. Cobia were showing along the CBBT, especially from the Third Island to Latimer Shoals. Top cobia the past week was boated at Latimer Shoals by Greg McElucn. The citation fish measured just 55 inches but weighed 90 pounds, 6 ounces. Lou also weighed several citation spadefish of over 10 pounds and registered some releases (21 inches or greater) from inshore ocean wrecks.

Wallace's Marina weighed citation cobia over the weekend for Ricky Steppe (73 pounds, Bluefish Rock), Graham Johnson (72 pounds, 8 ounces, Bluefish Rock), Bubba Renn (65 pounds, Bluefish Rock), Loraine Grouse (56 pounds, 6 ounces, Bluefish Rock) and Melvin Renn (55 pounds, Bluefish Rock) while Chris Beard released a 44-1/2-inch cobia at the same location. Flounder action was good around the Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT, the Hump and Back River Reef. James Tuccillo, Sr. (7-3/4 pounds) and James Tuccillo, Jr. (8 pounds, 1 ounce) each boated citation flatfish and teamed up at the Fourth Island for a 16-fish limit "5 pounds and up." In addition to flounder, Back River Reef is also producing trout to over 7 pounds, keeper tautog, triggerfish, spot and croaker.

Johnny from Sunset Marina said Hampton Bar produced fabulous catches of flounder the past week. Biggest of the crop was an 8-pound, 7-ounce flatfish caught by H.L. Holt. Others with good catches of large fish included Bernard Lovett with a 6-3/4 pounder, C.O. Seaman with a 6-pound, 2-ounce fish, Stan Jeff and his buddy with nearly a limit of keepers ranging from 20 to 23-1/2 inches, Tom Mattioli with a limit of flounder to 23 inches and George Curtis and Bob Cook with a limit of sixteen flatfish ranging from 22-1/2 inches to 6 pounds, 2 ounces. Johnny added that the same area was also producing good hauls of croaker up to 2-1/2 pounds.

Alan Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle knew of several cobia that were caught off Bluefish Rock the past week plus good hauls of croaker plus some spot were made in the same area. Fair numbers of flounder and trout were caught off Factory Point but better flounder catches were reported at Back River Reef and at Fort Monroe.

Cindy from Salt Ponds Marina said lots of folks were fishing, despite the hot weather and indicated the flounder bite was very good at the CBBT, cobia were biting off Bluefish Rock and yellowfin tuna were available at the Fingers.

A & S Feed and Bait Supply said croaker continue to bite in the York River at the Lumps and off the Gloucester Point Pier. A few keeper flounder were caught around the Coleman Bridge while cobia were active at York Spit.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club had good success on large flounder at the Cell, enjoyed near continuous action on amberjack to over 48 inches at the South Tower (Alpha Tower, located 50 miles SSE of Rudee Inlet) and fine chunking action on tuna at the Fingers.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported good catches of taylor bluefish off Bluff Point for boats that anchored and chummed the waters. Trollers found some bluefish but just a few Spanish mackerel while bottom fishermen "loaded-up" on croaker plus decent numbers of pan trout.

Smith Point Marina said fishermen were making good hauls of croaker plus some pan trout and bluefish while trollers are picking-up a few Spanish mackerel.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Marina said flounder catches at the Cell/buoy 42 area was "hit or miss" recently. Charles Akins of Dutton (7 pounds, 13 ounces) and Bobby Rice of Richmond (7 pounds, 2 ounces) each landed citation flatfish at the Cell. Cobia were caught near the Cell and off Silver Beach. Scott Page boated a 62-inch, 68-3/4-pound cobia on a live croaker at the Cell. Trollers are catching some bluefish and a few Spanish mackerel off Stingray and Windmill points and inside Fleets Bay. Pods of large grey trout, a few topping 8 pounds, were caught off buoy 42, at night, on jigs. Large croaker and medium spot are scattered all along Cut Channel..

Locklies Marina said croaker were "everywhere in the Rappahannock River," and bottom fishermen were loading coolers with large and jumbos. In addition to the croaker, some nice trout and spot were biting off Carters Creek, the Silos and Parrots Island.

Garretts Marina said bottom fishing for croaker and spot plus some pan trout continues to be very good near the marina, at buoy 19.

Captain Jim Thompson at Windmill Point Marina said bottom fishermen are loading coolers with large croaker, as a few weigh nearly 3 pounds. Best action has been along Cut Channel 42 feet of water, according to Captain Thompson. Some juvenile shark, number 2 spot and pan trout are caught with the croaker.

Virginia Beach -

Headboats sailing from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center are finding sea bass plus some flounder and triggerfish on the inshore ocean wrecks while the charter fleet has split time "down south" for billfish and chunking at the Fingers for tuna. Folks at the Center also indicated that trips to the South Tower produced steady action on amberjack.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina described the billfish bite as "excellent, down south," along the 800 to 900 lines. The SCULLY 58 (one blue marlin and three whites) and TOM CAT (four white marlin) each had four billfish releases on recent outings. Paula also indicated chunkers were catching decent numbers of yellowfin tuna at the Fingers while inshore boats located good numbers of Spanish mackerel between Dam Neck and Sandbridge and flounder around Cape Henry.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Best action has been from "5 PM and later," according to the pier spokesperson. Catches have been dominated by croaker but several cobia were landed plus some spot, flounder, trout and juvenile shark.

Buckroe Beach - Again, best action has been in the late evening and after dark hours. James Redmiles caught and released a 48-inch red drum and at least two cobia were hooked but lost at pierside the past week. Phillip White decked a citation 1-pound, 9-ounce sea mullet. Other catches included croaker, spot, taylor bluefish, Spanish mackerel and pan trout.

Harrison - Bottom fishing was very slow during the daytime the past week with only a handful of croaker and spot reported. After dark, the croaker were more active plus some small shark and pan trout were caught around the pier lights.

Lynnhaven - Daytime action was nearly non-existent but sea mullet, spot, pan trout, flounder and "baby" croaker were caught after dark.

Sandbridge - Several small cobia were decked over the weekend while fish to 49 inches caught were early this week. Other catches include some spot, Spanish mackerel, small shark, skate and flounder.

Outer Banks, NC -

Surf and pier fishing was undoubtedly in a summer pattern the past week along the Nags Head area beaches, as daytime catches were reduced to a handful of "panfish" (small croaker, sea mullet, spot and pan trout). Some keeper flounder are also showing in the catches. Casters fishing the ends of the area piers caught some snapper bluefish and Spanish mackerel while live-baiters got shots at cobia, king mackerel, jack crevalle and red drum. The Outer Banks Pier had the largest cobia of the week, an 80 pounder while a 41-pounder was decked at nearby Avalon Pier on Saturday.

South of Oregon Inlet at Cape Point, the water was dirty and fishing was slow on Friday with only a handful of sea mullet reported from the North Beach and several sheepshead at the jetties. On Saturday, winds moderated and a scattering of snapper blues and Spanish mackerel were beached. Sunday, anglers were greeted with rain but the weather and fishing action improved on Monday, as the sun came out and Spanish mackerel and snapper blues were caught in the morning at the Point while sea mullet and flounder were pulled from the North Beach surf.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported limit catches of dolphin, wahoo to 56 pounds plus a few yellowfin tuna and decent numbers of billfish on Friday. On Saturday, inshore boats caught some snapper blues and Spanish mackerel while trolling near the inlet. The offshore fleet reported dolphin to 39 pounds, wahoo and a few yellowfin plus a decent number of billfish. Sunday and Monday, the billfish action was excellent, plus good numbers of gaffer dolphin to 43 pounds and wahoo to 47 pounds were landed. Inshore boats reported some keeper striped bass at the Oregon Inlet Bridge.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet recorded fair catches of wahoo and dolphin on Friday. Jason Tokarchic of Sterling released a blue marlin aboard the BIG EYE and Kent Williamson of Richmond released a blue marlin and Ronald Cash, a sailfish, aboard the CITATION. On Saturday, boats returned with decent numbers of dolphin, some wahoo but very few tuna. Pat O'Connor of Woodbridge released a white marlin aboard the RELEASE. Sunday, wahoo were caught in surprising numbers while several boats had big catches of dolphin. Monday saw several boats return with limits of dolphin, good numbers of wahoo and some yellowfin tuna 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.   Project is funded by NOAA and VMRC.

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

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