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The Saltwater Review - 21 July 2004

Vol. 18, No. 9
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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


Since the end of last year, regulations for black sea bass and summer flounder have been modified.

For black sea bass, the minimum size limit remains 12 inches while the possession limit remains 25 fish but the late summer closed period runs from September 8 through September 21.  The winter-closed period remains December 1 through December 31.

For Summer Flounder, the minimum size and possession limit have both changed.  The minimum size limit decreased from 17-1/2 inches to 17 inches in 2004.  The possession limit likewise decreased, from 8 flounder last season to 6 summer flounder in 2004.

The NMFS increased the bluefin tuna retention limit from 1 to 2 tuna (27 to less than 73 inches) as of June 21, 2004 but the possession limit is set to return to 1 tuna on July 22.

Honors for the "most unusual" catch of the week go to Brad Tennant.  Brad was fishing for flounder at the First Island and became snagged, or so he thought.  After moving the boat closer and pulling from several different angles, his line came free from the bottom but a piece of the bottom was still hooked.  The piece of the bottom turned out to be an estimated 8-pound lobster!  Brad kept the lobster alive and called in to determine Virginia's regulations regarding lobster.  In Virginia (and federal waters as well) lobster must have a carapace length of at least 3-1/4 inches.  Additionally no berried females or V-notched lobster may be kept and all lobster must be landed whole.  Mr. Tennant will be having lobster for dinner tonight.

Flounder action for large fish is excellent along the CBBT complex and good at several other locations including the Cell/buoy 42 area, Back River Reef, portions of the HRBT and off the Cement Ships, which is located off Kiptopeke.

Offshore, bluewater trollers are enjoying an excellent mixture of yellowfin tuna, gaffer dolphin and white and blue marlin while king mackerel, bigeye tuna and wahoo are caught occasionally.  Amberjack remain scarce at most locations, though fish to 58 inches were caught at the Chesapeake Light Tower last week.

Chincoteague -

Donna from Captain Bob's reported bluefin tuna, dolphin and bluefish were biting at the Lumpy Bottom and Parking Lot.  Inshore, flounder were hitting along the south end of the Queen's Sound Bridge, Cockle Creek and at the CV marker adjacent to Inlet View.  Croaker measuring up to 16 inches were pulled from the canal while sea mullet were biting in the main channel and the "hook," located on the south end of Assateague Island.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina registered several billfish releases for white and blue marlin the past week and most were hooked in 20 to 30 fathoms of water.  The marina also weighed citation bluefin tuna in excess of 100 pounds.  A few anglers have tried chunking for tuna but most are still trolling.  Inshore, croaker dominate the action.

Captain Zed's weighed a 65-inch, 80-pound wahoo for Alex Hadel and told of good catches of gaffer dolphin, bluefin and yellowfin tuna.  Inshore, some flounder were caught around the mouth of the inlet, in front of the Coast Guard Station, and behind Cedar Island.  Bottom fishermen are catching loads of the croaker in these same areas.  George Kohler caught and released a 51-inch red drum at Paramour Island on a chunk of bunker.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle told of good weekend catches of spadefish around the Fourth Island of the CBBT and out at the Tower Reef.  Mike Hill released a 24-inch spadefish at the Fourth Island while Todd Patterson (9 pounds, 9 ounces) and Paul Burch (11 pounds, 12 ounces) each had weight citations.  The CBBT was the top weekend spot for big flounder, as Brad Gilliand (8 pounds, 15 ounces), Woo Daves (8 pounds, 6 ounces), Byran Salisbury (7 pounds, 6 ounces) and Dave Griffith (7 pounds, 4 ounces) all boated citation flatfish at the crossing.  Big flounder were not confined to the CBBT complex, as Robert Savage, Jr. earned a flounder release award for a 26-1/4-inch flounder at the Cell and Robert Corbett, Jr. boated a 7-pound, 9-ounce flounder off the Cement Ships.  The shop also indicated that good hauls of croaker were registered out of the seaside port of Oyster, where at least one tarpon had been landed and released.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported bottom fishermen are finding good-sized croaker in deepwater during the day but the fish move into the shallows in the evenings.  Spot are "hit or miss" but those caught are usually good-sized.  The flounder bite remains above average with the best hauls made by anglers working the channel edges.  Bottom fishermen are also seeing a mixture of blowfish, porgy, grunts and sea robin.  Surface feeding schools of snapper bluefish are common.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported good weekend catches of nice flounder and large croaker around the CBBT, where K.P. Megeite landed a citation winning, 27-1/2-inch, 9-pound, 2-ounce flounder.  The shop also registered a white marlin release (73 inches) from the 21 Fathom Finger for John Sykes.

Bubba's Marina told of excellent catches of big flounder with some of the best hauls coming from the Fourth Island area.  On Monday, a group fishing aboard the PAIGE II returned to the dock with six flounder weighing 7 pounds or more.  The shop also indicated sheepshead and spadefish were active around the Fourth Island area.  A handful of cobia were boated the past week and the biggest weighed-in was 66 pounds.  Around the mouth of the inlet bottom fishermen caught mostly small flounder plus decent-sized croaker and spot.

Dr. Jim Wright said hard-pulling jack crevalle were caught over the weekend along the CB Line while black sea bass of over 4 pounds were caught on wrecks "a little east" of the Tower Reef.  Further offshore, white and blue marlin and large tuna were holding along the south wall of the Norfolk Canyon.  Inshore, croaker measuring up to 18 inches and spot of 12 inches were caught inside Lynnhaven Inlet, at Long Creek.  Out of the Eastern Shore seaside port of Oyster, an angler fishing with Bill Suggs boated and released a 68-inch tarpon over the weekend.  On Tuesday, Dr. Jim fished with Mr. Suggs and caught his first ever Virginia tarpon.  The acrobatic fish hit a chunk of fresh, cut croaker, fished on the bottom.  The tarpon measured 70 inches and weighed an estimated 85 pounds.  The same trip produced several sharks and assorted rays.

Wallace's Marina said Dwayne Heaster's 10-pound, 6-ounce flounder was the heaviest of the ten citation flatfish that were weighed over the weekend.  Hot spots for flounder include Back River Reef, the Hump, the CBBT complex and the Cell.  The crew aboard the STARFISH boated four flounder of 7 pounds or better on Saturday, while fishing over the Fourth Island tube with live bait.  Cobia fishing remains disappointingly slow, though a pair of 35-pound class fish were weighed Saturday.  Large croaker and some spot were caught around the mouth of Back River and at Hampton Bar.

Sunset Boating Center said Jeff Mosger weighed-in the weekend's biggest flounder, a fat 9-pounder, caught at the Third Island of the CBBT.  Other weekend catches included Bill Tice and his group, who boated flounder up to 5 pounds at the High Rise, and Chris Hall, who limited-out on flounder to 24 inches in front of Fort Monroe.  Jerome Bethal and party fished the Tower Reef area and landed a limit of spadefish up to 6 pounds. Pete Spicer and Rich Meister fished even further offshore and returned with a pair of yellowfin tuna and the heaviest weighed nearly 70 pounds.

Cindy at Salt Ponds said Richard Harris, Jr. released a 46-inch red drum at the Middle Grounds.  The citation winning fish hit a live croaker.  Richard Sewell caught and released a white marlin out in 30 fathoms.  Cindy indicated most anglers were focusing on the strong run of big flounder at the CBBT and Harold Jackson had the week's biggest flatfish, at 27 inches, 7 pounds, 9 ounces.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said bottom fishermen working the Gloucester Point Pier caught decent-sized croaker and a few flounder the past week.  Spot were caught off the Amoco Pier and up inside the Severn River, where Brandon Kellum nailed a 21-ounce spot.  Above Gloucester Point the croaker were scattered and "not real big" by standards set earlier in the year when 2-pounders were common. A few speckled trout were caught inside Mobjack Bay with the Severn River and Four Point Marsh the top locations.  Harvey Parker weighed in an 8-pound, 5-ounce flounder from the CBBT and Shawn Richardson registered a white marlin release from the Fingers.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club say good-sized flounder are holding from the Cell/buoy 42 area and down the CBBT complex, though most of the week's biggest flatfish were caught at the CBBT complex.  Spadefish can be caught around the Fourth Island and Tower Reef plus some amberjack are hanging around the Legs of the Chesapeake Light Tower, where Ken Neill caught and released a 58-inch jack.  Spanish mackerel are scattered around on the lower Bay but are a very "tough catch" at the Cape Henry rips, where hordes of snapper blues reside.  Offshore, billfish are in seasonally good supply but "scattered everywhere."  The Fingers holds decent numbers of yellowfin tuna and some gaffer dolphin.  Several large bigeye tuna have been hooked near the Norfolk Canyon.

Virginia Middle Bay

Heidi Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported snapper blues are plentiful at the Northern Neck Reef site, around Smith Point Light, and just inside Dameron Marsh.  Bottom fishermen are still catching good numbers of croaker and increased numbers of spike trout, especially near buoy 62 and the Dameron Marsh area.  Some small spot are also mixed in with the croaker.  Some keeper sized flounder are holding around the jetty.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said flounder fishermen working the Cell/buoy 42 area reported mixed results the past week, as some crews had limits of fish while others caught only a handful of mostly under-sized flounder.  Mixed sizes of spot were caught at the Spike, Butlers Hole and off Gwynn Island in 25 to 30 feet of water.  Pan trout are mixed in with the spot at the same locations.  Spadefish are routinely sighted at the Cell and Wolftrap Light but catching them has been a real challenge, according to Thrash, as the fish prefer to dine on the abundant bloom of jellyfish.  Decent numbers of speckled trout were caught around Cherry Point and Gwynn Island.

Jack from Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen are catching mostly spot plus a handful of croaker.  Best action has been off Parrots Rock and Mosquito Point and at Butlers Hole.

Garretts Marina said bottom fishing improved significantly from last week, as anglers recorded good hauls of croaker and catfish on the river, from Tappahannock to Moratico.

Captain Jim Thompson, aboard the JIM-AN-I running out of Deltaville, described the spot bite as "inconsistent" the past week.  "On Thursday a party from Bowling Green caught over 400 spot in a few hours but the party on Saturday took the entire day to have a good catch," related Captain Thompson.  The Spike and Butlers Hole, both located near the mouth of the Rappahannock River, are the top locations but bottom fishermen also caught spot at Cherry Point and at the Corn House.  Trollers working the mouth of the river are picking up a few Spanish mackerel and taylor blues.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported mixed catches of yellowfin tuna, gaffer dolphin and billfish over the weekend.  On Friday, offshore boats had as many as 8 yellowfin tuna and a couple of gaffer dolphin.  Jack Walters and Jerry Davis each released a white marlin.  Jeffery Sherman weighed in a 77-pound cobia.  The offshore boats had fair numbers of yellowfin tuna and a few dolphin on Saturday.  One mako was boated and Allan Lawe released a blue marlin and Anita Curry released a white marlin.  Sunday's action was similar and Kurt Tochlke released a white marlin.  On Monday, the crew aboard the EMPTY WALLET returned with 8 big yellowfin tuna and a pair of dolphin.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said the tuna bite slowed over the weekend, especially for the "trollers."  The crew aboard the TOP NOTCH tried chunking on Saturday, and returned to the dock with over a dozen big yellowfin tuna.  On Sunday the crew returned to the same area and chunked but the results were disappointing.  Inshore, spadefish are biting at the Tower Reef and taylor blues and a few Spanish mackerel are holding off Cape Henry and Sandbridge.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview -Closed indefinitely.

Buckroe Beach - The pier was completely destroyed by hurricane Isabel. The city of Hampton has expressed an interest to build a pier in this area.

Harrison - Closed indefinitely.

Lynnhaven - Crabbing remains fast-paced while bottom fishing was a little slow-especially during the mid-day period.  Bottom fishermen did catch some smallish flounder (most under the 17-inch minimum size limit), snapper blues, sea mullet, spot and a few croaker.

Virginia Beach - Bottom fishermen managed some small flounder, croaker, bluefish and sea mullet during the day and pan trout around the pier lights after sundown.  Casters working the end of the pier had some good periods on taylor blues and Spanish mackerel.

Sandbridge - Casters working the end of the pier enjoyed good runs of snapper bluefish and Spanish mackerel Friday and Saturday evenings but the fish failed to show Sunday, as the weather soured.  Bottom fishermen reported mixed catches of spot, sea mullet, snapper bluefish, skate, flounder and the occasional pompano.  Several cobia were sighted from the end of the pier but none were landed.

Outer Banks, NC -

The beaches from Kitty Hawk and north produced numbers of small croaker plus some decent-sized sea mullet while anglers fishing the Nags Head area recorded mixed catches of snapper bluefish, flounder, sea mullet, spot and croaker.

South of Oregon Inlet, anglers fishing Cape Point at Buxton caught croaker during the day on Friday while a nice run of the Spanish mackerel developed in the evening.  Saturday's highlight was a good run of the Spanish mackerel and a 50-inch blacktip shark.  Sunday featured a mixture of bluefish and Spanish mackerel plus at least one tarpon was hooked.  Bluefish hit the Point Monday morning plus several puppy drum were beached.  Pompano were caught during the afternoon but the evening Spanish mackerel bite failed to materialize.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported the charter fleet loaded up on bailer dolphin on Friday and recorded scattered catches of wahoo, king mackerel and yellowfin tuna.  Inshore action consisted of amberjack, taylor bluefish and Spanish mackerel while the headboat recorded mixed catches of flounder and bluefish.  Saturday's results were similar plus a white marlin release was recorded.  On Sunday the yellowfin tuna bite improved.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet returned Friday with mixed catches of dolphin, wahoo, yellowfin tuna and king mackerel.  Several white marlin and sailfish were released.  Saturday produced better catches of yellowfin tuna plus decent catches of dolphin and wahoo and a scattering of king mackerel.  Windy conditions prevailed Sunday and few boats fished.  Those that did recorded scattered catches of dolphin, wahoo and yellowfin tuna.  On Monday, yellowfin tuna and dolphin dominated the offshore action.  A group from Colonial Heights, VA, fished aboard the LUCKY CHIP and recorded several citation catches including a 60-pound wahoo by John Hubert, a 40-pound wahoo by Stephen Nelms and a blue marlin release by Horace Hall.

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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