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The Saltwater Review - July 24, 2003

Volume 17. No. 10
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, grey trout and red drum have been modified. In particular, note that a summer closed period for black sea bass will be in effect from September 2 through September 15.

For black sea bass, the minimum size limit has been upped to 12 inches while the possession limit remains 25 fish but closed periods of September 2 through September 15 and December 1 through December 31 have been added.

The minimum size limit for grey trout is 12 inches and the possession limit is 7 fish year round.

Bay flounder fishermen enjoyed their best catches of the season last week, as flatfish to over 10 pounds were weighed. Some of the best hauls were made from the deeper channel edges leading into or out of the Bay, the CBBT structure itself, the buoy 36A to 38A area, located off Kiptopeke, and the Cell/buoy 42 area.

Cobia and red drum remain available on the lower Bay with some of the most consistent action coming at the Inner Middle Grounds. Most of the cobia are being caught during daylight hours while the best drum bite is after sundown.

Spadefish and black sea bass can be found on most inshore ocean wrecks while good concentrations of amberjack are holding at the South Tower, located some 50 miles SSE of Rudee Inlet.

Offshore, a scattering of bluefin tuna were caught on the inshore lumps and hills but chopper bluefish continue to dominate these areas. Boats from the Rudee Inlet fleet found a few billfish and a scattering of dolphin and yellowfin tuna at the Norfolk Canyon.

Chincoteague -

Captain Bob's reported loads of large bluefish and several nice-sized bluefin tuna of nearly 100 pounds over the weekend. Most of the tuna were caught at the Parking Lot but bluefish were abundant at the Lumpy Bottom as well as the Parking Lot. Inside the inlet, fair numbers of keeper flounder are being caught in the main channel near buoys 15 and 16, where Maryland angler Joe Mushern boated a 26-1/4-inch, 7-pound, 9-ounce flatfish. Croaker are in good supply in most areas but these fish "are not real large." A few puppy drum were caught near the Queen's Sound Bridge.

Barnacle Bill's said keeper flounder were caught at Cockle Creek, as well as in the main channel while bottom fishermen encountered "tons of croaker just about anywhere." Outside the inlet, the inshore ocean wrecks are holding good concentrations of black sea bass and spadefish. Further offshore, the shop indicated several vessels boated a limit of 50 to 60-pound bluefin tuna while chunking at the Lumpy Bottom.

Wachapreague -

Captain Zed's reported "a few tuna" plus a scattering of dolphin and king mackerel were caught over the weekend but only large bluefish were plentiful on the offshore grounds. The inshore wrecks continue to produce fair to good catches of black sea bass. Inside the inlet, bottom fishermen are catching decent numbers of croaker and flounder but many of the flounder are short of the 17-1/2-inch minimum size limit and must be released. Some of the better catches have come from the channel in front of the Coast Guard Station and around Cedar Island.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported excellent catches of flounder highlighted the weekend action. The buoy 36A area produced the lions's share of citation flatfish, as David (8 pounds, 9 ounces) and Susan Smith (7-1/2 pounds), Ernie Athey Sr. (8 pounds, 3 ounces) and Ernie Jr. (7-1/2 pounds), Daniel Gillispie (7 pounds, 13 ounces), Robert Smith (7-3/4 pounds), Tommy Ingram (7 pounds, 2 ounces), and 10-year-old Ryland Edwards Jr. (7 pounds, 1 ounce) all landed trophy flatfish at this location. The Cabbage Patch yielded an 8-pound, 1-ounce flounder to Carl McCrady while buoy 38A produced a 7-1/4-pound flatfish for Kevin Haxter. In separate trips, Nathan Beach boated a pair of 3-pound, 1-ounce croaker at the Cell. The crew aboard the CARIE SUE had a memorable day at Latimer Shoals, as Bradley Carie released a 49-inch red drum and Mike Griffith released a 48-inch red drum and boated a 72-pound 13-ounce cobia. Joseph Peison landed a 67-pound, 2-ounce cobia at the same location. Gene Brockwell released a 51-inch cobia at buoy 16 and Steve Juhring released a 46-inch cobia at the Middle Grounds, where Scott Wilder boated a 69-pound cobia. Out of the seaside port of Oyster, W.T. Nottingham (84 inches), Patrick Marable (74 inches), Doug Wehner (72 inches) and Mike Ward (65 inches) all earned tarpon release citations.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen rated spot fishing as "excellent" Saturday and Sunday, as anglers often had "two-at-a-time" with fish to nearly 12 inches. Captain Will cautioned "you got to have bloodworm or you won't even know the spot are there." Some croaker of up to 18 inches plus increasing numbers of pan trout were caught mixed in the with the spot. Other catches included grunts, porgy, sea mullet, bluefish and blowfish. Best action was over shell piles in 22 to 28 feet of water. Captain Will added that good numbers of keeper flounder were holding along the deepwater channel edges.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported an excellent weekend flounder bite and checked-in a dozen citation flatfish on Sunday alone and all were caught either at the CBBT or along the Baltimore Channel. Kendred P. Magette boated the biggest flounder at 27-1/4 inches and 10 pounds, 10 ounces.

Bubba's Marina also told of excellent flounder action, "like I've never seen before," stated long-time owner Dimitri Hionis, as the shop weighed flatfish to 11 pounds. Top spot was the area from the small boat channel to the First Island. Other catches included decent numbers of Spanish mackerel in the rips off Cape Henry and good-sized puppy drum around the Lesner Bridge but "no speckled trout."

Dr. Jim Wright and his group fished the Third Island area for flounder recently and had no problem catching good numbers of 4 to 6-pound flatfish "but we couldn't catch a citation," of 7 pounds or more. Dr. Jim had little else to report, "it seems everyone is going and catching flounder."

Wallace's Marina told of decent weekend catches of spadefish around the Third and Fourth islands and out at the Tower Reef. But the top weekend draw was the awesome flounder bite, as the shop weighed citation flatfish up to 10 pounds. Top flounder locations were buoy 36A, the Cell and bayside and seaside of the Third and Fourth islands. Jason Pinter pulled-in a 10-pound flounder at the CBBT and brother Jack nailed a 9-pound, 1-ounce flatfish at the Cell, where Edmund James (9 pounds, 1 ounce), Eric Dettwiller (7-1/2 pounds), Kim Jones (8 pounds, 11 ounces) and Danny Caison (8 pounds, 2 ounces) all landed citation flatfish. John Perry boated a 10-pound flounder at the Fourth Island on a bucktail. Michael Williamson landed a 9-pound, 6-ounce flounder on a minnow, William Beall had a 9-1/4 pounder on a minnow, Dwayne Williamson had a 7-pound, 14-ouncer on cut bait and Neil Renouf landed a 7-pound, 10 ounce flatfish on a jig. George Jernigan, Jr. (8 pounds) and Stan Butterfield (7 pounds, 6 ounces) each caught citation flounder at buoy 36A on squid.

Debbie at Sunset Marina told of good weekend catches of flounder at several locations. Boo Hunter boated flounder to 4-3/4 pounds at the HRBT, where John Derrick and his buddy had six flatfish over 20 inches weighing up to 5 pounds, 10 ounces while a trip earlier in the week to the CBBT complex produced 16 keeper flatfish to 24 inches. The Lovett family boated a dozen keeper flounder up to 6 pounds, 6 ounces at the Fourth Island while the weekend's biggest flatfish, a 6-pound, 6-ouncer, was caught at the Cell by Mike Diggs. Debbie added that Kevin and Sandi Smith filled a cooler with nice croaker at Hampton Bar on Sunday.

Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina had a long list of citation fish for the second week in a row. Fishing at the CBBT, the crew aboard TALES & SCALES had three citation flatfish, as Harold Jackson (8 pounds), Robert Jackson (8 pounds) and Kemper Gibson (7-1/2 pounds) all boated award winning fish. Fishing near the Third and Fourth islands, the FATTY FLATTY crew also boated three citation flounder, as John Perry (9 pounds), Barry Brady (7 pounds, 14 ounces) and Shane Hicks (7 pounds, 2 ounces) qualified for citation awards. Butch Morgan (8-3/4 pounds) and Sunny Baynes (8 pounds) also caught big flounder at the CBBT. The Anglo-African wreck site produced a 9-pound, 22-inch spadefish for James Hunter. The crew aboard the BIG MINNOW had a banner day at the Fingers, as James Benjamin (41 inches), Rich Falcon (40 inches) and Jimmy McConnell (38 inches) all earned release awards for chopper bluefish and James Hunter a bluefin tuna citation for a 104-pounder.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club say offshore action remains slow unless you are seeking big bluefish or amberjack. An occasional 100-pound plus bluefin tuna is caught at the Fingers and a few billfish along with an occasional yellowfin tuna and dolphin were boated at the Norfolk Canyon. The flounder bite was the hot ticket in the Bay with some of the best hauls of large flounder coming from the Cell/buoy 42 area, where Jorj Head boated a club record 9-1/2-pound flounder that measured 30-1/2 inches.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported Spanish mackerel have arrived in the waters around Smith Point Light but cautioned, "they're not loading the boat but they are catching a few (mackerel)." Bottom fishermen say the bigger croaker have moved into deep water and are holding along the edges of the shipping channels. Small spot are caught in the creeks in decent numbers but pan trout remain scarce in area waters.

Queen's Creek Outfitters said flounder fishing has been fantastic the past two weeks, as big flounder were caught off Cape Charles, around buoy 42 and over the Cell. Many of the best hauls were made by anglers wireline trolling or "power" drifting. Grady Baker, Sr. (9 pounds, 2 ounces), Ray Sauls (8-1/4 pounds) and James Walker (7 pounds, 5 ounces) all landed citation flounder near buoy 42 while Lenny Mahoney decked a 7-pound flounder at the Cell. Spot made a strong showing off Gwynn Island, near the spike buoy, at the mouth of Broad Creek and inside the Piankitank River. Several cobia were boated off Cape Charles, where Jeffery Brooks boated a citation 77 pounder on cut bait.

Locklies Marina said decent numbers of spot were caught above the bridge off Temples Bay, at the mouth of Carters Creek and off Parrots Island. Croaker have suddenly become scarce in this section of the river. Several boats that ran out to the Cell reported good catches of flounder, including of 7 pounds or more.

Garretts Marina said bottom fishing remained slow and the only fish caught in any abundance were croaker.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said the spike buoy off Broad Creek was the weekend hotspot for large spot. Captain Jim said spot were also biting off Gwynn Island at the Corn House and off Windmill Point at Butlers Hole. Only a few small to medium croaker were mixed in with the spot. Trollers found Spanish mackerel and taylor blues mixed together between Windmill Point and Stingray Point. The waters around the Cell are still producing good hauls of flounder.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported a scattering of large bluefin tuna, most in excess of 100 pounds, at the Fingers, where large bluefish remain very abundant. Jason Graham decked a 169-pound bluefin aboard the BACKLASH and the same trip produced a 90-pound class bluefin and a load of chopper bluefish. John Turner boated the season's first citation king mackerel, 29-1/2-pounder, aboard the EMPTY WALLET at the Fingers. The headboat fleet is finding decent numbers of black sea bass up to 4 pounds on the inshore ocean wrecks.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina weighed a 114-pound bluefin tuna on Saturday from the Fingers and said some yellowfin tuna were caught out at Norfolk Canyon but described the tuna bite as "fairly slow." A white and a blue marlin were caught at the south wall of the Norfolk Canyon on Sunday.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Bottom fishermen caught decent numbers of croaker, spot and sea mullet plus a few keeper flounder. Pan trout are starting to congregate beneath the pier lights after sundown. A 48-inch, 28-pound cobia was decked last Friday.

Buckroe Beach - Spot and croaker sporadic daytime action while small shark and trout are available after dark.

Harrison - Charley said daytime action was "really slow" the past several days, except for small spot and "we've got a herd of those." After sun down, bottom fishermen are catching some croaker and even more spot which are running about "3 to the pound."

Lynnhaven - The fish and fishermen have been slowed by the mid-day heat but decent numbers of spot and sea mullet provide steady action after sundown. A keeper pan trout (12-inch minimum size limit) were caught after dark around the pier lights and crabbing has been good the past week.

Virginia Beach - Good-sized sea mullet, some spot, croaker and a few Spanish mackerel were caught over the weekend. An estimated 60-pound cobia was hooked but lost at the pier. Due to the hard southwest wind, the water temperature dropped to just 60 degrees by Tuesday.

Sandbridge - Bottom fishermen are seeing a good summer-time variety of pan fish including medium croaker, spot, sea mullet, small flounder, pan trout and the ever present skate.

Outer Banks, NC -

Anglers fishing from the Nags Head area beaches and piers reported a variety of panfish including croaker, sea mullet, spot, blowtoads, and snapper blues plus striped bass, triggerfish, Spanish mackerel and cobia from the piers. At Oregon Inlet, anglers reported sheepshead, croaker, bluefish and the occasional Spanish mackerel.

South of Oregon Inlet, Spanish mackerel and bluefish hit Cape Point on high tide Friday while pompano and sea mullet bit throughout the day. On Saturday, large rays dominated the action at the Point but beach fishermen who found clear water in the Avon area reported decent catches of pompano. Bluefish hit the Point just after sunup on Sunday and there were a handful of Spanish mackerel mixed in with the blues. An excellent pompano bite lasted all day at the jetties. Monday morning bluefish to 4 pounds and a scattering of Spanish mackerel were caught at the Point.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported good catches of 20-pound class yellowfin tuna (many boats returned with a limit) a few dolphin, skipjack tuna and five released white marlin and two blue marlin releases on Friday. Inshore boats fishing around the bridge caught striped bass while trollers working east of the bridge recorded mixed catches of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues. Anglers fishing aboard the headboat caught mostly croaker and a few keeper flounder. On Saturday, the fleet recorded fair to limit catches of yellowfin tuna. One large blue marlin was caught and released. On Sunday, the dolphin bite improved with fish to 40 pounds while the tuna bite slowed, though the crew aboard CAPT BC had a limit of yellowfin. Monday saw good catches of yellowfin tuna but few dolphin.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet reported good catches of dolphin plus some yellowfin tuna, king mackerel and wahoo on Friday. The fleet also registered three blue marlin releases, three sailfish releases and a pair of white marlin releases. On Saturday, the fleet released four white marlin and seven sailfish and brought fair to good numbers of dolphin, yellowfin tuna and king mackerel back to the dock. Sunday, five sailfish releases and two blue marlin releases were reported, as well as dolphin up to 53 pounds and a sprinkling of wahoo and blackfin tuna. Monday was the best day of the period for billfish, as the fleet registered three blue marlin releases, five sailfish releases and a white marlin. Fair numbers of yellowfin tuna were boated plus a sprinkling of king mackerel and wahoo.

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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