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The Saltwater Review - September 24, 2002

Volume 16. No.18
by Lewis S. Gillingham


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. 

Many anglers are focusing on the fantastic fall run of jumbo croaker, as they move into deep water. Some of the best action is at 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 and this year should be no different.

The fall run of large yellow-bellied spot is underway with the mouths of the major rivers and the lower Bay the top locations. Pier anglers are also able to "cash-in" on the bonanza and when the run is on a 5-gallon bucket can be filled in less than a hour. Some of these tasty fish top the one-pound mark (big enough for a citation) but most are running between 8 and 10 ounces.

Offshore, yellowfin tuna, wahoo, dolphin and billfish remain available and catches have been good when the weather has cooperated for a few days in a row.

Ocean wrecks continue to hold plenty of sea bass plus some triggerfish, flounder, jack crevalle, Spanish mackerel and even barracuda.

Chincoteague -

Captain Bob's reported flounder fishing improved over the prior week with the Queen's Sound area the most productive. Bottom fishermen are also catching a mixture of bluefish, blowfish and tiny sea bass. Trout remain available around the bridges with best action coming after dark. Offshore, tuna fishing has been good "when they can get out." The best action has been at 30 fathoms, where trolling has become the preferred method. Trollers are also catching some dolphin, false albacore and the occasional wahoo.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported trollers working between the 30 fathoms fingers and the Washington Canyon enjoyed good weekend action on yellowfin and longfin tuna plus a few gaffer dolphin. William Perry III, was fishing at the Washington Canyon aboard the TEASER and caught and released a white marlin.

Captain Zed's said bottom fishermen are catching fair to good numbers of flounder but few are "keepers" with the current 17-1/2-inch minimum size limit. Anglers are also catching some croaker and pan trout. The shop described wreckfishing as "real good" with both the CANYON LADY and FOXY LADY returning with big hauls of large sea bass and some nice triggerfish. Offshore, the AMERICAN MAID and MISS POLY returned with a mixture of yellowfin, longfin and dolphin on Saturday. Both boats fished from 30 fathoms out to the Washington Canyon.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported bottom fishermen had good hauls of spot plus small pan trout (14-inch minimum size limit) and croaker just off the Cement Ships. Chris said larger trout, some topping 6 pounds, were caught around the High Rise and Fourth Island areas of the CBBT. The best recent catches of flounder were made at the High Rise and Cell. Jessie Collins had the week's only citation flounder, 7-1/4-pounder and it was caught at the High Rise. Gary Seay boated what was likely the largest speckled trout caught since early spring. The huge speck weighed 9-1/4 pounds and was pulled from Hungars Creek. Beverly Woolridge was fishing on the banks of Cherrystone Creek and beached a 3-pound, 9-ounce croaker. Robert Savage Jr., earned release awards for both cobia (46-1/2 inches) and red drum (49-3/4 inches) at buoy 16 while Joseph Konefalls weighed in a 68-pound, 2-ounce cobia that was caught at buoy 40A.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen at Fish and Finn Charters reported spot provided good weekend action with some of the fish nearly 12 inches. Some croaker to nearly 2 pounds still linger in local waters while sea mullet and trout numbers are improving. Trout to over 6 pounds are holding in deepwater near Stone Rock but most schools of open water trout contain fish 12 to 18 inches long (minimum size is 14 inches). Schools of 1 to 3 pound bluefish are scattered throughout this area while speckled trout to over 5 pounds and plenty of puppy drum are holding around Watts, Tobacco and Fox islands. Open water bottom fishermen are also catching a mixture of pigfish, porgy and blowfish. Surface water temperatures have cooled slightly and range between 72 to 73 degrees.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported good catches of large croaker around the First and Second islands and decent numbers of flounder along the CBBT complex and the ODU reef site. Roger Jensen of Chesapeake boated a 17-inch, 3-pound croaker on shrimp along the oceanside of the First Island while Greg Powell, also from Chesapeake nailed a 7-1/4-pound flounder at the ODU reef on squid.

Bubba's Marina said huge croaker, many topping 3 pounds are holding around the First and Second islands and along the edge of the shipping channel. Flounder remain available in the same area, as well as around the Cape Henry Wreck site. Offshore boats recorded good catches of yellowfin tuna plus scattered catches of wahoo and dolphin at the Fingers and near the NOAA weather buoy on Saturday. Puppy drum (juvenile red drum) and large croaker remain available inside Lynnhaven Inlet and around the Lesner Bridge.

Dr. Jim Wright also spoke of loads of big croaker, up to nearly 3 pounds, around the First Island, under the Lesner Bridge and in Long Creek. Puppy drum, most running 15 to 17 inches (juvenile drum carry an 18-inch minimum size limit) remain abundant inside Lynnhaven while decent numbers of large sea mullet were caught just outside the inlet. Some of the better weekend catches of flounder were made along the Timble Shoal Channel, just east of the First Island. Dr. Jim added that the offshore fleet sailing from Rudee had some "awesome" catches of yellowfin tuna recently.

Wallace's Marina said flounder and trout fishing picked up last week. Some the better flounder hauls were made at the Hump, around the Third and Fourth islands and off the Cement Ships. Best trout action came from the Hampton Bar and Back River Reef. Chris Cox released a pair of big tautog, at 21-1/2 and 22 inches, at Back River Reef. Chris used peeler crab for bait. A few more speckled trout were caught on Poquoson Flats over the weekend, where Dave Moss landed trout to 23 inches. Out at the Tower Reef, Larry Jackson (44 inches) and John Schnautz (45-1/2 inches) each released jack crevalle.

Johnny from Sunset Marina said the HRBT was the spot for jumbo croaker over the weekend, as Stan Page (3 pounds, 5 ounces), Myra Thompson (3 pounds, 3 ounces), Chris Hall (3 pounds, 2 ounces) and Anton Byrd (3 pounds, 2 ounces) all checked-in citation winning hardheads. Rodney Howard boated a 17-ounce spot at the HRBT but the hot spot for jumbo spot was the M & M crossing, where Beverly Credle (20 ounces) and husband William (17 ounces), Mike Welch (16 ounces), Mark Packler (17 ounces), Bill Carter (17 ounces) and Michael Haddock (16 ounces) all boated big spot. Keith Price was fishing off Grandview and boated a late season cobia big enough for a citation at 59 pounds. Johnny added that decent hauls of flounder were made at Hampton Bar but "no citations this week."

Vanasse Bait and Tackle told of good weekend catches of large spot at Twin Stakes and around the #5 buoy off Poquoson River while flounder were biting at the Hump.

Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina said the crew aboard the WILD BLUE WONDER fished offshore last weekend and returned with a nice catch of dolphin.

A & S Feed and Bait Supply said big croaker still linger inside the York River with mixed catches of spot, croaker, pan trout and even flounder made around the Gloucester Point area and off Cheatham Annex at the Lumps.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported surgical tubes were the hot "new" lure for bluefish, as trollers had good catches of 2 to 4-pound fish working between Smith Point Light and the Asphalt Pile. Roger said trollers were only picking up an occasional Spanish mackerel but they were all large fish, "bigger than anything we've had all year." Pan trout are holding around the Asphalt Pile and across the channel, in 50 to 60 feet of water, where some croaker still linger. Spot are being caught just inside the Rappahannock at Blackberry Hang.

The charter fleet from Smith Point Marina has been catching lots of taylor bluefish and school stripers (Maryland waters) while local bottom fishermen are finding spot around the mouth of the river. Trout, some nearing 5 pounds, are holding around the Smith Point Light.

Jerry Thrash at Queen's Creek Outfitters said good weekend weather brought out the fishermen and the fish. Big spot were caught at Butlers Hole, the #3 spike buoy on the Rappahannock and near the pound net at Cherry Point. Don W. Deaton of Cobbs Creek caught a 13-inch spot that weighed 19 ounces. Good hauls of 3 to 4-pound flounder were recorded at the Cell/buoy 42 area and around buoy 36. Anglers fishing inside the Piankatank caught speckled trout, pan trout, small puppy drum, croaker and spot. 

Jack at Locklies Marina also spoke of excellent weekend catches of large spot. Best locations in his section of the river came from Carters Creek, the mooring buoy off the Pickle Factory and further downriver at Butlers Hole. A few croaker still linger in the river and a 11-pound "puppy" drum was boated over the weekend.

Garretts Marina said bottom fishermen are still catching spot plus a few croaker and pan trout with some of the best action off Morattico.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina reported excellent weekend catches of large spot plus some pan trout at Butlers Hole, the spike buoy located off Deltaville and the waters off Gwynn Island near the campground. Trollers working off Windmill Bar recorded limit catches of Spanish mackerel plus some taylor bluefish on small gold spoons.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the headboat BOBBI-LEE returned with a good catch of sea bass and triggerfish on Friday. The catch included a 4-pound, 9-ounce citation triggerfish, caught by Michael Sacks of Smithfield and a 5-pound, 9-ounce sea bass, caught by Dennis Walton. Horace White landed a 32-pound wahoo aboard the O FOUR the same day. On Saturday, the charter fleet recorded good catches of yellowfin tuna and dolphin between the Fingers and the Norfolk Canyon. The O FOUR and BACKLASH each released a pair of white marlin.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina described the past week as a "real good one for meatfish," as boats fishing near the NOAA weather buoy had nice catches of yellowfin tuna and wahoo plus a scattering of dolphin. Several billfish were caught and released out near the Norfolk Canyon.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Flounder and spot provided most of the past week's action. After dark, pan trout are attracted to pier lights. 

Buckroe Beach - Bottom fishermen are catching a mixture of spot, sea mullet and flounder during the day and pan trout after dark. Puppy drum are also biting but rarely meet the 18-inch minimum size limit.

Harrison - Charley said the big draw has been the evening and after dark run of jumbo spot. Bottom fishermen are also catching loads of puppy drum but few meet the 18-inch minimum size limit. Flounder were caught the past week, not in the numbers of the prior week (when at least one angler decked an 8-fish limit) but there was a 7-pound, 6-ounce flatfish. Charley added that a few speckled trout are starting to show.

Lynnhaven - Bottom fishermen are catching a mixture of spot, sea mullet and taylor bluefish plus a few speckled trout, puppy drum and flounder.

Virginia Beach - Strong runs of big spot and large croaker provided chaotic action at times. Lots of puppy drum were reported but most are less than the 18-inch minimum size limit. Other catches include bluefish, sea mullet, a keeper flounder or two and even false albacore. Water temperature at pierside remained a warm 76 degrees.

Sandbridge - Spot and croaker provided fine action the past week. Some of the spot top 3/4 of a pound while the bigger croaker weigh a solid 1-1/2 pounds or more. Several large red drum were caught and released from the end of the pier. Other catches include sea mullet, speckled trout and even a few striped bass (the coastal striped bass season is open but striped bass must measure 28 inches or more).

Outer Banks, NC -

Shorebound anglers working the Nags Head area beaches caught a variety of fish in the past week, including spot, snapper bluefish, small puppy drum, flounder and even pompano but only the spot and blues were numerous at times. Pier anglers sampled from the same menu of fish but add Spanish mackerel and false albacore to the list. Again, spot and snapper bluefish provided the most furious action.

South of Oregon Inlet, Spanish mackerel and taylor blues provided near continuous daytime action Friday through Sunday at Cape Point on Buxton. The Red Drum Tackle Shop described Saturday's Spanish mackerel "attack" as the best all season. Sunday's action was highlighted by a 60-pound cobia!

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported their headboat was catching a wide variety of fish, including bluefish, croaker, speckled trout, flounder, triggerfish, pigfish and sea bass. On Friday, the offshore fleet recorded good catches of king mackerel and false albacore and decent numbers of dolphin plus some billfish and a few yellowfin tuna. Saturday, the fleet released good numbers of billfish and boated lots of bailer dolphin and some blackfin and yellowfin tuna and wahoo. Sunday, the fleet returned with bigeye tuna to 143 pounds plus some dolphin, yellowfin tuna, blackfin tuna, wahoo and king mackerel. The days catch also included released sailfish, blue and white marlin. Monday's catches were similar with bigeye tuna highlighting the "meatfish" bite. On Tuesday the crew aboard the HIGH RETURN came in with an 870-pound blue marlin. The fish became tail-wrapped during the fight and the crew determined the fish would not survive if released.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed good action on dolphin and wahoo on Friday. The BOSS LADY returned with the day's biggest wahoo at 73 pounds while Benjamin Knott and Mark Gravitt, both from Clarksville, each released a sailfish aboard the NANCY K. On Saturday, the dolphin and wahoo action continued but the charter fleet also reported a scattering of yellowfin and king mackerel. Jeff Powell of Chesapeake caught and released a sailfish aboard the TUNA DUCK. Sunday saw some the best catches of wahoo of the season with some boats returning with as many as eight. Bailed dolphin and a scattering of yellowfin tuna were 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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