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 14-inch size limit and 14-fish possession limit is in effect from August 16 through April 30, 2003 for weakfish (grey trout). For the past three seasons, the recreational fishery has operated under a split season, where a 12-inch minimum size limit and 4-fish possession limit is in effect from May 1 through August 15 and a 14-inch minimum size limit and 14-fish possession limit is in effect from August 16 through April 30 of each year.
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.
Puppy drum have appeared in surprising numbers at most of their usual haunts but few of the juvenile red drum meet the 18-inch minimum size limit. A 24-inch red drum was landed at Lynnhaven Pier during a CCA sponsored Kids Day Fishing Tournament.
Cooler weather for 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.
Donna from Captain Bob's reported decent catches of mostly yellowfin tuna at Sam's Hill and the Lumpy Bottom. William Brown weighed the week's biggest tuna and it was a yellowfin that went 94 pounds. Dolphin are scattered throughout the inshore and offshore lumps. Bottom fishermen are catching good numbers of sea bass, plus a few flounder and triggerfish, on the inshore ocean wrecks. Harvey Spurlock had the week's biggest black sea bass at 5 pounds, 3 ounces. Inside the inlet croaker were "here today but gone tomorrow," according to Donna. The most consistent area was along the main channel from buoy 27 to the drawbridge and at buoy 3, located at Cockle Creek. Some keeper flounder are being caught, with a 6-3/4 pounder the heaviest recent catch, plus a mixture of snapper bluefish, medium spot, blowfish and a few trout.
Wachapreague Marina reported good offshore catches of billfish, as Ed Anes released a blue marlin aboard the MAIN SQUEEZE at the Washington Canyon, where Tim Ripine released a blue and Allen Birch a white aboard the JAMES GANG. Shawn Zeni and Greg Kramer each released white marlin aboard the WHITE HOT at the Washington Canyon while Lee Trailington released a white aboard WIRED at the Norfolk Canyon. Eric Gorschboth decked a 71-pound yellowfin aboard the TOPP HATT.
Captain Zed's said James Price released a white marlin and Andrew Plton released a sailfish aboard the MISS MOLLIE. The crew aboard the SCORPIO fished inshore between the 21 and 26 Mile hills and landed a pair of bluefin tuna and several dolphin. The crew aboard the ANNIE II trolled-up several dolphin and bottom fished a nice catch of black sea bass on an ocean wreck. The FOXY LADY just worked the wrecks and limited-out on black sea bass. Inshore, croaker are available at several locations but the biggest seem to be grouped along Green and Drawing channels and near buoy 8. Some keeper flounder and a scattering of trout were caught the "Big Y."
Cape Charles -
Chris' Bait and Tackle reported good hauls of croaker out of the seaside port of Oyster, especially around the SA buoy. On the bayside, several big flounder were boated including 8-pounders by Benjy Howell and Bobby King at buoy 16. Greg South nailed a 7-pound, 14-ouncer at the High Rise and John Lane, Jr. boated a 7-pound, 2-ounce flatfish at the Third Island. The buoy 16 area also produced a 47-inch cobia release for Wayne Parr and a 45-inch red drum release by Ivan Lee Caplinger. Robert Taylor weighed-in a 50-pound, 9-ounce cobia that was boated off Silver Beach.
Captain Wil Laaksonen reported big croaker are holding in 28 to 38 feet of water "straight off Onancock, where more pan trout and spot to 15 ounces were caught last week. Bottom fishermen are also catching a mixture of sea mullet, flounder, shark, bluefish, blowfish, porgy and seeing a lot of Spanish mackerel free-jumping. Bottom fishing in the sounds has not been as productive, as anglers see more small spot and pinhead croaker.
The 14th annual Grady White Owner's Tournament was held last weekend out of Marina Shores. The event attracted nearly 90 boats, as the weather was nearly ideal. Anglers 12 years old and under compete amongst themselves in the youth division while older anglers are in the adult division. Eligible species are grouped by fishing category as either "Offshore" (tuna, wahoo, amberjack, dolphin, king mackerel and billfish) or "Inshore" (bluefish, cobia, croaker, flounder, Spanish mackerel, spot, tautog, trout and spadefish). Trophies are awarded for the two heaviest (or most for releases) of each species in both the youth and adult categories. Skippers of vessels which land the heaviest fish in the youth and adult divisions receive one point for each catch. The vessel which tallies the most points in the Offshore and Inshore divisions receive the Captain's Award (first and second place). In this year's event, the Offshore division was won by OFF-THE-HOOK with KILL DOG placing second. For the Inshore division, CAPTAIN'S CHOICE finished in first place while the LOLA SUE was second. Several citation catches were made including white marlin releases by Bryon Robinette and Millard Zydron, a 69.85-pound cobia pulled-in by Andy Thompson and a 7.0 pound flounder by John Vaugh. Other notable catches included a 51.05 pound yellowfin tuna by Brian Abbott, a 6.90 pound flounder by Kenny Yopp and a 5.25 pound flounder (youth division) by Steve Gibson.
Cobbs Marina reported good catches of flounder, croaker and spot over the weekend. Charles Young of Chesapeake weighed the heaviest flounder, an 8-pound, 2-ouncer, which he caught at the Fourth Island. The crew aboard the REEL NATI boated and released several big amberjack on live bait at the Triangle Wrecks, including citation fish by Todd Boyes (58 inches), Roy McCausey (52 and 48 inches) and Charles Stone (53 inches).
Lou at Bubba's Marina told of good catches of flounder at the First Island and nearby small boat channel plus loads of croaker "all over the CBBT." Inside Lynnhaven, small puppy drum have suddenly become abundant but most measure less than 18 inches (the current minimum size limit). Spot and croaker are also biting inside the Lynnhaven complex.
Dr. Jim Wright boated a citation 7-1/4-pound flounder on a recent outing to the Second Island, noting the big flatfish was caught "right over the tube on slack water." Along the oceanfront, Spanish mackerel are holding south of Rudee, off Dam Neck while the white marlin bite at Norfolk Canyon has heated up.
Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina said decent numbers of puppy drum are showing inside Back River but "they're mostly small." Weekend cobia catches were encouraging as Lorraine Gousse (52-1/2 inches), Ronnie Savage (49-inch release) and Bill Savage (49-inch) all released citation cobia at the Middle Grounds while Ronnie Savage (61 pounds, the Hump), Wayne Gousse (56 pounds, Middle Grounds) and John Rumley (57 pounds, Bluefish Rock) registered weight citations. Pat McKinley released a 46-inch red drum at Bluefish Rock. Weekend catches of flounder were fair to good with Charles Moore's 7-3/4 pounder from Hampton Bar the biggest. The Cell, Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT and Back River Reef also produced keeper flounder. Spadefish still linger around the Third and Fourth islands while these saucer-shaped fish have slacked off at the Tower Reef. Large jack crevalle are holding around the legs of the Tower, as John Schnautz (44-1/2 inches and 48 inches), Larry Jackson (45 inches and 43-1/2 inches), Jessica Harris (45-1/2 inches) and Stephen Powell (43-1/2 inches) all released big jacks. Live croaker was used as bait.
Johnny from Sunset Marina said big flounder continue to be caught at Hampton Bar. Those with citation-winning flatfish included Bill Bridges (7-7), Bob Shelton (7-1), Bill Shelton (7-5), Rich Meister (7-2), Caball Wilburn (7-4), Scott Helms (7-4) and Patrica Morris (7-4). Though they were not able to crack the 7-pound threshold, Tom Martin and his son, Chris boated four flounder over 5 pounds. Big croaker were also pulled from the waters of Hampton Bar and the HRBT, as James Thomas weighed a 3-6 croaker and Tony Langston landed a 3-1 fish. Johnny added that trout to 5 pounds were caught off Fort Wool.
Vanasse Bait and Tackle said good numbers of spot were showing at the Back River Reef site and over the old oyster bars off Grandview Beach. The same areas hold plenty of mixed sizes of croaker.
Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina said Jardette Phillips landed a 52-inch, 25-pound dolphin off the Virginia Coast last week but most customers stayed inside the Bay, catching small to medium flounder and mixed sizes of croaker at the CBBT complex.
Chuck Ash at A & S Feed and Bait Supply said the current heat wave had "really cut down on the number of fishermen" the past week, though several 40-pound class cobia were boated at York Spit while spot were available off Tue Marsh Light and the river remained loaded with mixed sizes of croaker.
Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club reported an upsurge in flounder action at the Cell, Hampton Bar, off Cape Charles and along the Baltimore Channel near the CBBT the past week. Jorj Head boated the biggest flatfish of the week off Cape Charles and it weighed an impressive 8 pounds, 10 ounces. Dr. Robert Allen wire-lined the CBBT between the Third Island and the High Rise and had over a dozen flounder plus several grey trout, small bluefish and croaker. Outside the baymouth, several groups caught and released big jack crevalle to 48 inches at the Tower Reef while amberjack to 53 inches were boated and released at the South Tower. The 500 fathom curve, between the 150 and 450 lines held billfish, as did the Norfolk Canyon. Any floating debris in either area usually held cooperative dolphin.
Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported bluefish up to 5 pounds were caught around Smith Point Light, inside the Great Wicomico and at Blackberry Hang. Some Spanish mackerel are mixed in with the bluefish, especially at Smith Point Bar. Bottom fishermen working the late afternoon hours inside Tangier Sound have seen an increase in the number of trout.
Smith Point Marina said the charter fleet has been catching a mixture of bluefish and striped bass at the mouth of the Potomac River (where the season is open) and the best action has been between buoys 32 and 36.
Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said spot continue to bite at Butler's Hole, around Parrot Island, the mouth of the Piankatank and off Gwynn Island. Jumbo croaker were harder to locate, as loads of smaller fish have arrived. The flounder bite at the Cell remains "hit or miss" though Roane Booker (7-7) and Payten Harcum (7-12) each had citation flounder on Saturday. Trollers found good numbers of bluefish and Spanish mackerel off Gwynn Island and on Windmill Point Bar over the weekend while the spadefish bite at the Cell and Wolftrap Light is "winding down," according to Jerry.
Locklies Marina said big spot are still holding in local waters and the shop weighed a pair of citation winners the past week. The waters off the Silos and hard bottom areas near the bridge have been the most productive for the spot while the larger croaker and keeper flounder were holding near the mouth of the river.
Tommy Lewis at Garretts Marina was too busy to elaborate but indicated bottom had been catching loads of croaker just off from the marina.
Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said long strips of cut bait produced keeper flounder at the Cell for a party from Richmond. The group later moved into deep water near buoy 42 and hauled-in large croaker. Bottom fishing at the mouth of the Rappahannock River is good one day and just so-so the next. Spot up to 11 inches were caught off Windmill Point and Gwynn Island, at the mouth of the Piankatank and at Butlers Hole on bloodworms. Schools of snapper blues plus with some Spanish mackerel mixed in are holding at Windmill Point Bar.
The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported decent catches of white marlin and a few blue marlin off the Virginia coast. Small dolphin are scattered throughout the area and trollers are also catching the occasional wahoo but the tuna bite has been very slow. Inshore, the headboats are catching good numbers of sea bass plus some flounder and triggerfish while trollers working just off the resort strip are catching a mixture of Spanish mackerel and bluefish.
Fisherman's Wharf Marina told of a good billfish bite southeast of Rudee Inlet near Triple 0's in 500 or more fathoms and ENE of Rudee, at the Norfolk Canyon. Most of the marlin were whites and some boats released a many as half-a-dozen.
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.
Surf and pier catches along the Nags Head area beaches improved last weekend as cooler weather prevailed, though "panfish" provided the bulk of the action. Anglers enjoyed a reasonable mixture of snapper bluefish, small flounder, sea mullet, croaker, spot, small puppy drum and pompano. For pier anglers, add Spanish mackerel to the mix with live-baiters taking a handful of king mackerel and cobia. The largest reported king mackerel was caught at the Kitty Hawk Pier and weighed 46 pounds.
South of Oregon Inlet, at Cape Point in Buxton, bottom fishermen are catching a mixture of sea mullet, croaker, some spot and even pompano while casters find Spanish mackerel within casting range early and late in the day.
The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported excellent catches of billfish the past week. Ladies fishing in the Alice Kelly Billfish Tournament released a total of 98 white marlin and blue marlin. On Friday, the charter fleet reported fair catches of dolphin and lots of billfish, highlighted by JOBOY's 6 white marlin releases and the Carolinian with four whites and a blue marlin. Inshore trollers found a handful of Spanish mackerel and snapper blues while headboat patrons reeled-in croaker and flounder. On Saturday, the charter fleet found more dolphin and plenty of billfish. Sunday, dolphin was rated as "fair" with some wahoo and plenty of billfish. Monday, several boats returned with limit catches of dolphin plus a few tuna, wahoo and king mackerel.
The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed beautiful weather and loads of bailer dolphin the past several days. A few wahoo and king mackerel were boated, several billfish were released but tuna remain scarce.
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