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The Saltwater Review - August 10, 2007

Vol. 21, No. 9

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


Plans and Statistics Department Staff


TO: Saltwater Review Contributors and Recipients

FROM: Joseph Grist
Senior Manager, Fisheries Management
Department of Plans and Statistics

SUBJECT: The Saltwater Review will continue in 2007

It was recently announced that Lewis Gillingham, the long-time compiler and editor of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission's Saltwater Review, would be taking the helm of VMRC's Saltwater Tournament Office in September. As many of the contributors to and recipients of the Saltwater Review know, Lewis is an avid recreational fisherman and has overseen this publication since it's inception in 1986. What many may not know is that the production of the Saltwater Review was just one part of a much larger job that Lewis performed for the Commission. As a Fisheries Management Specialist, Lewis Gillingham monitored and evaluated multiple species for the Commission, including horseshoe crabs, American eels, Atlantic sturgeon, and summer flounder, as well as handled multiple issue evaluations and permitting requirements. Though Lewis will continue to work with staff on recreational issues, through his new role within the Fisheries Management Division, his day-to-day interactions in the Division's Department of Plans and Statistics will be missed. We wish Lewis good luck in his new position.

That being said, what about the future of the Saltwater Review? The Saltwater Review will continue on in 2007. Contributors will hear some new voices calling about fishing reports, and there may be a few more questions than normal at first. Recipients may notice a few changes in Saltwater Review's format over time. However, it is our goal to continue providing the Saltwater Review into the upcoming fall fishing season, and we look forward to continuing this publication for the fishing community. 

Chincoteague -

Donna at Captain Bob's highlighted their catch of the week as a 9.25 pound citation flounder caught by Lindi Smith of Marion, MD, landed at the box cars (Blackfish Banks). Numerous other flounder were also harvested from Blackfish Banks. Other notable catches included plenty of tuna from the Canyons and some nice dolphin.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported numerous blue marlin releases aboard the AMERICAN MADE, JAMES GANG, DIANE MARIE, and RASIN NETS, a white marlin release aboard the WOUND TIGHT, and a lemon shark release on the REEL TENSION. Inshore there were plenty of croaker, kingfish, and some spot. Wreck fishing was good, with a half dozen 6-pound plus flounder landed. 

Captain Zed's reported kingfish (sand mullet) were doing well in the inlet near sea buoy. Good catches of spot and croaker inside. Cedar Island cove, and down from Coast Guard station on Millstone Creek, there were many undersize flounder, with anglers throwing back 30 to 40 flounder for every 5 or 6 kept. 

Cape Charles -

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported the weekend's hot temperatures slowed the fishermen and fish on the shore, although several large flounder were boated. "Meatball" Lowe landed a 7-1/2-pound flatfish at the CBBT and Eddie Jones decked a twin 7-1/2-pounder at buoy 42. Retired MPO Bob Boyce landed a 7-pound, 6-ounce flounder at buoy 36A and Fred Gray weighed a 7-pound, 5-ounce flounder that was caught off Cape Charles. Cobia still linger in waters off Cape Charles but very few meet citation standards. Charles Brayerton weighed the week's lone citation cobia, a 57-pound, 15-ouncer, caught off Kiptopeke, near buoy 16. The late summer croaker bite remains in full swing along the southern seaside inlets, particularly form the port of Oyster, and over on the bayside around buoy 38. 

Ernie from Cherrystone Bait and Tackle reported they had one flounder citation last week, caught on August 5th by Dave Fonder and a 42-pound cobia was caught from around the CBBT. There has been a lot of small croaker caught the last few days. For people looking for crabs, the best time to find these tasty morsels have been around high tide.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported croaker are plentiful, all you have to do is look around to find the size croaker you want, whether large or small. Bluefish are also plentiful in the 10 to 15 inch range, feeding heavy and breaking the surface on a changing tide. Some Spanish mackerel are available, intermixed with the bluefish chasing bait, but it is difficult to get past the bluefish. Mixed catches of sea mullet, spot, and porgy, plus small sharks were recorded. Flounder have come from the channel edges off Onancock, and best catches have come from working the tide change, according to Captain Wil. 

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel

Cobb's Marina reported a slow weekend, due to heat keeping the number of angler's down, with no citation fish being caught. One fish that missed last weeks report was a citation Bull Shark release, 102 inches in length, by Dennis Hobb's on July 29th aboard the GET THE NET. Flounders that were hooked have mostly been on live baits, especially minnows and spot.

Bubba's Marina has seen a good bite from citation cobia in the last week. Ben Shephard caught two of these citation fish, at 58 and 61 pounds. Frank Wilson released a 25.5-inch sheepshead, Jonathon Levitt caught an 8-pound 10-ounce flounder and James Rappold has a 9-pound 2-ounce flattie of his own. The action on the spot has been very good in the inlet. Anglers are also pulling in some flounder, sheepshead, and the rare black drum. 

Wallace's Boat and Tackle report that the best action seen by them has been around the fourth island of the CBBT, albeit slow due to the high temperatures. The majority of the action consisted of small keeper and throw back flounder and sheepshead. Some cobia action was also keeping people's interest. A citation flounder, weighing in at 9 lbs 2 oz, was landed by Terry McCannis from the fourth island on a live spot. 

Fishing was also reported to be slow by the Sunset Boating Center. A few of the highlights included a 7-pound flattie caught on the Bar by James Agee. Anglers working the 3rd island with plastic jigs released a 46 inch black drum and a 34-inch red drum. Also a few keeper flounder were being caught around the CBBT in the 22-24 inch range and 39.5 lb cobia was also landed, unfortunately no details on where that fish was hooked up. 

The heat is also keeping the number of anglers working out of Salt Ponds Marina down over the last few days. The scarce reports that are available from them include a few small keeper flounder with no citations being issued this week.

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said offshore weed mats are holding plenty of dolphin and the same areas are providing good billfish action. The wahoo bite is very good but tuna are scattered, though most of the tuna caught are nice 40-pound plus fish. Anglers looking for a challenge are finding some success targeting swordfish. The hot area for swordfish this past week was east of the Cigar in 100-plus fathoms of water. Virginia's offshore bottom fishing continues to roll along, as a 48-pound golden tilefish was weighed-in by a Virginia Beach charter boat over the weekend. This fish has the potential of replacing Jeff Dail's current state record golden tilefish of 44-pounds as the new state record. Along the oceanfront, anglers are finding good concentrations of menhaden off Sandbridge. When menhaden stack up like this, king mackerel, red drum, cobia, and even a possible tarpon will be around. Flounder fishing has been very good with limit catches of big flounder recorded by anglers at the CBBT, Back River Reef, and the Cell/Buoy 42 area. Trollers reported good catches of Spanish mackerel in the York Spit area. Pods of big black drum still linger around the islands of the CBBT. Puppy drum (juvenile red drum) are available at in most of the lower bay inshore waters. This abundance of juvenile red drum bodes well for the fishery for years to come. 

Dr. Julie Ball, IGFA International Representative for Virginia Beach, contributed the following:

With the scorching temperatures sizzling along the east coast, it's almost impossible to stay cool! But the heat is not the only thing raising the bar, as big cobia catches are finally on the rise in the lower bay. Although not breaking any record numbers, cobia are beginning their late summer trend of favoring buoys and bridge pilings, making them accessible to casters. This pattern should only improve over the next several weeks. With water temperatures hovering to the eighties, the flounder action is hit-and-miss, depending on which person you ask. Larger flatfish are responding for live-baiters along the entire span of the Bay Bridge Tunnel. Although the 3rd and 4th islands are usually the hot spots, more and larger fish are now showing around the 1st island. Drifters are finding keeper flounder in lower Bay inlets, the small boat channel of the CBBT, buoy 42, and Back River Reef. Spadefish are swarming around every piling of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, with sheepshead lurking underneath. The trick is enticing them to bite right now. Most spades have been on the small side lately. Sheepshead responded a little better this week, but nothing to indicate a turn around. The triggerfish action is still a go with a few big fish starting to show. With no limits on these fish, anglers are loading up on lower bay and coastal wrecks, as well as the CBBT islands and pilings. Grey trout continue to offer intermittent action near the concrete ships and the 12-mile marker of the CBBT. Count on the big croaker numbers to climb as fall approaches, with some anglers already complaining croaker had become a nuisance. Spot are also active within both Rudee and Lynnhaven inlets, with plenty of keepers available. Puppy drum action remains on fire within both inlets and the chartreuse Gulp swimming mullet is the top lure. According to Captain Jake Hiles of the MATADOR, a manatee was spotted within Rudee Inlet. Watch for this docile mammal while motoring, which will lazily ignore your approaching props.

Although Spanish mackerel are not hitting off the charts, decent fish will chase small Clark and Drone spoons trolled along the oceanfront and the Cape Henry tide rips. Some Spanish pushing over 24-inches were caught trolling just off the Rudee Inlet jetties. Better numbers of Spanish are showing farther up the Bay, and off Gwynn Island. The good run of king mackerel off Virginia Beach is beginning to stir a lot of interest from anglers wanting to learn more about this fishery. Trolling live bait and swimming plugs have encouraged sporadic strikes, with a few hook-ups and spooled reels. Getting a smoker to the boat can be tricky, as these fish are known for their speed and agility. Tarpon are around but the silver kings of the Eastern Shore backwaters have yet to make an impressive showing. A smattering of hooked and jumped fish are keeping tarpon hunters going back with high hopes. 

Red drum are on a late-season roll, with surf angers on the Eastern Shore enjoying good success lately. Scattered catches on the Inner Middle Grounds and Nautilus Shoal have been reported, especially when cruising schools of reds on the surface are spotted. Black drum remain around the islands of the CBBT, but expect them to start moving out soon. 

Offshore action is decent with billfish providing the most excitement. The blow this weekend should improve the bill action. Blue and white marlin, with a long shot of a sailfish and swordfish are all possibilities. The billfish bite has been best from the Cigar down to the Triple 0's in 40 to 50 fathoms of water. Tuna action can only improve, with reports of scattered yellowfin catches, with a few topping 70-pounds. Bigeye and bluefin tuna remain a possibility. Respectable dolphin catches and an upswing of wahoo plus the telltale bite-off is promising for meat hunters. During offshore lulls, some captains are targeting deep drop species. A trip aboard the WATERMAN, skippered by Jimmy Martens out of the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, produced a 48-pound golden tilefish, which is now under consideration as a new Virginia state record. Amberjack will take any offering at the South A tower. Plan an early morning trip to avoid the heat. Be prepared, anglers are sorting through dozens of smaller fish before finding a larger fish.

Virginia Middle Bay -

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware stated that there have been plenty of Spanish around with some flounder being caught around Smith Point. Croaker and spot are being caught in the creeks.

Dan from Smith Point Marina had excellent reports of flounder in the Little Wicomico River. Other fish of note were croakers by Smith Point Light, schools of bluefish in the channels and scattered Spanish. If you are willing to make the run up to Maryland, he stated that anglers have been doing very well with the stripers.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said when the flounder season reopened on Sunday (July 30) the fish were very cooperative and many people enjoyed their best catches of the year but by Tuesday the flounder action had returned to mediocre. Tough fishing continued through the weekend, as 75 boats competed in the annual Mathews Boys and Girls Club Tournament held Saturday August 4. Top flounder of the week was a 27.25-inch, 8-pound, 1-ouncer caught cut bait at the Hump by Grady Baker, Jr. of Hayes. Jerry described the week's Spanish mackerel fishing as "pretty good, especially at first light and just before sunset." The fish are hitting Clark and Drone spoons trolled at 6 to 8 knots, pulled behind #1 planers, in-line sinkers or downriggers. The most consistent action has been along Windmill Bar, at the #6 Buoy in the Rappahannock, over the edges of Stingray Bar and the 25' depths off Gwynn Island. "If you are catching bluefish, you are trolling too slow," coached Jerry. Bluefish are available in area waters and can be chummed or trolled along the edges of Windmill Bar and around Smith Point Light, where mackerel to 20 inches have been caught. The charter fleet has focused on the good late summer run of spot. Jerry indicated number 2 spot have been caught off Gwynn Island, at Cherry Point, the Mudhole, and at the Spike. Bloodworms and the Fish-Bite synthetic bloodworm are all working well as bait for the spot. Bottom fishermen are also seeing a few pan trout inside the Piankatank River. Weldon B. Noble of Grimstead stopped-in to register a 31-inch, 13-pound, 15-ounce blueline tilefish, caught 8/3 on cut bait at Norfolk Canyon.

Final results for the Mathews Boys & Girls Club Flounder Tournament:

This was a one-day three-fish aggregate weight tournament. Before the event, it was assumed all the live baiters at the tunnel find the bigger flounder because the flounder fishing north of the CBBT, around the Cell, had been slow the last couple of days. But the final weigh-in saw 80% of the winning flounder were caught around the Cell and 42 area. Three citation flatfish were caught during the tournament. Here are the results on a tough day of fishing:

First place: Tony Slusher, Mechanicsville-Wet Dreams- 17.18 lbs.
Second: Eddie Inge, Port Haywood-Sea Horse-16.22 lbs.
Third: Randy Harmon, Glenn Allen- Island Girl- 16.08lbs
Fourth: Mr. Englehart- 15.86lbs.
Fifth: Mark McIlwean, Wmsburg-Salt Lick-15.58lbs.
Sixth: Douglas Diggs, Cobbs Creek-Piankatank Pirates-14.78lbs.
Seventh: Ritchie Lewis/Jeremy Haley, Ware Neck-14.08lbs.
Eighth: Scott Davenport, Wmsburg-Double-Digits-14.04lbs.
Ninth: Raye Foster, Deltaville- My boys-13.52lbs.
Tenth: Ronald Farr/Lewis Swingle, Mechanicsville-BayTripper-12.96lbs

Spot and croakers were the main catches being reported by Garretts Marina, with the best time of day being mornings and evenings. Good places to look included the area between buoy 19 and Morratico Bar.

Capt. Jim Thompson had a report of good spot fishing in and around the Rappahannock River and Piankatank River; with lots of dog sharks working the mouths of those rivers. The spot in the Rappahannock River were being caught around the mouth and at the Spike along with some mullet and grey trout. The Piankatank River was producing lots of spot at the #5 buoy, Cherry Point, and Deep Rock off of Gwynn Island along with croakers and mullet. Capt. Thompson also said bluefish and Spanish being caught around Windmill Bar. There were some flounder being caught around the Cell, not a lot of keepers, with the flounder not very active due to the heat.

Virginia Beach -

Offshore fishing out of the Virginia Beach Fishing Center has been strong for the last several days. Boats going out have been able to hook up with white and blue marlin every trip. Several citations for wahoo, yellow fin, king mackerel, and dolphin have been issued. Also, a 48 lb golden tile was caught and submitted as a state record a few days ago. Closer to shore, a cobia citation was issued and good catches of bluefish and croakers in the inlet were seen.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf marina reported fair billfishing offshore with some boats hooking up multiple times with white and blue marlins. Dolphin and wahoo citations were also given out this week. Inshore, a citation king mackerel was landed and Spanish and bluefish were giving the trollers some action.

Virginia Piers -

Ocean View Pier reported a nice run of spot for Thursday morning, but not many people fishing due to the heat. The few that were out had the best luck using bloodworms. Croaker and flounder also added a small number of individuals to the mix.

Lynnhaven Pier has also been having a good run of spot in the evening on bloodworms. Other species of note in the catches include croaker and bluefish.

People fishing the Virginia Beach Pier have had their best luck going after spot in the evenings using bloodworms. A few nice pompano have also been landed along with croaker and bluefish.

The only species of fish of note, being caught at the Sandbridge Pier, has been spot for the last few days.

Outer Banks, NC

The Avalon Pier has seen a good mix of species caught, but the fishing has been on the slow side. Blues, small cobia and Spanish have been hitting Gotcha plugs at the end of the pier with flounder and mullet closer to the shore. The most consistent bite has been spot in the late afternoon into the evening. 

South of Oregon Inlet saw some bluefish and Spanish hitting lures with pompano, croakers and a few flounder showing up as well. The mullet were hitting the best around ramp 38. On the Frisco Pier 2 citation kings were caught, 32 and 42 lbs. At the Point, during the night hours, some big sharks were reported. Inside the sound specks and puppy drum were the main catches of the day.

Offshore fishing out of Oregon Inlet Fishing Center was producing results over the weekend with the billfish making a strong showing; 10 white marlin, 2 blue marlin and 2 sailfish getting hooked up. Most boats continue to limit out on dolphin with some gaffers in the 30-40 pound range, and 7 bigeye tuna in the 100-pound range also being caught. Full day trips continue to have success with tilefish. Inshore there was good bluefish and Spanish trolling and a good mix of other species were being caught as well including flounders, sheepshead and tautog.

Hatteras inlet fishing was producing billfish as well several white marlin and sailfish being released and a few blue marlins as well. Dolphin and the occasional wahoo also were part of the offshore action. Inshore the typical summer species could be found including lots of bluefish with scattered Spanish, speckled trout, and puppy drum. 

If you have additional information or would like further details contact Joe Grist at (757) 247-2237.

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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