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The Saltwater Review - July 31, 2002

Volume 16. No.12
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). From August 16 through April 30, 2003, the size limit is 14 inches and the possession limit is 14 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, see the enclosed notice.

Cobia have scattered throughout the lower Bay but are still being caught at such early season locations as Bluefish Rock and Latimer Shoals. The week's biggest fish, an 85-1/2 pounder, was boated off Cape Charles, at buoy 36A.

Croaker remain abundant throughout the Bay but the biggest fish are increasingly coming from the mainstem shipping channel edges. In the coming weeks, expect these schools to begin moving down the Bay and aggregate at the baymouth.

Amberjack, and increasingly jack crevalle, are showing on many ocean wrecks off Virginia Beach but the South Tower (located some 50 miles SSE of Rudee Inlet) harbors the most abundant supply. Spadefish, sea bass and even barracuda are found at these same wreck sites.

Offshore, yellowfin tuna have replaced bluefin tuna and chopper bluefish off the Eastern Shore seaside with "chunking" the preferred method. Billfish, including blue and white marlin plus sailfish, are available but scattered in deep water (over 100 fathoms).

Chincoteague -

Donna from Captain Bob's reported inshore bottom fishermen caught a few croaker, pan trout and flounder while drifting between the CV buoy and marker 16 but overall action was very slow. Offshore, chunking with butterfish at the Lumpy Bottom produced citation bluefin tuna for Stony Whitlock (140.5 pounds), Merritt Robbins (108.5 pounds) and Phil Parkinson (109.8 pounds) while Tim Davis (77.6 pounds), Dave Lawson (74.8 pounds) and Clay Summerville (82.7 pounds) all scored citation yellowfin tuna. Adam Frye boated a 109.6 pound bluefin at the Parking Lot.

Barnacle Bill's said inshore action was limited to an occasional keeper flounder and a handful of croaker around the mouth of the inlet. Offshore, tuna, mostly yellowfin, continued to provide good action. Best catches were reported from the Parking Lot the past week. The crew aboard the REEL TIME was trolling at the Washington Canyon and Herbert Koons caught and released a white marlin.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported good offshore action over the weekend, as Norman Katrobs released a white marlin at the Washington Canyon and Destin Case (81 pounds), Jenny Case (78 pounds, 2 ounces) and Scot Harmon (74-1/2 pounds) all boated citation yellowfin at the Little Fingers. Charlie Davis (102-1/2-pounds) and Bill Floyd (115-1/2 pounds) each boated bluefin tuna at the Lumps. The Norfolk Canyon yielded citation dolphin to John Johnson (21-1/4 pounds), Robbie Marsh (21 pounds) and Paul Klecker (21 pounds, 2 ounces), a big wahoo for Ron Canova (54 pounds) and blue marlin releases for Matt Winkler and Allen Reed. Andy Dize released a blue marlin at the Washington Canyon while Keith Johnson, Matt Sarisco and James Robertson all released white marlin aboard the LUCKY DAWG. William Downing also released a white marlin at the Washington Canyon while Daniel Hytel released a sailfish and Richard Riley boated a 75-1/2-pound yellowfin tuna. The same waters produced citation wahoo for Robert Herlihy (45 pounds), Steven Dixon (55 pounds, 2 ounces) and Anderson Duer (68 pounds, 2 ounces). Jeff Deen landed a 22-pound, 6-ounce dolphin at the 26 Mile Hill.

Captain Zed's said the crew aboard the AMERICAN MAID released a blue marlin and boated good-sized yellowfin tuna and bluefin tuna up to 116 pounds. Washington and Norfolk canyons provided the best opportunity for billfish while tuna were more plentiful at Sam's Hill and the 26 Mile Hill. Inside the inlet, schools of croaker had moved from Green and Drawing channels into adjacent waters as shallow as five feet deep while flounder were biting along Bradford Channel and inside Burton's Bay.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported the best weekend concentrations of croaker were off Morley's Wharf on the bayside and out of Oyster on the seaside. William Emory weighed-in the week's biggest cobia, an 85-1/2 pounder, caught at buoy 36A while George Kohler decked a 65-3/4-pound cobia at the Cabbage Patch. Robert Ferris released a 51-1/2-inch cobia at Latimer Shoals and Dave Barbe released a 46-incher at Cherrystone Reef. Only one citation flounder was weighed the past week. It was caught by Ronald Harrell, III, at the Cell and weighed 8 pounds, 1 ounce.

Cherrystone Campground reported "hit or miss" action on flounder, with some anglers managing an eight fish limit but others failing to boat a keeper (17-1/2-inch minimum size). Bill Sadukas boated the week's biggest "keeper," off Cape Charles and it weighed an impressive 10 pounds, 6 ounces. It just may be the heaviest flatfish ever weighed at the campground scales, according to a longtime resident.

Onancock -

Croaker continue to dominate the bottom fishing scene but spot numbers are increasing with some of the better hauls of these coveted bottom fish made around the #2 buoy off Onancock and at Cranny Hack. Some flounder to nearly 7 pounds were caught along the edges of the shipping channels while pan trout have suddenly become scarce.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported the hot weather made for a slow weekend, as many would-be anglers decided to stay indoors. Still, those that fished found cobia on the shoals, near the northern section of the CBBT complex and fair numbers of flounder at various locations along the crossing.

Bubba's Marina told of good weekend catches of flounder, especially around the Second and Fourth islands of the CBBT. Several cobia were also boated near the Second Island while trout, puppy drum and croaker were caught just inside Lynnhaven Inlet. The best offshore action was the "chunk bite" for tuna at the Fingers.

Dr. Jim Wright said good numbers of Spanish mackerel have moved into the waters off Sandbridge while the offshore tuna bite was just "so-so" the past week. Hefty amberjack remain a "sure thing" at the South Tower, especially on live bait. Dr. Jim heard of one angler, who was live-baiting for king mackerel about a half-mile off Sandbridge, caught and released a 75-inch tarpon. 

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina said cobia fishing was slow the past week but the shop still checked-in several citation fish on Sunday, including a 53 pounder from Bluefish Rock for Steven Griffith and releases by Wayne Gousse (50 inches, High Rise) and W.H. Gousse (46-1/2 inches, High Rise). Flounder continue to cooperate at Hampton Bar, where Weyland Joyer boated the week's biggest flatfish at 8 pounds, 3 ounces. The CBBT complex also produced a citation-winning flounder over the weekend, as Bruce Breen decked a 7-3/4 pounder at the 12 MP on a bucktail jig. Spadefish are holding around the rocks of the Third and Fourth islands and are hitting bits of clam, threaded on a small hook and suspended below a float.

Johnny at Sunset Marina weighed a pair of jumbo flounder over the weekend and both were caught at Hampton Bar. The biggest was caught by Essie Gray and weighed 8-1/2 pounds. The other was boated by Richard Spencer and weighed an even 8 pounds. The marina also checked-in a citation croaker from the HRBT for William Tenner (3 pounds, 10 ounces) and a 6-1/2-pound sheepshead from the Fourth Island for 
Keith Blackburn. Johnny indicated other anglers found croaker in the 2 to 2-1/2-pound range at the HRBT while black sea bass to nearly 5 pounds were caught at the Triangle Wrecks.

Allen Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle said Back River Reef was producing a decent mixture of flounder, trout and triggerfish, though recent catches have been limited by the weather, "it's just been too hot." In order to beat the heat, several of the local veteran fishermen switched to clamming, "they're in waist deep water (clamming) and that keeps them cool," according to Allen. Other catches include spot up to 12 ounces off Grandview Beach and spadefish on the inshore ocean wrecks.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said bottom fishermen are making good hauls of croaker and spot inside the York River at the Lumps but pan trout numbers have dwindled. Anglers fishing from the public pier at Gloucester Point are also catching croaker and the occasional keeper flounder while more flounder are being caught at the mouth of the Perrin River. Keith Cerny boated a 56-1/2-pound citation cobia at York Spit over the weekend.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club were not as active as usual last week and the hot weather was to blame. Jorj Head did brave the heat on Sunday and boated a 54-pound cobia at York Spit early but caught only croaker for the remainder of the trip. Monday, he put the croaker to work and his crew captured and released eight citation jack crevalle at the Tower Reef. Several baits were also cut off by hungry barracuda. A run to the Anglo African wreck produced spadefish, sea bass, porgy, triggerfish and Spanish mackerel but none were citation-sized. So the group went to the 4A buoy, where Dr. Ken Neill caught and released a 22.25-inch citation spadefish.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported trollers are picking-up some Spanish mackerel and snapper blues along the lower portion of Cut Channel. Bottom fishermen continue to find croaker "all over" but many of the best hauls of bigger fish coming from the edges of the shipping channel in 60 feet of water. The same waters are also producing some medium spot and pan trout. Larger trout, some topping 5 pounds, are being caught around Smith Point Light in the late evening and after dark.

Don from Smith Point Marina said bottom fishermen were hauling in good-sized croaker and a few spot at Blackberry Hang while trollers were catching snapper blues and Spanish mackerel north and south of Smith Point Light while chummers did best on the blues on the Middle Grounds. Don also indicated several 20 to 30-pound red drum had been boated the past week but had no other details.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said good numbers of spot have arrived in the Rappahannock, at the Mudhole, located near the mouth of the Piankatank, and just offshore of Gwynn Island. The fish are "good-sized" for this early in the season and Jerry predicted a good fall for large spot. Croaker remain abundant in area waters while flounder action was described as "inconsistent" at the Cell/buoy 42 area. Several customers found speckled trout near Hole-in-the-Wall and off the southern entrance to Mathews Creek. Cobia were caught around York Spit and off Silver Beach, where Harold Dickerson boated a 58-inch, 54-1/4 pounder.

Locklies Marina told of a good weekend bite of spot at the 8R buoy, as croaker remain available "everywhere." The marina indicated Spanish mackerel had moved into Butler's Hole.

Garretts Marina had several citation spot at 16 ounces, saying the best catches of bigger spot were made "right off from Garretts Marina," while croaker continue to bite "all over the river."

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina reported decent weekend catches of medium to large spot at Butlers Hole, and off Mosquito Bar, at buoy 8. Croaker were "practically jumping in the boat" along Cut Channel at buoy 54, according to Captain Thompson, as a Richmond party filled "every cooler they had." Other catches include a few trout and several shark up to 41 inches. A cobia was hooked but lost by a party drifting for croaker near the Range Light. Trollers are catching some Spanish mackerel and snapper blues inside Fleets Bay while chummers are catching lots of blues at Windmill Bar.

Virginia Beach -

Headboats sailing from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center recorded good catches of sea bass plus a few flounder and triggerfish while the offshore fleet had good catches of tuna and dolphin the past week. Most of the tuna were yellowfin and many made citation weight (70-pound minimum) and the heaviest was nearly 90 pounds. Chunking proved to the be most effective for the tuna--especially the larger ones. The Center also registered a sailfish release and indicated spot to over 16 ounces were caught "right at the inlet," though most of the tasty bottom fish weighed between 10 and 14 ounces.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina said a weekend billfish tournament drew 25 boats but only six billfish were caught and released. The fleet did record good catches of dolphin, according to the marina spokesman, but only a few tuna were boated.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - A pair of cobia were decked in recent days--one was released the other measured 41 inches. Other catches included good numbers of pan trout and shark at night plus some croaker to nearly 2 pounds. Several flounder to over 20 inches and spadefish were decked during the day.

Buckroe Beach - After dark, spot, small shark and pan trout provide a steady bite while daytime action is limited to croaker and a few keeper flounder.

Harrison - Charley said the bottom fishing improved the past week with more spot and pan trout showing after dark. Daytime action remains slow with only pin head croaker and the occasional keeper flounder.

Lynnhaven - Weekend catches included spot, croaker, snapper bluefish and "lots of crabs."

Virginia Beach - Daytime catches include spot, Spanish mackerel, taylor blues and sea mullet while good numbers of pan trout and 8 to 10-inch puppy drum (minimum size limit for puppy drum is 18 inches) show after dark. Water temperature at pierside was a tropical 82 degrees mid-week.

Sandbridge - Fishermen were treated to a good run of spot plus some croaker, snapper bluefish, Spanish mackerel, sea mullet and small puppy drum. A 57-inch cobia was decked Wednesday (July 31) morning.

Outer Banks, NC -

Snapper bluefish, small spot and croaker provided most of the limited action along the Nags Head area beaches last week. Anglers had a better selection from the area piers, as Spanish mackerel were generally available around the ends of the piers "early and late," and king mackerel to over 30 pounds and cobia to nearly 50 pounds were decked. Catches were similar from the shore at Oregon Inlet, although sheepshead and the occasional keeper flounder were landed from the Catwalk over the inlet.

South of the inlet, at Cape Point on Buxton, beach fishermen caught puppy drum, Spanish mackerel, snapper blues and flounder on Friday. Saturday saw a solid run of Spanish mackerel and snapper blues early and late in the day with fair catches of flounder and sea mullet during the middle of the day. Shark of up to 6-feet were beached after dark. On Sunday, casters caught lots of snapper blues but only a handful of Spanish mackerel while anglers fishing with bottom rigs had sea mullet, small flounder and pompano.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported inshore boats had good catches of Spanish mackerel, snapper blues, triggerfish and sea bass the past several days while spot and croaker dominated the action on the headboat. On the Friday, the offshore fleet had good catches of dolphin plus some yellowfin tuna, wahoo and several bigeye tuna up to 117 pounds. Saturday, reports indicated fair catches of dolphin plus some wahoo and yellowfin. A 472-pound blue marlin was brought to the dock. The 11-foot long fish died before it reached the boat. Sunday's catches included dolphin, wahoo, yellowfin tuna and amberjack.

The fleet from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed good catches of wahoo and dolphin plus a few yellowfin tuna and king mackerel on Friday. Saturday, weather was ideal and so was the dolphin and wahoo bite while tuna remained scarce. Amberjack and barracuda were active on the wrecks. Christopher Winlsow of Salem released a 44-inch amberjack aboard the GOOD TIMES. Sunday was hot and breezy and the dolphin and wahoo bite slowed but a few more yellowfin tuna were boated. Joseph Pullen of Ferrum boated a 46-pound wahoo aboard the HATTERAS FEVER. Monday's action was similar, with fair catches of wahoo and dolphin. Ed Smith, Jr. released a sailfish aboard the GOOD TIMES.

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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