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The Saltwater Review - September 10, 2003

Volume 17. No. 16
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.

The fall portion of the Chesapeake Bay Striped Bass season begins October 4 and will run through December 31.  There is an 18-inch minimum size limit and a two-fish possession limit.   

Most of the larger croaker have moved into deep water and many have advanced towards the mouth of the Bay.  How these fish reacted to the recent storm is still unclear (they may have moved offshore) but in recent years, croaker have lingered at the baymouth into October.

The same storm should send the first wave of spot down the Bay and out along the ocean front.  Shorebound anglers can share in this bonanza as both ocean piers located along the Virginia Beach oceanfront are likely to see excellent runs of these tasty bottom feeders.

Just before the storm, Spanish mackerel were providing some of the best action seen in several years, as these fast moving gamefish were holding in tide rips from Smith Point to the Virginia Beach oceanfront.
Offshore hopes of a decent billfish bite now hinge on a weather window occurring between storms.  Billfish should still be available but historically have not lingered to the end of the month.  Tuna, both yellowfin and bluefin, should be available in better numbers once seas calm and it is time to look for the fall migration of  school-sized king mackerel on the inshore grounds.

Chincoteague -

Captain Bob's reported croaker to nearly 3 pounds were caught in the main channel, where a few keeper flounder were also boated.  Black Narrows is yielding good numbers of croaker up to 2 pounds plus some keeper flounder.  Best recent flounder catches were made in the vicinity of the R22 buoy.  Sea mullet still linger around the mouth of the inlet and along the Assateague Island surf.  Offshore, "there's just been too much wind."

Wachapreague -

Captain Zed's reported good hauls of croaker plus an occasional keeper flounder inside the inlet.  Some of the best catches were made along the channel in front of the Coast Guard Station and along the channel behind Cedar Island.  Outside the inlet, spadefish still lingered around buoy 10 before the blow but bluewater action was limited to a few yellowfin tuna out at the canyons.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle told of a slow week and weekend for flounder, "it was too rough most of the time to effectively drift for flounder," according to the shop.  Still nice-sized flatfish were caught but catches were down from the level of prior weeks.  Ronnie Harrell boated the weekend's only citation-winning flatfish, a 7-1/2 pounder, off Cape Charles.  Red drum are beginning their fall run on the lower Bay.  Robert Savage, Jr. (44-1/2 inches) and J. Scott Webb (46-1/2 inches) each released big drum while fishing off Nassawadox Creek while Gene Brockwell released a 46-inch drum near buoy 36A.  Good-sized croaker, many topping 2 pounds, are scattered throughout the same area but the week's biggest croaker, a 3-pound, 2-ounce fish caught by Andy Gillian, was caught on the seaside, out of Oyster.  Bottom fishermen that kept close to shore and used small bloodworm pieces had decent catches of spot at the Cement Ships and just inside the harbor. Speckled trout also made a fair showing in several of the bayside creeks.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen at Fish and Finn Charters reported fishing last week was limited by the weather but described the flounder bite as "still real good when I can get out."  Pods of spot are moving through the area while plenty of medium-sized croaker still linger in area waters.  More pan trout are showing in the catches with some bigger trout, up to 24 inches, caught along the deepwater ledges.  Other catches include plenty of pigfish and bluefish plus a scattering of sea mullet, scup and blowfish.  Trollers are still finding Spanish mackerel while casters working the shallow water grass beds are seeing a few speckled trout.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina told of a slow weekend with "no citation fish to report."  The marina spokesperson did say some flounder were caught at the CBBT and expects the fall run of spot to be in full swing "as soon as the boats can get out again."

Bubba's Tackle Shop told of fair catches of flounder at the CBBT despite poor fishing conditions.  The shop did weigh-in several citation grey trout of 9 pounds or more from the Third Island area.  Anglers fishing inside Lynnhaven Inlet reported a mixture of spot, croaker, puppy drum and a few keeper flounder.

Dr. Jim Wright said croaker up to 3 pounds were caught by bottom fishermen working near the First Island just prior to the weekend.  Trollers working along the Virginia Beach resort strip enjoyed mixed catches of Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish.

Wallace's Marina said weekend conditions were less than ideal but flounder fishermen managed fair to good catches at the Back River Reef, the Hump, the Fourth Island area and the High Rise section of the CBBT.  The biggest flounder of the weekend was caught at Back River Reef by Neal Insley and it weighed 7 pounds even.  Several nice cobia were caught around the mid to lower Bay buoys.  Adam Lenosky boated a 55-pound cobia on a live eel at one of the Baltimore Channel buoys, where Danny Taylor released a 44-1/2 incher.  Anglers tossing rubber-tailed jigs inside Back River recorded decent catches of speckled trout to 3 pounds plus an occasional puppy drum.  Trollers working off Factory Point caught Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish.

Debbie from Sunset Marina said the weekend's biggest flounder, a 5-3/4 pounder, was caught at buoy 36A on a bucktail tipped with squid and minnow by Neil Vaughn but perhaps the most memorable catch was a 19-1/2-inch flounder caught at Hampton Bar by 12-year-old Casey O'Farrell.  The crew aboard the MATTIE J flyrodded the HRBT and managed a pair of keeper flounder plus numerous taylor bluefish and school stripers.  Waters surrounding Fort Monroe produced a mixture of Spanish mackerel, croaker to nearly 3 pounds and taylor bluefish for Bud Batton and his party.

"I really don't have any fish to report," said Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina, as a combination of windy weather and the annual Hampton Bay Days celebration kept most would-be anglers in port.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said speckled trout had finally made a decent showing inside Mobjack Bay.  "The fish aren't real big," but most meet the 14-inch minimum size limit with a few pushing 18 inches.  Pan trout are also mixed in with the specks.  Prior to the northeast blow, Spanish mackerel were biting "real good" at the mouth of the York and even up inside the river.  Bottom fishermen scored on good-sized croaker plus a few spot off Cheatham Annex.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club say the tuna and billfish bite was on the upswing just prior to the northeast blow.  One club member fished the Cigar and hooked-up eight tuna. Most anglers attention remains focused on flounder.  The 5th annual PSWSFA Open Flounder Tournament was held Saturday out of Wallace's Marina.  The event drew 79 anglers despite less than ideal weather conditions.  Neil Insley won the event with a 7.01-pound flounder.  Jim Leiffer finished second (6.47 pounds), Barry Bradley was third (6.26 pounds), Skid Joyner was fourth (5.60) and Christy Jeffers finished fifth (5.55 pounds).  Good-sized flounder were caught at all the usual spots, including buoy 36A, the CBBT, the Baltimore Channel, the Hump and the Cell but the winning flounder was boated at Back River Reef.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported excellent numbers of Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish off Smith Point, as both casters and trollers are "having a ball," with these speedy fish.  Bottom fishermen managed some spot and a few keeper flounder around the Smith Point Jetty but nearly all the croaker of any size have moved out into the Bay and along the shipping channels.  Roger also heard of some speckled trout that were caught at Dameron Marsh.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said Spanish mackerel were biting "all over the place," even well into the Potomac River.  Some flounder were caught around the jetty but better catches were made "across the Bay," inside Tangier Sound.  Some of the charter fleet continues to run into Maryland waters, chum in the vicinity of buoys 68 and 72 and return with good catches of school striped bass and taylor bluefish.  

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said several cobia were boated last week, as the shop registered a pair of release citations.  Glenn Timberlake of Port Haywood released a 48-inch cobia that hit a chunk of frozen bunker at York Spit while William Edwards of Sandston released a 47-inch fish that hit a chunk of cut bait at Wolftrap Light.  Flounder fishing moderated over the prior several week's pace--both in number of fishermen and catch.   Most of those that did fish for flounder concentrated their efforts in the vicinity of buoys 36A and 38, where James Stewart of Mathews boated the weekend's only citation flatfish, at 7-3/4 pounds.  Pods of spot played hide and seek and at times schools seemed to vanish.  Pan trout are becoming a more dependable component in a day's bottom fishing catch.  Trollers continue to find plenty of Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish over Windmill Bar.

Locklies Marina told of good recent hauls of spot "just above the bridge" at White Stone and downriver at Butlers Hole.  Anglers bottom fishing at Parrots Rock managed some keeper flounder and trout in addition to spot.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported scattered catches of yellowfin tuna and dolphin.  None of the offshore fleet fished Friday or Saturday but on Sunday the crew aboard the BACKLASH hooked a pair of billfish and landed several 40-pound class yellowfin tuna while the crew aboard the FROGPILE returned to the dock with some dolphin.  

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina had a pair of boats out Sunday.  The WAHOO returned with four nice yellowfin tuna while the crew aboard the CANYON EXPRESS released a blue and a white marlin.  Both boats fished the Norfolk Canyon area.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Karen told of good catches of croaker since the weekend--a 4-pounder was decked on Monday.  Anglers are also catching and releasing some striped bass and a few pan trout.  Joe Watson released a 47-inch red drum last week.

Buckroe Beach - Croaker came on strong the past several days and bottom fishermen also decked a few tautog, some pigfish, flounder, spot and pan trout.

Harrison - Croaker to nearly 2 pounds provided brief flurries of action but the fall run of big pompano came to a halt.  Bottom fishermen also caught a few puppy drum, small spot, speckled trout and a few keeper flounder.

Lynnhaven - Croaker provided most of the action but bottom fishermen also decked a few sea mullet, taylor bluefish and spot.

Virginia Beach - Fair catches of spot and croaker plus a few puppy drum and small flounder.  Water temperature was 74 degrees on Wednesday.

Sandbridge - Overall action was slow with only mixed catches of spot and croaker reported.  water temperature was 72 degrees on Tuesday.

Outer Banks, NC -

Surf and pier fishermen along the Nags Head area beaches had poor to fair success on a mixture of taylor bluefish, spot, croaker and flounder.  Anglers fishing from the ends of the piers also bagged a few Spanish mackerel and a 4.4 pound speckled trout was decked on Avalon Pier on Saturday.  Surf water temperatures ranged from the upper 60's on Friday to 74 degrees on Monday.

South of Oregon Inlet, folks fishing at Cape Point at Buxton on Friday caught croaker most of the day with taylor blues showing in the late afternoon.  On Saturday, a 37-inch red drum highlighted the day while the evening shift recorded mixed catches of taylor blues, sea mullet, spot and croaker.  On Sunday, a few pompano were beached at the jetties while the crowd at the Point had scattered catches of spot, croaker and bluefish plus half-a-dozen puppy drum.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported just one boat fished Friday due to rough sea conditions (especially the inlet) but they had a productive day and returned to the dock with seven yellowfin tuna and a pair of wahoo.  Inshore boats stayed inside the inlet and caught a mixture of striped bass, bluefish and flounder. The headboat managed a few croaker and pan trout.  No boats fished Saturday, Sunday, Monday or Tuesday.

The fleet fishing from Hatteras Inlet reminded in port Friday and Saturday due to huge swell created by hurricane Fabian.  Only one boat fished Sunday but with good results.  The crew aboard the NO SLACK released a sailfish and boated a good catch of dolphin plus several yellowfin tuna and wahoo.  No boats fished Monday or Tuesday.

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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