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The Saltwater Review - 4 August 2004

Vol. 18, 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 and summer flounder have been modified.

For black sea bass, the minimum size limit remains 12 inches while the possession limit remains 25 fish but the late summer closed period runs from September 8 through September 21.  The winter-closed period remains December 1 through December 31.

For Summer Flounder, the minimum size and possession limit have both changed.  The minimum size limit decreased from 17-1/2 inches to 17 inches in 2004.  The possession limit likewise decreased, from 8 flounder last season to 6 summer flounder in 2004.

The NMFS decreased the bluefin tuna retention limit from 2 to 1 tuna (27 to less than 73 inches) as of July 22, 2004.

Another week of less than ideal fishing conditions failed to halt the catches of big flounder, as dozens of flatfish in excess of the 7-pound minimum qualifying weight were registered in the annual Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament.  Best chance for a trophy, doormat-sized flounder remains the CBBT complex, the edges of the shipping channels off Cape Charles and the Cell/buoy 42 area.

Sheepshead, many topping the minimum qualifying weight of 7 pounds, continue to provide excellent action around the pilings of the CBBT complex and islands.  Sheepshead will hit clam, sand fleas or cut crab but a whole live fiddler crab is the preferred bait.
Offshore, spadefish continue to oblige on the inshore wrecks, which also hold some amberjack, black sea bass and some big tautog. 

Blue water trollers enjoyed improved catches of yellowfin tuna plus a scattered mixture of dolphin, wahoo and billfish.

Chincoteague -

Donna from Captain Bob's reported strong wind and heavy rain through most of the week combined to nearly halt fishing action the past week.  "You know what that means, salad! And floating eel grass is everywhere."  Tuesday was the only day of the week when the clouds parted and the sun was visible.  Bottom fishermen scored on croaker but not much else.  Even without the poor weather conditions, anglers would have had a difficult time getting around the island.  It was Pony Week and the island was extremely crowded with folks hoping to glimpse the spectacle of the pony swim, round up and auction.

Barnacle Bill's said inshore waters were clearing and Chincoteague Channel and Black Narrows were producing good catches of flounder plus some sea mullet and croaker.  The "standard" minnow and squid was the preferred bait for the flatfish.  Offshore, "it's just been too rough," and nobody has fished recently.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported offshore anglers caught tuna, dolphin and billfish last week.  Montana Large was chunking at the Lumpy Bottom aboard the NITA DREAM and boated the week's biggest tuna, a 118-1/2 pound bluefin.  Edward Mace was trolling the 20 Fathom Finger and released a blue marlin while Sonny Lewis released a white marlin aboard the JAMES GANG in the Washington Canyon.  Inside the inlet, bottom fishermen are catching some keeper flounder and plenty of decent-sized croaker but the week's biggest croaker, a 3-pound, 9-ouncer, was caught on the bayside at Crammy Hack by Ken Smith.

Captain Zed's also registered a pair of billfish releases, as John Clouse and Joe Crowell each released a white marlin in 20 fathoms aboard the AMERICAN MADE.  Inshore, anglers drifting for flounder had their best luck around the mouth of the inlet and along the backside of Paramour Island.  Croaker are scattered throughout the protected inlet waters.  Mike Williams boated a 20-inch, 9-pound spadefish at the Ochannoch Tower (bayside) on a piece of clam.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported decent weekend catches of flounder around the Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT and off Cape Charles from buoys 36A to 40A in 45 to 60 feet of water.  George Kothler boated the week's heaviest flatfish, a 27-inch, 7-pound, 14-ounce beauty, while wire lining near the Third Island.  B.Wayne Wrenn also registered a citation-winning flounder and it weighed 7 pounds, 10 ounces but was caught off Cape Charles.  Chris Black caught and released a 51-inch black drum at 9-Foot Shoal, where several anglers caught cobia.  Anglers fishing the pilings near the High Rise section of the CBBT and using crab or clam for bait hooked into sheepshead.  Anglers bottom fishing out of the seaside port of Oyster recorded fair to good weekend catches of croaker.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters was able to fish every day last week, as the worst storms skirted the area.  "We saw more big spot than in recent weeks," noted Captain Will and some of the fish measured over 13 inches and surely topped 16 ounces.  "They (the spot) would hit other baits but bloodworms were the best."  The best hauls of the bigger spot came from waters 35 to over 50 feet deep.  Bottom fishermen also caught good numbers of bluefish and croaker plus some porgy, white perch, flounder and pan trout to 15 inches.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported "just fair" flounder fishing over the weekend, as weather concerns kept many anglers in port.  The shop did weigh a citation flounder for Bryan Lassey.  The big flatfish was caught along the High Rise section of the CBBT, measured 27 inches and weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces.  Other action included several cobia from the lower Bay buoys and a decent showing of large spot inside Little Creek.

Bubba's Marina said weekend catches consisted of mainly flounder and croaker.  The biggest flounder (the marina weighed several fish in excess of 7 pounds) and croaker were caught along the CBBT complex but some keeper flatfish and decent-sized croaker were caught inside Lynnhaven Inlet. 

Dr. Jim Wright heard of big sheepshead and flounder caught at the CBBT complex and large spot and croaker inside Lynnhaven at Long Creek.

Wallace's Marina said weather considerations kept many would-be anglers in port the past week.  Those that did fish reported fair to good catches of flounder at Back River Reef, the Hump and along the CBBT complex.  The shop registered four citation flounder in recent days.  David Ashley boated two (9 pounds, 3 ounces and 8 pounds, 10 ounces) on cut croaker at the CBBT, where A.L. Johnson III landed a 7-1/4-pounder on cut bait.  Sara Ingoglia caught a 7-pound, 1-ounce flounder at Back River Reef on a minnow.  William Brown caught a 1-pound, 9-ounce pompano on clam at the CBBT while Joel Alexa (9 pounds, 2 ounces) and Brenda Alexa (8-1/2 pounds) each boated citation sheepshead. Bottom fishermen working the Back River Reef site and Hampton Bar caught large croaker, some spot and a few keeper flounder.  Steven Childress caught the week's biggest croaker, a 3-pound, 5-ounce fish, at the HRBT on a piece of mullet. Speckled trout up to 3-1/2 pounds are showing in decent numbers around the mouth of Back River.

Sunset Marina said most of their weekend customers stayed inside the Bay and focused on the run of good-sized flounder.  Jay Hux and crew fished off ocean View beach and put a dozen keeper flounder up to 22 inches in their cooler.  Dan Edwards and party fished the same area and had similar results.  Bill Tice fished around the pilings of the High Rise section of the CBBT and boated flounder to 23 inches.  Tommy Matioli and crew fished around Thimble Shoal Light and kept a dozen flatfish that averaged nearly 5 pounds each.  Rich Meister and party fished the 26 Mile Hill and east to 20 fathoms and boated several yellowfin with the biggest weighing 65 pounds.

Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina said the few boats that did leave their slips to fish "stayed real close" because of the concern of thunderstorm activity (which was well founded).  Bottom fishermen managed some keeper flounder and fair sized croaker around the entrance to Salt Ponds and around the mouth of nearby Back River.

A & S feed and Bait Supply weighed a pair of cobia (33 and 45 pounds) from the CBBT over the weekend and said cobia were also caught at York Spit.  Flounder were biting best "out in the Bay," near buoys 40 and 42 and down at the CBBT complex.  Inside the York River, bottom fishermen found decent numbers of croaker and a scattering of pan trout.  Spot were still holding around the mouth of Sarah's Creek and hitting bloodworms.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club say yellowfin tuna, wahoo and billfish action was very good at Wayne's World over the weekend.  On Saturday both the HEALTHY GRIN and EMPTY WALLET fished this area and each boat returned to the dock with as good catch of yellowfin tuna with individual fish of over 50 pounds.  Jorj Head landed a citation 48-1/2-pound wahoo aboard the HEALTHY GRIN.  Inshore, spadefish and amberjack are holding around most coastal wrecks and reefs, including the Tower Reef.  Inside the Bay, most anglers continue to focus on flounder, though the bite was up and down last week, depending on the water clarity.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported trollers caught "a few" Spanish mackerel at the mouth of the Rappahannock River and plenty of bluefish weighing up to 2 pounds.  Bottom fishermen using bloodworm for bait found spot in fair supply around the mouths of the creeks while anglers drifting live bait or squid/cut fish strips near the jetty caught some keeper-sized flounder.  Most of the croaker caught inside the river are small but good-sized croaker are holding along the eastern side of the shipping channel near buoy 62.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said few anglers fished the past week due to the weather but one customer that did fish went to the Middle Grounds and returned with a mixture of taylor bluefish and flounder.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Marina said unsettled weather for most of the week kept many anglers in port but those that did fish found flounder in the buoy 42/Cell area.  Bottom bouncers saw more undersized flounder, "about 3 or 4 for every keeper," according to Jerry, plus a few real doormats.  Don Chervenak, Sr. of Glenn Allen nailed a 28-1/2-inch, 9-pound flounder on a squid and minnow combination near buoy 42 and Allen Riddle, Jr. of Culpepper (8 pounds, 6 ounces) and Keith Henley of Montpelier (7-3/4 pounds) boated citation flatfish in the same area.  Not everyone fished for flounder and those bottom fishing with bloodworm pieces at the Spike buoy, Butler's Hole and off Gwynn Island caught mixed sizes of spot, a few pan trout of 12 inches or more and croaker.  Tom Robinson caught the week's biggest croaker, a 20-inch long, 3-pound, 3-ounce fish, in Billups Creek on a piece of squid.

Locklies Marina told of loads of taylor blues up to 3 pounds in the river.  Bottom fishermen are catching decent numbers of nice-sized spot and a scattering of the croaker.  Parrot Rock and the mouth of Carters Creek produced the best catches.

Garretts Marina described bottom fishing as "excellent" with good hauls of white perch, large spot and croaker coming in from buoy 19.

Captain Jim Thompson, aboard the JIM-AN-I running out of Deltaville, described the flounder bite as "very active" with some of the best hauls coming from the waters about one-mile inside of buoy 42.  Spot were not as obliging as the flounder last week but decent catches were recorded inside the Piankatank River at Cherry Point and on the Rappahannock River at Butlers Hole, Sturgeon Bar and the Silos.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reports inshore boats had a mixture of taylor bluefish and spadefish on Friday and Saturday.  Offshore, the yellowfin tuna bite was very good on Saturday, as a group from Davis Boat Works of Newport News chartered five of the offshore fleet and caught a total of forty-five yellowfin tuna, six dolphin and ten skipjack tuna.  

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina told of good catches of yellowfin tuna plus a few dolphin and billfish just east of Wayne's World over the weekend.  Spadefish were still holding around the Tower Reef and cobia were active on the lower Bay.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview -Closed indefinitely.

Buckroe Beach - The pier was completely destroyed by hurricane Isabel. The city of Hampton has expressed an interest to build a pier in this area.

Harrison - The new owner of the property where Harrison's Pier was located (prior to Hurricane Isabel) has announced plans to build a new pier at the same location.  The estimated cost is 1.8 million dollars and the pier could be ready to open in early 2005.

Lynnhaven - Weekend anglers pulled-in some spot, small flounder (plus the occasional keeper), taylor bluefish, croaker and "loads of crabs."  Just after the passage of Hurricane Alex, "we had a great run of spot."

Virginia Beach - Weekend action was just "so-so" with scattered catches of sea mullet, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and spot.  "But right after the hurricane we had great catches of spot and bluefish."  Water temperature around the pier was a warm 78 degrees on Wednesday.

Sandbridge - Waters around the pier had the look of chocolate milk and bottom fishermen caught a mixture of medium spot, small croaker, sea mullet, snapper blues and small flounder.

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach and pier fishermen along the Nags Head area beaches enjoyed a mixture of snapper bluefish, spot, croaker, small flounder and sea mullet while dodging frequent thunderstorms the past week.  Usually the "dirtier" the water the better the bottom fishing while bluefish were more abundant in clear water.

South of Oregon Inlet at Cape Point on Buxton, beach fishermen caught an assortment of panfish, including flounder, pompano, croaker and trout.  Bluefish and Spanish mackerel were absent over the weekend but a number of large rays were hooked.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported good catches of dolphin to over 30 pounds, fair yellowfin tuna and a scattering of wahoo and billfish on Friday.  Headboat customers enjoyed a good mixture of croaker, pigfish, flounder, trout and sea mullet.  On Saturday, the fleet found good numbers of mixed sizes of dolphin and some yellowfin tuna and a few wahoo.  Sunday produced decent numbers of yellowfin tuna but fewer dolphin than recent days.  On Monday, with seas building due to the onslaught of Hurricane Alex, most boats were in early but with good hauls of yellowfin tuna.  High boat had 15!

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet found king mackerel inshore and good numbers of mostly bailer-sized dolphin offshore on Friday.  Trollers also boated a few blackfin and yellowfin tuna, wahoo and billfish.  Barry Hinchey of Newport News landed a 31-pound king mackerel and released a sailfish aboard the HATTERAS BLUE while Chris Taylor of Suffolk released a white marlin aboard the BOSS LADY.  On Saturday, seas were already building and boats stayed near the inlet and came in early but scored on king mackerel and a scattering of dolphin and wahoo.

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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