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The Saltwater Review - September 19, 2002

Volume 16. No.17
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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

OVERVIEW

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. 

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, where fish to nearly 4 pounds were caught last week. Barring any major storms, croaker in recent years have lingered at the baymouth into October.

The fall run of large yellow-bellied spot is underway on the lower Bay. Some of these tasty fish top the one-pound mark (big enough for a citation) but most are running between 8 and 10 ounces.

Trout, both grey and speckled are becoming more active as waters begin to cool, though waters at the baymouth remain a warm 76 degrees.

Chincoteague -

Captain Bob's reported trout were holding around "all the bridges" and biting after dark on the moving tide. Puppy drum were caught around buoy 15 and a few croaker still linger inside Queens Sound, where Jeff Hoote nailed a 3-pound, 3-ouncer. Offshore, weather took its toll on anglers but during periods of modest seas yellowfin tuna were caught. Citation yellowfin were boated by Kevin Dorsey at the Lumpy Bottom (81 pounds) and Tim Keebler at 30 fathoms (75 pounds, 3 ounces). Both were caught while chunking with frozen butterfish.

Barnacle Bill's said the crew aboard the TOOLS-OF-THE-TRADE landed eight yellowfin tuna on a recent outing, including an 84 pounder by Lee Behner and a 75 pounder by Donald Stokes. The tuna were caught while chunking at 30 fathoms. Inshore, the croaker have all but departed but trout are biting around the bridges.

Wachapreague -

Captain Zed's reported Maryland angler Greg Andrews caught and released a white marlin and boated a 26-pound dolphin on Saturday. The same day, the crew aboard the AMERICAN MAID landed six yellowfin tuna and boxed a nice catch of dolphin. Inshore ocean waters hold good numbers of sea bass and croaker, as both the FOXY LADY and SCORPIO returned with good weekend hauls. Inside the inlet, some keeper flounder were caught at the inlet and inside Cedar Island Cove while grey trout and a handful of speckled trout were caught near Drawing Channel.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle described weekend flounder catches as "scattered" with the best success off Kiptopeke. Trout up to 5 pounds are becoming more numerous at the Cement Ships and along the CBBT complex. Spot are biting around the Cement Ships and should be available at the mouth of Cape Charles Harbor.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported spot arrived in good numbers Saturday (September 14) and have been biting "real good" ever since. Most of these tasty bottom feeders run 8 to 10 inches long and prefer waters 25 to 32 feet deep over hard bottom. Some croaker still linger in area waters but most weigh less than a pound. Bottom fishermen are also pulling in sea mullet, bluefish, blowfish, porgy and small black drum. Anglers working the channel edges are catching good-sized flounder and some trout to 20 inches. Good numbers of puppy drum (juvenile red drum) and some speckled trout are holding in the grass beds surrounding Watts and Fox islands.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported good recent catches of flounder off Ocean View and along the small boat channel of the CBBT. Bottom fishermen are also catching croaker "all along the CBBT," as well as off Ocean View.

Bubba's Marina told of excellent catches of large croaker weighing up to 3-1/2 pounds around the First and Second islands and good numbers of flounder to 8-1/4 pounds around the First Island, Cape Henry Wreck and along the Baltimore Channel. Offshore boats recorded good catches of yellowfin tuna at the Fingers on Saturday while the splendid run of puppy drum (juvenile red drum) continued around the Lesner Bridge and inside the inlet.

Dr. Jim Wright said spot up to 12 ounces and large croaker to 2-1/4 pounds are holding inside Lynnhaven Inlet at Long Creek. Speckled trout have begun to show in such well known hot spots as Dunkard's Hole but many of these spotted fish are less than a foot long (the minimum size limit is 14 inches). Outside Lynnhaven Inlet, flounder are holding along the Baltimore Channel, just oceanside of the Third and Fourth islands. Outside the baymouth, Spanish mackerel and false albacore have discovered that large schools of cigar minnows have taken up residence around the legs of the Chesapeake Light Tower. Both fish can be caught casting or trolling. Further offshore, dependable numbers of yellowfin tuna plus some dolphin and white marlin, are available between the Fingers and Norfolk Canyon.

Wallace's Marina said the cobia bite has nearly come to a halt but they did weigh a 53-pound, 54-inch cobia for Ronny Lockhart. The citation catch was made on a live eel at Bluefish Rock on Friday the 13th. On the plus side, the fall run of spot is underway and speckled trout have begun to show at Poquoson Flats. Wireline trollers are catching more trout and some top 6 pounds. The area from the Third Island to the High Rise has been the most productive. These same waters continue to hold large flounder, as Grayson Martin nailed an 8-pound, 2-ounce flatfish at the Third Island on a live bait. Nearer to the dock, the Hump produced flounder to nearly 6 pounds over the weekend while Back River Reef was good for trout, spot, croaker, tautog and even sheepshead.

Johnny from Sunset Marina said the biggest flounder of the week to cross his scales came from Hampton Bar. Those with citation flatfish included Bill Harris (7-1/4 pounds) and Steve Casey (also 7-1/4 pounds) while S. Griggs boated a pair of 6 pounders. Brent Hesson was aboard the Venture Inn at the Hampton Bar and boated a 17-ounce spot. Croaker were also biting at Hampton Bar but the weekend's two biggest croaker, a 2-14 fish caught by Cheryl Brown and a 2-10 croaker caught by Aaron Bowmen, came from the HRBT.

Allen Vanasse from Vansse Bait and Tackle said the fall spot run was underway at Twin Stakes, the Hump and around buoy 5. "The fishermen are telling me they're getting them two-at-a-time," noted Allen and catches of over 100 fish have been reported.

Cindy from Salt Ponds Marina said the crew aboard the SARA SEA had an excellent day at the Norfolk Canyon on Friday, as Eddie Reel boated a 41-1/2-pound dolphin and released a white marlin while fishing partner Neil Cashman decked a 26-1/4-pound dolphin and also released a white. Mark Kolb weighed a 7-pound, 9-ounce flounder but was not interested in competing a citation entry, so Cindy was not sure where the big flatfish was caught but she indicated flounder were being caught just outside Salt Ponds.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club reported white and blue marlin, yellowfin tuna and big dolphin to 41-1/2 pounds at Norfolk Canyon. Inside the Bay, many club members concentrated on the fall run of large spot with Gene Hunsecker nailing a 24-ounce spot near the mouth of the York River. Other spot hot spots include Twin Stakes and Rudee Inlet.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported the charter boats have been working north of Smith Point Light, an area known as the Triangles, and catching a mixture of bluefish, large croaker and striped bass in their chum lines. Bottom fishermen recorded "fair" catches of spot at Blackberry Hang, the N2 buoy and at the mouth of the Rappahannock River. Small schools of trout to 3 pounds are moving through the area with the most consistent catches coming from the Asphalt pile and near the #1 buoy out of the Great Wicomico River.

Point Marina heard good weekend catches of taylor bluefish and striped bass were made while chumming near Smith Point Light.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said weekend flounder catches at the Cell/buoy 42 area were good for those anglers making the run across the Bay. Bob Edwards of Bohannon caught the weekend's biggest flatfish, a 7-pound, 14-ouncer, at buoy 42, where Arthur Eberhard of Sandston nailed a 3-pound, 13-ounce croaker. Trollers working off Windmill Point and near the Cell caught plenty of taylor bluefish and the occasional Spanish mackerel. Gray trout are aggregating along the channel edges off Windmill Point Bar. Big spot were caught at Butlers Hole, off Gwynn Island and around buoy 3 at Hole-in-the-Wall. The Piankatank River is producing speckled trout, pan trout, small puppy drum, croaker and a few large spot, like the foot-long, 19-ounce spot caught by Selena Engle of Topping.

Jack from Locklies Marina said the past week was a good one, as several citation-sized spot up to 22 ounces and a 3-pound, 1-ounce and a 3-pound, 3-ounce croaker were checked-in. The best catches of spot have come from around the mooring buoy located off White Stone and the #8 buoy off Mosquito Point (where both croaker were also caught). Jack said trout are also being caught locally, as one party boated five from 20 to 23 inches at the bridge.

Tommy Lewis from Garretts Marina said bottom fishermen are catching spot and croaker plus the occasional pan trout, just downriver from the marina, off Morattico.

Captain Jim Thompson at Windmill Point Marina reported excellent weekend catches of spot at Butlers Hole and the spike buoy located off Stingray Point. These fish are running large, according to Captain Thompson, as some spot measure up to 12 inches and weigh over 16 ounces. Pan trout are holding in the same area and bite best on slackwater. Trollers found bluefish up to 3 pounds in good supply off Windmill Point.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported good offshore action over the weekend, as Larry Robinson (35 pounds) and Anthony Rush (39 pounds) each boated citation wahoo aboard the FISH HAWK. Kody Aldrich released a white marlin and Lewis Elliot boated a 70-pound yellowfin tuna aboard the FROG PILE while the crew aboard the WAVERUNNER released four whites. Inshore, the headboat fleet is finding plenty of sea bass plus some triggerfish and flounder on the wrecks. Ennis Stringer pulled-in a 5-pound triggerfish aboard the SEA SPORT and Raymond Barrett decked a 7-pound, 6-ounce flounder aboard the SUPER SPORT.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina described weekend offshore action as "real good," as numbers of yellowfin tuna to 60 pounds, several citation wahoo and dolphin were brought to the dock while blue and white marlin were released. The best billfish action was just below the Norfolk Canyon while the "meatfish" bite was inshore, centered around the 400/900 lines. Inside the inlet, bottom fishermen are catching a mixture of spot and croaker.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Jim described the recent flounder bite has been "the best of the season," as the flatfish continue to bite even after sundown. Bottom fishermen are also catching spot, croaker to over 3 pounds and puppy drum plus pan trout at night. Casters working the end of the pier are catching some bluefish and Spanish mackerel.

Buckroe Beach - Bottom fishermen are catching a mixture of spot, croaker and flounder during the day and pan trout after dark. Several false albacore were also decked last week.

Harrison - Charley said four citation croaker from 3 pounds, 1 ounce up to 3 pounds, 13 ounces, were caught in recent days. The current run of flounder is the best of the season--one customer even had a limit of eight flatfish last week. The flounder are ranging in size from just legal (17-1/2 inches) up to 4 pounds, 11 ounces. Spot arrived in force last week and provided excellent action through the week on the evening tide.

Lynnhaven - Bottom fishermen are catching a mixture of spot, sea mullet and taylor bluefish plus an occasional speckled trout.

Virginia Beach - Good catches of yellow-bellied spot were recorded over the weekend but catches of these tasty bottom fish have slowed to a trickle since then. Other catches include croaker, bluefish, small puppy drum and the occasional trout. Water temperature at pierside was still a warm 75 degrees Wednesday (September 18). 

Sandbridge - Bottom fishermen caught a mixture of spot, croaker, puppy drum and speckled trout last week.

Outer Banks, NC -

On the heels of Gustav, bottom fishing from the beach and pier in the Nags Head area was good for large, yellow-bellied spot, small puppy drum and croaker to nearly 3 pounds. A few bluefish were pulled from the soiled waters on bait, heading into the weekend. By Saturday, clear water had moved into casting range from the ends of the piers with Spanish mackerel and bluefish providing good sport. In the surf zone, bottom fishermen enjoyed steady catches of spot, sea mullet and a few trout.

South of Oregon Inlet, anglers fishing from Cape Point at Buxton enjoyed good action on puppy drum and sheepshead at the jetties while bait fishermen working the Point had a smorgasbord of sea mullet, croaker, spot, black drum, puppy drum, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and pompano on Friday. Saturday, casters caught Spanish mackerel and bluefish "early and late" in the day while bottom fishermen recorded catches of spot, croaker, puppy drum, sea mullet and flounder. Sunday's action followed a similar pattern plus two small cobia were beached. 

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported inshore boats caught good numbers of Spanish mackerel and bluefish plus some false albacore the past several days while trolling near the mouth of the inlet. Bottom fishermen working the nearby wrecks managed some sea bass and triggerfish. On Friday, the bluewater fleet had good hauls of dolphin (mostly bailers) plus some billfish releases, yellowfin and wahoo. On Saturday, the fleet released over twenty white marlin, had more yellowfin tuna than prior days and weighed wahoo to 54 pounds. Sunday's results were similar except bigeye tuna made a strong showing, as fish to 161 pounds were checked-in. Bigeye tuna to nearly 200 pounds were landed Monday and Tuesday.

For the fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet, dolphin and wahoo dominated the recent catches with a scattering of yellowfin tuna, king mackerel and a few billfish also reported.


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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