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The Saltwater Review - August 20, 2003

Volume 17. No. 14
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.

Flounder fishermen continue to find trophy-sized flatfish of 7 pounds or more, despite dodging thunder storms. Many of the better hauls continue to come 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.

More spot are showing are showing up 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 and just inside Mobjack Bay. Reports also indicate decent weekend hauls of spot were made off Ocean View and around Fort Wool.

Offshore action remains disappointingly slow for the bluewater crowd unless false albacore, big bluefish or amberjack is your target. Still, some tuna (both yellowfin and bluefin) were caught by persistent trollers, bailer-sized dolphin are holding around some of the black sea bass pot buoys and a handful of billfish were caught and released.

Chincoteague -

Donna from Captain Bob's reported good numbers of large croaker along the southside of the Black Narrows Bridge while keeper flounder were caught inside Queen's Sound and at Black Narrows. Bottom fishermen using bloodworm pieces are catching decent numbers of sea mullet between buoys 11 and 14 while nighttime anglers drifting peeler crab around the lighted bridge pilings are catching good-sized seatrout. Offshore action remains slow with a handful of bluefin caught at the Lumpy Bottom and Parking Lot in the past week, where large bluefish still linger.

Barnacle Bill's said croaker are scattered throughout the protected waters inside the inlet while some of the better flounder catches are coming from Chincoteague Channel and Four Mouths. The tuna bite remains slow but a boat that ran north to the Fingers returned with a limit of bluefin tuna on Tuesday. Bluewater anglers are also catching some chopper blues plus a few king mackerel and dolphin. The inshore wrecks are still producing decent catches of black sea bass.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported the ELECTRIC BILL landed a 77.2 pound bluefin tuna while the crew aboard the THUNDER CHICKEN decked a 25.8 pound dolphin over the weekend. School-sized dolphin are holding around some of the black sea bass pot buoys but overall offshore action remains slow. Inside the inlet, croaker weighing nearly 2 pounds provide steady action with some of the better hauls coming from just inside Cedar Island.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported croaker were "hit or miss" on the seaside out of Oyster while more consistent catches of croaker plus some spot were made on the bayside off the Cement Ships and out at the Cabbage Patch. Eleven-year-old Gus Anderson caught the week's biggest croaker, a 3-pound, 6-ouncer, off Silver Beach. Flounder fishermen working the channel edges between buoy 36A and 42 saw more small fish the past week. James Mizzelle weighed the week's lone citation flounder, a 7-pound, 7-ounce fish, which was caught at buoy 36A. Dave Griffith caught and released a 73-inch tarpon, Bill Suggs released a 60-inch tarpon and Dr. Jim Wright released a 78-inch shark out of the seaside port of Oyster.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonnen from Fish and Finn Charters found excellent numbers of keeper flounder in 15 to 30 feet of water off Onancock. Parties are also catching plenty of croaker and spot. Most of the spot are running between 8 and 10 inches but "you've got to have bloodworm." Most of the croaker are 14 inches and up with the best action for the biggest fish in the evenings "when the fish move into the shallows to feed." Other catches include pigfish, blowfish, porgy and sea mullet. In addition, trollers are catching Spanish mackerel in the 20-inch range and taylor bluefish while pan trout remain scarce.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported decent weekend catches of flounder along the Baltimore Channel and around the rock islands of the CBBT. The shop also weighed several citation sheepshead from the CBBT.

Lou at Bubba's Marina said flounder were biting all along the CBBT complex with many of the best hauls coming from the northern-most sections of the crossing. Anglers are also catching a few large trout and catching and releasing some striped bass but the late summer croaker bite has yet to materialize.

Dr. Jim Wright and party wire-lined the High Rise section of the CBBT for big flounder. The bite was very slow and only one flatfish was boated but it topped 7 pounds.

Wallace's Bait and Tackle told of good weekend hauls of flounder from the High Rise section of the CBBT, Bluefish Rock and the Third and Fourth islands. Flounder catches were also recorded at Back River Reef and the Hump. The shop registered citation flounder from the CBBT for William Redfearn (10 pounds), Delmar Heaster (9 pounds), Patrick Heaster (7 pounds, 14 ounces) and Mark McIluean. Other citation flatfish included an 8-1/2 pounder at the Hump by R.M. Dedmond and a 7-pounder at Bluefish Rock by Richard Neil, Jr. Speckled trout made a decent showing inside Back River with fish up to 22 inches and individual catches of as many as dozen trout. Offshore, the crew aboard the TRAVELLER boated a 166-pound bluefin tuna while the guys on the DEBRA ANN worked on skipjack tuna and false albacore.

Debbie from Sunset Boating Center said anglers spent most of their time dodging thunder storms and fishing for flounder the past week. Rich Meister boated the week's biggest flatfish, a fat 8-1/4 pound, 26-incher, at buoy 42. Dare Findley earned a citation plack for a 7-3/4-pound, 28-1/2-inch flounder at the Third Island. Crews aboard the UNDUTCHABLES and TIME-OUT also had successful flounder outings at buoy 42. James Summerfield and his crew fished Hampton Bar and loaded up on croaker weighing as much as 2 pounds plus a few keeper flounder to 22 inches. Peggy Lane of Carrolton caught and released a 47-inch red drum on a croaker at Bluefish Rock, where James Brown of Hampton released a 46-inch red drum. He was also using live croaker for bait.

Cindy from Salt Ponds Marina said Judy Coydler fished aboard the FATTIE FLATTIE over the weekend and boated an 8-pound, 26-1/2-inch flounder at the CBBT. Earlier in the week, John Perry landed a 7-pound, 26-inch flounder at the HRBT aboard the same boat. Cindy indicated the persistent afternoon thunderstorms kept many would-be anglers close to port.

Chuck Ash at A & S Feed and Bait Supply said the near daily deluge of rain storms kept many anglers off the water last week. Still, those that fished told of good catches of flounder at the Cell and buoy 36A plus some keeper flatfish in the Yorktown section of the river. Big croaker have moved back into the Cheathem Annex section of the York while spot made a decent showing inside Mobjack Bay at the Swash. Unfortunately, pan trout remain scarce.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club say an already slow tuna bite slowed even further the past week and few dolphin or billfish appeared to fill the void. The best recent shot at dolphin has been around the lobster pot buoys. Inshore, good numbers of willing amberjack are still holding at the A and B towers, located SSE of Rudee Inlet while schools of false albacore are roaming the Fingers. Jorj Head caught and released a citation-winning 32-inch albert at the NOAA weather buoy. A party fishing the South Tower (A Tower) aboard the AQUAMAN boated a 69-inch, 106-pound amberjack. The huge jack was just 12 pounds shy of the current state record and one of the biggest weighed in several years.

Virginia Middle Bay

Heidi Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported anglers fishing near buoy 62 on Sunday saw "acres and acres" of surface feeding striped bass while bottom fishermen working the same waters recorded good catches of spot but few croaker. Heidi said flounder to 24 inches were caught around the Smith Point Jetty and heard anglers fishing the Cell/buoy 42 area also caught nice keeper flounder while Tangier Sound produced good hauls of bluefish to 6 pounds.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said the flounder bite at buoys 40 and 42 and the Cell slowed considerably the past week plus more under-sized flounder were reported. Kevin Stewart and his fishing partner did manage a limit of flounder to 23 inches on Saturday, "somewhere south of the Cell." Tennessee angler Mark Ireson boated an 8-3/4-pound flounder at buoy 42, where Daniel Crowe, Jr. of Shacklefords landed an 8-pound, 7-ounce flounder but those were the only citation flatfish checked-in last week. Mixed sizes of spot were caught off Gwynn Island, at the spike buoy on the Rappahannock and on Windmill Point Bar, plus some keeper-sized pan trout are mixed in with the spot. Trollers found good numbers of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues working between Windmill Light and Stingray Light or Windmill Light to the R2 buoy. Jerry recommended 00 and 0 Clark spoons or similarly sized Drone spoons, run on a long leader and tied to a planer or in-line sinker for best results. Cobia made a modest showing off Silver Beach, where a pair of Fredericksburg anglers caught three, keeping a 72 pounder, Al King of Fredericksburg released a 51-inch cobia and several red drum and Lewis Graves released three red drum. Jerry added that a large school of big spadefish had moved back into the Cell but the fish had not shown any interest in clam bits.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen were making good hauls of spot at Parrot Rock, Carters Creek and the Corn House. Nine-year-old Mike Bailey bagged his first ever citation, a 3-pound, 1-ounce croaker, at the Cell. The marina also registered a citation flounder for Berekely Jones. The fish was caught at the Cell, measured 27-1/2 inches and weighed 9-1/2 pounds.

Garretts Marina said bottom fishermen were catching plenty of spot and croaker plus some catfish off Morattico. Bloodworm and peeler crab are the preferred baits.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported on Friday, the O-FOUR caught a load of bailer dolphin and finished the day "deep-dropping" for large sea bass, blueline tilefish and tautog. Earlier in the week, Kitty Faulk released a white marlin aboard the same boat at the Cigar. On the weekend, EMPTY WALLET released a white marlin and anglers earned five amberjack release awards. The BACKLASH boated three yellowfin tuna, a pair of skipjack tuna and a load of false albacore. At the jetty, Anthony Nelson caught a monster 10-3/4-pound grey trout on a live menhaden and Joeroyal Evans landed a 20-ounce spot just inside the inlet.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said offshore action remains unseasonably slow but fair numbers of dolphin and at least one white marlin were caught along the 350-line between 27 and 50 fathoms.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Karen said good numbers of flounder were caught the past week with the largest caught by Jay Melzera and it measured 22-1/2 inches. Pan trout and spot are also biting while shark up to 17 pounds were caught after dusk.

Buckroe Beach - Bottom fishermen are catching a mixture of spot, sea mullet, croaker and flounder during daylight hours and pan trout and trout after dark.

Harrison - A surprising number of pompano were landed again last week. Bottom fishermen are also catching some spot, croaker and small flounder. After dark, pan trout and shark up to 3 feet move into the shadows created by the pier lights and croaker weighing as much as 2-1/2 pounds were caught.

Lynnhaven - Fishing is pretty slow during the heat of the day but sea mullet, croaker, spot and bluefish are biting "early and late" while shark and ray are active after dark.

Virginia Beach - Casters scored on Spanish mackerel to over 20 inches and taylor blues over the weekend, as water temperature around the pier rose to 75 degrees. Bottom fishermen caught mixture of spot, sea mullet and small croaker.

Sandbridge - Bottom fishermen enjoyed a mixed bag of taylor blues, spot, croaker, small flounder and Spanish mackerel, with sea mullet dominating the catch. Water temperature at pierside was 78 degrees on Tuesday.

Outer Banks, NC -

Along the Nags Head area beaches water temperatures remained on the cool side--often in the low 60's much of the week. Overall action from both pier and surf was slow with only scattered catches of croaker, spot, sea mullet and flounder reported.

South of Oregon Inlet, several cobia weighing as much as 56 pounds were beached at Cape Point on Buxton on Friday. Other catches included pompano and taylor blues. Pompano and sheepshead were caught around the rocks at the jetties. On Saturday, several cobia were beached late morning, as bottom fishermen reeled-in large sea mullet, pompano, bluefish and puppy drum. On Sunday, taylor blues appeared just after sunrise and stayed for a few hours while spot and croaker provided the bulk of the action for the remainder of the day.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported good catches of bailer dolphin plus fair catches of yellowfin tuna and king mackerel on Saturday. The fleet also recorded a blue and a white marlin release. On Sunday, yellowfin and dolphin catches were rated as "fair" and one sailfish release was recorded. On Monday, the fleet found plenty of bailer dolphin and many boats returned with their limit. Yellowfin tuna catches were "scattered." The headboat had good catches of croaker plus some flounder during the period.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed good catches of king mackerel and wahoo plus some yellowfin tuna and dolphin on Friday. Crew's aboard the BOSS LADY, GODSPEED and GOOD TIMES each released a sailfish. The bite slowed Saturday and catches of dolphin, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, and king mackerel were described as "scattered." Douglas Bronnenberg of Richmond and Dwayne Lewis of Midlothian each released a sailfish aboard the CITATION while the crew aboard the TUNA DUCK released a sailfish and a white marlin. The dolphin bite improved Sunday, as several boats recorded limit catches of bailer-sized fish.

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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