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The Saltwater Review - August 13, 2003

Volume 17. No. 13
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.

A 285-3/4-pound Bigeye Tuna, caught August 12, 2003 by Melvin Bray of Dumfries, VA has been certified as the new Virginia State record.  The record-setting catch was made at the Norfolk Canyon aboard the private boat Hyltonian, skippered by Danny Defreitas.

Bay flounder fishermen managed a number of trophy-sized flatfish over the weekend while dodging thunder storms, as flatfish topping 12 pounds were landed.  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.

Spot are showing in good numbers inside the Rappahannock River and off Onancock.  Spot have appeared in the York River with some of the best reported hauls coming from the mouth of Sarah's Creek.  Reports also indicate decent weekend hauls of spot were made off Ocean View and around Fort Wool.

Chincoteague -

Captain Bob's reported good numbers of flounder but few keepers with some of the best action between buoys 15 and 16.  Good numbers of sea mullet are holding around the inlet while croaker to nearly 3 pounds were caught at Queen's Sound.  Offshore, a handful of bluefin tuna were boated for the week.  Warren Quinn landed one at the Little Fingers and the crew aboard the CANYON DREAMS boated a pair at the Parking Lot.

Barnacle Bill's said bottom fishermen are catching plenty of croaker and the occasional keeper flounder along the main channel.  Good numbers of sea mullet are holding around the mouth of the inlet and along the Assateague Island surf, where a few spot, pigfish and even a stray pompano were caught the past week.  Offshore action remains relatively slow with only a scattering of bluefin reported from either the Lumpy Bottom or Parking Lot while chopper blues continue to loiter in the area.  A few king mackerel have moved into the area and several anglers have found school dolphin holding beneath lobster pot buoys.

Wachapreague -

Captain Zed's reported overall action was slow, "except for croaker inside the inlet."  Other than the croaker, a handful of keeper flounder and some sea mullet were caught around the inlet.  Offshore, big blues are still holding on the inshore hills while the occasional bluefin or yellowfin tuna or king mackerel are caught between the Parking Lot and canyons. 

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported good weekend catches of flounder around buoys 36A, 38, 40 and 42, as some parties limited-out and several citation flatfish were weighed.  The biggest flounder was caught at the High Rise section of the CBBT, weighed 8-3/4 pounds and was brought in by Michelle Chaney.  Glen Joyner boated an 8-pound, 5-ounce flounder at buoy 42, where Ron Orrison landed a 7-1/2 pounder while Clark Wise landed an 8-pound, 2-ouncer off Kiptopeke.   Cobia still linger on the lower Bay, as Scott Sabo boated a 61-pound, 6-ouncer at the Inner Middle Grounds.  Charles R. Carlson released a 75-inch tarpon near Cobb Island, where Dave Griffith released an 84-inch shark.  Others with shark releases included Steve Garner (74 inches, Smith Island) and Shea Spain (82 inches, New Inlet).  The seaside also produced good hauls of croaker but "they're not as big as last year."

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported good bottom fishing  for large croaker, nice spot and flounder in the 18 to 23-inch range over the weekend.  Parties are also seeing more juvenile shark up to 3 feet long, nice sea mullet, bluefish in the 2-pound range, a few pan trout, blowfish, pigfish and porgy. Captain Wil added a few medium speckled trout had been caught in the shallows "and that's the first I've heard of any of them." 

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Jackie at Cobbs Marina reported good recent catches of flounder despite the near daily deluge of thunder showers.  Several customers scored limit catches of flounder and three anglers earned citations of big flatfish at the CBBT complex.  Ricky Williams boated the week's heaviest flounder at 7 pounds, 7 ounces.  Tim Wilkerson scored a 7-1/4 pounder at the Fourth Island and Pat J. O'Toole landed a 7 pounder at the First Island.  All three were caught on squid and minnows.  The marina indicated small to medium-sized croaker were biting at the ODU Reef site, where only the occasional keeper flounder was reported.

Lou at Bubba's Tackle said most anglers are fishing for flounder and the best recent catches have been coming from the Fourth Island to the High Rise section of the crossing.  Spadefish are holding around selected pilings of the CBBT while the oceanside portion of the Second Island was covered-up with pods of big black drum, according to Lou.  Several amberjack were caught at the Chesapeake Light Tower the past week.

Dr. Jim Wright said a friend fishing in the Kitty Hawk, NC area was catching lots of striped bass in the low 60-degree water.  Offshore, bluefin tuna in excess of 100 pounds were caught at the Fingers, where large bluefish still linger, while a scattering of yellowfin tuna were boated east of the Fingers, in 30 fathoms.

Wallace's Marina told of good weekend catches of flounder along the High Rise section of the CBBT, the Third and Fourth islands and Bluefish Rock.  Many of the flounder are in the 5 to 6-pound range.  A group fishing with Captain Craig Paige on Friday boated a dozen keeper flounder on live spot over the tubes.  The heaviest flatfish weighed 8 pounds and was landed by Debbi Boyce.  On Saturday, the crew aboard the TOP NOTCH fished the High Rise section of the CBBT and boated eight keeper flounder.  The heaviest weighed 12 pounds, 13 ounces and was caught on a bucktail by Christy Jeffers, Jr.  On Sunday, the crew aboard the FLOODTIDE boated eighteen keeper flounder to 6 pounds at Bluefish Rock.  The marina said bottom fishing for croaker, spot and flounder is productive around Factory Point and inside Back River.  Top baits include bloodworm, squid and shrimp.

Debbie at Sunset Marina said the crew aboard the OTHER WOMAN boated sixteen keeper flounder on cut bait at the Fourth Island on Sunday.  The heaviest weighed 9 pounds, 13 ounces and was caught by Ken Mitchell.  The crew aboard the ROCK-N-ROLL-3 also had a nice weekend catch of flounder to 23 inches in the Baltimore Channel near buoy 40.  Another party fished the HRBT, using peeler crab for bait and boated six nice sheepshead.  The largest measured 24 inches, weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces and was caught by Robert Ceglarski.  Debbie added that bottom fishermen recorded excellent catches of croaker to nearly 2 pounds at Hampton Bar, the HRBT and off Fort Monroe.

Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina checked-in three big flounder last week.  The crew aboard the ALBACROSS fished at the Cell and James Cross (8-1/4 pounds, 27-1/4 inches) and Andy Cross (7 pounds, 10 ounces, 26 inches) each boated citation flounder.  Jason Hicks was trolling a bucktail at the CBBT and boated a 26-inch, 8-pound flounder.

Chuck Ash at A & S Feed and Bait Supply said poor weather conditions limited the number of folks out fishing the past week but spot, croaker and the occasional keeper flounder were caught at the Gloucester Point Pier.  Spot are starting to show around the entrance to Sarah's Creek and a handful of speckled trout were reportedly caught inside Mobjack Bay at Ware Point.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club caught flounder to over 5 pounds at the Cell and say flatfish are also biting at the High Rise, Back River Reef and the Hump.  Trollers pulling small spoons caught Spanish mackerel at York Spit, where a bottom-fished piece of squid will produce nice-sized croaker.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware described spot fishing as "very good" around the mouths of the local creeks and at Blackberry Hang.  Most of the larger croaker have moved into the deeper waters of the Bay with some of the better hauls coming after sunset along the channel edges just south of buoy 62.  A few pan trout have begun to show in with the croaker.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said Spanish mackerel were biting around the mouth of the Potomac River and up as far as buoy 3.  Taylor blues are mixed in the macs and breaking schools of bluefish are showing around Smith Point Light.  Croaker are "not as plentiful as last year," according to Dan but plenty are still being caught around the mouth of the Little Wicomico River.  Boats running into Maryland waters and chumming between buoys 68 to 72 are returning with limit catches of striped bass and some taylor blues.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Marina described the flounder bite at the Cell and buoy 40 and 42 as "superb," with lots of flatfish 20 inches or more.  Those registering citation flounder at the shop the past week included Marvin Sniegon of Mechanicsville (7 pounds, 9 ounces), Randy Harmon of Mechanicsvill (also 7 pounds, 9 ounces), Jerry Rogers of Spring Grove (9 pounds, 7 ounces), J. Clark Gray of Kilmarnock (7-1/4 pounds) and Anthony Vanness of Richmond (7 pounds, 5 ounces).  Jerry said good numbers of #2 spot were caught off Gwynn Island around the Spike buoy while Spanish mackerel and taylor blues were caught by anglers trolling between Windmill Light and Stingray Light.  Jerry also heard from two customers that bought bait on Saturday that went on to boat a pair of nice cobia off Silver Beach.

Locklies Marina reported good hauls of nice spot were made around the bridge and off the Silos the past week.  The marina also told of good catches of flounder at the Cell and registered several citation flounder of 7 pounds or more.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said bottom fishermen are making excellent catches of spot plus some sea mullet and pan trout at Windmill Point Bar, Butlers Hole, and the Spike off Deltaville.  Trollers working Windmill Bar using small spoons are scoring on Spanish mackerel and taylor blues.  The flounder bite over at the Cell slowed the past week, though some flatfish are being caught.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported decent offshore action the past several days.  The EMPTY WALLET had a 91-pound wahoo Saturday while the WAVERUNNER had a mixed catch of king mackerel, chopper bluefish and false albacore plus an 86-pound bluefin tuna.  On Sunday, the EMPTY WALLET fished inshore and had a good catch of Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish, the VIRGINIAN fished one of the south towers and caught a load of amberjack.  The black sea bass bite slowed and most (or all) of the headboats have been running to the mouth of the Bay and catching croaker plus a few flounder, pan trout and bluefish.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina described the tuna bite as "very slow," though amberjack to over 50 pounds were available around the south towers.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Plenty of small to medium croaker and spot after dark.  Pan trout are showing around the shadows created by the pier lights.  Small shark to nearly 3 feet plus a big helping of skate and ray rounds out the action.

Buckroe Beach - Mixed catches of croaker, spot and flounder the past several days.

Harrison - Pompano to over a pound made a surprisingly good showing the past several days.  The best action for spot and croaker comes after sundown.

Lynnhaven -Sea mullet and blue crabs dominated the bottom fishing scene but some croaker, spot, skate and rays were also landed.  

Virginia Beach - Sea mullet dominated the action here and some anglers were able to fill a cooler full of the tasty bottom feeders.  Bottom fishermen are also catching some spot and small flounder while casters manage a handful of taylor blues and Spanish mackerel around sunup and sundown.  Water around the pier pilings was up to 72 degrees.

Sandbridge - Sea mullet and croaker plus a few spot were pulled from the muddy waters surrounding the pier over the weekend.

Outer Banks, NC -

The Nags Head area beaches struggled to hit water temperatures above 60 degrees over the weekend and catches were limited to a scattering of croaker, sea mullet and ling cod.

South of Oregon Inlet, beach fishermen at Cape Point hooked plenty of big rays plus some croaker and a few puppy drum.  Saturday was another day of rain, rays and croaker at the Point.  Sunday proved to the best of the weekend with a mixture of small pompano, croaker and spot during the day and a strong bluefish run with the occasional Spanish mackerel at dusk.  Two cobia were hooked but lost in the surf break.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported three bigeye tuna, fair catches of yellowfin tuna and scattered dolphin on Friday.  On Saturday, it was limit catches of yellowfin tuna for the fleet.  Sunday was another banner day for yellowfin, as most boats scored a limit plus a 132-pound bigeye was landed and a blue marlin was caught and released.  Inshore boats did well on Spanish mackerel, bluefish and striped bass.  The headboat had mixed catches of mostly croaker plus some pan trout and flounder.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet recorded good catches of dolphin and king mackerel plus several wahoo and yellowfin tuna on Friday.  The fleet also caught and released four sailfish.  Virginia anglers Jeffery Jensen and William Schick of Linden, each released a sail aboard the GOOD TIMES.  On Saturday, most boats fished despite "squally" conditions and returned with decent catches of king mackerel plus some wahoo, yellowfin tuna and dolphin.  On Sunday most boats cancelled due to weather but the few that did fish reported good catches of king mackerel and wahoo.  The TUNA DUCK released a sailfish.

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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