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The Saltwater Review - 1 September 2004

Vol. 18, No. 15
by Lewis S. Gillingham

Chincoteague | Wachapreague | Cape Charles | Onancock | Lower Bay/CBBT | Middle Bay | Virginia Beach Virginia Piers | Outer Banks, NC


Due to the observance of the Labor Holiday, the Virginia Saltwater Review (VSR) will not be published the week of September 6 -10. The next issue of the VSR will be published the week of September 13-17.

Since the end of last year, regulations for black sea bass and summer flounder have been modified.

For black sea bass, the minimum size limit remains 12 inches while the possession limit remains 25 fish but the late summer closed period runs from September 8 through September 21. The winter-closed period remains December 1 through December 31.

For Summer Flounder, the minimum size and possession limit have both changed. The minimum size limit decreased from 17-1/2 inches to 17 inches in 2004. The possession limit likewise decreased, from 8 flounder last season to 6 summer flounder in 2004.

Effective August 20, 2004, the bluefin tuna retention limit in the HMS Angling category will increase from 1 to 2 tuna (27 to less than 73 inches) through September 20, 2004. Click here for details.

The flounder bite slowed on the lower Bay the past week, likely in response to murky water conditions created by the abundant rainfall. Still, some anglers managed limit catches and flatfish topping 10 pounds were boated. Most areas did witness an influx of smaller flounder.

The spot bite was "hot or cold" through the week and weekend, as pluses of these tasty bottom fish moved through area waters. Best action was along the Bay from Willoughby Beach to Cape Henry and down along the oceanfront (including Rudee Inlet) to the Sandbridge Pier.

Offshore, white and blue marlin provided good action the past week, as some boats released as many as five in a single outing. Yellowfin tuna continue to provide a steady bite at the fingers, located about 40 miles off Rudee Inlet, and out into 35 fathoms of water. 

Chincoteague -

Donna from Captain Bob's weighed in a "beautiful" 65-pound wahoo that was caught at the Washington Canyon early in the week. Donna indicated bluefin and yellowfin tuna still linger around the Parking Lot and Lumpy Bottom but the bite was less consistent than in recent weeks. A more consistent tuna bite has been from the 20-fathom line and "out to the deep," where several billfish were also hooked. Inshore, croaker topping 3 pounds, snapper bluefish and a scattering of spot, sea mullet and even sheepshead keep bottom fishermen busy. Best action has been along Chincoteague Channel and the Queen's Sound Bridge.


Captain Zed's reported chunkers and trollers were catching tuna, mostly yellowfin, off Wachapreague. The crew aboard the CANYON LADY wreck fished and caught black sea bass and triggerfish and then moved inside the inlet and landed croaker. The shop also indicated that keeper-sized flounder were caught with some of the better hauls made along the channel which is located in front of the Coast Guard Station.

Wachapreague Marina said bluewater trollers caught a mixture of yellowfin tuna and dolphin over the weekend. The crew aboard the JAMES GANG boated a dozen gaffer dolphin their last outing and another charter boat came in Sunday with ten yellowfin tuna.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported good numbers of croaker weighing up to 2-1/2 pounds were caught out of the seaside port of Oyster over the weekend. Bottom fishermen at the Kiptopeke Park Pier enjoyed a decent run of spot while anglers around the Third and Fourth islands caught sheepshead and tautog. Several red drum were landed the past week, including fish long enough to qualify citation releases for Robert Savage Jr. (52 inches) and Benton Stone (46-1/2 inches) both off Hungars Creek and Ernie Wu (48 inches) at buoy 48A. Still, most bayside anglers concentrated on the late summer run of flounder. Results were mixed but several citation flatfish were boated, as Kimberly Tiffert (7 pounds) and Mark Sherrill (7 pounds, 2 ounces) caught big flounder off Kiptopeke while Stan Escher nailed a 7-1/4-pounder near the Fourth Island.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen at Fish and Finn Charters reported both spot and trout numbers were increasing. Parties pulled-in trout to nearly 4 pounds the past week with the best action coming during the change of tide and along the channel edges. Spot appear to be moving down the bay from Maryland waters and are holding off Onancock, where numbers of these tasty bottom fish are rising. Good numbers of flounder and croaker still linger in area waters and other catches include taylor bluefish, hogfish, sea mullet and porgy.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported bottom fishermen working near the CBBT are still catching decent numbers of keeper flounder but "no citations" the past week. The marina did register a white marlin release for Diane Pulliam. The catch was made at the Cigar.

Lou from Bubba's Marina described the recent fishing action as "kinda slow," though fair catches of flounder were recorded around Lesner Bridge and a scattering of puppy drum and speckled trout were caught back inside the inlet. Several customers caught cobia while running the lower bay buoys and the nearshore ocean markers.

Dr. Jim Wright caught flounder up to 25-1/4 inches and spot to 13 inches (released) inside Long Creek, as strong winds limited the outing to the protected waters inside Lynnhaven Inlet. Earlier in the week, white marlin were active off Rudee Inlet, according to Wright.

Sunset Marina said Rick Meister and crew limited-out on flounder to 24 inches on a mid-week outing along the Baltimore Channel. Bill Connanghton landed a citation flounder (8 pounds, 11ounces) and a citation croaker (3 pounds) at the Fourth Island of the CBBT while Bill Harris and crew nailed seven keeper-sized flounder up to 24 inches "right off Fort Monroe." On Sunday, Bill Polk caught a 7-pound, 1-ounce flounder at Hampton Bar and Warren Hercules had a 7 pounder. John Costulis nailed a 16-ounce spot at the HRBT.

Salt Ponds Marina said Terry Cox and John Herbit each released a white marlin at the Triple 0's aboard the MISS ROBINSON. John Perry boated an 8-pound, 2-ounce flounder aboard the FREEBIRD at the CBBT while John Harris decked a 16-ounce spot aboard the NINA SEA at Back River Reef.

Jimmy Lewis at A & S Feed and Bait Supply said anglers fishing above the Gloucester Point Bridge at the Lumps are catching some pan trout and spot. Waters off the Watermen's Museum and near Tue Marsh Light produced keeper flounder while Ware Point, located inside Mobjack Bay, saw a decent run of speckled trout. The shop sponsored a flounder tournament to benefit the local Boys and Girls Club and drew eighty-two entrants. Derrick Hall placed first with a 10.08-pound flounder; Jacques Van Montfrans came in second with a 7.59-pound flatfish and Robert Moore finished third with a 7.30-pound flounder.

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, described last week's billfish bite as, "red hot," noting the Rudee fleet fished from the 400 to the 600 line while the Oregon Inlet fleet worked between the 900-line and Triple 0's and both were in 500 to 1,000 fathoms. Anglers seeking tuna found the most fish on the Fingers and out to 35 fathoms. Some true albacore and bigeye tuna are also showing in the offshore mix. Inshore, the wrecks SE of the Tower Reef are holding a few king mackerel. Inside the Bay, flounder remain the major focus of most anglers with the CBBT, the Hump, buoy 36A and the Baltimore Channel the recent hot spots.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported trollers found decent numbers of Spanish mackerel and loads of taylor bluefish over the weekend. Top locations included the waters surrounding Smith Point Light, Smith Point Bar and off Dividing Creek. Bottom fishermen recorded decent catches of spot and a scattering of croaker. Anglers drifting for flounder managed a handful of keeper flatfish around the jetty.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said quality sized flounder are scattered along the "deep waters" from Gwynn Island and out to buoy 42. Bridget Perrine boated the lone citation flatfish in the past ten days, a 7-pound, 6-ouncer, at buoy 42. Spot numbers continue to rise in area waters with some of the best hauls coming from the Spike buoy area, Butler's Hole and from 20 to 30 feet of water off Gwynn Island. Some keeper-sized pan trout are mixed in with the spot. Several customers reported catching speckled trout off Gwynn Island and inside the Piankatank River. Ronald Mitchem boated a 7-pound, 5-ounce sheepshead on crab off Gwynn Island. Some big croaker still linger on the lower Rappahannock Rock, where Jeff Doughty nailed a 20-inch long, 2-pound, 7-ouncer.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen working Butlers Hole or the waters off Parrots Island caught spot and a scattering of croaker over the weekend.

Garretts Marina suggested "straight out from the marina," near buoy 19 for a mixture of spot and croaker.

Captain Jim Thompson, aboard the JIM-AN-I running out of Deltaville, said good-sized spot and fair numbers of pan trout were caught in the Rappahannock River near buoy 8 and in Butlers Hole, where schools of hungry taylor blues were abundant at certain stages of the tide. Bottom fishermen in the Bay, off Gwynn Island at Deep Rock, caught a mixture of spot, croaker and pan trout while spot and taylor bluefish were caught inside the Piankatank River.

Virginia Beach

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported good weather and good fishing for 25 to 50-pound yellowfin tuna on Friday, when Mo Marwan released a white marlin. On Saturday the crew aboard the FROGPILE returned with seven nice yellowfin tuna. The rest of the fleet tallied eight white marlin releases and had mixed catches of yellowfin and a few gaffer dolphin. Jereme Wilson boated a 50-pound dolphin aboard the FIWS HAWK. Sunday's catches included more of the same-white marlin (releases), yellowfin tuna and dolphin. A private boat weighed-in a 38-1/2-pound wahoo. Monday all boats remained in port due to weather.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina said several boats caught and released white marlin and returned to the dock with some yellowfin tuna over the weekend.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Closed indefinitely. 

Buckroe Beach - The pier was completely destroyed by Hurricane Isabel. The city of Hampton has expressed an interest to build a pier in this area.

Harrison - The new owner of the property where Harrison's Pier was located (prior to Hurricane Isabel) has announced plans to build a new pier at the same location. The estimated cost is 1.8 million dollars and the pier could be ready to open in early 2005.

Lynnhaven - Bottom fishermen saw a mixture of spot, bluefish, sea mullet, small flounder, small pompano and crabs.

Virginia Beach - Spot dominated the action for bottom fishermen while casters scored on taylor bluefish and a handful of Spanish mackerel.

Sandbridge - Spot staged several heavy runs the past week and other catches included taylor bluefish, sea mullet, small flounder, pompano and skate.

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach and pier fishermen in the Nags Head area enjoyed a mixture of croaker, spot, snapper bluefish, speckled trout and puppy drum throughout the week and weekend. Avalon Pier had bluefish, pompano, Spanish mackerel and spot on Friday and the same mix of fish made a good showing Sunday plus sea mullet and flounder were added to the list. Nags Head Pier fishermen enjoyed a good run of spot on Saturday. Other catches included sea mullet, bluefish and a few Spanish mackerel plus sheepshead and black drum.

South of Oregon Inlet, Cape Point at Buxton was slow during the week through Friday. Action improved 
Saturday morning, when casters landed good numbers of bluefish plus a few Spanish mackerel and beach 

fishermen caught an assortment of spot, croaker, pompano and black drum. Big sea mullet were beached just north of the Point at Avon. On Sunday, casters scored on bluefish and ribbonfish around dawn and dusk with daytime bottom fishermen recorded fair catches of sea mullet, flounder, spot and croaker. Pompano were plentiful around ramp 43.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center recorded decent catches of billfish (mostly white marlin) and a scattering of dolphin and tuna on Friday. On Saturday the fleet caught and released 70 billfish. Some boats returned with limits of dolphin plus a few yellowfin tuna and wahoo. Inshore boats found taylor bluefish, Spanish mackerel and false albacore. Sunday was another banner day for billfish plus several boats loaded up with bailer dolphin and a few yellowfin tuna.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet caught and released three billfish Friday while catches of dolphin, yellowfin tuna and wahoo were described as "very scattered." On Saturday the dolphin bite improved markedly but tuna and wahoo remained "spotty." Virginia anglers James Kunkel of Marshall and Scott Keyser of Washington each released a white marlin aboard BITE ME and Jeff Brown of Gloucester released a white aboard the RELEASE. Sunday was very slow for charters (due to weather) with only one boat out but it returned with a cooler of dolphin plus wahoo and yellowfin tuna. All boats remained in port on Monday.

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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