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The Saltwater Review - August 6, 2003

Volume 17. No. 12
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, grey trout and red drum have been modified. In particular, note that a summer closed period for black sea bass will be in effect from September 2 through September 15.

For black sea bass, the minimum size limit has been increased to 12 inches while the possession limit remains 25 fish but closed periods of September 2 through September 15 and December 1 through December 31 have been added.

The minimum size limit for grey trout is 12 inches and the possession limit is 7 fish year round.

Bay flounder fishermen saw a drop-off in catches over the weekend but still a number of tropy-sized flatfish were captured with several topping 12 pounds. Some of the best hauls were made from the deeper channel edges leading into or out of the Bay, the CBBT structure itself, the buoy 36A to 38 area, which is located off Kiptopeke, and the Cell/buoy 42 area.

Croaker, especially most of the bigger fish, have moved into the deeper portions of the main stem of the Bay, as they near spawning condition.

Offshore waters finally have something to offer on a consistent basis other than big bluefish, as decent catches of yellowfin and bluefin tuna were made off Virginia Beach the past week.

Ocean wrecks still hold black sea bass and spadefish but neither fish are as cooperative as they were in the month of June.

Chincoteague -

Donna at Captain Bob's reported flounder catches improved last week with the main channel from the red marker 22 to the CV as buoy the top location. Donna also suggested working the last two hours of incoming tide. Croaker are abundant in most fishing areas while trout remain scarce. Sea mullet and small shark are biting around the mouth of the inlet while Four Mouths was the week's crabbing hot spot.

Barnacle Bill's said croaker up to 2 pounds have been caught recently in Chincoteague Channel and along the backside of Assateague Island while keeper flounder have been pulled from the main channel. Beach fishermen on Assateague Island had fair to good success on sea mullet. Offshore, chopper blues, king mackerel and a few tuna were caught. "A number of big tuna were hooked and fought for hours before breaking-off or pulling the hook and the guys vowed to bring heavier tackle this weekend."

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported trollers picked-up "scattered tuna" the past several days. Most of the fleet has ran south of Wachapreague, to a spot the Rudee Inlet fleet calls "Wayne's World." A few king mackerel, the occasional dolphin plus chopper bluefish were caught in the same area.

Captain Zed's described the tuna bite as "real sporadic" adding that most of the fleet was running 50-plus miles SSE of the inlet. The shop did say that the long trip had resulted in half-a-dozen or so, 100-pound plus bluefin tuna in recent days. On the hills off Wachapreague, bluefish still linger with only an occasional king mackerel or dolphin reported. Inside the inlet, flounder drifters are managing a few keepers in the channel in front of the Coast Guard Station or along the channel on the backside of Paramour Island but most of their catch is under-sized flounder or croaker.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported nearly two dozen citation flounder in recent days, caught on everything from squid and live minnow to cut croaker. The majority of the bigger flounder were caught along the channel edge between buoys 36A and 38. Mel Coates weighed the biggest flatfish of the period, at 8 pounds, 15 ounces and also boated a 7-pound, 2-ouncer. James Beasley decked an 8-pound, 13-ouncer, Mary Rideout had an 8-pound, 10-ouncer, and Grant Coffee boated an 8-pound, 3-ouncer, just to name a few. Russell Kern caught and released a 47-inch cobia at buoy 13 while John Harlow (83 inches) and Jim Gordon (74 inches) each released big shark inside Magothy Bay.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported the weather conditions have been really poor but "the fish are really here." Catches include good numbers of flounder in the 19 to 24-inch range, caught drifting along the channel edges on cut bait and plenty of croaker and taylor bluefish. Decent numbers of sea mullet are also showing plus a scattering of blowfish, spot, trout and small shark up to 2-1/2 feet long.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Lou at Bubba's Marina said the CBBT flounder bite slowed considerably over the weekend, though several good-sized flatfish to just under 9 pounds were weighed-in at the shop. Lou did mention that school stripers were usually abundant and active at the CBBT for mid-summer. As a reminder, Virginia's Bay Striped Bass season is closed until October 4. Waters inside Lynnhaven have produced a scattering of medium-size spot and croaker plus an occasional puppy drum.

Dr. Jim Wright fished a number of the lower Bay "hotspots" for flounder last Thursday. All the locations produced flounder but few were even 17-1/2 inches long. Offshore, tuna (both yellowfin and bluefin) are finally showing on a consistent basis off the Virginia Coast with the best catches coming from the Fingers and just east, out to 30 fathoms.

Wallace's Marina said the flounder bite was good last week but slowed Saturday and Sunday. The best hauls were made around the Cell, at the Hump and the Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT. Jimmy Griffin landed flounder up to 8 pounds, 5 ounces at the Cell on finger mullet. The crew aboard the JOLLY ROGER boated flatfish to nearly 6 pounds at Bluefish Rock Saturday and Sunday. The crew aboard the MANN CLAN wirelined the High Rise section of the CBBT on Thursday and boated over two-dozen keepers up to 8 pounds, 11 ounces. Evan Fuller caught a pair of cobia at Bluefish Rock on live eel and the biggest weighed 55-1/2 pounds. William Battle caught the week's biggest flounder, a 12-pound, 7-ounce beauty, at the CBBT Thursday, on a wirelined bucktail. The next day, Bruce Owens landed an 11-3/4-pounder in the same area on a wirelined bucktail. Wallace's also indicated croaker and spot were biting off Factory Point while spot weighing as much as 16 ounces and trout to 7-1/2 pounds were caught off Fort Monroe.

Debbie from Sunset Marina weighed a 12-pound, 31-inch flounder for Ricky Hall of Yorktown. The huge flatfish was caught at the Third Island on a live spot. Donna Honeycutt boated a 7-pound, 1-ounce flounder at the Third island tube on squid and cut bait, where Martin Mikulas of Smithfield and party landed nine keeper flounder in the 19 to 22-inch range. Debbie added that flounder to nearly 5 pounds were caught around Thimble Shoals Light while croaker weighing up to 2 pounds, 11 ounces were pulled from the waters at the M & M crossing.

Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina checked-in several big flounder the past week, including citation-winning fish for Sonny Baynes (11 pounds, 5 ounces, 29-1/2 inches; CBBT), John Perry (9 pounds, 26-1/2 inches; CBBT) and Mike Newberry (7 pounds, 2 ounces, 26-1/2 inches; Cell). David King was fishing from a sailboat at Thimble Shoal Light and caught and released a 72-inch shark. Richard Harris reeled-in and then released an 85-inch bluefin tuna that hit a trolled ballyhoo at the Fingers.

Jimmy Lewis at A & S Feed and Bait Supply said bottom fishermen are catching good numbers of croaker plus some spot and flounder from the Gloucester Point public pier. Boats drifting the Yorktown side of the Coleman Bridge are catching flounder consistently. Some of the biggest croaker were caught above the bridge, off Cheatham Annex, where Andrew Dudley boated a 3-1/4-pound croaker. Spot numbers are improving just south of the York Spit. Out at the Cell, Dale Faulman landed an 8-pound, 13-ounce flounder while Bill Flippin boated a 7-1/2 pounder at buoy 40.

Ken Neill, reporting secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, described the season's flounder as three phases. "At first, the flounder fishing was terrible. Then it was red hot. Now it is at a fairly normal summertime pace. The top locations are also typical summertime--"the Cell, buoy 36A and along the CBBT. Spadefish remain available over most lower Bay structures and coastal wrecks. Some of the best recent catches by club members have come from the Texaco Wreck and the Cabbage Patch Reef site. Offshore, the best recent tuna bite has been in the vicinity of the Fingers but the bite is still "hit or miss." Most of the bluefin weigh 100-plus pounds and are coming from 22 fathoms or less while the yellowfin are generally 20 to 30-pound class fish and are caught just east of the Fingers in 30 fathoms. Some chopper blues still linger on the Fingers plus an occasional king mackerel or dolphin are caught.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported the weekend was marred by strong winds and thunder storms and most anglers that did go fishing did not stray far from port. Catches earlier in the week revealed schools of croaker plus a few pan trout were hanging along the shipping channel edges and hitting bottom rigs baited with squid, crab and cut bait. Trollers working the same waters are catching some Spanish mackerel and taylor blues. Inside the river, bottom fishermen using bloodworm pieces caught spot around the mouths of the feeder creeks and at Blackberry Hang. Anglers seeking flounder reported reasonable success (prior to the weekend) across the Bay, inside Tangier Sound, and down around the Cell.

Dan from Smith Point Marina told of good hauls of croaker at Blackberry Hang and the Little Wicomico River. Some flounder and large spot were at the mouth of the Little Wicomico last week and the shop weighed three spot of 16 ounces or more. Trollers are finding some Spanish mackerel in the rips near Smith Point Light while chummers are reporting good mixed catches of school stripers and taylor blues around buoys 68 and 72 (Maryland waters, where the striped bass season is open).

Jerry Thrash at Queen's Creek Outfitters described the flounder bite at the buoy 42/Cell area as "great" on Saturday but wind and rain has slowed the action since then. Those registering citation flounder from the Cell/buoy 42 area Friday or Saturday included William Crewe of Hayes (7 pounds, 14 ounces), Michael Hudgins of Cobbs Creek (7-1/2 pounds), Robert Theibault of Ashland (7 pounds, 1 ounce), Michael Hurst of James Store (7 pounds, 3 ounces), James McKay of Providence Forge (7-3/4 pounds and 7-1/4 pounds), Keith Butler of Richmond (7 pounds, 7 ounces), Marty Folkes of Topping (7-1/4 pounds) and Chris Newhouse of Dutton (7-1/4 pounds). Other action included a good bite on large spot off Gwynn Island and inside the Piankatank River. Trollers enjoyed good success of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues near Windmill Bar. Edward Nicely of Ashland was drifting for flounder just off the mouth of Winter Harbor and boated a 55-inch, 56-pound, 6-ounce cobia.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishing parties were making good hauls of spot and a few croaker around the White Stone Bridge and around Parrot Island.

Garretts Marina said bottom fishermen were catching mostly croaker "right out from the marina," at buoy 19 and downriver, at buoy 16.

Captain Jim Thompson at Windmill Point Marina caught flounder to 24 inches at the Cell on Saturday and then moved into the Rappahannock and bottom fished near the 1R buoy and caught plenty of 12 to 15-inch croaker. The past week, spot were biting off Gwynn Island on the corn house "two days out of three." Butlers Hole was also consistently productive for spot and a party on Sunday loaded several coolers full of the tasty bottom fish.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported decent weekend catches of bluefin tuna, bluefish and yellowfin plus a scattering of dolphin and king mackerel. Most of the fleet has been trolling in the vicinity of the Fingers. On Saturday, the WAVERUNNER boated a 115-pound bluefin and C.B. Edmonson boated a 139-pound bluefin aboard the EMPTY WALLET. The BACKLASH boated half-a-dozen yellowfin and a dolphin while the FISH HAWK had a similar catch plus several king mackerel. On Sunday, Peter Janson boated a 124-pound bluefin aboard the WAVERUNNER, EMPTY WALLET had yellowfin tuna and dolphin and FROGPILE had yellowfin and a 100-pound plus bluefin while the VIRGINIA fished a southern tower and loaded-up with big amberjack.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said yellowfin tuna plus a few 100-pound plus bluefin tuna made a good showing over the weekend. Most of the tuna were caught trolling or "spooning" just west of Wayne's World. On Saturday, the crew aboard the PURSUER caught and released a blue marlin and jumped-off a sailfish while trolling south of the Cigar along the 115-line.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview -Catches include small flounder with an occasional keeper, croaker, spot and sea mullet. After sundown the croaker bite is especially good with some of the fish nearing the 2-pound mark. Pan trout are showing each night in the shadows created by the pier lights.

Buckroe Beach - Anglers are still seeing a few cobia but most fishermen are bottom fishing for a mixture of croaker and spot with the beat action (and largest fish) coming after sundown, when pan trout and small shark show-up in the shadows of the pier lights.

Harrison - Charley said the pier had gone "crab crazy" the past week and patrons were walking off the pier with buckets full. Bottom fishermen are catching mostly small spot and croaker though keeper-sized pan trout have begun to appear in the pier lights after sundown.

Lynnhaven - Folks are also catching crabs here with bottom fishermen reporting a mixture of sea mullet, spot, pigfish and bluefish.

Virginia Beach -The water temperature at pierside plunged to 60 degrees by Monday (August 4) following days of steady SW winds. Recent catches have been mostly large sea mullet plus a few spot and small flounder with croaker showing near sundown.

Sandbridge - Bottom fishermen are catching an assortment of bottom fish including sea mullet, spot and croaker while casters manage the occasional Spanish mackerel or taylor bluefish. A 75-pound cobia was decked last week.

Outer Banks, NC -

Cold water along the Nags Head beaches limited fishing opportunities, as the Duck Pier recorded a low of 56 degrees. Several of the piers reported a scattering of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues but most of the catches have consisted of small croaker, sea mullet and the occasional flounder. The action was more interesting at the Oregon Inlet Catwalk, where spot weighing to over 16 ounces, a few large grey trout and some sheepshead were caught.

South of the inlet, a few Spanish mackerel and some taylor blues were caught from the beach north of Cape Point while the jetties produced some pompano on Friday. Saturday, the jetties proved to be "the spot," as sheepshead to 12.8 pounds, black drum nearly as heavy, flounder and pompano were caught. Catches at Cape Point were limited to huge rays and just a smattering of bluefish and puppy drum. On Sunday, a 7 pound flounder was caught at the jetties plus pompano, sea mullet, black drum and croaker were caught here and along the nearby beach. Large rays and a scattering of bluefish and Spanish mackerel were reported at the Point. Monday was a wash-out due to a steady parade of thunderstorms.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported fair catches of yellowfin tuna, scattered dolphin and skipjack tuna, a pair of bigeye tuna (137 and 139 pounds) and six billfish releases (3 whites and 3 blues) on Friday. The headboat had good catches of croaker and a scattering of flounder. Inshore boats caught black drum, striped bass (both ocean and sound) and flounder. On Saturday and Sunday, the yellowfin tuna bite improved with many boats returning with limit catches plus a scattering of dolphin. Saturday also saw three bigeye tuna to 138 pounds on the dock.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed excellent catches of dolphin plus fair to good catches of yellowfin tuna on Friday. On Saturday, the fleet returned with good hauls of dolphin plus some yellowfin and blackfin tuna, wahoo and king mackerel. Seven billfish were also caught and released (3 blue marlin, 3 sailfish and 1 spearfish). The Virginia party aboard the BOSS LADY of Ben and Jeffery Smelley each released a blue marlin and Mike Faszewski released a spearfish. On Sunday, several boats stayed in port due to rough conditions and those that did fish were limited to a few wahoo, king mackerel and dolphin.

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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