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The Saltwater Review - August 2, 2007

Vol. 21, No. 8

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


Since the end of last year, regulations for summer flounder have been modified and new restrictions for tilefish, grouper and sheepshead have been adopted.

For Summer Flounder, the minimum size limit has been increased, the possession limit has been reduced and a winter and summer closed period has been added. The minimum size limit has increased from 16-1/2 inches (2006) to 18-1/2 inches for 2007. The possession limit has been reduced from 6 to 5 flounder. The winter-closed period runs from 1 January through 31 March and the summer-closed period is from Monday, July 23, through Saturday, July 28. 

Over the past two years, "deep-dropping," a relative term that generally applies to recreational bottom fishing in water greater than 300 feet, has become more popular. Several species of fish, primarily blueline tilefish, golden tilefish, wreckfish and snowy grouper, which had been rarely seen by Virginia recreational fishermen, have become the focus of this new deepwater fishery. The Virginia Marine Resources Commission recently set limits for commercial and recreational fishermen. Recreational possession limits are 7 tilefish in aggregate and 1 grouper of any species per person.

A possession limit of four sheepshead has been established.

The NMFS has adjusted the Angling Category Bluefin Tuna retention limits for the period of June 1 through July 31, 2007. See the attached notice for details.

The Virginia Marine Resources has launched a voluntary on-line reporting system called the "Saltwater Fisherman's Journal," and can be found at It allows the fishing community to share and learn about other anglers' experiences. Additionally, it will benefit fishery managers by allowing them to assess fish populations by analyzing data provided by you, the recreational fisherman.

Chincoteague -

Donna at Captain Bob's recorded its first cobia of the season, an 18-pounder that measured 42 inches and the catch was made at the Parking Lot. Chunkers working the Parking Lot are catching a few yellowfin tuna and most are good-sized, in the 45 to 60-pound range. Donna also had good reports of triggerfish out at the Blackfish Banks wreck site. Inside the inlet, croaker and sea mullet remain abundant with some of the best hauls coming from markers 17 and 20 and along the Assateague Channel.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported good offshore action over the weekend, as the annual Eastern Shore Marlin Tournament took place. Jack Bolle and Norman Katralos each released a blue marlin at the Norfolk Canyon aboard the BIMINI TWIST while Joey Hardison released a large blue marlin aboard the LUCKY DAWG. Phil Meolin boated an 80-pound, 10-ounce bigeye tuna aboard the PELAGIC ASALT and Brian Loratto released a white marlin at the Washington Canyon aboard the MONSTER FISH. Kevin McMenamin nailed a 57-pound, 6-ounce wahoo aboard the TEASER. The event also saw yellowfin tuna weighing up to 63 pounds, 2 ounces. The shop indicated bottom fishermen inside the inlet were catching plenty of croaker and spot.

Cape Charles -

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported Nathan Reynolds weighed-in a 9-pound flounder on Sunday from the CBBT and Michael Lowe checked-in a 7-1/2-pound flatfish from the buoy 38 area in the afternoon. Gene Brotchwell caught and released a 48-inch red drum at buoy 36 but much of the weekend activity was centered out of the seaside port of Oyster, where bottom fishermen are catching loads of mixed sized croaker. "One day they get mostly large croaker and then the next they complain about small fish (croaker)," noted Chris, who added the shop weighed croaker up to just an ounce shy of 3 pounds in recent days. Big red drum are available along the Barrier Island surf, where James Johnston beached and released a 49-incher and a 24-ounce sea mullet. Chris had reports of anglers seeing tarpon "rolling" on the surface but "not a peep" of any catches.

Tackle Cherrystone Bait and Tackle reported that last week had been slow. A few croakers had been caught without much size to them and a few flounder were being picked up around the Cell area.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported bottom fishing remains "really good" off Onancock with plenty of mixed sized croaker, snapper bluefish, sea mullet, flounder and some spot, small shark and rays. The best hauls of larger croaker, fish running 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 pounds, and flounder, have come from the channel edges off Onancock "on the last of the incoming," according to Captain Wil. 

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel

Cobb's Marina reported four citation flounder were checked-in last weekend and all were caught with natural baits. The largest was a 10-pound, 3-ounce doormat caught at the ODU Reef site by Romeo Tamuria. Elsie Carl Herring Jr. caught a 9-pound, 4 -ounce flattie at the Third Island; David Oswald caught an 8-ound, 12-ounce flounder along the CBBT; and Allen Williams caught an 8-1/4-pound flatfish at the Fourth Island.

Bubba's Marina told of good action on flounder on the lower Bay with a few keeper-sized flatfish caught around the inlet. A few puppy drum were caught around the CBBT plus decent catches of Spanish mackerel. The shop received only sporadic reports of cobia, spot, croaker, tautog and spadefish the past several days.

Wallace's Bait and Tackle checked-in a 59-pound cobia for Andrew Williams. The citation catch was made at Bluefish Rock. Jeffrey Edwards nailed an 8-pound, 15-ounce flounder at Back River Reef and Rob Bradshaw, Jr. pulled-in a 7-pound, 2-ounce citation-winning flatfish at the CBBT complex. Chris Mebrey was trolling off Virginia Beach and nailed a 41-pound dolphin.

Sunset Boating Center told of a slow week, "its because of the weather and the flounder closure," indicated the shop‘s spokesman. The headboat fished just before the flounder season re-opened Sunday, July 29, "and they had a good catch of croaker and seven flounder they had to throw back that were over 18-1/2 inches." Several customers did fish for cobia but the marina only had reports of shark and no cobia. 

Cindy from Salt Ponds Marina said Lewis Muire wire-lined an 8-pound, 3-ounce flounder at the CBBT on a bucktail tipped with cut fish. Terry Stokes was trolling at the Fingers aboard the TANGUERY and boated a 25-pound, 5-ounce dolphin.

Chuck Ash from York River Feed and Fishing Supplies said bottom fishermen are catching plenty of croaker and some spot inside the York River while trollers working the mouth of the river near York Spit are catching Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish. Chuck indicated cobia were still available but the shop did not have any citation fish weighed the past week. 

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said offshore action is very good right now. The yellowfin tuna bite is scattered but the tuna being caught are in the 40 to 70 pound class. Wahoo action is very, very good, according to Neill. Billfish action is also good with blue marlin showing up anywhere from 20 fathoms on out to the deep. Bigeye tuna continue to pop up at the Norfolk Canyon, where several impressive gaffer dolphin have been boated. A few swordfish were boated at night the past week and several were even caught during the daytime on the troll. "Put it all together and it is a very good time to head offshore." Best locations change day to day but most of the recent action has been from the 41300 to the 41550 in 30 to 100 fathoms. Inshore, the best king mackerel bite in years continues off of Sandbridge. Mackerel are being caught on live bait and by trolling artificial lures. On the downside, black sea bass action on the wrecks has been slow and mostly small spadefish are available at the Tower Reef and at the islands of the CBBT. Better news regarding big black drum, as these fish still linger around the islands of the CBBT. And cobia are being caught by anglers sitting on a chum slick with the waters off of Grandview the best bet lately. Look for these fish to move to the buoy lines and provide sight-casting opportunities. Sheepshead fishing remains slow. The flounder season is back open and the flatfish are cooperating. Good numbers of keepers are being caught on Hampton Bar and Back River Reef was good since the season re-opened last Sunday. Big flounder are being caught at buoy 42 and the structure of the CBBT. "Enjoy it now, early reports indicate this year's tough regulations may be a fond memory this time next year," added Neill. 

Dr. Julie Ball, IGFA International Representative for Virginia Beach, contributed the following:
The temperature outside is heating up, so the fishing is back on the usual summertime heading. After the recent flounder closure, which ended Sunday, July 29, folks are back on the water searching for the flatfish with decent results. The most consistent catches of the larger fish are coming from the CBBT structure with live bait. The flounder are a little more demanding this week, with many bite-offs and short bites reported. Wait a little longer when setting the hook to compensate for this situation. Captain Rob Savage of Rodbuilder Guide Service reports decent catches of nice flounder near buoy 42, with power drifting with strip baits providing the best results. Gray trout are making a decent showing within Rudee Inlet, where some fish are pushing 3 to 4-pounds lately. The Concrete ships and the CBBT are also holding gray trout to 22 inches, where jigging is proving effective. Croaker are scattered in various parts of the lower Bay, but Todd at Bayside Bait and Tackle boasts that nicer hardheads up to 16-inches are schooling on the Hampton Bar, along with some and decent-sized spot. The backwater areas of Oyster are still producing large numbers of fish, with the size varying with the tides. Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlet are providing sizzling puppy drum action, and decent spot up to 14-ounces, and a few flounder are also available. Most anglers have given up on the sheepshead this year, with a meager showing of fish; they are not finding it worthwhile to target them. A few scattered sheeps are cooperating along the CBBT tubes and pilings, but not with any consistency. The triggerfish, on the other hand, are on fire. The scorching triggerfish action has many anglers targeting these fish with excellent results. Try suspending clam, cut bait, or squid on a bobber near lower bay wrecks and the islands of the CBBT. Spadefish are still around, although finding the larger fish is becoming a challenge. Good numbers of smaller fish to 6-pounds are taking bait offered at the Cell, along the CBBT, and near the 3rd and 4th islands. The inshore ocean wrecks are also good locations to try.

The cobia season is turning out to be a mystery for cobia experts. The action is steady, but not keeping with the usual trends of past years. Chummers are finding mostly smaller fish with a few decent-sized fish in the mix. Try Bluefish Rock, York Spit, and the Inner Middle Grounds if chumming is your thing. Folks running up to the Silver Beach area are finding better results with more dependable catches of larger fish. Red drum are continuing to school along the Inner Middle Grounds and along the surf of the Eastern Shore Barrier Islands, where surf casters are experiencing good luck with big reds. Black drum catches are making up for some slow days along the CBBT. Casters are picking up a few fish casting buck tails around all four artificial islands. Be sure to take the time to revive these fish, and use sturdy tackle to assure a live release of these somber swimmers.

The King mackerel bite along the oceanfront is definitely hit and miss, but is still much better than recent years. Boaters trying their luck with trolling and live-baiting on near shore tide rips are finding sketchy success with a handful of decent fish. Spanish mackerel action is not great, but scattered catches are keeping anglers interested. Tons of taylor bluefish are also available in the same areas, taking the same baits and lures. A recent unusual showing of dolphin, or mahi, in these same areas waters has produced some exciting moments. Amberjack are taking a back seat to other local action, since reports are still telling of less-than-huge fish at the Southern Towers. No matter what the size, hooking into an AJ is still a challenge to any angler. Take plenty of live bait if you plan to make the run.

Offshore action is plugging along, with boats encountering a number of different species. The billfish count is on the rise; with several blue marlin but more white marlin releases recorded the past week. Yellowfin tuna are ranging from 30 to 60-pounds, with the larger fish from earlier in the season not as common. A few bigeye are also available in the Canyon. Dolphin catches are good with fish ranging in 10 to 20-pound range, and wahoo are causing many bite-offs, but several nice fish are making it back to the docks. The Norfolk Canyon, the Fingers, and the Cigar are the recent popular locations for the mixed offshore action.

Virginia Middle Bay -

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported bottom fishermen are still catching plenty of croaker but the best hauls of bigger fish are coming from deep water and late in the day. Bottom fishermen recorded decent catches of spot up inside the Great Wicomico River the past week. Trollers working around Smith Point Bar are catching good-sized Spanish mackerel and lots of taylor bluefish. Hard core fishermen are managing a few keeper-sized flounder around the jetty. 

Smith Point Marina told of decent catches of Spanish mackerel and bluefish around Smith Point Light but indicated fishing activity was "light" the past week due to the weather.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said due to the closing of flounder Monday through Saturday, there was very little fishing effort underway most of last week. "But when Flounder reopened on Sunday, boats came from everywhere and the fish cooperated." On Sunday, a crew aboard the PATRIOT Sunday caught about a dozen flounder of which 5 were keepers and all 5 were over 21 inches. Good numbers of Spanish mackerel have moved into the area waters and trollers recorded their best success at sunrise and just before sunset, according to Jerry. Windmill Bar, the #6 buoy, Stingray Bar and the 25-foot contour off Gwynn Island were the top rated locations for the Spanish. Bottom fishermen are catching good-sized spot off Gwynn Island, at Cherry Point and the Mudhole.

Tommy Lewis from Garretts Marina said waters off the marina were "real salty all the way to the bridge" and catches of usual fish, such as spadefish and drum, had become more common. Most anglers are focusing on the nice mixture of spot and croaker between buoy 19 and Morratico Bar.

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I told of excellent bottom fishing the past week, as spot were in "a real biting mode," particularly around the Spike buoy, at Butlers Hole and over on Windmill Point Bar. Spot were also biting at Sturgeon Bar, the Lump and along the north side of the White Stone Bridge "but just not as consistent," according to Captain Thompson. Good numbers of good-sized croaker are still holding in deepwater around the range light but most bottom fishermen are opting for the spot. Trollers are catching some Spanish mackerel at Windmill Point Bar plus some taylor bluefish. 

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported good bluewater action off the Virginia Coast the past week. Bernard Newman released an estimated 500-pound blue marlin at the Cigar aboard the SEA WITCH, where George Dulka released a white marlin and Tim Smith boated a 28-pound dolphin. The crew aboard the BACKLASH released a white and blue on Saturday and Kurt Toehlke boated a 52-1/2-pound wahoo at the Fingers. The weekend fleet had their best success on dolphin with a mixture of large wahoo, some tuna and billfish. Ric Burnley boated an impressive 230-1/2-pound bigeye tuna while fishing aboard the Healthy Grin. The huge tuna out-weighed Burnley by nearly 80 pounds. 

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said last weekend's billfish tournament produced spectacular results. As the top three boats all boated and released four or more billfish. The SNIPER finished in first place with four blue marlin releases and a white marlin release. The HIGH HOPES came second place with three blue marlin releases and a pair of white marlin releases and the SPECIAL D finished in third place with two white marlin releases plus a release blue marlin and a sailfish. Equally impressive was the showing of huge wahoo, as the biggest went 67 pounds and several ‘hoos of over 50 pounds plus a few 40 pounders. "Nobody was even using wire," as lots of big wahoo quickly cut-off. 

Virginia Piers -

James River - The summer heat has taken its toll here, and most anglers are opting for early mornings or late evenings. Besides, the croaker and spot are responding best during the cooler parts of the day. 

Ocean View - Bottom fishermen are catching small bluefish, spot and croaker plus various sizes of flounder including the occasional keeper of 18-1/2 inches or more.

Lynnhaven - Best action has been in the early morning or near and after sundown. Catches include spot, bluefish, croaker, sea mullet bluefish, small shark and rays.

Virginia Beach - Virginia Beach Pier had good runs of spot over the past couple of days and the fish's size getting bigger. The best runs have occurred in the morning and evening, as the action slows during the heat of the day. Nice sized spadefish are also being reported by anglers fishing around the pier pilings while casters are taking Spanish mackerel in the mornings and evenings out at the end of the pier. A 30-inch striper and a 19-inch flounder were the bragging fish of the week.

Sandbridge - Bottom fishermen are seeing some spot, sea mullet and bluefish. Small spadefish are still hanging around the pilings.

Outer Banks, NC -

Along the Nags Head area beaches the tip for the week was pay attention to the wind direction. Whenever the wind was out of the east or northeast, fishing was good but when the wind was blowing from the southwest, the bite slowed down dramatically. Pier fishing has been picking up lately with good runs of spot in the mornings and evenings along with Spanish and taylor bluefish outside the breakers. Reports of a few mullet and a few specks inside the breakers were also noted on the Avalon Pier. Anglers fishing from the surf around ramps 43 and 48 enjoyed a solid run of sea mullet with several citation fish checked-in. There were also some large pompano mixed in with the mullet.

South of Oregon Inlet at Cape Point on Buxton, Spanish mackerel were jumping at the jetties Saturday but the fish could not be coerced to bite on Saturday. Pompano, flounder, and sea mullet are spread out up and down the area beaches. Sunrise at the point was great for bluefish on lures on Monday. Pompano and croakers were reported on the north side of the point today. In the sound, speckled trout were still being caught on grubs and gulps. On Tuesday morning, right over ramp 44, there was a good bite on good-sized pompano with a scattering of nice sea mullet mixed in with the catches. Early morning at the Point saw bluefish on metal and a smattering of Spanish were beached this evening.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported excellent catches of big dolphin plus some yellowfin tuna and wahoo leading into the weekend. Biggest dolphin of the period weighed 41 pounds. A pair of bigeye tuna were boated and the heaviest went 105 pounds. Inshore, trollers are catching plenty of taylor blues and some nice Spanish mackerel. The excellent dolphin bite held through the weekend and into the early part of the week, as catches of tuna and wahoo remained scattered. The fleet (as a whole) is recording several blue and white marlin releases each day. Inshore trolling trips are catching mostly taylor blues with the best action coming in the morning. The headboat, Miss Oregon Inlet, recorded several outstanding outings with good mixed catches of sea mullet, bluefish and flounder. A word of congratulations to OUTER LIMITS, captained by Elson Myers, the winner of the 2007 NC Ducks Unlimited Tournament, came from the crew at Pirates Cove Marina. This was a 2-day event, fished by 72 boats. The OUTER LIMITS crew took the win with four sailfish!

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed a great day on bailer-sized dolphin with a scattering of hefty wahoo on Friday. The HATTERAS BLUE released a Sailfish and Bill Shellnutt of Chantilly, VA released a Blue Marlin aboard the BOSS LADY. Saturday saw big catches of mixed sizes of dolphin plus more wahoo for the offshore fleet while the inshore boats returned with grey and speckled trout plus some bluefish. Larry Greene of Chesterfield, VA released a sailfish aboard the CITATION.

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.

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