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The Saltwater Review - 20 July  2006

Vol. 20, No. 8

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

OVERVIEW

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, lucy@vims.edu .

Researchers at VIMS are requesting the assistance of the angling public with a study (funded by recreational license monies) designed to determine real-time movement of summer flounder in local waters. One hundred and twenty flounder have been outfitted with special (and expensive) acoustic tags. These flounder also carry a special yellow tag. For more details see the enclosed announcement.

Citation flounder and cobia topped the inshore list of trophy catches last week, as 38 award-winning flounder were weighed and 25 citation cobia (17 weight citations and 8 releases) were registered. Offshore, amberjack of 50 inches or more proved to be the easiest, as 22 different anglers released at least one qualifying jack or more. The southern towers, located some 50 miles southeast of Rudee Inlet, produced nearly all the trophy amberjack. The season's first sailfish were caught and released as well as several more blue and white marlin.

Chincoteague

Donna at Captain Bob's reported good offshore action at the Lumpy Bottom, where bluefin tuna in excess of 100 pounds were caught. Nearly all of the larger tuna are being caught chunking with butterfish. Chunkers are also catching some dolphin and yellowfin tuna. Inshore, flounder action remains slow but some keepers were pulled from the pilings of Black Narrows Bridge and other structure in Queen's Sound. Pods of croaker are holding along Chincoteague Channel and plenty of hungry sea mullet are available just inside and just outside the inlet.

Wachapreague

Captain Zed's reported good offshore action for a mixture of bluefin and yellowfin tuna, dolphin, king mackerel and even a few wahoo. Most of the charter boats are trolling and getting the best mixed bag of fish but anglers choosing to chunk are catching the biggest bluefin tuna. Alva Cress landed a 124-pound bluefin aboard the MAD DOG and 15-year-old Travis Hynson decked a 118-pound bluefin aboard REEL HARD. In each case the crew was chunking with butterfish. T.J. Hurbs was trolling at Sam's Hill aboard the FOXY LADY and caught and then released a blue marlin. Clare Long was trolling aboard the MARLIN MAGIC and boated a 38-1/2-pound dolphin. Inside the inlet, the flounder action was about average for mid-summer with the best concentration of keeper flounder coming from deep water. William Mizelle was slow trolling at Green and Drawing channels and boated 7-pound, 14-ounce flounder. The marina indicated the backside of Cedar Island was another good flounder spot. Bottom fishermen are also catching sea mullet and plenty of croaker. The best hauls of croaker have come from Green and Drawing channels. 

Cape Charles


Chris' Bait and Tackle reported croaker numbers continue to build over on the seaside, out of Oyster, where Pattie Daves boated an 8-pound, 6-ounce flounder. Several anglers in search of seaside tarpon caught large sharks instead, as Brett Smith (84 inches), Jim Gordon (81 inches), Joe Pearson (78 inches) and Steve Gardner (76 inches) all earned shark release awards last week. Jim Gordon also had a 53-inch cobia release at 9-Foot Shoals. On the bayside, the flounder bite slowed somewhat but some keeper flatfish were caught, including Michelle Sawyer's 8-pound, 5-ouncer, caught at the High Rise. Thirteen-year-old Charles Floydd, III boated the week's biggest cobia, an 81-1/2-pounder, off Nassawadox Creek. Bottom fishermen off Cape Charles are still catching croaker but have witnessed an invasion of sea mullet.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported a large upsurge in spot numbers the past week "especially up inside Tangier Sound." The croaker action remains good and steady off Onancock in 20 to 35 feet. Now that the heat of summer has arrived, the bite is significantly better early in the morning and late in the afternoon and after sunset. Captain Laaksonen saw more flounder the past week but noted "you must work the edges if you want to consistently catch flounder." Some pan trout were caught mixed in with the spot and croaker but "nearly all were throwbacks."

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel
-

Cobbs Marina reported a "wonderful flounder weekend," and saw numerous good catches. Chip Smith registered the weekend's biggest flatfish, at 8-3/4 pounds. The citation catch was made along the Baltimore Channel on squid. Craig Vaughan boated an 8-pound, 2-ounce flounder at the Fourth Island on cut bait. Perhaps the most surprising catch was made by Richard Johnson, who decked a 12-1/2-pound sheepshead on a piece of bloodworm at the newly re-built Ocean View Pier.

Bubba's Marina likewise had many good weekend reports of flounder weighing as much as 8 pounds. Most of the better flounder hauls came from along small boat channel of the CBBT or any of the four rock islands. The shop also indicated some keeper-sized flatfish were caught at Lesner Bridge plus croaker to nearly 2 pounds. 

Dr. Jim Wright made another visit to the south tower for amberjack but unlike the week before, the bite was slow. "We only caught five (amberjack) and that was with four anglers working at it with live bait." Dr. Wright added, "the only amberjack we marked were right on the bottom." The party did manage to catch several dolphin on the troll back to Rudee Inlet. Dr. Wright heard of an excellent red drum bite off Sandbridge, where several large schools of fish were said to be aggregated. Dr. Jim also reports of good-sized flounder from the First Island of the CBBT, the Cape Henry Wreck and Tiger Wreck.

Wallace's Bait and Tackle said big cobia are still holding in the vicinity of Bluefish Rock, where Bob Valentine (61 pounds) and John Kraus (55 pounds) boated citation-winning fish on live eel last week. The shop also weighed a 7-1/4-pound flounder for Robert Jackson. The citation catch was made at the Third Island on a slow trolled bucktail. 

Sunset Boating Center weighed-in citation flounder of 8 and 8-1/4 pounds from the High Rise section of the CBBT and a 55-pound cobia from Bluefish Rock over the weekend. The shop indicated Hampton Bar was still producing plenty of croaker plus a few keeper flounder. 

Salt Ponds Marina said Wayne Brady was trolling at the CBBT aboard the FATTY FLATTIE and boated a 
7-pound, 3-ounce flounder. John Perry, aboard the FREE BIRD, was likewise trolling along the CBBT and boated a 7-pound, 2-ounce flounder. Cobia are still active off Salt Ponds, as Wayne Coble aboard KNOT WORKING boated a 62-1/2 pound cobia on a live spot while anchored at Bluefish Rock.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said spot had begun to show at the mouth of Sarah's Creek while bottom fishermen working the main portion of the York River continue to load-up on croaker. Folks fishing the Gloucester public pier are also catching their share of croaker plus an occasional spot. The shop was deluged with citation flounder the past week and registered eight on Saturday alone. The biggest was a 9-pound, 1-ounce flatfish caught by Mike Hurst. Most of the better flounder hauls came from the buoy42/Cell area. Some cobia still linger in the vicinity of York Spit but the week's only citation catch was made at Bluefish Rock by Graham Broadwell. The cobia weighed 62-1/2 pounds.

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said the offshore tuna bite had slowed up although anglers are still catching both yellowfin and bluefin tuna. "You just don't have boats coming in with a limit of yellowfin like you did a couple of weeks ago." Neill indicated there was a good bluefin chunk bite up on the Lumpy Bottom and the lesser abundance of tuna has been made up with "a lot of dolphin," which "seem to be everywhere." More wahoo are showing up and Neill expects to have a banner season with billfish, noting good numbers have already arrived. Amberjack are available over "most any wreck" and at the Chesapeake Light Tower. It is a long run but the southern towers are loaded with amberjack and pretty much a sure thing on live bait. Sheepshead fishing has really turned back on at the CBBT and the fantastic cobia bite is not showing any signs of slowing down. Red drum remain available on the shoals at the northern end of the CBBT and big flounder are biting at the CBBT and in the buoy 42 area. PSWSFA continue to register World Records with the IGFA. Barclay Shepard's state-leading speckled trout, which is an IGFA Line-Class World Record, was caught this winter. Troy Warren's blueline tilefish was recently approved as an all-tackle world record but it has since been beaten. Several other club members have pending records and all have come from offshore bottom fishing. The crew aboard the HEALTHY GRIN caught two snowy grouper last week that are well over the current all-tackle world record for that species. Jeff Dail and Darren Foster both have pending blueline tilefish all-tackle world records. And the latest addition is Jenny Manus, who weighed in a heavier blueline tilefish than any of the current pending IFGA applications. "What a year for the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman's Association!"

Dr. Julie Ball, IGFA International Representative for Virginia Beach, contributed the following:
While the summer heat wave continues to climb, so does the incredible fishery in Virginia waters. The cobia convoy and flounder festival are marching right along, with a crowd of delighted anglers riding the wave. Chumming on the shoals is still producing big and plentiful cobia, while more fish are beginning to show on the buoys and along the span of the CBBT. While turning their noses up at live bait, these brown fish will gladly accept a lively eel. Flatfish are out of control, with drifters and live-baiters hauling in their limits with impressive fish. The biggest flounder are coming from lower bay structures using live bait, where Jason Catlett enticed a 10-pound, 9-ounce flattie off the ODU reef. 
Bull red drum remain active on the lower bay shoals and in the barrier island surf, while large schools of fish have been reported off Sandbridge. A 50-inch red fell for a jig presented at the 2nd island for a very pleased Arthur Creame this week. Puppy drum are thrilling surf and shallow water anglers in Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets, and within the wash along the Virginia Beach oceanfront. The tautog bite must be here to stay with multiple catches reported again this week, along with an upswing of triggerfish action. Inshore wrecks and the islands of the Bay Bridge Tunnel are a good bet on crab and clam. Sheepshead are still stirring lots of attention along the entire span of the CBBT. Even the lower bay fishing piers are producing a few sheepshead along with a mix of big croaker. Drop off your sheepshead remains in the cooler provided by the ODU sheepshead study at Long Bay Pointe. Many anglers are scoring with decent sea mullet this year, with some fish topping a pound. Offer bloodworms or squid along the sandy bottoms of channels and nearby wrecks for the best luck. Trolling small spoons along the buoy lines and tide rips in the early and late hours of the day continues to provide a bounty of decent Spanish mackerel. Spadefish are still plentiful, and have flocked around the CBBT, with the largest fish congregated along the span north of the 4th island. If you are in for a challenge, the amberjack are exceptionally active at the South A Tower, with every boat returning with tired arms, sore backs, and release citations for all. Tim Thompson headed to the South Tower in a 17-foot aluminum V-hull boat from Rudee Inlet, returning with several citations-sized releases under his belt. On the Eastern Shore, as always, the under-cover tarpon information is filtering in, with more sightings luring anglers to endure the flies and the heat among the shallows outside of Oyster. A few big sharks are also lurking in these skinny waters. More cobia and the usual bluefish and Spanish mackerel are showing at the oceanfront fishing piers.
The offshore tuna bite is on again, off again. The few tuna boated recently are respectable, with fish in the 70 to 130-pound range catapulting tuna tournament anglers into the winner's circle. Chunking has taken hold on the Lumpy Bottom off the Eastern Shore, while the South East Lumps area is providing a few scattered larger bluefin. Billfish of all varieties are making their presence known as they keep bluewater trollers on their toes with multiple strikes, and lots of window-shopping. Big dolphin are tearing through spreads, with many qualifying for state citations. The Fingers to the Norfolk Canyon, and down the Cigar is providing plenty of billfish, tuna, and dolphin action. 

Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported the "new news" was that speckled trout had appeared in the grass beds at Dameron Marsh. Roger cautioned that many of the speckled trout are under-sized (14-inch minimum size limit) but some trout up to about 3 pounds have been caught. Trollers reported decent weekend catches of Spanish mackerel at Smith Point Bar and off the Great Wicomico River. Bottom fishermen working the deeper channel edges are still catching large croaker plus a few pan trout.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said schools of Spanish mackerel have recently arrived around Smith Point Light and the mouth of the Potomac River. Trollers pulling small Clark and Drone spoons behind number 1 and 2 planers have having the best luck. Bottom fishermen are still catching nice croaker around Smith Point Light. Most of the charter fleet is running up into Maryland waters, chumming on the Middle Grounds and catching plenty of snapper bluefish and some school stripers. Dan saw several spadefish over the weekend but was not sure where the fish were caught.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters recorded four flounder citations last week. Brian Paluga caught an 8-pound, 1-ounce flounder at buoy 42 on cut bait, Bill Battle had an 8-pound, 1-ounce flounder on squid at the CBBT and Walter Green decked an 8-pound, 11-ounce flounder at the Cell on squid, where Linwood Green had a 7-3/4-pound flounder on squid. Kyle Dabney caught a 3-pound croaker on a live spot at the Cell. Tony Hudgins caught and released a 25-inch speckled trout on the East River. Jenny Manus caught and released a 51-inch cobia at York Spit on a live spot. The shop weighed a potential IGFA World Record blueline tilefish for Jenny Manus. The pending record-setting fish weighed 17 pounds, 7 ounces and was caught east of the Fingers.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen reported decent numbers of medium spot and a few croaker. The waters off Carters Creek, Coles Point and the Silos produced most of the better hauls.

Garretts Marina indicated the river was still loaded with small to medium spot and received good reports from anglers fishing from around Tappahannock and down to White Stone. Bottom fishermen are getting some catfish mixed in with the spot in the upper portion of the river but croaker remain scarce.

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I, said good numbers of croaker measuring up to 19 inches were holding around the Cell and were biting squid and live minnows. Flounder were available at the same location but the bite was not as dependable as the croaker. Pan trout in the 12 to 20-inch range are mixed in with the schools of croaker. Moving inshore, the Corn House, located off Gwynn Island, and Cherry Point, located at the mouth of the Piankatank held plenty of medium spot (about two-to-the pound).

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the FROG PILE had a good mixed catch of dolphin, tuna, king mackerel and even a wahoo on Friday. The BACKLASH had a number of dolphin with fish of nearly 20 pounds and several yellowfin tuna. The BIG WOODY and SEA WITCH both recorded mixed catches of tuna, dolphin and king mackerel. On Saturday James Jones boated a 58-pound wahoo aboard the BIG WOODY and other crew members reeled-in some tuna and skipjack. The BACKLASH had a limit of dolphin and the BIG WOODY had a mixed catch of tuna, dolphin and king mackerel.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina had one boat fish "way south" over the weekend and caught several 100-pound class bigeye tuna. Closer to homeport, boats fishing the Fingers area in hopes of a sizable bluefin tuna or two were largely disappointed.

Virginia Piers -

James River - Bottom fishermen are catching croaker, spot, rays and even an occasion black drum with the early morning and the hours after sun down producing the best action. 

Ocean View - Bottom fishermen are catching a variety of small to medium pan fish, including croaker, spot, surf perch, juvenile shark, snapper bluefish, skate, rays, flounder and pan trout. Several cobia were spotted last week.

Lynnhaven - Small croaker, medium spot and snapper bluefish provide most of the action. Flounder are holding around the pier pilings but most measure less than 16-1/2 inches. Some pan trout are showing around the pier after dark.

Virginia Beach - Casters working the end of the pier have been treated to a blitz of snapper bluefish early and late in the day nearly all week. Some Spanish mackerel are mixed with the bluefish when the water has been clear. Bottom fishermen are seeing a mixture of small croaker, medium spot, sea mullet skate, shark and the occasional keeper flounder.

Sandbridge - The water was extremely clear Saturday and several large cobia and shark were sighted early in the day while bottom fishermen were pulling in small croaker and spot. Snapper blues moved within casting range mid-day and a 60-pound plus cobia was decked in the evening. On Sunday at least three cobia were hooked and 46 and 58-pounders were landed. Monday saw some Spanish mackerel mixed in with snapper blues.

Outer Banks, NC -

Overall, it was a slow week for Nags Head area beach and pier fishermen with only a scattering of spot, croaker and snapper bluefish. Folks on the Avalon Pier enjoyed a decent run of Spanish mackerel and snapper bluefish on Sunday while bottom fishermen caught croaker two-at-a-time after dark. Several nice sheepshead were caught from the catwalk over Oregon Inlet. 

Beach fishermen working south of Oregon Inlet at Cape Point on Buxton had little joy over the weekend. Some good-sized flounder were caught around the jetties on Friday and a few spot and croaker were beached at Cape Point. Saturday and Sunday's action was very slow with only a few croaker recorded by the crowd at the Point. Monday's crew at the Point did manage a few puppy drum and several keeper flounder.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported their fleet had a very good day Friday for bigeye tuna with over a dozen landed up to 156 pounds. Several billfish were released and some boats limited-out on dolphin and kept a few yellowfin tuna. White marlin and dolphin dominated the action Saturday and Sunday. Monday saw more limit catches of dolphin bigeye tuna to 190 pounds and yellowfin tuna weighing as much as 93 pounds. 

Only a handful of boats fished out of Hatteras Inlet on Friday due to rough sea conditions. Those that did caught loads of dolphin and a few yellowfin tuna and wahoo. Brad Zavertnik of Midlothian released a blue marlin aboard the BITE ME. On Saturday the entire fleet remained in port due to rough seas. Conditions moderated Sunday and good catches of dolphin and billfish plus a few king mackerel and wahoo were recorded. Gary Solts of Richmond and Garrett Miller, III of Glen Allen each released a sailfish aboard the SUSHI. Most boats had limit catches of dolphin plus some king mackerel, wahoo and yellowfin tuna on Monday. James Short of Virginia Beach released a white marlin aboard the SEA CREATURE.

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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