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The Saltwater Review - June 21, 2001

Vol. 15, No. 7
by Lewis S. Gillingham
Wachapreague | Cape Charles | Onancock | Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel | Virginia Middle Bay | Virginia Beach | Virginia Piers | Outer Banks, NC
The Trophy Striped Bass season ended last Friday, June 15, 2001, anglers must report their Trophy catch (all 32-inch or greater fish caught and kept between 1 May and 15 June) on forms available at all Citation Weigh Stations, many other tackle shops and marinas and our homepage web site (see address above). The VMRC held a public hearing to finalize the closed period for the 2001 Recreational Summer Flounder fishery, Tuesday, May 22, 2001. The minimum size limit for Summer Flounder will remain at 15-1/2 inches and the possession limit is 8-fish but the closed period has been extended and will be 24 July 2001 through 7 August 2001. 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). Bluefin tuna have arrived off Virginia's coast. The NMFS has adjusted angling category retention limit for Atlantic bluefin tuna for the upcoming season. A copy of this notice is attached. In addition to bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, dolphin and billfish are becoming more abundant off Virginia's coast. Recent catches have been made between the Washington Canyon and Cigar, generally in waters of 100 fathoms or greater. Big spadefish remain available at several locations but the Chesapeake Light Tower seems hold the largest population of fish and anglers on any given day. The rain that fell Saturday does not appear to have slowed the flounder bite significantly, in fact some of the best catches of the season have been recorded in the buoy 42/Cell area since the weekend. Cobia and red drum remain available on most of their lower Bay haunts but are not being caught every outing.
Chincoteague Donna from Captain Bob's reported big flounder remain active inside the inlet, as Joe Muhelrn boated a 6-pound, 9-ounce flatfish at marker 22 and Don Salvo nailed a 6-1/4 pounder inside Four Mouths at marker 5. Good catches of flatfish were also recorded at Queen's Sound and Assateague Channel while taylor blues are active at the inlet. Offshore waters have come alive with yellowfin tuna up to 60 pounds, dolphin and mako shark to near 100 pounds. Barnacle Bill's said flounder fishing was still going "hot and heavy" as good hauls of three to six pound fish continued the past week. The deeper holes along the main channel, at Four Mouths and inside Cockle Creek held the most fish. Large grey trout are still active around the bridges with peeler crab the favored bait. The shop also told of good catches of bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna of over 70 pounds and dolphin between the lumpy bottom and Washington Canyon and along the 30 fathom line.
Wachapreague Marina told of decent flounder action at the Hummocks, Drawing Channel and off Paramour Island. Paul Johnson released a 49-inch cobia off Sarbourgh Island. Offshore, Kate Evans of Melfa boated an 82-2 yellowfin tuna at the Washington Canyon, where Norman Kaprobs released an 11-foot long blue marlin. 
Captain Zed's said the charter fleet did especially well on flounder Saturday and Millstone Creek was the hot spot. Drawing Channel produced a 6-3 citation flatfish for William VanZik. From the bayside, Brian Fisher landed an 8-13 spadefish.
Cape Charles
Chris' Bait and Tackle checked-in a 3-pound, 6-ounce croaker for 12-year-old Curtis Heath of Cheriton. The citation catch was made at the Cell. Dale Smith boated spadefish of 10 pounds, 10 ounces and 8 pounds, 9 ounces at buoy 36A, as John Tippett landed a 79-pound, 9-ounce cobia nearby at buoy 13. The shop also weighed citation-winning flounder for Dave Barbee (6 pounds, 3 ounces, buoy 36A) and Richard Hann (8-1/2 pounds, High Rise).
Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported excellent catches of croaker with some fish topping 20 inches. Better numbers of trout were caught the past week with most ranging from 14 inches up to 4 pounds. Spot are showing but the schools are small, "you catch them (the spot) like crazy for a few minutes and then you're out of them," noted Captain Wil. All the spot have been keepers, "eight inches or better." Other catches include some flounder, bluefish and porgy. Speckled trout and red drum remain scarce.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel
Cobbs Marina registered citation spadefish for K.C. Longill (10 pounds, 6 ounces), P.L. Richardson, Jr. (9-1/2 pounds), Mike Marshall (9 pounds, 6 ounces) and John Serre (8 pounds, 10 ounces). All four award winning fish were caught on bits of clam, at the Fourth Island and aboard the ROSA LEE. The marina also indicated good catches of flounder were made on Tuesday (June 19).

Chris at Bubba's Marina told of good flounder action at the Second Island, "tons" of spadefish at the Tower Reef, cobia around Bluefish Rock and sporadic catches of black and red drum around the High Level and at Middle Ground Shoals.

Dr. Jim Wright told of a good flounder bite on small, live spot at the Third Island. Largest of the outing was a 7-1/4 pounder caught by Jimmy Parker. The rips off Cape Henry held a few Spanish mackerel and loads of taylor bluefish. Offshore, Dr. Jim had heard of sightings of bluefin tuna at the Fingers but only catches of false albacore.

Donnie Wallace at Wallace's Marina rated the cobia bite as "good" since the weekend. Keith Grubbs boated a 69-1/2 pounder at Bluefish Rock while Graham Johnson landed a 60-1/2 pounder at Stoney Lead. Flounder were also biting around Bluefish Rock and the CBBT complex while big spadefish were gathered around the Chesapeake Light Tower. Joseph McKnight caught a 17-ounce spot at the HRBT. 

Johnny from Sunset Marina said William Robbins released a 56-inch cobia off Grandview Beach. The award winning catch was made from an anchored boat on a live eel. Johnny indicated spadefish were crowded around the Chesapeake Light Tower and were gobbling-up bits of clam and even flycast artificials. Inside Hampton Roads, keeper flounder and large croaker were biting at Hampton Bar.

Alan Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle said the Tower Reef was "loaded with fish and fishermen" and had received good reports of flounder at the HRBT since the weekend. Croaker remain abundant off Factory Point, "no monsters but lots of fish running 1 to 1-1/2 pounds."

Mark from Salt Ponds Marina said the BIG MINNOW left the marina before midnight to arrive at the Norfolk before day break and returned with an excellent catch of gaffer dolphin and yellowfin tuna. Inside the baymouth, the CBBT yielded flounder and a few trout, several 40-pound class cobia were caught off Buckroe and croaker were biting just outside the entrance jetty.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said large croaker up to 3 pounds (caught by Mark Lamal) are being caught at the lumps. Gordon West, Sr. (58-1/4 pounds) and Gordon West, Jr. (58 pounds, 7 ounces) each tallied an award winning cobia at Bluefish Rock, as Bill Flippin (48 inches) and Dale Saulman (48 inches) released a pair at York Spit. Fishing partners James McVui?? (8-13), Katheryn Coeliler (8-11), Tazewell Fitzgerald (8-5) and Tim Liefhhout (8 pounds) all boated citation-winning spadefish just east of the CBBT. Norman French boated citation flounder of 8-3/4 pounds and 7 pounds, 5 ounces at buoy 42.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club reported catches of bluefin tuna at the 26 Mile Hill and spadefish at the Tower Reef, AngloAfrican wreck site, the 4A buoy (off Fisherman's Island) and the CBBT rock islands. The waters surrounding the NOAA weather buoy hold mixed sizes of dolphin while citation-sized yellowfin tuna prowl the Cigar.

Virginia Middle Bay -
Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported Spanish mackerel have arrived in good numbers and have been hitting the past several days between Bluff Point and Smith Point in 30 feet of water, as schools of snapper blues work the surface. Flounder continue to provide decent action along the Smith Point Jetty, large trout are being caught after dark at Smith Point Light and the Target Ships and "croaker are everywhere."

Smith Point Marina said schools of big croaker and pods of pan trout were holding just east of the SP buoy. Trollers working off Smith Point scored on Spanish mackerel and taylor blues. Blowfish have moved into the rocks at Smith Point Light and the remnants of the Target Ships. Both areas are producing large trout after dark. Virginia's striped bass season closed last Friday, June 15, 2001 but some boats from the marina are running up into Maryland waters (where the season remains open) and successfully chumming for striped bass.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said weekend weather stifled the flounder fishermen expecting to fish the Cell/buoy 42 area but action since Sunday evening has been exceptional. Gary Conner boated a 9-pound, 4-ounce doormat that measured 27-1/2 inches Monday--and lost an even bigger one for lack of a landing net. Jerry added that big spadefish are still holding around the Cell and at Wolf Trap Light while waters at Hole-in-the-Wall produced good catches of croaker and trout plus some spot and flounder.

Locklies Marina reported plenty of croaker plus a few spot and flounder at Butlers Hole and around the White Stone Bridge.

Garretts Marina said bottom fishermen caught lots of croaker and some small flounder at the oyster beds just outside from the marina.

Captain Jim Thompson at Windmill Point Marina said croaker provided steady action between the range light and the Cell, where fair numbers of flounder up to 22 inches were recorded. Spanish mackerel have arrived at the mouth of the Rappahannock but few anglers are fishing for these sporty fish. Windmill Point Bar produced good numbers of croaker and a few spot and flounder.

Virginia Beach -
The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported headboats are back fishing the ocean wrecks and are returning with fair to good hauls of sea bass. The Tower Reef site is still loaded with big spadefish, as several dozen were checked-in at the Center with Elbert Holtz, Sr. boating three up to 9 pounds, 3 ounces. Shane Scott boated a 6-pound, 2-ounce flounder aboard the ATLANTIC 45 at the High Level Bridge. Offshore, William Melvin landed a 20-pound false albacore at the Fingers, where David Julick decked a 17-pound, 2-ounce albert aboard the BACKLASH. Jane Dixon landed a 20-pound, 2-ounce dolphin aboard the WHITE LIGHTNING. Citation-winning dolphin were also caught by Tim Tinger (20-1/4 pounds), Barnly Smith (26 pounds), Dave Edwards (27 pounds), Carri Arbogast (24 pounds), Corey Arbogast (30 pounds) and Amanda Higgins (37 pounds) aboard the ALTANTIC 45 near the Cigar. 

Fisherman's Wharf Marina indicated that billfish, yellowfin tuna, dolphin and even mako shark were available at the Norfolk Canyon, and south along the 100-fathom line.

Virginia Piers
James River - Bobby Wharton said Sunday evening produced a strong bite of croaker and decent numbers of spot. After dark, anglers using small, live spot are managing a few keeper trout. 

Grandview - Bottom fishermen are catching a mixture of flounder, croaker, spot, trout and sea mullet with best action for all except the flounder coming after dusk. Several cobia were decked the past week and the largest measured 40 inches.

Buckroe Beach - Bottom fishermen managed a scattering of keeper flounder, croaker and spot in recent days. A cobia was decked Wednesday morning.

Harrison - Charlie said recent evenings have witnessed strong runs of spot, "and that's a surprise for this time of the year." A steady bite of croaker develops after dark, when pan trout usually show around the pier lights. Two cobia were landed last week and the biggest weighed 42 pounds. A fair number of flounder were decked in recent days and the largest weighed 4-14.

Lynnhaven - Early mornings see some spot and sea mullet caught but rest of the day usually yields only a scattering of flounder. Once the sun sets, pan trout, croaker, sea mullet and spot provide steady action. Spanish mackerel appeared the past few days just before dusk.

Virginia Beach - Spanish mackerel and bluefish to 3 pounds provided good action at the end of the pier while bottom fishermen closer to the shore caught a mixture of sea mullet, flounder and a few snapper blues. water temperature at pierside was 72 degrees on Tuesday.

Sandbridge - Spot and taylor blues provided most of the action but spadefish and cobia provided more excitement. Spanish mackerel and taylor blues provided a flurry of action at the end of the pier Monday evening.

Outer Banks, NC

Surf waters warmed to near 70 degrees along the Nags Head area beaches but wind and rain made for turbid conditions in the surf. This condition brought spot and sea mullet close to the beach but kept Spanish mackerel out of the casting range for the most part. Snapper blues provided good sport from the ends of the piers and some flounder, trout and puppy drum were caught. 

At Cape Point on Buxton, heavy surf put a damper on Spanish mackerel and bluefish catches on Friday. The action improved Saturday morning, as Spanish and blues staged a good bite. Later in the day, croaker moved in and dominated catches throughout the remainder of Saturday. On Sunday, a 35-pound cobia was beached, Spanish and bluefish bite "early and late" while croaker provided steady action for most of the day. A cobia and several pompano were caught Monday with blues and Spanish caught in the morning. A similar pattern followed on Tuesday plus Mark Manley beached a 54-pound cobia.

The fleet sailing from Oregon Inlet found rough sea conditions on Friday and few boats fished. Despite the conditions, the crew on board the DOGHOUSE recorded a limit of dolphin while inshore boats reported large catches of bluefish. The main fleet was back in action on Saturday and recorded good hauls of gaffer dolphin, fair to good numbers of yellowfin tuna and several wahoo. Graham Johnson of Hampton boated a 79-pound yellowfin aboard the DOGHOUSE, the crew on the DREAM GIRL landed a citation 30-pound dolphin and released a sailfish while the PELICAN recorded the day's biggest yellowfin at 84 pounds. Sunday began a deluge of bigeye tuna. The SEADUCER scored the biggest, at 184 pounds while a Richmond party aboard the HAPHAZARD boated three bigeye (90, 108 and 163 pounds) and released a blue marlin. Norfolk anglers George Georgiades (85-pound yellowfin) and Harry Kiriakou (101-pound bigeye) decked citation-winning fish aboard the HOOKER. The DREAM GIRL had bigeye of 159 and 154 pounds. On Monday, the fleet weighed nearly 40 citation bigeye tuna, as the HAPHAZARD boated five up to 204 pounds and the DREAM GIRL nailed five up to 170 pounds. The SEADUCER landed a 91-pound yellowfin. Tuesday saw more bigeye and large yellowfin tuna. Top catch of the day was aboard the CAPT BC, whose crew reeled-in 115 and 165-pound bigeye, released a blue marlin and boated a 79-pound wahoo and a 79-pound yellowfin. For this same time period, half-day boats found mostly taylor blues plus some Spanish mackerel and cobia while the headboat returned with mixed catches of taylor blues, spot, croaker, pan trout, flounder, triggerfish and pigfish.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet on Saturday enjoyed good hauls of dolphin and yellowfin tuna, as several boats recorded limit catches. Eddie Watts of Machipongo released a white marlin on board the NATIVE SON. Sunday proved to be another banner day for yellowfin tuna and dolphin with several king and mackerel and wahoo also in the day's catch. Paul Doyle of Waynesboro released a white marlin aboard the BIG EYE while Trey VanHout of Charlottsville released a white aboard the TUNA DUCK II. Monday saw an influx of billfish, as ten longbills were caught and released. Good catches of tuna and dolphin were also reported. Six billfish were caught and released by the fleet on Tuesday, as most boats returned with limit catches of dolphin and fair numbers of 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.

Click on Newsletter link to get to the index of previous Saltwater Reviews

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