Plans and Statistics Department Staff
Offshore fishing has really taken off this week, with reports of numerous tuna, and some impressive white and blue marlin releases. One of the charters out of Virginia Beach reported a grand slam this week (a white marlin, a blue marlin, and a sailfish released on the same day). Inshore action has slowed in some areas due to the heat. However, most areas reported decent flounder fishing for those willing to go out in the early mornings. In the lower bay, croaker and spot were really biting last week, especially spot for those fishing anglers with bloodworms at local piers. There were also reports of nice Spanish mackerel, blues, puppy drum (juvenile red drum), king mackerel, and speckled trout, with a few black drum and cobia mixed in. Despite the heat and slow inshore fishing in some areas, most recreational anglers seemed to be enjoying themselves this week, adhering to the saying “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at the office!”
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission’s Fisheries Management Division has two new projects, within the Virginia Recreational Assessment Program, for anglers to participate in: ‘The Marine Sportfish Collection Project’ and ‘The Virginia Saltwater Journal’. Flyers for both can be found in this issue, and updates on both will be presented in future issues of the Saltwater Review.
Donna at Captain Bob’s reported that inshore croaker are holding strong this week, with catches in the canal and all the way to marker number 15. Some keeper flounder have been caught near the drawbridge and the Assateague Channel bridge. Snapper blues have been found near the mouth of the inlet and in the surf at the beach. Offshore fishing has been good; the Parking Lot and the Lumpy Bottom are still producing nice dolphin from 15 to 25 pounds. Bluefin tuna are being caught at the Lumpy Bottom from 65 to 75 pounds. Blackfish banks and the subway cars are still hot spots, producing 6 to 9 pound flounder, spadefish and triggerfish. Lindi Smith of Marion, Maryland landed a 9 pound 4 ounce flounder, Luke Britton of Chincoteague brought in a citation 4 pound 3 ounce trigger fish, and George FinLayson of Greenbackville brought in a 9 pound flounder. All three citations were caught at Blackfish Banks.
Quite a few boats have returned to Wachapreague Marina with nice tuna and yellowfin. There were also some notable white and blue marlin releases aboard the CLASS ACT, SALT SPREADER, AMERICAN MAID, and JAMES GANG. Flounder fishing has recently picked up as some keepers are being caught. The Coast Guard station and Cedar Island seem to be hot spots for the recent flounder action.
Captain Zed’s reported that bottom fishing is doing well this week, and while there were no citations, flounder fishing has been good. A citation flounder was brought in, and the charter boat FOXY LADY had 11 keepers this week. Nice croaker are being brought in. There is plenty of action for those who want to bottom fish. There were some reports this week of nice kingfish and trout. Cedar Island and the Coast Guard Station seem to be the hotspots for good fishing. Offshore action has been pretty slow this week, with some having to go as far as 70 miles to catch tuna. One recreational boat reported a good catch of black sea bass.
At Chris’ Bait and Tackle, a wahoo was weighed in at 36 pounds 9 ounces, caught by Christian Seay. Some large flounder were caught near Cape Charles. There was also a report of a 75 inch tarpon released by Fred Gray, and nice catches of croaker out of Oyster this week. Also, some nice flounder are coming from the bay side from bouys 36 to 42 at the blue markers from 30 to 70 feet of water using minnows, squid, and cut croaker. A few red drum have been taken off the surf, and a mix of croaker and flounder have been reported from the Kiptopeke Pier. There was also a report of spot underneath the little bridge.
Flounder fishing hasn’t been great out of Onancock, but there were some nice catches up to nine pounds. According to Captain Wil Laaksonen, there have been a few specked trout up to 4.5 pounds. There were also reports of some nice flounder being released, a few of which were in the 20 inch range. Croaker fishing has been typical for August; the trick has been to find them and get them to feed. There were some this week up to 2.5 pounds. The best time for croaker fishing has been evenings and early mornings, in 20 to 30 feet during changing tide. Most of the croaker have come in on squid, and blood worms have been getting spot. There haven’t been many spot this week, but those that were brought in were medium to large in size. Shark are prevalent in the area right now, with sandsharks running around 2 to 5 pounds and a few sharks as large as 10 pounds. There were some sea mullet catches in shelly areas, as well as porgy’s mixed with croaker and spot.
At Cobbs Marina, angler Roy McCausey released a 48 ¾ inch black drum at the First Island of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT) aboard the REEL NAUTI. In recent weeks, anglers have had good luck fishing around the Third and Fourth Islands of the CBBT as well as the ODU wreck, catching primarily flounder on live bait.
There were quite a few citations this week at Bubba’s Marina, mostly flounder and cobia. Two citation flounder were caught off the First Island of the CBBT using live spot and a 25.5-inch sheepshead was released by the CBBT. Five citation cobia were brought in this week ranging from 53 to 72 pounds. Most were caught by the bridge tunnel and one was landed by Latimer Shoals. Bait was generally croaker, spot or eel. Later in the week, a few nice flounder came in (26.5 inches from the Second Island of the CBBT, and 28.5 inches using squid). Overall this week, there were a lot of cobia, and the charters reported big catches of flounder.
Some flounder have been reported around the Fourth Island of the CBBT, but there has been little action at Wallace’s this week. Not many people are going out, and those that do go out aren’t staying long because of the heat. There was a citation black drum (56 inches) caught around the Third Island of the CBBT using buck-tail this week. Overall, it has been a slow week.
At Sunset Boating Center, the only citation this week was a 10-pound flounder caught in the lip. The week has been slow, but there have been a lot of small croaker and spot. Like many centers in the area, the heat has really kept people from fishing during the past week.
A few flounder and some swordfish have come in at Salt Ponds Marina, and a citation flounder (7 pound 7 ounces, 27 inches) was caught in Back River on August 9th by Sam Rhoury from Hayes, Virginia aboard the KATKANDU. That fish was landed from Back River on the KATKANDU using live spot. The heat has really kept fishing to a minimum this week in the area.
It was been a slow week at the York River Fishing Center. Two tournaments were held in the area this weekend (the Dare Marina Tournament and the Poquoson Tournament), and overall, people weren’t catching much. Some croaker have been reported off of Gloucester Point Pier. Live bait has brought in some big flounder in the area, but there hasn’t been much luck with minnows or cut bait. Back River Reef has been a hot spot for hitting flounder, but there were no citations this week.
Ken Neill, of the Peninsula Anglers Club, contributed the following:
The waters east of the Cigar are producing good numbers of billfish and plenty of dolphin. Yellowfin tuna are not being caught in great numbers but the ones that are caught are weighing in at over 70 pounds. Good numbers of wahoo are also being brought back to the dock. Closer to shore, amberjack and jack crevalle can be caught at a number of structures such as the Chesapeake Light Tower, the Gulf Hustler, and the Ricks. There is a good amount of menhaden from the mouth of the bay down to Sandbridge, with some of the best king mackerel fishing we have seen in years being found nearby. Cobia are also cruising this area making for some good sight casting opportunities. Spanish mackerel are being caught in the lower bay from York Spit Light on out to the ocean. Good catches have been made at Cape Henry this week. Flounder fishing is good or bad depending on which day you fish. Good catches are being made at the Cell, Back River Reef, along the structure of the CBBT, and at the Cape Henry Wreck. Aug. 13, Chris Boyce went buoy hopping for cobia. They saw 11 or 12 fish. They managed to catch 4 of them.
It is billfish tournament time. On August 19, there is the Wine, Women & Fishing Charity Billfish Tournament: www.cbwc.org/wwf.html . August 22-25 is the Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament: www.vbbt.com .
Dr. Julie Ball, IGFA International Representative for Virginia Beach, contributed the following:
As we push toward the end of summer, anglers are finding a multitude of different fish to target. Flounder is still the main attraction inshore, with super-sized doormats lunging at live bait presented around structure in the lower bay, including the Third and Fourth Islands of the CBBT. On windy days, Lynnhaven Inlet is providing good catches of decent fish lately. Cobia picked up lately; with less-than-glamorous season so far, the transition to their usual top-water rendezvous with structure is providing a new approach for cobia hunters. While most of the fish are still not huge, a few whoppers are taking offerings.
Although the king mackerel action is not great, it is exceptional compared to recent years. Several folks have scored with scattered catches using various king fishing techniques along the Virginia Beach ocean front and inshore wrecks. The best locations are from Rudee Inlet down to False Cape. Spanish mackerel are providing a good showing lately. Trolling small spoons at a quick clip is offering some fast action, especially for kids. Spanish success is on the rise from Cape Henry up to the York Spit area, with large bluefish mixed in. Although red drum are still schooling around the lower bay shoals, and the Third and Fourth Islands of the CBBT, most noteworthy catches are coming from the surf scene, where fish up to 50-pounds are coming from along the Eastern Shore Barrier Islands. The juvenile red drum (puppy drum) around here never seem to tire. Providing predictable, refreshing action within Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlet, these puppy drum will hit a variety of baits, with fresh mullet and Gulp mullets the top choices. Black drum are still meandering around the four artificial islands of the CBBT where folks are hooking and releasing fish on artificial lures. Smaller spadefish are still available along the northern span of the CBBT. Triggers are everywhere on lower bay structures and inshore wrecks, and they are easy to catch. These little fish will take most any offering on most any type of rig. Be prepared for a cleaning chore though, they have super tough skin.
Croaker are also everywhere. Bigger hardheads are coming from deeper areas north of the Third Island of CBBT, Back River Reef, and the Cell. Anglers fishing Oyster are still filling coolers in the back waters. Nice spot are still hitting within Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets on bloodworms, with good numbers of smaller fish also available off Cape Henry. Pier catches are routine for this time of year with small croaker, spot, and bluefish the norm. Small pompano are also showing. An exceptionally large 3 pound, 5 ounce pompano was also landed this week off Chick’s Beach, which should be the new Virginia state leader. A chance at a Spanish and king mackerel is also possible.
The offshore scene was exceptional this past weekend, with a burst of citation yellowfin tuna catches up to 80 pounds, multiple billfish hookups, and even a grand slam. The MEGA BITE out of the Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported a grand slam by releasing a blue marlin, a white marlin, and a sailfish. This week, the action has backed off a bit with a few wahoo from the Cigar area, and scattered tuna and billfish to show from around the 200 and 250 lines.
Dan at Jetts Hardware has seen a lot of Spanish mackerel and blues being caught from Indian Creek all the way up to Smith Point by people trolling spoons using planers; your trolling speed, faster for Spanish mackerel and slower for blues, determined what you would hook up with. The blues had some good size to them, 3 to 4 pound range. There are still some croaker in the deeper water with spot hanging out at the mouths of the rivers. The occasional speckled trout could be caught around Dameron Marsh as well.
The bluefish and Spanish mackerel have been making a presence at Smith Point Marina. People trolling spoons have been catching these at about a 10:1 ratio of blues to Spanish mackerels. Plenty of spot and croaker can be found in the deeper water as well. Flounder have been abundant but depending upon where you are fishing, Maryland or Virginia determines if they are keepers or not with the 18.5 inch limit in Virginia waters.
Jerry from Queen’s Creek Outfitters reports that heat and wind have kept most people off the bay this week. The PATRIOT landed 11 Spanish mackerel on Clark spoons at the tip of the Windmill bar and a few flounder from the Cell area. Several anglers reported hooking some red drum in the area as well. Spot fishing is good off of Gwynn Island, Cherry Point, the Mudhole, and at the Spike with synthetic bloods and fishbites. While there are a lot of small croaker in local creeks and rivers, there were some large croaker scattered about last week. A citation flounder (28 inches) was caught by James Dean on squid and minnow at the Cell this week, and a 49 inch red drum was released by Rob Rowe using cut bait.
Locklies Marina reports that a lot of big spot have shown up in their area. Jarret’s Point and Mosquito Point being a couple of the favorite fishing spots.
Garretts Marina reports that a good salt wedge has moved up into their area allowing for a great variety of fish to be caught. Spadefish, croaker, spot, puppy drum and trout have all made a good appearance and barring any appreciable amounts of rain, they may be around for awhile. The hot spots have been between the Towers and buoy 19.
Capt Jim Thompson reports this was a hard week in that the fish were off and on in their feeding. Spot were active but not in great numbers. You had to have real patience. If you were, it paid off and if it didn’t, then it was because of a Northeast wind or the high salinity of the water. Spot were at the spike on the ebb tide and at the Windmill Bar of flood tide in the Rappahannock. There were some fish caught on the Mosquito Bar at the number 8 marker. In the Piankatank, it was Cherry Point and the Number 5 buoy. The sharks have evidently moved as they have not seen one all week. The Spanish mackerel are off the Windmill Bar in good numbers North and South of the Bar as are the Blues. There are numerous mullet in the catches now, more than usual. White perch are all over the bottom as are other small fish like black sea bass. Nothing big is happening with flounder as the numbers are dropping both at the Cell and in the rivers.
Offshore fishing out of Virginia Beach has been really hot this week, especially the tuna fishing. At Virginia Beach Fishing Center, there have been nice catches of tuna with nothing less than 60 pounds landed all week (a 76 pound yellowfin was brought in and there were reports of some in the 80 pound range). A charter boat reported a Grand Slam (a white marlin, a blue marlin, and a sailfish released on the same day). Numerous wahoo have also been seen, all the way up to double the citation size (up to 65 pounds). Tons of amberjack have been caught at the south tower, as well as cobia in the same area. There were also reports of 25 to 30 pound barracudas at the south tower. Closer to shore, there were some smaller bluefish (tailer blues), Spanish mackerel, and flounder. There are huge catches of spot off of Rudee Inlet using bloodworms. As the weather cooled a bit, the tuna seemed to have arrived. According to the staff at the fishing center, now is the time for excellent tuna fishing.
In other news, the Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament is next week, located at the marina (Fisherman’s Wharf is also a sponsor). It is a billfish release tournament, but there will also be a “meat” category with prizes for the largest tuna, dolphin and wahoo. The official dates are the 23rd, 24th, and 25th of August (fish two out of three days). Everyone there is expecting large fish, and the weigh station is going to be at the Southside Marina.
Recently there has been some decent marlin fishing from Fishermen’s Wharf Marina. A few yellowfin tuna have come in, and those that have been brought in have been really nice sizes. A few dolphin and wahoo have also been reported, but marlin and yellowfin tuna are definitely the winners this week. Citations include two white marlin caught on the boat GIT R DONE by Jacob Hardy and Jeffrey Mayo, and a blue marlin and a 77 pound, 1 ounce, yellowfin tuna were caught on the same vessel by Robert Kelley and Mickey Yerigan, respectively. Aboard the HIGH HOPES, a blue marlin was caught by John Bryan and a white marlin by Chris Shultz. Two white marlin were caught on the TIPPE CANOE by Robert Stanton and Todd Jurich. There was also a 20 pound, 8 ounce, king mackerel caught on the GOOD GRIEF off of Sandbridge by Bradley Gilbeaux.
Ocean View Pier has been getting steady spot and croaker all week, as well as flounder and spadefish. Spot and croaker are being caught with squid, and anglers are getting flounder with artificial bait or minnows. Overall it was a decent week for fishing despite the heat. Flounder are still small but plentiful.
They are catching a lot of spot and tons of crabs at the Lynnhaven Pier. Spot have been plentiful for about three weeks and seem a little larger than average this week. Fishing has generally been better after dusk, decent through the night until the first tide change in the morning.
At the Virginia Beach Pier, spot, croaker, and bluefish were landed over the weekend, and some nice puppy drum have been brought in. The past week was really slow, but last weekend brought some nice spadefish.
Medium sized spot and croaker were biting at Sandbridge last week. There were a couple of big cobia and some blue fish in the mix. Early mornings and night seem to be the best fishing times; however some spot fishing has been good all day. A few cobia were caught at night using live spot. To catch spot, bloodworms and fish bites have been the most reliable.
People fishing offshore, working out of the Nags Head area, saw better success rates compared to last week. Dolphin, wahoo, and king mackerel were all reported to be landed in good numbers. Billfish were also being caught at a more moderate rate. Offshore bottom fishing was turning up blueline tilefish and trigger fish as the predominant species with black sea bass, hake and tautog mixed in as well. Spanish mackerel, flounder, mullet, and spot were turning up in the nearshore waters with good regularity. Inshore fishing was slow this past week with flounder keeper ratios improving to almost 50%. Specks and grays were being caught at Oregon Inlet’s Green Island Slough and spot and croaker could be found in the shallow waters surrounding the various islands. Avalon Pier reported spanish and blues in the mornings and evenings on lures and mullet hitting sandfleas. Spot, flounder, puppy drum and specks also made a limited appearance.
South of Oregon Inlet the surf fishing was quite respectable. Some big puppy drum (juvenile red drum) were caught early in the weekend along with some sea mullet down at the point. After the frontal passage, spots, croakers, puppy drum, and pompano were reported along the north beaches and down at the point in good numbers. Spanish and all the bluefish you could want were being caught on lures around the inlets.
The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center had below par offshore results for the past weekend unless you made it to the Gulfstream. Yellowfins could be found in good numbers there along with a few bigeyes. The offshore fishing improved some late in the weekend and early in the week with white marlin, blue marlin, dolphin and yellow fin tuna picking up the pace. Inshore boats trolling spoons caught nice tailor blues and bottom fishing was producing flounder and mullet.
Hatteras Harbor reported declining catches of wahoo and dolphin on Saturday and a few releases of sailfish and white marlin. The BITE ME had the catch of the day with a 46 pound wahoo. The BOSS LADY, SEA CREATURE, and SUNDOWN released sailfish and the TUNA DUCK had a documented release of a white marlin. Inshore fishing had reports of grey trout, speckled trout and bluefish.
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