Plans and Statistics Department Staff
Fishing reports for the last week have brought about a mixed bag, from the summer doldrums for some areas to an ‘amazing' new state record for Atlantic Croaker! See the VMRC press release below and Jerry Thrash's report from Queen's Creek Outfitter's on page 6 for more details. The Virginia Recreational Fishing Advisory Board is requesting public comment on projects currently under consideration for funding by the Virginia Saltwater Recreational Fishing Development Fund (Saltwater Recreational Fishing License Funds). See pages 8 and 9 for the meeting notice and more details.
VMRC Press Release
Norman T. Jenkins of Portsmouth, VA has established a new state record for croaker with an 8 lbs., 11 oz. fish caught August 17th. This smashes the long-standing state record for the species of 5 lbs., 13 oz., which had been set 25 years earlier in October of 1982. Jenkins has filed an application with the International Game Fish Association for acceptance of his Atlantic croaker as the world all-tackle record.
The 63-year-old Jenkins caught his record-setting croaker in about 30 feet of water near New Point Light on a squid and minnow "sandwich" while fishing for flounder with Sam Brooks on his private boat Wulfkat IV. The fish had a length of 27 inches and a girth of 17 inches and was Jenkin's first citation catch.
"This fish is so much larger than any croaker previously caught by any method that many anglers will view it as an anomaly," stated tournament director Claude Bain. "This fish moves the bar substantially higher, and we are anxiously awaiting word from our scientific community about the age of this fish."
The previous state record had been held by Jim Mitchem of Gwynn, VA for the fish he caught on October 5, 1982. Mitchem's croaker measured 22 inches and was caught at the Cell.
Donna at Captain Bob's Marina reports that fishing has let up some this week, mostly due to inclement weather. Most catches were reported by the Queen's Sound Bridge, and the south side of the structure seems to be producing better than the north side. Croaker have been decent sizes, but you have to look for them. Keeper flounder were caught at the Assateague Bridge and around Daisy's Dockside and the American Legion. Offshore, the bite is a little slow; however, a nice size wahoo was caught from the KATATTACK at the Lumpy Bottom. Blackfish Banks (Subway Cars) is producing nice triggerfish, some spadefish, and a few flounder. Off the surf, anglers have had luck with snapper bluefish, croaker, and spot.
At Wachapreague Marina this week, boats have been reporting decent catches of tuna. The SQUID ROE reported five true albacore tuna, and a number of yellowfin tuna were caught from various vessels. On the 19th, a citation white marlin release was reported on the HEAT WAVE, and the CLASS ACT reported a blue marlin release. The CANELLIN reported a citation wahoo, and, aboard the PELAGIC ASSAULT, a 78 pound citation yellowfin tuna was landed. A citation black drum was landed on Aug. 17th at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Bottom fishing is still producing some keeper flounder. While the fish haven't been numerous, they are consistent. The most productive areas continue to be the Coast Guard Station and the beaches at Cedar Island. There were also some nice catches at the mussel bed across from the Coast Guard Station.
At Captain Zeds, bottom fishing has been about the same, with a few flounder, kingfish, and big croaker coming in. Some boats have been wreck fishing and caught black sea bass and a few triggerfish. Offshore action was slow this week. Sunday was the Lady Tuna Tournament at Captain Zeds. First place went to Rebacca Eskridge aboard the HOOK EM with a 161 pound, 4 ounce, bigeye tuna. Beth Parker won second place aboard the FISHIN FANATIC with a 68 pound, 2 ounce, yellowfin tuna. In third place, angler Marcie Marsh landed a 63 pound, 6 ounce, yellowfin tuna on board the TOPLESS. The largest dolphin was 21 pounds, 2 ounces, caught by Jeanie Joeckel on the FISHIN FANATIC, and the largest wahoo was 48 pounds, 6 ounces, caught by Sarah Bohlman aboard the CANEELIN. Norfolk Canyon was the biggest hotspot producing nice yellowfin tuna, dolphin, and wahoo.
At Chris' Bait and Tackle, there are still reports of good croaker fishing out of Oyster. Flounder are being landed off of buoy 36A, north of Cape Charles, and around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. A nice 7 pound, 8 ounce, citation flounder (caught by Mike Beever) and a 9 pound, 8 ounce, flounder (caught by Dave Thomas of Maryland) came in this week from the Cape Charles area. The pier at Kiptopeke produced some small grey trout and bluefish, and a few schooling rockfish were reported here and there.
Ernie at Cherrystone Bait and Tackle said fishing was very slow for all species. The croaker catch is small and the crabbing has been very poor. There was a single citation this week for a kingfish.
Similar to last week, Captain Wil from Fish and Fin Charters reports croaker catches of all sizes. He has noticed an unusual pattern—large croaker seem to be staying up in the shallow water (4 to 6 feet of water). Anglers are still catching shark, sea mullet, porgy, and spot. A few trout are biting, but none are legal size yet. Plenty of bluefish are biting, but they are generally small (10 to 14 inches). Flounder can be caught on the change of the tide, but usually only one or two keepers are landed. Captain Wil expects that to improve as the heat lets up and suggests fishing early in the morning or late in the day. Squid seems to be reliable for the area right now, and cut croaker is working well for flounder.
At Cobb's Marina, a 168 inch Marlin earned a citation for Annette L. Tonielli from Norfolk. Two citation flounder were reported: one, a 9 pounder from Brian Ashley of Suffolk, and the other, 8 pounds, 2 ounces, from Ralph Pennington of Chesapeake. Most of the fish coming into Cobb's were caught from the islands at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. There hasn't been anything especially large reported this week; however, the staff at Cobb's is sure there are still some big ones out there for the taking.
Eight citations were reported from Bubba's Marina this week, four of which were flounder caught at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. The biggest (10 pounds, 6 ounces) was landed using spot by the 1st island, and a 7 ¼ pound, (26 ½ inches) flounder was caught by the 2nd island. A 7 pound, 8 ounce, flounder was caught in the area on spot, and a nice-sized 9 pound, 8 ounce, flounder was also caught there using bluefish. Other citations include a 56 pound cobia caught on eel in the Bay, and two black drum. Both black drum, one 48 inches and the other 46 inches, were caught at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. A 12 pound, 11 ounce, tautog was caught in the same area using cut bait.
A 64 pound cobia, an 8 pound, 13 ounce, flounder, and an 84 inch blue marlin all earned citations this week at Wallace's Bait and Tackle. Most of the fishing this week consisted of flounder fishing, and a few were biting out by Back River Reef. Most anglers have been catching flounder on squid and minnow, while some have been using small spot.
This week has been slow at the Sunset Boating Center. Most anglers have headed to the Hampton Bar for flounder, and a few have come back with keepers, but no citations this week. Most of the keepers were caught with minnows or squid.
According to staff at Salt Pond's Marina, boat traffic has been relatively slow over the past week. Some flounder and croaker have been reported by anglers mostly headed toward the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. A citation blue marlin (84 inches) was reported from the southeast end of the Cigar by Nick Height from Mechanicsville aboard ANGRY PILOT.
Up at Gloucester Point, croaker and spot are biting, according to staff at the York River Fishing Center. The speckled trout have also begun to bite in the area. Puppy drum (juvenile red drum) have been red hot in the Guinea Marsh area (Guinea Flats) around the Big Island. One citation red drum (31 inches) was reported caught in the same area on peeler crabs.
Dr. Julie Ball, IGFA International Representative for Virginia Beach, contributed the following:
Cobia are gathering around lower bay and coastal structures in preparation to leave the bay. Anglers are pulling both big and small fish off buoys and bridge pilings. Soon, these brown fish will school up and leave in masses, making them easy casting targets. Flounder are still attracting attention as they also begin grouping in the lower bay. Big flatfish are coming from the 3rd and 4th islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, while drifters are finding good luck along lower bay channels and shoals. Lots of nice flounder in the five pound range are coming from around the 1st island of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel this week. Decent flounder are also on the inshore and offshore wrecks, along with four pound sea bass.
Red drum are still ripping up the Nine Foot Shoals and the barrier islands on the Eastern Shore. Puppy drum (juvenile red drum) are the most dependable fish around right now. Ocean's East Two reports that surf anglers are still taking puppy drum from the shoreline along the entrance to the Public Boat Ramp within Lynnhaven using shrimp and small spoons. Bayside Bait and Tackle reports speckled trout are beginning a hit and miss pattern within Lynnhaven Inlet. Black drum continue to roam the islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, with many anglers taking advantage of this showing. Be sure to take time to revive these large fish before releasing them. Croaker are everywhere from the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Bigger fish are also starting to show within the lower bay inlets. A pending world record croaker was caught by Norman Jenkins off of New Point this week. This 8 pound, 11 ounce, hardhead will shatter the previous world record caught in Alabama by over 3 pounds.
Bigger spot are starting to roll in, with Ocean View, Lynnhaven, Rudee Inlet, and the rivers further up the bay holding the larger spot. A few sheepshead were hooked from the Seagull Fishing Pier this week, along with scattered catches along the southern section of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Triggerfish are mixed in with the sheepshead and spadefish along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and wrecks. Trollers are still picking up Spanish mackerel along the buoy-lines, tide rips, and the 3rd and 4th island tubes. A decent king mackerel bite is enticing many anglers to the ocean front in the hopes of encountering a smoker, but finding hook-ups can be a challenge. The tarpon action seems to be behind this year, with few hook-ups or landings so far. Amberjack are available on wrecks and navigational towers, with the Chesapeake Light Tower also offering a shot at a jack crevelle and big barracudas. Bluewater anglers are experiencing good billfish action, with white marlin, some blues, and a few sails on the prowl. One boat even weighed in a 232 pound swordfish hooked on the troll. The best billfish action is still coming from the area southeast of the Cigar.
Ken Neill, reporting secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, contributed the following:
Large flounder are being caught at all of the normal flounder holes. Some really large fish are being caught on live bait at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, Cape Henry Wreck and at Back River Reef. Norman Jenkins caught an amazing croaker while fishing for flounder off of New Point. The fish weighed in at a ridiculous 8 pounds, 11 ounces, which is a lot larger than the current state and world records. Adding to the records, Bob Manus' 65 pound, 8 ounce, snowy grouper has been approved as the IGFA All-Tackle World Record making Bob the only one that I know of with two standing, all-tackle world records. Cobia are being caught by anglers sitting on chum slicks, but anglers running the buoys are also finding success. Big king mackerel continue to be caught off of the Virginia Beach oceanfront. Black drum are still being encountered around the islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. The offshore waters are producing good numbers of billfish which means that there should be some good catches at this week's Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament. We are still seeing good numbers of wahoo. The tuna bite is scattered but the yellowfin that are being caught are good-sized fish.
Aug. 19, Wes Blow did some live-baiting at the 4th island of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. He caught 2 flounder, a nice 22 inch fish and a 27 inch, 8 pound, 13 ounce, doormat! Aug. 17, Stan Simmerman did some fishing from his kayak out of Poquoson. He caught 3 speckled trout, 2 rockfish, and a couple of white perch. He was using peeler crab under a bobber.
Thirty-two boats fished the 5th Annual Wine, Women and Fishing Tournament held out of Virginia Beach on August 19. This is a "ladies only" charity billfish tournament that raises money for breast cancer research. All billfish are released in the tournament. There are trophies for the top wahoo, dolphin, and tuna weighed in. There were a total of 18 billfish caught during this one-day competition.
Roger Wilkins from Jetts' Hardware reports numerous Spanish mackerel from Indian Creek to Smith Point Light. A lot of breaking bluefish have been sighted in the same area. Croaker, while not as prevalent, are still present in the deeper waters, and a few flounder are being caught around Smith Point jetties. Also, spot are being landed at the mouth of the rivers.
Nice flounder fishing was reported this week at Smith Point Marina. The bluefish and Spanish mackerel have been schooling together which has made for some nice catches. A lot of croaker are being brought in with some large ones (2 to 3 pounds). Some spot are also being reported. Most anglers have found the fish are biting at the mouth of the Little Wicomico River and at the channel edges at Smith Point Light.
The following is a report from Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters:
Friday, August 17, we weighed and certified a MONSTER CROAKER! Mr. Norman T. Jenkins of Portsmouth and Horn Harbor (Mathews County) caught a 28 inch, 8 pound, 11 ounce, Atlantic croaker while fishing with his friend Samuel G. Brooks of Portsmouth. They were aboard Mr. Brooks' boat WULFKAT IV fishing for flounder when the big fish hit a squid and minnow sandwich. Mr. Jenkins said they had caught a keeper flounder and a good sized bluefish and when the croaker hit. It fought so hard he thought he had a Drum on the line. It was the first citation fish Mr. Jenkins has ever caught.
The fish easily tops the current state record of 5 pounds, 13 ounces, which stood for 15 years and is believed to top the IGFA all tackle world record by over 2 pounds. We are assisting the angler in preparing documentation for appropriate records submission. The fish (which will be mold-replica mounted) is being kept in our store while awaiting the taxidermist and application processing.
In addition to the croaker news we had one other unusual citation, a Red Drum 46 inches long was caught and released at Windmill Point by Hugh C. Barnette of Fredricksburg while trolling a Clark spoon.
Locklies Marina reports that the spot catches are getting bigger and bigger everyday. There are also abundant bluefish at the bridge. Croaker seem to be getting bigger as the weather is cooling toward fall. A few keeper flounder continue to show in the river, generally off of the Mosquito Point area.
According to Captain Jim Thompson's website, spot, medium croaker, grey trout, and mullet were active this week. The best fishing was in the Piankatank River, at the Mud Hold, Number 5 bouy, and Cherry Point. Gwynns Island at Deep Rock was also active during the flood tide. Spot and mullet were biting throughout the area. Windmill Bar in the Rappahannock was productive, and large spot were found in Butlers Hold. Mullet were biting at all locations, and Spanish mackerel and bluefish were reported on the Windmill Bar.
Virginia Beach Fishing Center held the Wine, Women and Fishing Tournament this weekend, which benefits breast cancer research. Thirty-two boats participated. First, second, and third places went to the TRIFLIN', the STRIKER, and the FAST CAST, respectively. Marlin were numerous, and each of the three top boats caught both a blue and a white marlin. A 63 pound wahoo was also landed in the tournament. Charter boats reported quite a bit of cobia this week, and a 29 pound king mackerel and a 35 pound wahoo were landed this week. Some tuna fishing continued, but none were landed over 70 pounds (most in the 30-45 pound range). The wahoo run seems to be getting stronger. Inshore, a nice citation flounder (12 pounds, 14 ounces) was caught off the bank at Rudee Inlet this week. Bluefish are present but small in the inlet (taylor blues ranging from 1 to 2 pounds). Spot are still prevalent in most inshore waters, and there were reports of grey trout in Rudee Inlet. Staff at the fishing center reported that one dedicated angler, Claude William Shifflett III of Chesapeake, brought in a 9 pound, 9 ounce, grey trout aboard his private jetski. The Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament begins this week (for information contact the fishing center). Results for the tournament are available daily by 8 p.m. on the website.
There hasn't been a lot of activity out of Fisherman's Wharf Marina this week, aside from the activity with the Billfish Tournament. A few billfish and tuna were reported offshore. Inshore, anglers seemed to be scarce this week; however, a kingfish was landed from the beach early in the week.
Fishing has really picked up this week at the Ocean View Pier. All day, spot seem to be running well and biting at fishbites and bloodworms. At night, just as the lights go on, there have been nice runs of spadefish, trout, croaker, spot, and flounder. The evenings aren't the only time to fish—ten keeper flounder were caught in less than two hours on Sunday afternoon. Most anglers have had the best luck with spadefish and pompano with clam. However, the clams aren't available at the pier, so if you are going after these species, be sure to bring your own.
Like many local piers, spot are running at the Lynnhaven Pier. Fishing has been best at night and on the incoming tide. However, spot seem to be running all day, and nice catches are being brought in with bloodworms and squid.
Anglers at the Virginia Beach Pier are catching bluefish along with numerous spot. A decent sized striper was caught off the pier this week, as well. Artificial bloodworms (fishbites) are really popular this season and are doing well with spot, while got-cha lures have been bringing in the bluefish.
It has been another good week for spot fishing Sandbridge Pier (Little Island Fishing Pier), and blue fish are biting early in the morning. There were also reports of a few scattered cobia being landed this week.
Overall, it was a slow week for Nags Head area fishermen. Offshore fishing has moderated a bit over the past week with nice dolphin, yellowfin tuna and a few large wahoo mixed in. The billfish catches have slowed considerably as well. Bottom droppers are able to find grey trout, triggerfish, and blueline tilefish. People fishing the Avalon Pier were able to find some Spanish mackerel and bluefish on the end of the pier. Spot was the main catch (with bloodworms being the bait of choice), and scattered croakers, mullet, and pompano were showing up closer in. A citation flounder, 6.5 pounds, was caught Wednesday with a sandflea. Inshore fishing has been struggling, and sheepshead and black drum making the most noise around the bridge.
Beach fishermen were doing well with the sea mullet between ramps 43 and 44 with some weighing over 2 pounds. Sandfleas fished on the dropoff had the best bite rates. Hatteras Point had medium bluefish lurking around as well as some puppy drum (juvenile red drum) hitting lures. Sound side fishing was best for speckled trout on gulp baits.
South of Oregon Inlet, bigeye and yellowfin tuna were the order of the day for offshore fishing. Bigeye tuna ranged from 92 to 187 pounds, and several of the yellowfins were over 70 pounds. Dolphin were also present but in fairly low numbers. Later in the week, a few marlin were showing up in the mix as well. Nearshore boats were having luck with king mackerel, dolphin, Spanish mackerel, and bluefish. Inshore, there were some stripers around structures and a few speckled trout thrown in as well.
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