Plans and Statistics Department Staff
The fall fishing season is upon us, and so far reports look promising for the upcoming weeks. Of course, we are ever watchful of the tropics during this part of the fishing season. However, for now, we’ll focus on a bountiful fall run, because we can’t control the weather. Whether you are a Virginia Bay or Ocean angler (or both), pier or surf fisherman (or fisherwoman!), now is the time to go fishing! And hey, take a friend or a child with you and share in the enjoyment!For those who have somehow found themselves unaware, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on three conservation options, designed to reduce harvest in the 2007 Fall Chesapeake Area Recreational Striped Bass Fishery. According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, the 2006 recreational harvest of striped bass was 2,425,547 pounds. The 2007 recreational striped bass quota is 1,554,302 pounds. That means there is a difference of 871,245 pounds between the most recent recreational harvest and current recreational quota. See the VMRC press release, and make it a point to go online and register to vote on one of the proposed options at WWW.VASALTWATERJOURNAL.COM . The results of the poll will be provided to the Commission on Tuesday, September 25, 2007.
Donna at Captain Bob’s reports that the flounder bite is picking up. Most are being caught in front of Captain Bob’s from buoy 17 to the area beyond green 23. The south side of Queens Sound is producing nice fish. Boats there are anchoring to catch the few remaining croaker, and snapper blues have been landed up to 13 inches. A few small pompano have been caught this week as well. The wrecks continue to produce nice spade fish, keeper flounder in the 4 to 6 lb range, and triggerfish. Offshore, those willing to travel to the Washington Canyon are enjoying the bounty of white marlin available there.
At the Wachapreague Marina, inshore catches have been primarily flounder and large croaker, and most were caught by Cedar Island. The offshore fleet has reported numerous catches of marlin. Citations this week include a 45 lb wahoo, caught by angler Jake Nelson, and five white marlin releases. Four were caught aboard the WHITE BITE by anglers Greg Ford, Otis Evans, Dyke Taylor and Kris McGlothlin. The TEASER reported the fifth white marlin release by angler Al Barfield.
According to Debbie at Captain Zed’s, offshore fishing has been doing well at the Washington Canyon with numerous white and blue marlin as well as wahoo mixed with a few dolphin. Angler Jeff Korell, aboard the MARLIN MAGIC, caught a citation wahoo (48 lbs) on September 2nd. Inshore, red drum and cobia are doing well bayside, and William Richardson of Exmore, Virginia landed an 82 lb 8 oz cobia. Seaside, Cedar Island continues to produce nice flounder and croaker catches, with spot, trout, and kingfish mixed in.
Chris at Chris’ Bait and Tackle reported red drum are biting well on the bayside of the Eastern Shore. Those fishing for red drum are also landing some nice cobia as well. Speckled trout fishing is heating up on the bayside creeks. Flounder have continued to produce, and anglers are catching keepers from buoy 36 A to buoy 42. Sara Seay released a 48 ˝ inch red drum out of Hungars Creek, and David Lewis and Robert Savage, Jr. reported red drum caught near Nassawadox Creek (39 ˝ inches and 48 Ľ inches, respectively). A 61 lb 1 oz cobia was caught at buoy 16 by Phillip Deeper. A speckled trout (5 lb 8 oz) was caught at Hungars Creek by Walt McHan. Flounder citations include a 9 lb 3 oz flounder caught near Cape Charles by Billy Gibbs and a 13 lb 2 oz flounder landed by Karen Williams at buoy 36 A.
At Cherrystone Bait and Tackle, croaker fishing has picked up with catches in the 2-˝ lb range. Crabbing has improved, and larger sizes are beginning to show. In the creek mouths, speckled trout (3 ˝ to 4 lbs) are biting, and recently, there have been reports of speckled trout in the creeks and flats. Red drum and cobia can still be found in the Chesapeake Bay around channel marker 13. The fall striped bass season is right around the corner, and speckled trout and grey trout are expected to increase in numbers soon.
Captain Wil reports that red tide continues to limit fishing to the shallow water (generally less than 20 feet). In the clear water, nice sized spot are biting on bloodworms. Croaker are still present but have thinned out. Speckled trout are showing up along the beach and in the shallows, and red drum are being picked up in the evenings along the flats. Other catches include porgy, blowfish, sea mullet, and numerous bluefish.
The weather conditions over the weekend kept most boats from going out at Cobb’s Marina. Last week, reports of flounder continued, and on September 7th a citation flounder (8 lbs 3 oz) was caught at the 3rd island of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.
Staff at Wallace’s Bait and Tackle reports that the flounder fishing has been dependable for anglers in the area. A 9 lb 14 oz citation flounder was reported near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Over the past week, a few cobia in the 40 lb range have been landed, and speckled trout mixed with puppy drum are being hooked.
Action has been slow at the Sunset Boating Center; this could be due to the start of the school year combined with the recent poor weather. Anglers are still finding croaker with scattered flounder at the Hampton Bar. Angler Ricky Hall caught a citation flounder there on September 9th. Staff at the boating center expects things to pick up with the start of the striped bass season on October 4th.
Salt Ponds Marina reports light boat traffic at the marina. The single citation for the week was a 50 inch red drum released at Back River Reef by Greg Hedrick. According to staff, many anglers are waiting for the next round of fish to show up.
Anglers at the York River Fishing Center continue to catch croaker and flounder near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. In the York River, large croaker are also being reported.
Ken Neill, reporting secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, contributed the following:
White Marlin fishing has been hot in the area. An Ocean City boat, fishing at the Norfolk Canyon, released twenty-five white marlin during their overnight trip. A Virginia Beach boat fished the same area and released 18 white marlin in a single day. Other than the great marlin bite, some big yellowfin tuna, dolphin, wahoo, longfin tuna, and the occasional bigeye are being caught in the offshore waters off of Virginia. The big catch inshore has been cobia. They have really turned on over the past week in the lower bay, and along the oceanfront, and are being caught both by sight casting and by sitting on chum slicks. Get them now as they will head south soon. Big flounder are falling to live bait at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Spanish mackerel are available at Cape Henry. Some large red drum are being caught at the shoals at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, along the Eastern Shore seaside, and at Bluefish Rock. Some nice spot are being caught in the Rappahannock and Poquoson Rivers. Amberjack are available at the Chesapeake Light Tower and area wrecks. The light tower is loaded with cigar minnows signaling that it is time to look for king mackerel and false albacore in the area.
Dr. Julie Ball, IGFA International Representative for Virginia Beach, contributed the following:
Although anglers are finding it difficult to get out due to sporadic windy conditions, the variety is great when they can. The fall heavy hitters are lining up to bat. Spot, speckled trout, puppy drum, and king mackerel are already off to a good start. Decent spot are showing in the lower bay rivers and inlets. Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets are providing good action on a moving tide with bloodworms and Fishbites. Fall speckled trout are starting to show on the flats off Poquoson, Hungar’s Creek, and Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets. Spanish mackerel are near the Bridge Tunnel, along Cape Henry and the buoy lines at the mouth of the bay, where 20-inch fish are the average size lately. Schools of false albacore have been spotted in close to the beach, which can prove very sporting on light tackle.
Cobia are on the move as they prepare to head south, which is igniting outstanding top water action, with boats hooking up to a dozen fish per day. The best catches are coming from those casting live bait and jigs to fish swimming on the surface and circling buoys. Big fish are available, with many ranging in the 50 to 70-pound class. Richard Norman of Virginia Beach shattered that norm when he landed an impressive 99.5-pound fish he found cruising off Virginia Beach this week.
After waiting for weeks, die hard pier anglers were rewarded with the first traditional run of bull red drum off the Little Island Fishing Pier this week. This trend will only improve, especially if the wind takes a north-easterly direction. Red drum up to 25-inches also made their debut in the Sandbridge surf the night before the larger red drum showed.
The flounder action was on the upswing this week. Anglers working areas near the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel with live bait are finding limits of keeper fish, with live mullet proving more effective than small spot recently. Drifting the Thimble Shoal and Baltimore Channels are good places to try. Good catches of flounder in the 22 to 24-inch range are also available within Lynnhaven Inlet in about 20 feet of water. The offshore wreck flounder action is a good alternative using strip baits bounced over the structure. Expect nice black sea bass and triggerfish as a bonus.
Sheepshead are taking a few late season offerings along the entire span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. A few tautog and many triggerfish are in the same vicinity. Large croaker are lurking in deeper areas around the lower bay channels, inlets, and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Big croaker are also thrilling anglers at the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel, the Concrete Ships off Kiptopeke, and inside Lynnhaven near the Great Neck Bridge.
Before the tropical depression, offshore action was great, with marlin in 500 fathoms or deeper near the 400-line. Wahoo are active in 20 to 30 fathoms from the Cigar to the Canyon, and should only improve over the next few weeks. A few big gaffer dolphin also hit the docks this week, but the tuna bite is hit and miss, with big fish possible.
Roger Wilkins of Jett’s Marina reports that the best fishing has been trolling for Spanish mackerels and bluefish. Many of the bluefish have been running in the 3 to 6 pound range. Some spot are still being caught, but it takes time to find them. The croaker bite has slowed down dramatically, possibly indicating they have moved out of the area. Some flounder are also being caught around Smith Point Light and Jetty.
Locklies Marina reports there have been large spot being caught in the mouth of Locklies Creek over the past week. Blood worms still the bait of choice here.
Capt. Jim Thompson had the following report on his web site this week.
This was a great week for fishing. The weakfish were everywhere, with lengths up to 24 inches. Some charters caught their limit of weakfish this week, and that has not happened for a long time. The best fishing was off of Gwynn’s Island at Deep Rock, in about 28 feet of water. The spot were also consistently biting. The Lump in the Rappahannock River is a great area for spot; however this area only produces on flooding tides. The narrow edge of Deltaville also produced this week. A lot of croaker were caught this week, some at the Spike in the Rappahannock and many off of Gwynn’s Island. In the Piankatank, you can find spot at the Mud Hole and on Cherry Point, but again the tide is very important. Sharks are still present but their numbers are declining.
Marlin fishing has been hot over the past few weeks, according to the Virginia Beach Fishing Center. There were 25 citations in the last week alone, mostly for white marlin. Tuna have been scarce, but those that are caught have been large yellowfin in the 65 to 75 lb range. Inshore, there are nice catches of cobia around the wrecks in the area. Anglers are also catching Spanish mackerel, bluefish, a few sharks, and spot. A citation spot (1 lb 3 oz) was recorded this week.
Offshore anglers are catching numerous billfish, according to Paula at Fisherman’s Wharf Marina. Several boats are coming back with large catches, and most of the action is focused around Norfolk Canyon. Most of the catch consists of white marlin (multiple white marlin citations were awarded this week alone). Tuna in the 50 to 60 lb range are also being hooked, and a few true albacore (longfin tuna) were caught this Friday at Norfolk Canyon. Inshore, flounder fishing is doing well, and catches have been reported about 10 miles off of the beach.
Staff at Ocean View Pier report spot and croaker catches this week. A few flounder have also been hooked.
At the Lynnhaven Pier, anglers are catching numerous spot, flounder, speckled trout, and a few juvenile red drum (puppy drum). Small numbers of spadefish are being caught. Earlier this week, a single angler had an incredibly successful day and caught his limit of spadefish while fishing with bloodworms off of the pier. Staff at Lynnhaven says this was a very unusual event.
Spot are biting at the Virginia Beach Pier with some scattered croaker mixed in. Prior to the bad weather over the weekend, anglers were getting numerous bluefish and some small Spanish mackerel. A few keeper puppy drum were also landed last week.
Fishing continues to be slow at the Sandbridge Pier. Anglers are landing spot and bluefish, and staff expects the red drum fishing to pick up soon.
Tropical Storm Gabrielle limited fishing over the past weekend. The good news is that historical trends show fishing to be brisk following these types of storms.
Before Gabrielle moved in, offshore anglers in the Nags Head area were able to find a few wahoo, yellowfin tuna and dolphin. King mackerel bites were increasing as well. Inshore boats were able to catch small blues and large Spanish mackerel. The typical cast of ground fish characters: spot, croaker and mullet were also available. People fishing in the sounds, inlets, and bays reported catching legal size weakfish and speckled trout while working in shallow water around landmasses. Flounder keeper ratios have been improving over the past week.
The piers in the Nags Head area continue to report that spot are readily available when the weather allows. Other catches include bluefish, pompano and mullet. The baits producing results were bloodworms, sandfleas, and shrimp.
South of Oregon Inlet, surf fishermen were able to land bluefish, mullet, and pompano before the blow set in. Fishing didn’t resume again until Monday, but the bite was slower with strong winds still roughing things up. Along with the typical fare of mullet, spot, croaker and bluefish in the 3 to 4 pound range, a few puppy drum made an appearance.
Boats that typically work the offshore area out of Oregon Inlet Fishing Center were instead spending their time in port due to the foul weather. Some were able to get out Monday, and it was still rough. Those that did brave the swells managed to catch some yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, and released some billfish. Those that worked closer to shore found Spanish mackerel, bluefish, trout and false albacores.
Hatteras Inlet had similar problems with rough water, and the boats were unable to leave the dock until Monday. When they did manage to get out, dolphin were the main catch, with two reported releases of sailfish. Boats working in the sounds were able to catch speckled trout and bluefish.
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