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The Saltwater Review - September 25, 2003

Volume 17. No. 17
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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


Many reporting stations were still without power/phone service as this report was compiled or had suffered significant damage, so many normal contributors are not listed. Damage appears to have been most intense along the Western Shore of the Bay, though the Eastern Shore was not completely spared.

Boaters should exercise extreme caution, as huge amounts of floating debris are reported throughout the lower Bay and Western Shore tributaries.

Since the end of last year, regulations for black sea bass, grey trout and red drum have been modified.

For black sea bass, the minimum size limit has been increased to 12 inches while the possession limit remains 25 fish. The summer closed period ran from September 2 through September 15 and the season is now open. A winter closed period will run from December 1 through December 31.

The minimum size limit for grey trout is 12 inches and the possession limit is 7 fish year round.

For red drum (i.e. puppy drum), the slot limit was reduced to 18 to 26 inches and the possession limit reduced to a 3 fish possession limit. Fishermen (recreational and commercial) can no longer possess any red drum greater than 26 inches.

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.

Chincoteague -

Captain Bob's was open and had survived the hurricane with little or no damage but had no fishing information. "We just haven't anybody out fishing."

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina experienced a higher than normal tide and "we got a little wet" but the marina and all the boats are fine. Several charter craft fished offshore on Sunday and had mixed catches of yellowfin and dolphin in 30 to 50 fathoms.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle said few people were fishing but most "were still cleaning up" following the passage of Hurricane Isabel. The Coast Guard has been warning boaters about the huge amount of floating debris and urging boaters to return to port before dark. The few anglers that had fished since the hurricane managed a few keeper flounder in the vicinity of buoy 36A.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported good catches of large spot and decent numbers of medium croaker since the hurricane. A few of the spot measure 12 inches or more and are beginning to develop a strong yellow hue. Bottom fishermen are also catching snapper bluefish, sea mullet, pigfish, a few flounder and some pan trout. Captain Will said the surface water temperature four miles off Onancock was 70.1 degrees and "loaded with bait." School sized striped bass and speckled trout are becoming more active along the inshore creek entrances.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Most of the boats housed inside the various dry storage units located inside Lynnhaven and Little Creek inlets survived hurricane Isabel without damage. Most of the early reports of damaged/sunken boats have concerned boats slipped at private facilities.

Dr. Jim Wright said spot to over a pound were biting inside Lynnhaven inlet, along Long Creek. Dr. Jim's heaviest weighed 18 ounces. Since the passage of Hurricane Isabel, speckled trout have made an impressive showing inside Rudee Inlet. Dr. Jim knew of one boat that fished offshore on Sunday and they released a white marlin.

Sunset Marina said the shop survived in good shape but had little fishing activity to report. On Sunday, the crew aboard the MATTIE J choose to stay close to port, fished the HRBT with flyfishing gear and caught a mixture of school stripers (catch and release only until October 4) and taylor bluefish.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina described the past several days as "a rough ride" and the marina still was without power mid-week. The contents in the bait freezer were saved by generator power and the shop was open. As for water damage, "no water got into the store but it came so close."

Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina said the power was back on in a few days and the facility survived "very well" with only some ripped canvas and missing dock boxes.

Virginia Middle Bay

Heidi Wilkins from Jetts Hardware said the shop lost power for six days and "we lost a freezer full of bait" but no structural damage was sustained. Not surprisingly, "people just aren't fishing," according to Heidi, who expects normal activity next week.

Smith Point Marina was still operating on generator power mid-week but the marina suffered no damage from the hurricane. One charter vessel fished since the storm and returned from the Maryland portion of the Bay with a mixed catch of school-sized striped bass and taylor blues.

Virginia Beach -

The fleet of boats from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center moved to protected waters prior to the hurricane and are just getting ready for business. The headboats in particular should see good catches of black sea bass on the inshore wrecks (the season was closed for two weeks and re-opened September 16) and jumbo croaker around the mouth of the Bay.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said the fixed docks at the marina sustained slight damage but the marina made out "OK." The crew aboard the CANYON EXPRESS fished Saturday and released a white marlin and boated several gaffer dolphin.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Badly damaged and still closed.

Buckroe Beach - Badly damaged and still closed.

Harrison - Completely demolished.

Lynnhaven - Lost a significant portion on the end but has re-opened. Bottom fishermen are catching jumbo spot and a few taylor bluefish.

Virginia Beach - Lost a portion of the end of the pier but has re-opened.

Sandbridge - The pier survived but the newly re-built access ramp was destroyed. The pier is closed--possibly for the remainder of the year.

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach fishing came to a complete stand still last week and all the Nags Head area piers suffered significant damage. Only the Avalon and Rodanthe piers have re-opened at this time.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center lost a significant amount of dock facilities. Most of the fishing vessels were moved into land based boat yards prior to the storm and all but one of the charter boats survived in good shape.

Hatteras Island suffered the greatest damage, as a new inlet was cut between the sound and the ocean just south of the Frisco Pier. The island remains without power or water and access is limited to emergency personnel.

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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