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The Saltwater Review - September 12, 2002

Volume 16. No.16
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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


The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has established a statewide 17-1/2-inch minimum size limit, an eight fish possession limit with no closed summer period for Summer Flounder.

Anglers are reminded that a 14-inch size limit and 14-fish possession limit is in effect from August 16 through April 30, 2003 for weakfish (grey trout). For the past three seasons, the recreational fishery has operated under a split season, where a 12-inch minimum size limit and 4-fish possession limit is in effect from May 1 through August 15 and a 14-inch minimum size limit and 14-fish possession limit is in effect from August 16 through April 30 of each year.

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.

The NMFS has adjusted the Angling Category Retention limit for Atlantic Bluefin tuna. Effective June 15 through October 31, 2002, the angling daily retention limit in all areas is four bluefin tuna per vessel, measuring 27 to less than 73 inches curved fork length. For details, see the enclosed notice.

Puppy drum remain in surprising numbers in many of their usual fall locations but few of the juvenile red drum meet the 18-inch minimum size limit. Some fishermen working in the Volunteer Angler Tagging Program have captured upwards of 300 already this season!

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 has sent the first wave of spot down the Bay and out along the ocean front, as the two ocean piers along Virginia Beach experienced excellent runs of these tasty bottom feeders.

Billfish, mostly white marlin, provided excellent offshore action just prior to the storm and some billfish should still be available, perhaps in even better numbers, this weekend.

Chincoteague -

Captain Bob's said poor weather conditions limited fishing opportunities last week, especially offshore. David Reece boated a 27-6 dolphin at the Lumpy Bottom early in the week but few boats fished later in the week. Inshore catches were equally sparse, with croaker apparently departed, bottom fishermen managed a handful of blowfish, flounder and trout.

Barnacle Bill's said last week's storm pushed the croaker outside the inlet, as very few fish were caught inside. The same weather dropped water temperatures and this seemed to encourage the flounder bite. Offshore, a mixture of yellowfin tuna and dolphin were available at the 30 fathom line when boats could reach the fishing grounds.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported white marlin made a good showing at the Norfolk Canyon, as Todd Godwin, Harry Mears, Chris Ferry and Steve Preston all earned release awards for white marlin last week. Greg Weir, fishing aboard the Class Act, landed a 70-pound, 2-ounce wahoo and other catches included a scattering of yellowfin tuna and dolphin. Inshore, seaside waters had little to offer with only a few croaker and "short" flounder reported. Bayside waters were more productive, especially for Winter Cullen, III, who landed a 20-ounce spot and Jim Shuty, who nailed an 8-pound, 5-ounce flounder at the Cell.

Captain Zed's also spoke of good bluewater action "whenever they can get out there and fish." Saturday's catches included gaffer dolphin, 40 to 50-pound class yellowfin tuna, several "true" albacore or longfin tuna and even wahoo. Bottom fishermen working the ocean wrecks recorded good catches of large sea bass. Inshore action was described as "real slow," croaker were said to be still around but not biting while flounder remained at a low ebb. The best attraction had been the after dark bite of trout around the lighted docks and piers.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported weekend catches of flounder and croaker were inconsistent due to the northeast winds that prevailed for most of the week. Anglers fishing around the Cement Ships and along the CBBT did best on the croaker and flounder plus a mixture of grey trout, spot and sea mullet. Donald Kiesel boated a 9-pound, 3-ounce flounder near buoy 36A and Rudy Cashwell released a 45-1/2-inch red drum off Hungars Creek while Kevin Haxter boated a 5-pound, 1-ounce speckled trout inside Hungars Creek.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported good-sized croaker are still being caught in the shallows late in the afternoon and evening while small and medium-sized fish prevail in deeper water. Good-sized spot are holding off Onancock, as Susan Flint landed a 13-inch, 16-ounce fish but the action has yet to become "hot and heavy." Bottom fishermen are also catching a mixture of bluefish, blowfish, sea mullet, porgy and pan trout. Flounder are holding along the channel edges and bite best "around the change of the ebb." Speckled trout remain scarce but decent numbers of puppy drum up to 10 pounds are biting around Watts and Parker islands. 

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported northeast winds over the weekend limited their fishing crowd but those who fished reported decent catches of spot, croaker and flounder from the CBBT. On Saturday, John Bailey of Chesapeake bagged a 51-1/2-inch, 61-pound, 5-ounce cobia at the crossing.

Bubba's Marina told of large croaker and flounder plus some medium-sized trout at the CBBT while Spanish mackerel were holding around the legs of the Chesapeake Light Tower.

Dr. Jim Wright said weather considerations kept he and his crew inside Lynnhaven the past week, where they located good numbers of 2-pound plus croaker near Long Bay Pointe Marina. The same waters held loads of puppy drum but rarely did the juvenile red drum meet the 18-inch minimum size limit.

Wallace's Marina said Pat Hessig caught a 9-1/2-pound grey trout while trolling at the Third and Fourth Islands on Sunday. The same trip produced several good-sized flounder. Over the weekend, anglers managed several cobia, topped by Bruce Edmonds 54 pounder at Bluefish Rock on a live eel. Danny Taylor boated the week's biggest flounder, an 8-3/4 pounder, at Hampton Bar. The same trip produced a near 6 pounder. Back River Reef remains a top spot for flounder, trout and big croaker. Christopher Ezelle pulled-in a 3-pound, 7-ounce croaker at the reef Sunday.

Johnny from Sunset Marina had another list of big flounder caught at Hampton Bar last week. The lucky anglers included Mike Snead (9-1/4 pounds), Tommy Wilson (7 pounds, 15 ounces), Richard Meister (7 pounds, 10 ounces and 7 pounds, 1 ounce) and George Curtis ( 6 pounds, 4 ounces). Croaker were still biting at Hampton Bar but the biggest croaker of the weekend, many of which topped the 2-pound mark, were caught at the HRBT. Several anglers reported catching flounder at or near the crossing as well.

Alan Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle said Tiffany Cocker boated a 3-pound, 3-ounce croaker on a chunk of peeler crab at the CBBT recently. The same waters also yielded decent numbers of keeper flounder. The fall run of spot appears underway, at least off Grandview Beach, where surfcasters are catching them on double bottom rigs baited with bloodworm.

Cindy from Salt Ponds Marina said the Bay Days celebration and a stiff northeast wind kept her fleet in port over the weekend. Many customers say they are waiting for the start of the fall striped bass season to begin October 4.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said bottom fishermen were steady catching large croaker at the Gloucester Point Pier and above the bridge at the Lumps, where Ernest Martin (3-15), James Creny (3-6) and Charles Evans (3-5) all landed citation winners. Jessica West (3-5) and Amos West (3 pounds) boated award winning croaker in the Severn River. Spot were biting at Gaines Point, though the weekend's biggest spot, caught by Sammy Wilson and weighing 17 ounces, was caught at Tanyard Creek. Jimmy added that 12 to 16-inch puppy drum, with an occasional keeper of 18 inches or more, were holding along all the grassy shorelines. These same areas are producing a handful of speckled trout.

The Peninsula Anglers Club held their annual Open Flounder Tournament at Wallace's Marina last Saturday, September 7. In this event, the angler, rather than the boat, is the registered participant and there were seventy-six this year. The weather, though not ideal, was very fishable and nearly half the anglers brought good-sized flatfish to the scales. Nan L. Smith of Newport News had the winning flounder, at 6.33 pounds. Club member Don Foreman finished second with a 5.98 flatfish and Ronny Wilson was third at 5.78 pounds. The top ten flounder all received cash awards or prizes. Fishing just prior to Saturday, club members found big cobia at the Hump and good numbers of billfish (mostly white marlin) out near the Norfolk Canyon in 100 to 500 fathoms of water.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported trollers are still catching good numbers of bluefish but very few Spanish mackerel. Bottom fishermen are seeing more spot at Blackberry Hang and around the mouths of Dividing Creek and the Great Wicomico River. Trout are schooling tighter and suspending along the channel edges, where anglers jigging with Stingsivlers of rubber-tailed jigs are scoring. An angler jigging for trout at the Asphalt Pile hooked and landed a 36-inch red drum and had several "suspicious" break-offs.

Smith Point Marina said the charter fleet working up in Maryland waters is catching a mixture of school stripers and bluefish. Bottom fishermen are seeing fewer croaker but more pan trout. Chumming in local Virginia waters produces steady action on bluefish.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said weekend anglers who fished the Cell/buoy 42 area were rewarded with good catches of 3 to 6 pound flounder while chummers working near Windmill Point recorded good catches of bluefish. Jerry said pan trout have begun to school in the vicinity of Windmill Bar but many of the fish are under the 14-inch minimum size limit. Larger trout are holding on structure at the Cell. Best catches are made after dark on bucktails tipped with peeler crab. Trollers working Windmill Point Bar are catching bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Speckled trout, pan trout, croaker and spot are holding inside the Piankatank River while Butlers Hole, located at the mouth of the Rappahannock River, is producing a mixture of pan trout, flounder and lots of spot. Waters off Gwynn Island, from Cherry Point to #3 at Hole-in-the-Wall, are also producing good catches of spot. Small puppy drum remain abundant in the creeks. Scott Faggert of Mechanicsville released a 53-inch cobia at York Spit aboard the MARCY LYNNE. The same trip produced a 44-1/2-inch red drum release for Daniel Faggert of Mechanicsville. Clarence Sprouse and Charles Corbin landed over 300 pounds and then over 200 pounds of catfish on successive trips to the Mattaponi River.

Locklies Marina said good numbers of large spot were holding around the bridge, where several keeper flounder up to 6-plus pounds, were also caught in recent days. Below the bridge, bottom fishermen were catching a scattering of croaker and pan trout.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said pan trout and spot were biting at the mouth of the Rappahannock River. The trout prefer peeler crab but will hit pieces of bloodworm which is what the spot are biting. Schools of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues are active off Windmill Point around the Rockpile.

Virginia Beach -

The Coastal Conservation Association of Virginia held its 12th annual "Anglers Club Challenge," Saturday September 7. The event pits fishing clubs from all over the state against each other with the winner taking "bragging rights" and the grand trophy for the year. Each club can sponsor up to five boats with as many as four fishermen per boat. Points are awarded for the first (3 points), second (two points) and third (one point) largest of each of fifteen different species. A total of 7 teams with 32 boats carrying 128 anglers participated. When the points were tallied, the Tidewater Anglers Club retained bragging rights and the trophy for another year, with 17 points. The Portsmouth Anglers CLub was second with 13 points while came in third with 11 points.

Bill Dixon from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported excellent billfish action around the Norfolk Canyon and to the east. Saturday, the crew aboard the BACKLASH narrowly missed a Grand Slam, as a blue marlin threw the hook after the party had released a white and a sailfish. Nearby, the O FOUR released a pair of whites and a blue marlin. Earlier trips for both boats produced white marlin and up to eleven yellowfin tuna plus scattered catches of dolphin and wahoo. Headboats leaving the Fishing Center returned with good hauls of 3 to 5-pound sea bass, triggerfish and some flounder.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina described white marlin action as excellent just prior to the storm with some boats catching and releasing as many as five billfish in an outing. After several weeks of seeing only an occasional yellowfin, catches increased significantly with some boats landing over a dozen.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Spot and croaker provided the bulk of the activity by bottom fishermen also caught some keeper flounder, several sheepshead and some pan trout.

Buckroe Beach - Anglers are catching spot, croaker and sea mullet plus a few keeper flounder during the day time with pan trout making a good showing after dark.

Harrison - Bottom fishermen enjoyed good runs of large croaker and spot plus keeper flounder of nearly 5 pounds last week.

Lynnhaven - Big spot made strong showings on the morning tide in recent days. Daytime anglers are also catching small puppy drum and some flounder.

Virginia Beach - "Fantastic" was the word from the pier's spokesperson to describe the current run of yellow-bellied spot. Bottom fishermen are also catching some croaker and a few keeper puppy drum. Water temperature at pierside remains a comfortable 77 degrees.

Sandbridge - Good-sized spot provided excellent action in recent days, as schools of these tasty bottom fish were pushed along the beach front on northeast winds.

Outer Banks, NC -

Cooler weather finally brought some fish to the northern beaches, as good numbers of puppy drum, though mostly of sub-legal size, were caught by bottom fishermen using cut bait or shrimp. Decent numbers of bluefish, spot and croaker were also beached. Pier anglers saw even more variety, as Spanish mackerel were added the list. Some piers also reported pompano, small black drum, flounder and speckled trout.

Surf casters at Oregon Inlet also caught puppy drum plus some Spanish mackerel, bluefish and flounder. On Hatteras Island at Cape Point, Spanish mackerel and bluefish made strong showings early and late in the day Friday through Sunday. False albacore remained outside casting distance most of the time but several of these fast moving fish were caught each day. Bottom fishermen hooked-up puppy drum, pompano, croaker and flounder by day and tussled with good-sized shark after dark.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center enjoyed good to excellent white marlin action Thursday through Saturday, with as many as eight white marlin released per boat (TUNA FEVER). Other catches included decent catches of mixed sizes of dolphin plus a scattering of yellowfin tuna and wahoo. The fleet was "blown-out," remaining in port Sunday through Tuesday (at least). Inshore boats had good action on bluefish, Spanish mackerel and false albacore while the headboat reported mixed catches of pan trout, croaker and pigfish.

A handful of boats sailing from Hatteras Inlet reported scattered catches of dolphin and wahoo on Friday, as seas had already begun to build. Even fewer boats fished Saturday and they returned with fair catches of mixed sizes of dolphin and some wahoo. Boats were either moved or remained tied to the dock since Saturday evening.

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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