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The Saltwater Review - July 30, 2003

Volume 17. No. 11
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 increased 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 another banner week, as flatfish to over 13 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 38 area, which is located off Kiptopeke, and the Cell/buoy 42 area.

Croaker, especially most of the bigger fish, have moved into the deeper portions of the main stem of the Bay and have acquired their yellow/orange spawning colors.

Cobia still linger inside the Bay with the most consistent catches coming from Latimer Shoals and surrounding waters.

Offshore waters finally have something to offer on a consistent basis other than big bluefish, as decent catches of yellowfin and bluefin tuna were made off Virginia Beach and Chincoteague in recent days.

Ocean wrecks still hold black sea bass and spadefish but neither fish are as cooperative as they were in the month of June.

Chincoteague -

Donna from Captain Bob's reported a light mixture of yellowfin tuna, dolphin and king mackerel out at the canyons while the Lumpy Bottom and Parking Lot still held loads of chopper bluefish and the occasional bluefin tuna. Inside the inlet, juvenile shark up to 3 feet, good numbers of croaker and the occasional flounder were caught over the weekend. The main channel, Assateague Channel and the waters from the CV marker to red buoy 22 produced some of the best action. Decent numbers of blue crabs are showing and some of the best hauls were made around Four Mouths.

Barnacle Bill's said bluefish have begun to "thin out" on the inshore lumps and with that, bluefin tuna catches had improved, as the ENFORCER came in with a limit on Tuesday (July 29). The ocean wrecks continue to produce good catches of black sea bass but very few tautog. Inside the inlet, good numbers of croaker are holding in the waters on the backside of Assateague Island while anglers drifting the main channel are catching some keeper flounder.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported Kurt Dubac released a swordfish at the Washington Canyon while fishing aboard the FISHING MAGICIAN. They indicated several other swordfish were spotted at the surface by other anglers in the same vicinity. Daniel Sides decked a 22-pound, 6-ounce dolphin aboard the WHITE HOT at the Washington Canyon but the crew aboard the BONESHAKER boated the weekend's biggest dolphin, a 33 pounder, at the Baltimore Canyon. Large bluefish remained abundant just inshore of the canyons, where a very few bluefin tuna were captured. Inside the inlet, medium-sized croaker are plentiful throughout while a few keeper flounder were boated around the mouth of the inlet and in front of the Coast Guard Station.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle recorded nearly two-dozen flounder citations in recent days and the majority were caught in the vicinity of buoy 36A on squid and minnow or cut bait. Troy Cook had the weekend's heaviest flounder at 8-3/4 pounds but Ronald Whitehead (8 pounds, 5 ounces), Wayne Barefoot (8 pounds, 2 ounces) and Judy Hendrix (8 pounds) also boated flounder of 8 pounds or more at buoy 36A. Ray Lupto was drifting near buoy 36A for flounder and hooked and landed an 11-pound, 7-ounce sheepshead. Good hauls of flounder were also reported from buoy 38, the High Rise section of the CBBT and the Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT. After recording four tarpon releases the prior week, the shop did not register a silver king but Richard Hubart (84 inches), Ryan Dockiewiez (78 inches) and Joe Peirson (75 inches) all earned release awards for big shark at Magothy Bay while fishing for the elusive tropical visitor. Some cobia still linger in the vicinity of Latimer Shoals, where Rex Jernigan (52 inches) and James Beasely Sr. (46-1/2 inches) both earned release awards for large cobia. Over on the seaside, decent numbers of croaker were caught out of Oyster, around buoys 4 and 5 but "they're not as big as last year."

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported good catches of mixed sizes of croaker and spot from 8 to 12 inches plus reasonable numbers of keeper flounder to 24 inches and some pan trout. Sea mullet, bluefish, blowfish, porgy and pigfish are also showing in the catches. Best catches are coming from water 22 to 40 feet deep and bloodworm, cut bait and shrimp.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Jackie at Cobbs Marina reported excellent catches of big flounder the past several days, nearly all of which were caught at the CBBT complex. Nat Renouf weighed the heaviest flatfish, at 11-3/4 pounds, and the same outing produced a 9-3/4 pounder for James Frey, who was on his first ever saltwater fishing excursion. The pair were fishing aboard the private boat 247 at the CBBT. Bruce Graham boated an 8-pound, 10-ounce flounder at the High Level span, Pat O'Toole nailed an 8-pounder at the First Island and David Arnold decked a 7-pound, 11-ounce flounder at the Third Island. Ronald Simons (7 pounds, 7 ounces) and Carl Meyer (7 pounds, 5 ounces) also boated citation winning flatfish at the CBBT while Tracy Badary landed a 7-1/4-pound flatfish at the ODU Reef site.

Lou at Bubba's Marina said flounder were biting "all along the CBBT" but most of the biggest flatfish (to over 11 pounds) registered at the shop recently had been caught at the Third and Fourth islands. Good-sized flounder to 8 pounds were also caught around the Lesner Bridge the past week while waters inside Lynnhaven produced scattered catches of croaker and puppy drum.

Dr. Jim Wright and party fished the Third Island tube last Thursday and boated flounder up to 6 pounds on live menhaden. A nearby boat landed a 29-1/2-inch flatfish which surely weighed better than 8 pounds. Dr. Wright also indicated that Rudee Inlet holds plenty of hand-sized spot which make perfect live bait for amberjack.

Wallace's Bait and Tackle checked-in nineteen citation flounder up to 12-1/2 pounds from Friday through Sunday. The 12-1/2 pounder was caught by Bruce Breen aboard the DEBRA ANN. The same trip produced a 40-fish limit for five anglers and citation flounder for Dwayne Heaster (9-1/4 pounds) and Pat Hessig (7-1/2 pounds). The group wire-lined bucktails along the northern sections of the CBBT. The crew aboard the TOP NOTCH wire-lined the same area and boated three citation flounder to 8-1/2 pounds. Darrell Beaver boated a 10-1/4-pound flounder while trolling near the High Level span. The Hump also produced several nice hauls of flounder including citation flatfish for Jack Kissinger (7-1/2 pounds) and James Scrimgeour (7 pounds). Scott Gibson and his crew aboard the TRAVELLER fished the Fingers on Saturday and came home with four yellowfin tuna and two dolphin.

Debbie at Sunset Marina told of good weekend catches of flounder at Hampton Bar, Cape Henry, the Third Island, Baltimore Channel and the Hump. Andrew Cline of Richmond weighed-in the biggest flounder of the weekend, at 9 pounds, 5 ounces, and it was caught at Hampton Bar. John Jennings boated a 7-pound flatfish at Cape Henry, where Mike Morris decked a 6-pound, 7-ouncer. The Lovett family caught a limit of flounder around the Third Island, which included a 7-1/4-pound fish for Wilbert Lovett. Dr. Polk boated a 7-pound flounder while drifting the Baltimore Channel and Danny Brown of Hampton landed a 6-pound, 6-ounce flounder at the Hump. Although most anglers focused on flounder, croaker up to 2 pounds were caught at Hampton Bar, decent numbers of spot were landed off Fort Wool and Jim Collins released a 57-inch amberjack that hit a live spot at the South Tower.

Salt Ponds Marina said customers brought in lots of flounder from the CBBT complex the past several days.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said flounder were biting from "the CBBT all the way to Maryland," with some of the best hauls coming from buoy 36A and the Cell, though keeper-sized fish were caught locally on the York River in the Gloucester Point area. Croaker still provide decent action in most sections of the York but cobia have been absent from York Spit the past two weeks.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club are saying the current flounder run is as good as they have ever seen it. Some of the top locations for flatfish have been the Cell, buoy 36A, the hump, numerous locations along the CBBT complex, Hampton Bar and Cape Henry wreck. Large grey trout were caught around the High Rise and Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT by wireliners and anglers drifting live bait. Offshore waters are finally coming alive with something other than large bluefish, as Richard Bartlett had a crew out on the Fingers mid-week and boated a pair of bluefin and six yellowfin tuna.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported anglers using bits of bloodworm recorded decent catches of spot at the mouths of the creeks and over Blackberry Hang the past week. Most croaker, particularly the larger ones, have moved out in the deeper waters of the Bay and bite best "early and late" in the day. Trollers found mixed schools of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues around the mouth of Dividing Creek and just inside Fleets Bay. The Cell remains the flounder hot spot among local anglers.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said big croaker are holding around the Smith Point Lighthouse, as several fish of three pounds or more were brought in for citations. Several large spot of 16 ounces or more were pulled-in from the Little Wicomico River.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Marina said pods of big croaker are holding just east and north of buoy 42 but the real draw remains the excellent flounder bite. Many of the flatfish are in the 20 to 24-inch range. Gene Hunsecker boated a 27-inch,, 7-pound, 2-ounce flounder at the Cell on cut bait and Carlin Thomas nailed a 7-1/4-pound, 26-1/4-inch flounder at the same location. Carlin Thomas Jr. just missed citation weight with a 26-inch, 6-pound, 10-ounce flounder. Jerry Thrash said many of the better hauls were made by anglers slow trolling because "the drift was so poor." Spot made a good showing off Gwynn Island at the spike buoy, at the mouth of Broad Creek and in the Piankatank River. Spadefish remain available at the Cell but schools of smaller fish out number the larger fish. Trollers pulling 00 or 0 Clark spoons around Windmill Bar are catching decent numbers of taylor blues and Spanish mackerel. Brian Eubank boated a 3-pound, 7-ounce croaker on a chunk of peeler crab at Ware Point.

Locklies Marina told of good hauls of spot plus some croaker and pan trout off Parrots Island and around the Route 3 Bridge.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina told of good catches of spot at the spike buoy off Deltaville and Windmill Bar. Croaker were caught at both locations but nearly all weighed less than a pound. Trollers working from Windmill Point to Stingray Light recorded decent catches of Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish. The flounder bite at the Cell slowed last week, according to Captain Thompson.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported offshore waters are finally starting to produce tuna on a consistent basis. On Friday, Karl Trautner caught and released a sailfish aboard the FISH HAWK. The same trip produced bluefin tuna to 120 pounds. Bob Edwards boated a 113-pound bluefin tuna and Bill Johnson landed a citation-winning 20-pound king mackerel aboard the BACKLASH. The catches were made at the Fingers in 22 fathoms of water. The crew on the EMPTY WALLET came in with a mixed catch of bluefin tuna, yellowfin and king mackerel while the O-FOUR had five yellowfin tuna. On Sunday the BOOTLEGGER had a big catch of yellowfin tuna out near the 30-fathom line.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said the tuna are finally starting to cooperate with some of the best hauls coming from the Fingers and just east near the 400/900 lines. Several wahoo were boated in this same area over the weekend, including a 55-pounder.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Dennis told of lots of small flounder with an occasional keeper to 20 inches. Croaker, spot and sea mullet provided decent action for bottom fishing. The croaker bite was especially good following the storm early in the week and fish to 17 inches have been landed since then. A 41-pound cobia was decked Saturday. Pan trout are showing each night in the shadows created by the pier lights.

Buckroe Beach - A 40-inch cobia was decked on Tuesday (July 29) but most fishermen settled for a mixture of croaker and spot with the beat action (and largest fish) coming after sundown.

Harrison - Charley said the crabs have "shaped-up and wish I could say the same for the fish." Bottom fishermen are catching some small spot and croaker plus the occasional spadefish. A 49-pound black drum was landed on the end of the pier early last week.

Lynnhaven - Sea mullet, spot and blue crabs dominated the action the past several days. Best catches came in the late evening and after dark.

Virginia Beach - Surf water temperatures have returned to normal levels (74 degrees on July 30) and Spanish mackerel have begun to show off the end of the pier in the evenings. Bottom fishermen are catching mostly sea mullet plus some croaker and bluefish.

Sandbridge - Spot provided most of the action recently but other catches include pan trout, Spanish mackerel, croaker, sea mullet, yearling black drum and small flounder.

Outer Banks, NC -

Surf water temperatures plunged nearly 15 degrees and into the upper 50's at the Nags Head area beaches over the weekend due to the strong southwest wind. Catches were generally poor, whether from beach or pier and only a handful of small croaker, spot and sea mullet were reported.

Conditions and fishing action was only slightly better south of Oregon Inlet. On Friday, big rays were reported at Cape Point, several yearling black drum, sheepshead and pompano were caught around the jetties at the old lighthouse site and Avon had a mixture of croaker, sea mullet and bluefish. Saturday, a few taylor blues were caught mixed in with large rays at the Point while the jetties produced more black drum and sheepshead. Sunday found more bluefish at the Point and black drum and pompano at the jetties.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported their fleet landed fourteen bigeye tuna to 136 pounds and decent numbers of yellowfin tuna plus a scattering of dolphin and skipjack tuna on Friday. Limits of dolphin to 45 pounds and fair catches of yellowfin tuna were recorded Saturday but no bigeye were boated. On Sunday the fleet recorded mixed catches of mostly 20-pound class yellowfin and bailer dolphin.

The bluewater fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet had good hauls of dolphin plus a scattering of king mackerel, wahoo and yellowfin tuna on Friday, when the crew aboard TOP BILLIN released a sailfish. On Saturday, most boats recorded limit catches of mixed sizes of dolphin plus several wahoo and king mackerel. The fleet also caught and released eight billfish which included two blues, three whites and three sailfish. Sunday was another good day for billfish and dolphin. William McWethy of Virginia Beach released a sailfish aboard the BIGEYE. Dolphin and billfish catches were very good again on Monday but more yellowfin tuna and wahoo were caught.

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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