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The Saltwater Review - July 31, 2009

Plans and Statistics Department
2600 Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor
Newport News, VA 23607-0756

Vol. 23, No. 13

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


Department of Plans and Statistics, Fisheries Management Division


The Virginia Saltwater Review welcomes Captain Ray Cardone, of Cherrystone, to the fishing reports. Look for Captain Ray's fishing report in the Cape Charles section of this report. Inshore, several locations have seen an increase in the number of keeper flounder in the catches. Let's hope this trend continuing throughout the area. Offshore action is hot with a multitude of species available for those willing to ride out to find them. Marlin, several varieties of tuna, and numerous dolphin were reported.

The Fishing Reports


Storms have had a major effect on fishing in the Chincoteague area, according to Donna at Captain Bob's. Inshore, anglers are catching croaker. Offshore, anglers were bringing in large dolphin near the 26-Mile Hill. However, most anglers have been staying closer to shore due to the weather and were fishing near Black Fish Banks and the Subway Cars. They've had success in that area with spadefish, black sea bass, and triggerfish. Large flounder have also come in from that area, and the largest was over 9 pounds.

Onancock -

According to Captain Wil, fishing has picked up in Onancock when the weather cooperates. Rain and wind have kept many of the small boats from going out this week. Flounder fishing has picked up as expected at the end of July, and the keeper ratio is improving. Croaker fishing is improving with most being caught in the deeper waters around the Tangier and Pocomoke sounds. In the evenings, they can be found in the shallows as well. So far, it has been a good year for sea mullet. They have been found throughout the area. Larger fish have been moving into local creeks for the first time this summer.

Wachapreague -

The Eastern Shore Marlin Tournament was held last week in Wachapreage, and staff from the Wachapreague Marina reported over 20 white marlin and several blue marlin. Numerous dolphin were still available offshore last week, and a few bluefin and yellowfin tuna were reported. Three wahoos and a mako shark rounded out the catches.

Captain Zed's reported several offshore citations last week. Three citation blue marlin were reported on July 25th, and three citation white marlin were reported over the weekend from the 20-Fathom Finger area. A 131-pound, 64-inch citation bluefin tuna was also brought in. Inshore, flounder and croaker continue to provide fishing action for anglers in the Wachapreague Inlet.

Cape Charles -

According to staff at Chris' Bait and Tackle, Buoy 262, near Wise Point, the Concrete Ships, and Oyster have been good areas for croaker action this week. Plenty of flounder have been found off of Cape Charles and buoys 36A and 42. A few speckled trout were reported from the seaside of the Eastern Shore. A few small cobia have come in this week, and spadefish up to 6 pounds have been caught. There were no reports of tarpon lately, but quite a few shark were reported.

Fishing is improving on croaker and trout, according to Ernie at Cherrystone Bait and Tackle. Anglers are also finding a few keeper flounder in the area.

Captain Ray Cardone, of Cape Charles, reports catches of small, yet numerous croaker, and several grey trout. He reports 1 to 5 keeper flounder per trip. There is good action for panfish throughout the area from the inshore rocks and the Cherrystone Reef to the Concrete Ships.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel

No citations were reported this week at Cobb's Marina. Anglers are fishing for flounder, spot, and croaker, but the weather has kept a lot of the small boats from going out.

At Sunset Boating Center, anglers reported that croaker catches are holding. Flounder have been found as well, but the throw back ratio is high.

Abundant keeper flounder were reported from boats going out of Salt Ponds Marina this week. Fishing near the York River Fishing Center has been status quo this week. Anglers in the nearby waters and on the Gloucester Point Pier have been keeping busy with the usual summer fish—croaker, spot, and flounder.

Ken Neill, of the Peninsula Anglers Club and IGFA representative, contributed the following:

Cobia remain the top catch in the lower Chesapeake Bay. Large fish are being caught by sight casting, and larger fish are being caught by anglers fishing chum slicks. The Bluefish Rock area has been slow this year, but it has really heated up this week. Flounder catches have been pretty good up in the bay around the Cell and Buoy 36A. Large flatfish are available at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, but a lot of undersized fish were the main catch there this week. Spadefish and some sheepshead and triggerfish are available around the islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Spanish mackerel are being caught throughout the lower bay and along the oceanfront. A bit further out, shark fishing has been very good in the South-East Lumps and Hot Dog area. Bluefin tuna continue to be available on the Hot Dog and 26-Mile Hill. The Southern Towers remain loaded with amberjack. The offshore waters between the Norfolk Canyon to the Cigar are producing good numbers of white marlin and dolphin. Yellowfin tuna have become an occasional catch. There are some wahoo and there are some big blue marlin crashing the party.

Dr. Julie Ball, IGFA International Representative for Virginia Beach, contributed the following:

There should be no problem finding a species to target right now. Both inshore and offshore varieties are available. Inshore, cobia action continues to lure anglers to the lower bay shoals. Chummers are scoring with a nicer class of fish using chunks of bunker, live eels, and live croaker fished on the bottom. The best locations for chummers lately are the seaside areas of Fisherman's Island, the Nine Foot Shoal, and Latimer Shoal. Sight-casters are lagging behind, mostly because of frequent cloudy and windy conditions. Pier anglers were thrilled this week when 3 big cobia hit baits off the Seagull Fishing Pier located at the 1st island. Red drum are also taking cut bunker in these same areas. Black drum are still circling the islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, with a smartly placed shad or bucktail the lure of choice.

Flounder action is hit and miss again this week, but anglers who put in their time are finding a few keepers. Most keepers are coming from drifting with strip baits and minnows. The Hampton Bar, Buoy 36, Back River Reef, and the Thimble Shoal Channel are proving the most action for drifters. Those dropping live bait and jigs on lower bay structures are also finding a few nice fish along the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Within the Lynnhaven, Rudee, and Wachapreague inlets, flounder enthusiasts are finding a few fish, but the action is generally slow.

The hunt for the king mackerel is on. Unfortunately, the kings are not cooperating. A few small kings ranging from 10 to 15 pounds are coming from the CB line of buoys near the entrance to the Bay. Spanish mackerel action has also slowed up. Captain Steve Wray, of Lynnhaven, reports that the best Spanish bite is occurring off the Virginia Beach oceanfront, where the fish are hitting in 10 to 30 feet of water.

Some spadefish are schooling around nearshore wrecks, the span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, specifically around the 3rd and 4th islands. Most of these fish are ranging to around 4 pounds. Plantation Light and the Cell are holding some larger fish, but getting them to bite is another story. Triggerfish are helping themselves to the clam offered to spades near the islands, which are fun to catch and a good consolation prize.

Sheepshead action is good lately, with fish ranging up to 14 pounds taking fiddler crabs dangled along the Bridge Tunnel complex. Decent tautog are also coming from the same areas, with fish tipping the scales at 9.5 pounds this week.

Plenty of medium-sized croaker and nice spot are scattered around the lower bay. The lower bay inlets, the Concrete Ships, and the small boat channel south of the first island are providing good numbers right now. Squid, shrimp, and Fishbites are all working well.

The folks at Ocean's East 2 report that speckled trout made a modest showing within Lynnhaven, Rudee, and Little Creek inlets lately. Most fish are just keeper-sized, but a few 4 pounders are also in the mix. Puppy drum (juvenile red drum) are going strong, with fish active in all the lower bay shallows and inlets, with the Elizabeth River and Lynnhaven Inlet favorite hot spots this week. A few pups are pushing 30 inches.

The folks at Chris' Bait and Tackle report that other than a few sightings, the tarpon action is still basically non-existent. Tarpon experts are speculating that the Virginia tarpon run may not materialize this season if it does not jump-start within the next week or so.

Amberjack are a no-brainer at the South Tower, where anglers are finding good numbers of nice fish. Spot and croaker make the best live bait, but take plenty.

Offshore, white marlin are available with a few blue marlin and wahoo scattered in. Gaffer and bailer dolphin are also a good bet. Tuna is not the main item on the menu, but a few are coming in here and there. The 13th Annual Virginia Beach Invitational Marlin Tournament hosted out of Fisherman's Wharf Marina was a big success. Boats released a total of 46 marlin, and boated several gaffer dolphin.

Virginia Middle Bay -

Roger, of Jarrett's Hardware, reports the Spanish mackerel bite continues to improve, but still could be better. Flounder are being caught, but catching the keeper sizes is a little harder. Small blues are mixed in with the Spanish mackerel, and small spot and croaker are around, but they have moved to deeper water with the increasing water temperatures.

Dan, of Smith Point Marina, reports the fishing action is great. The Spanish mackerel bite has been getting better, and bluefish are being caught as well. Spot and croaker are still around, but they are getting smaller, and you have to look in deeper water to find them. Flounder are being caught around the jetties, but you have to look in deep water to find any keepers. For those fishing on the Maryland side, there are keeper-sized striped bass around.

Butch, of Garrets' Marina, reports the fishing has been slow due to all of the rain messing up the water conditions. Only a few reports of small croaker were reported, but when things start to dry out, staff expects to see Spanish mackerel and bluefish.

Jerry Thrash, of Queen's Creek Outfitters, reported the following:

Bay surface temperatures near the Cell are near 80 degrees, and Spanish mackerel have returned to local waters. They like 80-degree water and bite small Clark and Drone spoons pulled at high speed (6 to 8 kts). Good catches were made off Stingray Light, along Windmill Bar and along the bar edge up into Fleets Bay.

Spadefish of all sizes are still available at the The Cell, Wolf Trap, and at other bay structures. Fresh clams fished in a slick of clam chum work best for these fish.

The creeks and rivers are producing keeper spot and croaker. A large number of small spot have arrived at the popular locations making it more difficult to fill a cooler with larger fish. Flounder fishing continues to improve. Better numbers are coming from Buoy 42 and the Cell areas. Two flounder citations (26 and 28 inches) were registered this week and one near miss.

Virginia Beach -

Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish were reported inshore from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center. Some cobia were landed as well, with a few scattered spadefish. In Rudee Inlet, anglers found bluefish, flounder, spot, and croaker. Offshore, shark, bluefin tuna, dolphin, numerous marlin, a few sailfish, and wahoo were reported.

Virginia Piers -

At the Ocean View Fishing Pier, spot, croaker, and flounder were reported. Some of the flounder were large (in the 20- to 28-inch range).

Anglers at the Lynnhaven Pier were catching mostly spot, a few croaker, and numerous blue crabs last week. No keeper flounder were reported.

At the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier, numerous spot and a few sea mullet were reported. Anglers were also seeing several black drum (between 11 and 20 pounds) and spadefish. Crabbing continues to be good from the pier.

At the Little Island Fishing Pier at Sandbridge, spot, bluefish, flounder, and sea mullet were reported this week.

Spot, croaker, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel were hooked at the Buckroe Fishing Pier this week. No cobia were reported, but spadefish and small black sea bass were also caught. Catch and release striped bass were also reported.

Outer Banks, NC

Offshore fishing out of Nags Head is heating up once again with dolphin leading the way. Most anglers have been catching their limits, and there are plenty of other fish for them to catch when they do.

Yellowfin, blackfin, and bigeye tuna have all been providing good fishing, and wahoo, king mackerel, and bonito have been stalking angler's rigs as well. Deep droppers have been able to find blueline tilefish, snapper, and snowy grouper. Striped bass have been working closer to shore, in the 12- to 15-mile range.

Bottom fishing on the artificial reefs has been producing tautog, sheepshead, and triggerfish. Closer to shore, Spanish mackerel have started to bite again for the trollers, surf fishermen, and pier metalthrowers. Bottom feeding species that were available include flounder, sea mullet, pompano, puffers, spot, croaker, and spadefish. Inshore fishing has been dominated by flounder, with hot spots around the shallows of Oregon Inlet, and speckled trout action has been hot at the Washington Baum Bridge.

South of Oregon Inlet, the big news has been the opening of the point to four-wheel-drive vehicles. For those venturing onto the sand, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, spot, croaker, sea mullet, flounder, and a few puppy drum were there for the catching. Further north, the southwest winds have flattened out the surf and the fish. Very little action reported from the suds, but that should change as the wind direction does. Offshore fishing out of Cape Hatteras Inlet has seen good catches of dolphin and wahoo. Some blackfin tuna were around as well as white marlin and sailfish. Inshore fishing has been the big story, with speckled trout and bluefish biting very well.

If you have additional information or would like further details contact Joe Grist at (757) 247-2237.

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.

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