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The Saltwater Review - August 7, 2002

Volume 16. No.13
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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


The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has established a statewide 17-1/2-inch minimum size limit, an eight fish possession limit with no closed summer period for Summer Flounder. 

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). From August 16 through April 30, 2003, the size limit is 14 inches and the possession limit is 14 trout.

The NMFS has adjusted the Angling Category Retention limit for Atlantic Bluefin tuna. Effective June 15 through October 31, 2002, the angling daily retention limit in all areas is four bluefin tuna per vessel, measuring 27 to less than 73 inches curved fork length. For details, see the enclosed notice.

Cobia have scattered throughout the lower Bay but are still being caught at such early season locations as Bluefish Rock and Latimer Shoals. The week's biggest fish, a 74-pound, 11-ouncer, was boated off Cape Charles, at Plantation Light.

Croaker remain abundant throughout the Bay but the biggest fish are increasingly coming from the mainstem shipping channel edges. In the coming weeks, expect these schools to begin moving down the Bay and aggregate at the baymouth.

Cooler weather just after the weekend put spot on a feeding spree at several piers in the Hampton Roads area and Virginia Beach oceanfront but the best, consistent reports of these tasty bottom feeders continue to come from the mid-Rappahannock River area. 

The biggest flounder are holding at such well known deepwater haunts as the Cell/buoy 42 area, Hampton Bar, the CBBT complex and off Cape Henry but are not biting every day.

Offshore, the tuna bite slowed, especially off the Virginia Beach area, while billfish, primarily white marlin, made a surprisingly good showing for mid-summer. Amberjack, and often jack crevalle and barracuda, are holding on many of the ocean wrecks and reefs, where spadefish remain abundant but often are reluctant to bite a baited hook.

Chincoteague -

Donna from Captain Bob's reported bluefin tuna of over 100 pounds at the Lumpy Bottom and Parking Lot. Greg Johnson landed the week's biggest fish, at 205 pounds, but Dewy Reed (100 pounds), Ronald Witmer (101 pounds), Ray Lingo (103 pounds), James Camberry (115 pounds) and Merrell Evermass (124 pounds) all had citation bluefin while Ken Harding boated a 71-pound yellowfin in 30 fathoms. Inside the inlet, good numbers of croaker have arrived and are holding in the main channel between buoy 20 and 24.

Wachapreague -

Randy Lewis at Captain Zed's said the charter boats CANYON LADY, FOXY LADY, SCORPIO and AMERICAN MAID all recorded good weekend catches of yellowfin tuna and dolphin plus several wahoo, as Robert Clark, Jr. boated the heaviest tuna at 90 pounds. Sam's Hill and the Lumpy Bottom were the most productive areas. Ernest Emerson, Jr. (77 pounds) and Josh Skok (78 pounds) both boated citation yellowfin tuna while chunking at the Lumpy Bottom, where Stanley Wygams was surprised by a 52-pound cobia. Malcolm Russ boated a citation 32-pound wahoo aboard the CANYON LADY. Inside the inlet, schools of croaker have arrived with some of the best hauls coming from Cedar Island Cove and Green and Drawing channels while a few trout were picked-up in Bradford Channel. David Elliot stopped-in to weigh a 7-3/4-pound flounder, which he caught on the bayside near buoy 42.

Wachapreague Marina told of excellent offshore action for billfish and large yellowfin tuna. Lori McGlaughlin, Kate Evan and Andy Dise all released white marlin at the Washington Canyon aboard the WHITE BITE, where Craige Purdy and Charlie Farlow released whites aboard SQUID ROE and Bryan Hill and Barbara Ceney released white marlin aboard the JAMES GANG. Bagley Walker boated a 94-1/2-pound yellowfin tuna at the Lumpy Bottom, Barry Riddle decked an 80-1/4-pound yellowfin and Larry Schrock had a 78-1/2-pounder.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported loads of croaker have moved into the seaside areas off Oyster but the biggest fish are coming from the bayside, as Nathan Reynolds boated a 3-1/2-pound croaker at the Cell and William Reynolds nailed a 3-3/4 pounder at Hungars Creek. The weekend's biggest flounder were also pulled from the bayside waters of the Cell, as Frank Edwards weighed an 8-pound, 5-ounce flatfish and Mike Neely had a 7-pound, 15-ounce fish. Seth Rux boated a 5-1/2-pound sheepshead at the Cell. Catches of large cobia seemed slowed by the hot weather, though Frank Brady (45 and 47 inches) had a pair of releases at buoy 16 and Judy Lessard nailed a 74-pound, 11-ounce whopper at Plantation Light. James Johnson had a memorable surf fishing trip at Wreck Island, as he earned a pair of release awards (47 and 49 inches) for large red drum. Ten-year-old Colby Fitzgerald will also be receiving a citation plague next year, as he released a 21-inch spadefish at the Fourth Island over the weekend. Offshore, a trip to the Lumpy Bottom produced citation yellowfin tuna for Jack Bono (88 pounds, 13 ounces) and Ross Walizer (87 pounds).

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters told of good hauls of large croaker off Onancock with some of the best catches coming over the lumps south of Onancock, near the R-2 buoy. Flounder numbers continue to increase and anglers seeking flounder can improve their chances by working the channel edges in 30 to 50 feet of water, according to Captain Wil. Spot remain a "hit or miss" proposition but many of the fish that come aboard are large to nearly 12 inches. Other catches include porgy, sea mullet, perch and bluefish.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported Roy Cahoon landed the weekend's biggest flounder, a 10-pound, 10-ouncer, at the First Island. John Bailey caught a 59-pound, 5-ounce cobia at the CBBT, as Mike Poulter (42 inches) and Brandon Poulter (42-1/2 inches) each earned release awards for jack crevalle. The crew aboard the REEL NAUGHTY worked one of the Triangle Wrecks with live croaker and Roy McCausen (52 inches), R.C. Swain (53 inches) and David Hayslett (49 inches) released big amberjack.

James from Bubba's Marina said cobia were showing "all over" the CBBT complex, as the shop weighed fish to 72 pounds. Lots of customers were catching flounder along or near the crossing but the weekend's biggest flatfish, which topped out at 11 pounds, were being caught around the First and Second islands. James said large spadefish were hitting bits of clam floated near the Third and Fourth islands while puppy drum and speckled trout were biting inside Lynnhaven Inlet.

Dr. Jim Wright fished around the 4A Drydock and only managed one amberjack, a 43-incher. Dr. Jim said Bill Cook fished the Hot Dog recently and had five wahoo bites and caught several dolphin. Further offshore, blue and white marlin were caught aboard the HIGH HOPES while the nearshore waters just off Dam Neck held good numbers of Spanish mackerel. 

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina said several anglers fished offshore and did "real good," catching tuna, dolphin and wahoo. A mid-week trip by the crew aboard the EMPTY POCKETS just east of the Cigar produced a limit of dolphin up to 14 pounds. The crew aboard the DEBRA ANN fished the Fingers and boated half-a-dozen tuna and over a dozen dolphin up to 17 pounds. A return trip Sunday, the DEBRA ANN boxed an even bigger catch of tuna and dolphin. The same day, the LINDA KAYE fished the Fingers and boated dolphin and a 31-1/2-pound wahoo, which David Raiford reeled-in. Walter Strode landed a 37-pound wahoo at the Fingers, as the rest of the crew combined for a limit of dolphin. Inshore, cobia are beginning to show on the lower Bay buoys, though some fish still linger around Bluefish Rock, where John Rumley caught and released a 46-inch fish on a live croaker. Patrick Rudd also used a live croaker and boated a 53-pound cobia at buoy 15. Back River Reef continues to produce decent catches of flounder, large croaker, trout, triggerfish and a few prize spot. Hampton Bar, the Third and Fourth islands and the Cell were also good locations for flounder. The heaviest flounder weighed last weekend went 6 pounds, 6 ounces and was caught at the Cell. 

Johnny at Sunset Marina said the weekend's biggest flounder came from the nearby Hampton Bar, as Kirk Strovink boated a 7-pound, 5-ounce flatfish but decent catches of flounder to 5 pounds were also recorded at the Fourth Island of the CBBT. Big croaker, though not quite citation size (3 pounds), were caught at the HRBT and around the First Island of the CBBT. Offshore, Jerry White boated a 20-pound, 3-ounce dolphin at Norfolk Canyon.

Vanasse Bait and Tackle told of good hauls of croaker off Factory Point, flounder at Back River Reef and a few spot at Hampton Bar. The shop rated the past week's cobia action as "slow."

Cindy from Salt Ponds Marina said the ANNETTE SEA landed dolphin to 25 pounds while the WILD BLUE returned with dophin-fish to 24 pounds. Both boats fished in the vicinity of the Norfolk Canyon. Closer to port, Cindy indicated croaker and flounder were biting off the Cement Ships and around the Fourth Island.

Chuck Ash at A & S Feed and Bait Supply said a variety of fish, besides big croaker, had started biting at the lumps since the cooler weather hit, including hogfish, small black sea bass, trout and spot. Some cobia still linger around York Spit, where one customer caught and released a 50-inch red drum while fishing for cobia.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club found white and blue marlin around the Triple 0's and east of the Cigar in 500 or more fathoms. A trip to the South Tower revealed amberjack were on vacation but Dave Moss caught and released a 42-inch jack crevalle at the Tower Reef. Numerous members tied into award winning spadefish the past week, including Jeff Dail (21 inches), Charles Southall (22 inches), Jorj Head (22 inches) and John Costulis (23-1/2 inches). The Anglo-African wreck site was the premier location.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware said the bluefish "had grown a little" the past week and many of those caught around Smith Point Light were pushing three pounds. Trollers also found some Spanish mackerel mixed in with the bluefish northwest of the light in 60 feet of water. Croaker remain available on local waters but their numbers are dwindling, according to Roger. The best recent hauls were made south of South Point in Cut Channel.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said good catches of Spanish mackerel were recorded by his fleet over the weekend and the channel edge off Smith Point Light was the top location. Other catches included loads of croaker, plenty of bluefish and a scattering of trout. Boats running into Maryland waters near buoy 62, where the striped bass season remains open, are returning with limits of 20 to 28-inch fish.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said good numbers of spot have arrived at Butler's Hole, Parrot Island, the mouth of the Piankatank and off Gwynn Island. Croaker remain abundant throughout the local waters but most are small to medium-sized. The flounder bite remains inconsistent at the Cell/buoy area but some big flatfish are being caught along the channel edges in 55 to 65 feet of water. Good weekend catches of Spanish mackerel and snapper blues were recorded by trollers working off Gwynn Island and at Windmill Point Bar. Cobia are holding at Wolftrap Light, York Spit and off Silver Beach. Guy Stevens, Jr. boated a 55-1/2-pound red drum and a citation 69-pound cobia on cut bait at Wolftrap Light. A crew from Maidens, Virginia, aboard the FISH GETTER, fished the Tower Reef with live croaker and Todd Hawk (46 inches), Pat Hawk (45 inches), Richard Glover (46 inches) and Ryan Amos (44 inches) all caught and released citation jack crevalle.

Locklies Marina said decent catches of spot are coming in from Parrots Rock while croaker remain available "all over." Keith Johnson boated a 22-inch flounder at the Silos, where other catches include puppy drum, white perch and pan trout up to 18 inches.

Garretts Marina said croaker were biting locally in the river but "not much else."

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said a weekend party from Fredericksburg caught their limit of 20 to 26-inch flounder at the Cell while other bottom fishermen found plenty of croaker above the Range Light off Eastern Shore. Bottom fishermen also scored on good-sized spot using bloodworms at Butlers Hole. Spanish mackerel and bluefish were active at Windmill Point Bar while trout were scarce the past week.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center said headboats are returning with mostly sea bass but are also catching some flounder, triggerfish and croaker. Offshore, tuna have been hard to come by but billfish numbers were good plus dolphin were reasonably plentiful.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said Sunday and Monday produced some of the best billfish action of the season. Several boats released three white marlin on Sunday, one boat released a blue marlin and a sailfish and then "stayed out late, trying for a Grand Slam." On Monday, the charter vessel TOP NOTCH released five white marlin and the HOOKER released three whites and one blue marlin. The best billfish bite was south, between the 110 and 150-lines and north of the Norfolk Canyon. Gaffer-sized dolphin were found in the same locations. Inshore, spadefish provided the most dependable action with as many as a dozen release citations on a single outing.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Bottom fishermen enjoyed a good run of jumbo croaker in recent days with Daryl Jordon's 4-pounder at the top of the heap. Trout up to 16 inches, shark to 10 pounds, puppy drum, small to medium spot and a scattering of flounder were also caught.

Buckroe Beach - Croaker and juvenile shark are providing much of the action from dusk to dawn but anglers were also catching some large spot, trout and Spanish mackerel. Some of the shark ranged upwards of 10 pounds as James Redmiles decked a 10-pound, 13-ounce fish and Robbie Sanford landed a 10-3/4 pounder.

Harrison - Daytime action remains limited to a scattering of croaker and spot while after dark hours produce steady action on small shark and pan trout plus more croaker and spot.

Lynnhaven - Spot have made a strong showing since the wind shifted northeast. Other catches have been sea mullet and small puppy drum. 

Virginia Beach - Spot provided good action once the winds went northeast but anglers were also catching some sea mullet and small puppy drum. Water temperature at pierside was 78 degrees.

Sandbridge - Bottom fishermen enjoyed good runs of spot the past several days with a few croaker, puppy drum, bluefish and Spanish mackerel also reported. Earlier in the week a 30-pound king mackerel and a 52-pound cobia were decked.

Outer Banks, NC -

Small panfish--snapper blues, sea mullet, pompano and flounder, provided sporadic action for beach fishermen along the Nags Head area beaches. Pier anglers are seeing the same kind of action but casters fishing on the ends of the piers are catching some Spanish mackerel mixed in with snapper blues while the live bait rigs are producing an occasional king mackerel and cobia.

The beach at Cape Point, on Hatteras Island, produced an excellent run of Spanish mackerel (some anglers landed their 15-fish limit) and snapper bluefish Friday evening while pompano and sea mullet provided sporadic action earlier in the day. On Saturday, Spanish mackerel were caught on and off all day while bluefish joined-in around dusk. Daytime bottom fishermen saw mixed catches of spot, sea mullet and pompano. On Sunday, Spanish mackerel were caught early and late in the day while small flounder, sea mullet and croaker were caught during the day. Surprisingly, several large (over 40 inches) red drum were beached Sunday night. Monday saw mixed catches of Spanish mackerel and bluefish in the evening and sea mullet, croaker and pompano during the day.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported decent catches of snapper bluefish and Spanish mackerel inshore while the headboat recorded mixed catches of pan trout, croaker and blowfish. On Friday, the offshore fleet had a good day on billfish (mostly white marlin), fair catches of dolphin up to 35 pounds and a handful of yellowfin tuna. Saturday was another day dominated by billfish, as some boats recorded as many as eight releases in an outing. As for meat fish, catches of dolphin and wahoo were rated "fair." Inshore boats working the nearby wrecks and artificial reefs caught triggerfish, sea bass and amberjack. Sunday produced fair catches of dolphin and few wahoo and lots of billfish. Monday was a near repeat of Sunday with lots of billfish and fair catches of dolphin. A handful of yellowfin tuna, up to 94 pounds, were also boated Monday.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed good catches of dolphin and fair catches of wahoo on Friday, when the crew aboard TOP BILLIN released a sailfish. Saturday produced another day of good numbers of dolphin, though most were bailers. Scattered catches of wahoo and dolphin were also recorded. Jason Fonner of Lake Ridge released a sailfish aboard the TUNA DUCK. Seas were rough and few boats fished on Sunday, but those few all had big catches of 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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