Plans and Statistics Department Staff
The winds of the past week can be characterized as north. North, northwest, northeast, name a northerly wind, and sometime in the past week it has been part of a forecast. The good news is the fall run has begun! Spot, red drum (puppy and bulls), flounder, and many other species, are on the move. Find the right place in the lee of the wind, or your favorite pier, and take advantage of the fall bounty!
The new state record Croaker, caught by Norman Jenkins, has been examined. (Drum Roll Please). It was a healthy male, and only 8 years old! Go to pages 7 and 8 to see the updated press release for more information, including a photo of the otolith section that VMRC and ODU staff used to determine the age of the fish, and the original press release.
FINAL REMINDER! 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. Go online and register to vote on one of the three proposed options at WWW.VASALTWATERJOURNAL.COM . The online poll will end at 5:00 p.m. Monday, September 24, and the results of the poll will be provided to the Commission during the public hearing on Tuesday, September 25, 2007.
Flounder are beginning to move in, according to Donna at Captain Bob's. They are being landed in front of Little Beach, in the Assateague Channel, and in the area of Assateague Point, although the throw back ratio is roughly 9 to 1. With patience, anglers can catch a keeper. The Subway Cars have continued to produce flounder and spadefish, as well as some triggerfish. Most of the croaker have moved out, but a few stragglers in the 16 to 17 inch range were caught in front of Inlet View Campground last week. Bluefish (snapper blues) continue to be caught off of the surf, and some spot are lingering. Wahoo are being caught at the Norfolk Canyon. Staff at Captain Bob's is looking forward to a good weekend with high temperatures and nice fishing weather.
At the Wachapreague Marina, flounder fishing is picking up. Most have been caught near Cedar Island, and some very large croakers have been landed in that area as well. Numerous marlin are being caught offshore, while tuna fishing remains slow. No citations were reported this week.
According to Debbie at Captain Zed's, the windy conditions are preventing boaters from venturing out. Those who do are catching some nice flounder mixed with croaker, bluefish, and spot. Offshore action has been slow due to the weather, and anglers are reporting red drum landings bayside.
Windy conditions are keeping a lot of anglers onshore at Chris' Bait and Tackle. The catch this week was primarily flounder, and anglers are finding a lot of them near Kiptopeke. Flounder citations for the week include two (10 lbs 15 oz and 9 lbs 3 oz) caught by Kyle Dellinger at buoy 18, and a 7 lb 8 oz by Talma Dellinger also at Buoy 18. Corbett Johnson landed a 9 lb 2 oz flounder, and Jacob Kay and Phillip Johnson both landed citation flounder (7 lbs 7 oz and 7 lb 6 oz) from the pier at Kiptopeke. There were also two citation speckled trout releases (25 inches and 24 ½ inches) by Bernie Rolley.
Ernie at Cherrystone Bait and Tackle reported that crabbing has been good off of the pier, but most anglers are still waiting for speckled trout to arrive. Speckled trout are currently being caught at Smith Beach and Hungars Creek. The biggest fish of the week was a citation croaker weighing 4 lbs 2 oz caught by Porferio Pasia of New Jersey from the pier at Cherrystone.
Captain Wil reports that windy conditions have kept fishing to a minimum this week. However, the water quality has increased quite a bit from previous weeks. Flounder fishing has improved, and croaker and spot are biting. There are plenty of fish around, but anglers have to look around to find them. A few red drum and speckled trout are still showing up. Captain Wil is hoping for some nice fall fishing with larger flounder and the striped bass season coming up.
Cobb's Marina reports very little activity. Because of windy conditions and small craft advisories, no boats have left the marina since last Thursday.
At Wallace's Bait and Tackle, a citation cobia (70 lbs) was reported caught at Cape Henry using live eel. Windy conditions kept most anglers in this week.
Staff at Sunset Boating Center reported no activity due to wind and weather.
As with other lower bay areas, Salt Ponds Marina witnessed very little fishing last week. According to staff, the fish have been saved this week!
Anglers are catching spot at Gloucester Point Pier, according to staff at York River Fishing Center. Fishing there this week has tapered off due to windy conditions over the past week.
Ken Neill, reporting secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, contributed the following:
This northeast blow is a signal of change. The fantastic cobia and marlin fishing should be on the down swing now. Other fisheries will pick up. This blow signals the beginning of the fall spot run. The red drum bite has turned on. The run of big reds at the Sandbridge pier is on. Red drum continue to be caught in the bay also at places like Bluefish Rock and York Spit. Spanish mackerel are available at Cape Henry. Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and false albacore are available at the Chesapeake Light Tower. Drop a live croaker down and you have a good chance of hooking up with a big jack crevalle or amberjack. When it settles down, flounder fishing should be excellent along the Chesapeake Channel (Baltimore Channel) at the mouth of the bay. The fall speckled trout run should start to take off now. Look for fish on Poquoson Flats and inside of Back River. Offshore, billfish will continue to be caught, but more wahoo and tuna will enter the mix.
Dr. Julie Ball, IGFA International Representative for Virginia Beach, contributed the following:
Wind, wind, and more wind. A week of blustery conditions along the East coast will make things interesting this weekend when anglers finally get a break in the weather. Many will head out in search of straggling cobia and big red drum.
Cobia are still a possibility, but not for long. Look for fish in pods on the surface heading south, as well as fish hanging on buoys. But the big event of late is still the "Run of the Bulls." Each year as the big red drum migrate down the eastern shoreline, surf and pier anglers have their big chance at hooking one of these prized fighters. This event debuted last week, with dozens of bull reds already caught off the Little Island Fishing Pier, and off the beach from Sandbridge, down to False Cape. The northeast blow has made conditions perfect for targeting big red drum, which thrive in a disturbed wash. Spot heads, cut mullet, and cut bunker are the baits of choice. Red drum are also available along the lower bay shoals, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and the barrier islands along the Eastern Shore.
If puppy drum (juvenile red drum) is your passion, look among the breaking waves along Sandbridge, where pups up to 27-inches are favoring offerings of cut mullet on a fish finder rig. Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlet are also providing outstanding puppy drum action on jigs and cut bait. Reports of speckled trout up to 22-inches are coming from inside Lynnhaven Inlet, as well as Rudee, where a smattering of grey trout are also around. Specks are also available in Hungar's Creek.
Surf casters are looking forward to a great season, with croaker, spot, sea mullet, bluefish, puppy drum (juvenile red drum), and striped bass making a showing in the wash. This action will only improve as the fall season progresses.
Bloodworms are flying off the shelves since the spot scene exploded this week. Spot are on fire, with nice fish swarming within lower bay protected areas, inlets, and rivers. Anglers are pulling spot in as fast as they can from all the favorite locations such as Ocean View, Lynnhaven Inlet, Rudee Inlet, Willoughby, and the Oceanfront Piers. Hundreds of respectable fish hit the deck at the Little Island Fishing Pier, filling coolers for elated bottom-bouncers. The best action for the bigger spot is still yet to come, as the yellowbellies should show soon. Croaker are schooling around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and within Lynnhaven and Rudee inlets, where a few large croaker are falling to squid and shrimp.
Flounder continue to gather at the mouth of the bay, where the anglers braving the weather are finding good luck off Kiptopeke and around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. This is the time of year drift anglers score well along deeper channels and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Good catches of keeper flat fish are also coming from within Lynnhaven, where anglers have been congregating in protected waters to avoid the weather. Nice fish are collecting on inshore and offshore wrecks, along with good sized black sea bass and trigger fish.
Small stripers, small grey trout, and scattered bluefish, are around the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, especially at night.
Spanish mackerel, false albacore, and small kingfish are hitting trolled baits at the Chesapeake Light Tower. Big barracuda are also cruising the tower, with jack crevalle still a possibility. Large king mackerel are patrolling from the Chesapeake Light Tower down to False Cape, while schools of false albacore are roaming the same vicinities, which are a blast on light tackle.
Once the waters calm offshore, the prospect of good billfish action will entice boats to head to deep water, where the fish were in 500 fathoms and deeper before the blow. Nice yellowfin tuna are possible, with some fish pushing 70-pounds. False albacore are starting to become more abundant around the Fingers, and near the weather buoy. Wahoo of all sizes are a good bet with planers and dark-colored lures between the Canyon and the Cigar area in about 30 fathoms.
Roger Wilkins of Jett's Hardware reports that the catch of the day is bluefish, and lots of them. You can catch them by trolling by areas where they are working the surface or just blind trolling. There are still a good number of spot hanging around but it appears that the croakers have moved out of the area. One good area for spot has been Haynies Hole in the Great Wicomico River. There are still some Spanish mackerel moving through the area, probably because of the dry weather. If speckled trout is your species of choice they are around but no reports of where they are being caught.
Locklies Marina reports that most of the people fishing their area are going for spot. Still haven't seen the classic fall run but it isn't far off now. People are also finding some gray trout in the deeper holes and bluefish can be caught trolling or floating cut bait. There are some reports of black drum being caught and released around the Whitestone Bridge.
Capt. Jim Thompson of Deltaville, VA contributed the following:
The fish have been in good form during the past week. The spot are beginning to put on some weight and have increased in size over the past two weeks. In the Bay, off Gwynns Island, the catch has been very consistent and spot and trout are steady once you start them feeding. Do this by offering fresh worm in good sizes to attract the fish to the vessel. Once they are there and the feeding call begins, the fish will start fighting to get to the bait. Just remember you need to keep it fresh because once you stop, they are going to go to the next vessel. Deep Rock was great, as were the Cottages and the Hole in the Wall off of Gwynns Island. In the Piankatank River you could find spot and trout at the Mud Hole, Cherry Point, and the Number 5 day marker. The fish were smaller but were acceptable to most of the charters. In the Rappahannock River, you could find spot and trout on the Spike at the mouth of the river and in Butlers Hole off Windmill Point.Marina Channel marker 7 off Sturgeon Bar was great, as was the Lump off the silos, but only on a flood tide. The Spanish mackerel action has been cold this week (the weather has not been favorable to those desired the fish). However, they are there in good numbers, and you can see them jumping out of the water. The weather made fishing difficult, but a good catch was possible if you were patient. No flounder this past week, but a few sharks were caught in the bay.
At the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, no boats have gone out since this weekend due to rough conditions. This Saturday, the trips were successful with several tuna and false albacore. Both white and blue marlin have been caught, and while no sail fish were landed, there have been reports of some in the area. Inshore, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and croaker are biting around Cape Henry. Staff also mentioned that the boats are gearing up to begin their sea bass trips soon.
According to Paula at Fisherman's Wharf Marina, no boats have gone out over the past week due to the weather. However, some action is planned this week during an overnight tournament.
It looks like the mullet blow we had last weekend is paying off in terms of the spot run. Spot have been showing up in good numbers at the Ocean View Pier this week. No yellow bellies yet, but they are starting to put on some size, and what they lack in size they are making up for in numbers. In addition to the spot there are also some puppy drum making an appearance, as well as croaker.
The Virginia Beach Pier also reports that the spot are running strong. The puppy drum are around, and some are running at decent sizes.
The weather continued to be a problem over the past weekend with stiff winds keeping a large number of boats tied to the dock. The boats out of Nags Head that were able to work the offshore areas had success with billfish, but saw the catch rates on big eye tuna drop off. Large king mackerel made a modest showing closer to shore along with good-sized bluefish. Bottom droppers were able to find blueline tilefish, hake, triggerfish, black sea bass, and tautog. People working the inshore areas of the beaches had plenty of small bluefish and some good sized Spanish mackerel. In the inlets and sounds, people were able to catch their limit spotted seatrout and weakfish while working the shallow areas around the marsh islands. Sheepshead and black drum also made an appearance around the structure of the Oregon Inlet Bridge.
People fishing on the Avalon Pier found themselves facing a stiff east to northeast wind most of the weekend. This helped to keep the water temperatures up and the fishing fairly consistent. The end of the pier was producing bluefish and Spanish mackerel, while closer to shore people were finding the spot and mullet bite to be good. Other fish that could be found by those persistent few included puppy drum, speckled trout, and black drum.
South of Oregon Inlet, its beginning to look like fall with finger mullet in the surf. Anticipation is growing as people wait for the water temperature to drop a few more degrees. Outside the breakers, Spanish mackerel and bluefish are jumping, and the bluefish have some size to them. Sea mullet and spot are being caught at the Ramp 43 area, when the wind allows, and puppy drum, flounder, and pompano can be added to the list on South Beach. Behind the island, there are a lot of speckled trout to be found.
The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center hasn't been very active over the weekend, as the wind and swells played havoc for another weekend of fishing. Offshore boats were hit the hardest, and when they could get out, the fishing was tough with only a few big eye tuna, yellowfin tuna, and nine billfish hooked. Sound fishing was the best bet, allowing fishermen to get out of the wind and find flounder, bluefish, croaker, sea mullet, and speckled trout.
Fishermen working out of Hatteras Harbor didn't fare any better for offshore trips as they were almost completely blown out over the weekend. Inshore fishing managed to produce red drum, a few Spanish mackerel, and nice bluefish. Sound fishing had bluefish, speckled trout, and weakfish.
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