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The Saltwater Review - July 24, 2002

Volume 16. No.11
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 have begun to scatter throughout the lower Bay but are still being caught at such early season locations as Bluefish Rock and Latimer Shoals, though the week's biggest fish, a 74 pounder, was boated near buoy 42.

Croaker remain abundant throughout the Bay but the biggest fish are increasingly coming from the mainstem shipping channel edges.

Flounder continue to show in their normal summer haunts, such as the Cell, the CBBT complex and off Cape Henry but good catches were also made at Hampton Bar and Back River Reef last week.

Offshore, anglers are enjoying a good season on bluefin and yellowfin tuna with bluefin to 175 pounds and yellowfin to nearly 100 pounds reported last week.

Amberjack are available on most ocean wrecks, though are not as abundant or aggressive as those on the South Tower (located some 50 miles SSE of Rudee Inlet). Longest AJ of the week measured 54 inches and was pulled from the Gulf Hustler wreck. Spadefish, sea bass and even barracuda are found at these same wreck sites.

Chincoteague -

Donna from Captain Bob's reported a very slow pick of keeper flounder inside the inlet but croaker made a fair showing in Tom's Cove. Offshore, the excellent run of tuna, both bluefin and yellowfin, continued last week. Most of the citation tuna were caught at the 30 fathom line and were yellowfin, including a 70 pounder by Daniel Mueller, a 78 pounder by Les Thompson, a 77 pounder by Mike Steadman, a 74 pounder by Pierre Viens, a 79-1/2 pounder by Dave Stidham and a 93 pounder by Bill Reiter. The bluefin continue to hold inshore, on the Lumpy Bottom and Parking Lot, where Fara Sommers decked a 103-pound bluefin and Chris Clarr landed a 79-pound yellowfin. "There's more bluefish than bluefin at the Lumpy," according to Donna, so most tuna fishermen are heading for the Parking Lot. The other weekend hot spot was the Washington Canyon, where Robert Conrad landed a 21-pound dolphin and Calvin Kinna (75 pounds), Allen Kulick (70 pounds) and Jim Peters (70 pounds) all landed big yellowfin tuna.

Barnacle Bill's said inshore fishing "stinks right now," but the offshore tuna bite was excellent, as the shop wrote over a dozen citations for large yellowfin tuna last weekend. Most of the yellowfin were caught along the 30 fathom line while chunking with butterfish. Some of the anglers that choose to troll are also catching decent numbers of dolphin. Bluefin tuna and chopper bluefish are still holding on the inshore lumps.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported good offshore action for bluefin and yellowfin tuna, dolphin and wahoo. Kevin Cope boated the heaviest tuna, a 175-pound bluefin, at the 20 fathom line while Todd Peterson, aboard the HOBO had the biggest yellowfin tuna, a 79-pound, 2-ouncer, at the Lumpy Bottom. Ben Pfoutz released a 62-inch bluefin tuna at the 20 Fathom Finger, where Joyce Repman reeled-in a 39-pound wahoo and Reed Belote decked a 26-pound, 6-ounce dolphin. Johnny Johnson landed a 45-pound wahoo aboard the FINTASTIC at the Norfolk Canyon. Inside the inlet, good numbers of croaker have arrived while keeper-sized flounder were scarce.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported good catches of fat croaker at the mouth of Occahonock Creek, where Harold Johnson boated a 3-pound, 10-ouncer. Good numbers of croaker are also showing along the seaside, out of Oyster. Fourteen-year-old Steve Juhring was fishing for shark at Sand Shoal Inlet and caught and released a 65-inch tarpon. Flounder fishing was good last week on the bayside and the shop weighed eight citation flatfish including three from the Fourth Island area of the CBBT (James Henson boated the heaviest at 9 pounds, 2 ounces), two from the High Rise section of the CBBT (Robert Jackson Sr. had the biggest at 8 pounds), a pair from buoy 36A (Steve Juhring weighed the largest at 8 pounds, 1 ounce) and a 7-pound, 5-ounce flounder for Bob Bois caught off Kiptopeke. The shop registered four cobia releases including two by Paul Silzelous, Sr. (45-1/2 and 47 inches, at the Cabbage Patch) and one each for David Feldman (57 inches, off Hungars Creek) and Frankie Brady (50 inches, the Cabbage Patch). Two big cobia were brought to the scales. They were caught by Alexander Thompson, Jr. (51-1/2 pounds) and Joe Callaway (50 pounds, 6 ounces) at Latimer Shoals. Others with award-winning catches included Robert Longwood with a 10-1/2-pound sheepshead, caught while jigging for trout at the High Rise and Seth Rux with a 6-pound, 10-ounce sheepshead from the Cell.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported bottom fishing for croaker remains excellent with the bigger fish coming from water deeper than 50 feet. "We saw more trout and spot last week," noted Captain Wil, and these fish were caught over oyster beds in 20 to 25 feet of water. The same shellfish piles produced some pigfish, porgy, sea mullet and blowfish while the deeper waters that held croaker produced a scattering of good-sized flounder.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported good flounder action at the CBBT complex, as Scott Fentress nailed a 9-pound, 11-ounce flatfish on a live mullet at the Second Island, Kelly Williams a 7-pound, 2-ounce flounder on live bait at the First Island, Tracy Elliot boated a pair of citation-winners at 7 pounds, 13 ounces and 7 pounds, 7 ounces and Kelly Millard decked a 7-1/4 pounder at the Third Island. A trip to the Triangle Wrecks produced a 50-inch amberjack release for Ronald Swain and a 52-inch release for fishing partner Roy McCausey.

Bubba's Marina said the best recent flounder bite has been around the Fourth Island and "north" but conceded decent catches of flatfish were still being made around the First and Second islands. Bottom fishermen are catching big croaker plus some pan trout around all four rock islands. Offshore, the tuna "chunk" bite was "real good" on Tuesday (July 23). 

Dr. Jim Wright said flounder to over 5 pounds were boated just inside the Lesner Bridge and out at the Cape Henry wreck site. The 4A buoy was holding triggerfish, loads of spadefish and even a few jack crevalle. The triggerfish bit aggressively while the spadefish were not interested in the offerings presented. Dr. Jim indicated the Santori wreck site was good for Spanish mackerel and held a few amberjack.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Bait and Tackle said the cobia bite was "a little slower than we'd like" but expected the action to improve in early August, as it has the past several seasons. Heaviest cobia of the week was 54-1/2 pounds and was caught at Bluefish Rock by J.D. Torries. Ben Phillips decked a 53 pounder at the same location, as Edmund James (49 inches), Graham Johnson (48-1/2 inches), Tony Roberts (45 inches), Joseph Evans (44-1/2 inches) and Thomas Bales (44 inches) all registered releases. The crew aboard the A TEAM, Don Foreman (47 inches), David Foreman (45 inches) and Don Lancaster (45-1/2 inches) all released award winning cobia at Latimer Shoals. Flounder action remains steady, if not spectacular, at Back River Reef, the Hump, Hampton Bar and the Third and Fourth islands. Ray Rainone checked-in the lone citation flatfish, a 7-pound, 7-ouncer, from Hampton Bar. Other citations include a 10-1/4-pound spadefish weigh-in and a 22-inch release for Chris Moore at the Anglo African wreck, a 7-pound sheepshead for Brian Engacher from Back River Reef and a white marlin release by Angela Owen at the Fingers.

Johnny from Sunset Marina said the flounder bite at Hampton Bar was good again last weekend, as Shawn Rozos boated a 7-pound, 10-ouncer, Butch and Mike Piver had eight up to 24 inches and David Saunders had six flatfish to 24 inches and "lots of big croaker." Daniel Haynes, Jr. boated a 7-pound, 1-ounce flounder at the HRBT, where Chris Hall landed croaker weighing up to 2 pounds, 11 ounces. Danielle Lenix registered the week's only cobia citation, a 47-inch fish caught and released at Bluefish Rock.

Allen Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle said the hot temperatures of last week "slowed down the fishermen." Still, bottom fishermen had good hauls of croaker, some flounder and even several cobia out at Bluefish Rock. Alan indicated several groups went clamming off Poquoson and had good success.

Cindy from Salt Ponds Marina weighed a 7-pound, 26-1/2-inch flounder for Barry Bradley. The citation catch was made aboard the private boat FATTIE FLATTIE at the Third Island. Anglers leaving the marina reported big hauls of croaker and good numbers of flounder from the CBBT complex.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said croaker to nearly 3 pounds plus some spot and pan trout are biting inside the York River at the Lumps and from the public pier at Gloucester Point. Some flounder were caught around the mouth of the Perrin River but the cobia bite at York Spit slowed last week. The shop registered a 9-3/4-pound flounder from the Cell for Norman French and a 5-pound, 15-ounce speckled trout from Poquoson Flats for Mike Mohler.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club worked the waters at the Fingers and boated as many as 17 yellowfin tuna up to 80 pounds, caught limits of school bluefin tuna plus king mackerel and dolphin at the 26 Mile Hill and amberjack to 54 inches plus medium-sized spadefish at the Gulf Hustler wreck site.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported schools of Spanish mackerel and snapper blues were moving down the Bay out of Maryland waters and were located around the mouth of the Potomac River last weekend. Best recent catches of spot were made up, inside the Potomac River while the best concentrations of larger croaker were holding along the eastern side of Cut Channel in about 50 feet of water. A few trout to over 5 pounds are still being caught after dark around Smith Point Light and the Target Ships while daytime bottom fishermen are finding a few keeper flounder around the Smith Point Jetty.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters described the flounder bite at buoy 42 as "inconsistent" but still rated the popular location as his top pick for large flounder, adding that several parties boated flounder in the 6-pound range the past week, though none hit the 7-pound citation mark. A citation cobia was landed at the Cell by a group of fishermen drifting for flounder. The fish weighed an impressive 74-1/2 pounds, measured 72 inches and hit Ron Collins flounder rig baited with a strip of croaker. Raymond Dickenson boated a 56-pound cobia off Silver Beach. Trollers are finding some Spanish mackerel between Stingray and Windmill points and in Fleets Bay. The Cell and Wolftrap Light hold medium to small spadefish but the larger fish seem to have vacated these areas. Jumbo croaker are holding around the RP buoy and along the north edge of Cut Channel while spot up to about 8 ounces were caught off Gwynn Island. 

Jack at Locklies Marina said a pair of citation flounder were weighed in from the Cell and several citation spot up to 19 ounces were caught around the White Stone Bridge over the weekend. Some Spanish mackerel were caught by trollers at Butlers Hole, as bottom fishermen continue to load coolers full of croaker.

Garretts Marina told of steady bottom fishing for croaker to over 2 pounds in the buoy 19 area.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said his party on Saturday loaded-up on 14 to 19-inch croaker and had a smattering of pan trout while fishing the lumps just below Tangier Island in 45 to 60 feet of water. Captain Thompson indicated some spot were caught inside the Rappahannock River, off Windmill Point and at Butlers Hole but "not enough to run a charter." Trollers continue to find Spanish mackerel inside Fleets Bay, where Dr. George Richie caught a limit "in record time," on Sunday. Schools of blues are holding just inside Windmill Point Light and chummers and have caught fish to 4 pounds. Some flounder were caught at the Cell and Butlers Hole.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the headboat fleet worked the ocean wrecks and reefs for sea bass but also caught a mixture of flounder, sea robins, triggerfish and croaker. Inshore boats recorded decent catches of Spanish mackerel less than a mile off the beach, south of Rudee Inlet. Offshore, the Fingers was the spot for tuna, mostly yellowfin, but the action slowed over the weekend. Prior to and just after the weekend, some boats had well over a dozen tuna and most were over 40 pounds. The best billfish action was well south early in the week but decent concentrations appeared between the Fingers and Norfolk Canyon on the weekend.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina described the tuna bite as "real good" the past few days out at the Fingers while billfish dominated the weekend action. The best marlin bite was just east of the 44 Fathom Wreck site in 500 fathoms and at the Norfolk Canyon. The crew aboard the POOR GIRL was trolling just east of the Cigar for white marlin on Tuesday and hooked several large bigeye tuna. Only one was landed but it weighed 237 pounds!

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Big news of the week was a 63.9 pound cobia decked by Robert Sheene. Bottom fishermen had fairly steady action early and late in the day on flounder, croaker, pan trout, spot, small shark, bluefish, sea mullet and rays.

Buckroe Beach - A surprisingly decent run of good-sized spot developed over the weekend and bottom fishermen also recorded catches of croaker, flounder and puppy drum. Several small cobia were decked last week. 

Harrison - Charley said some keeper trout were caught the past several nights on incoming tide while fair numbers of small to medium croaker and some small flounder were caught during the day. Headboats leaving from the pier are fishing Hampton Bar and returning with good hauls of large croaker.

Lynnhaven - Mid-day action was near zero but very early in the morning and after dusk, bottom fishermen are catching some croaker, sea mullet, snapper bluefish, pan trout and flounder.

Virginia Beach - Bottom fishermen enjoyed a mixture of panfish including spot, croaker, sea mullet and snapper blues. Casters working the end of the pier managed some Spanish mackerel and bluefish. Water temperature at pierside was 77 degrees mid-week.

Sandbridge - Several small cobia were decked the past week. Monday afternoon (July 22), saw a good run of Spanish mackerel. Bottom fishermen reported an assortment of panfish including snapper blues, small flounder, croaker, spot sea mullet and trout.

Outer Banks, NC -

Surf fishing was slow along the Nags Head area beaches with a few snapper bluefish, flounder, sea mullet, small croaker and spot taken by bottom fishermen with bait. The weather was hot, winds were generally light and the water clear close to the beach. The same conditions prevailed on the piers and bottom fishing for "panfish" was generally slow. Casters working the ends of the piers did manage some Spanish mackerel, bluefish and trout--usually the best action came early and late in the day. Live baiters got shots at king mackerel, jack crevalle and cobia. A small sailfish was caught and released from the Avalon Pier on Sunday (July 21) and the pier's first king mackerel was landed the next day. Six king mackerel and two cobia were decked at Nags Head Pier Wednesday. Anglers fishing from the Little Bridge on the causeway to Manteo are catching some speckled trout, small black drum and a few decent-sized spot. Beach casters at Oregon Inlet have managed to catch some Spanish mackerel and snapper bluefish early and late in the day.

On Hatteras Island, Cape Point produced just a scattering of Spanish mackerel but decent numbers of croaker and sea mullet on Friday. Saturday was very hot and the fishing was slow but some Spanish mackerel were caught around dusk by casters while bottom fishermen pecked away on a few spot and croaker. Sunday and Monday saw a mixture of Spanish mackerel and snapper bluefish pulled from the surf early and late in the day with scattered catches of pompano and sea mullet throughout the daylight hours.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported fair catches of dolphin plus some wahoo and decent numbers of billfish (mostly white marlin) but tuna were very scarce on Friday, as the headboat recorded good catches of croaker plus some spot and sea mullet. On Saturday, the inshore boats had good catches of snapper blues and Spanish mackerel while the offshore fleet returned with some dolphin and wahoo plus a scattering of yellowfin and bigeye tuna while releasing several billfish. On Sunday, most boats had multiple shots at billfish and boated better numbers of gaffer dolphin and wahoo plus some bigeye tuna and yellowfin. One half-day boat, fishing within sight of the inlet, boated a pair of cobia. Billfish were plentiful again on Monday, as the fleet returned with fair numbers of gaffer dolphin to 43 pounds, wahoo up to 51 pounds and a few yellowfin tuna.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet reported decent numbers of gaffer dolphin and wahoo on Friday. Dolphin were more numerous over the weekend and several boats returned with limit catches. Wahoo, king mackerel and yellowfin tuna were also landed. Mary Charnick of Hampton released a sailfish aboard TOP BILL'IN. On Monday, dolphin catches were rated "excellent," with decent numbers of wahoo but only a few yellowfin tuna.

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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