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The Saltwater Review - July 11, 2001

Vol. 15, No. 9
by Lewis S. Gillingham

The VMRC held a public hearing to finalize the closed period for the 2001 Recreational Summer Flounder fishery, Tuesday, May 22, 2001. The minimum size limit for Summer Flounder will remain at 15-1/2 inches and the possession limit is 8-fish but the closed period has been extended and will be 24 July 2001 through 7 August 2001.

Anglers are reminded that a 12-inch size limit and 4-fish possession limit is in effect from May 1 through August 15 for weakfish (grey trout).

Anglers are reminded that the Black Sea Bass minimum size limit is 11 inches with a 25-fish possession limit. The recreational season for Black Sea Bass will be closed from July 15, 2001 through August 14, 2001.

Bluefin tuna have arrived off Virginia's coast. The NMFS has adjusted angling category retention limit for Atlantic bluefin tuna for the upcoming season. A copy of this notice is attached.

Bluefin tuna in excess of 100 pounds were reported from the 26 Mile Hill, the Parking Lot, lumpy bottom, near the tip of the Washington Canyon, along the edge of the Norfolk Canyon and on the Fingers and limit catches (see the attached NMFS notice) were not uncommon.

Cobia appear to be scattering from the favored spring haunt off Grandview and are likely to be spotted anywhere on the lower Bay. Some of the best recent hauls were made off Cape Charles.

The frenzied spadefish bite at the Tower Reef has slowed, though plenty of fish still reportedly circle the area. More consistent action is now being reported from individual wrecks and the CBBT.

Flounder action remains surprisingly good for mid-summer along the seaside while flatfish have shifted to their deepwater hangouts in the Bay--most notably the Cell/buoy 42 area. Wachapreague Cape Charles Onancock Lower Bay/
Bridge Tunnel
Virginia Middle Bay Virginia Beach Virginia Piers Outer Banks, NC

Chincoteague -
Fair to good numbers of keeper flounder are still being caught inside the inlet with the main channel and deeper holes at Four Mouths and Queen's Sound the top choices. Citation flounder were caught by Outen Reed (7 pounds) and George Hiob (6 pounds, 2 ounces), according to Captain Bob's. Bottom fishermen are also catching some bluefish, croaker and a few trout. Schools of Spanish mackerel are working just outside the inlet, according to Barnacle Bill's, while bluefin and chopper blues were caught at the Parking Lot and lumpy bottom and yellowfin tuna at the Washington Canyon.

The mid-summer flounder bite remains surprisingly good at Wachapreague, where Norman Leed weighed a 6-1/4 pounder at Captain Zed's on Saturday. North Carolina angler Jerry Crews checked-in an 8-pound, 11-ounce flatfish at Wachapreague Marina. Most of the better catches of flounder are coming from the deeper portions of the channel near the inlet. Croaker have arrived and a few spot have been reported. 

Offshore, large yellowfin and bluefin were caught as close as the 21 Mile Hill and out to the Washington Canyon. Charles Morgan III of Onancock trolled-up a 130-pound bluefin, according to Captain Zed's, while Bob Hickman of Atlantic weighed a 126 pounder at Wachapreague Marina. What may have been the largest bluefin boated last week was fought by several anglers in the party aboard the JANIE-MAC. Citation yellowfin tuna were also caught by Robert Edmonds (80-1/4 pounds) and Howard Raiford (70 pounds) while David Moore reeled-in a 17-3 false albacore.

Cape Charles
Fair to excellent catches of cobia were recorded off Cape Charles the past week. Chris' Bait and Tackle registered five release citations for cobia ranging from 44-1/2 to 54 inches and two "weigh-ins" with the heaviest scaling 68 pounds. The weekend's most impressive cobia "catch" was turned-in by the crew aboard EGGS-TO-SEA, as they caught and released twenty-nine cobia in a single outing! Big flounder were reported at the Cell\buoy 42 area, the High Level Bridge and the Cement Ships, where Ray Goode boated his citation-winning 7-pound, 3-ouncer.

On the seaside, croaker have arrived off Oyster, where other catches include flounder, trout and sea mullet. Offshore, bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna and a few dolphin were caught in the vicinity of the 26 Mile Hill.

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charter reported excellent catches of 1 to 2-pound croaker off Onancock. Flounder numbers continue to improve while pan trout numbers were rated just "fair." Bottom fishing parties are catching large spot each trip but the fish are not concentrated in large schools. One to three-pound bluefish are caught while bottom fishing and active surface feeding schools are usually spotted early and late in the day. Bottom fishermen usually see an assortment and small sharks and various rays in the course of an outing. 

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -
Cobia, flounder and spadefish highlight the action near the CBBT and Baymouth. Best hauls of cobia were reported at Latimer Shoals and the Inner Middle Grounds. Flounder were caught near the bridge crossing, around the islands, east of the CBBT along the channel edges of the two shipping channels and around the Cape Henry Wreck. Spadefish were caught around the islands and pilings closest to the islands of the CBBT but the bayside portion of the Third and Fourth islands produced the most consistent catches. Fair to good numbers of bluefish are holding in the tide rips created by the islands but Spanish mackerel were scarce. 

In the Grandview/Buckroe section of the Bay, cobia remain available in the general vicinity of Bluefish Rock and York Spit, though their number and size has waned in recent weeks. Wayne Ketterman landed a 60-pound, citation cobia at York Spit Light last week. Croaker still dominate the bottom fishing, though decent catches of flounder are still being recorded, especially around Back River Reef, the mouth of Back River and Hampton Bar.

Virginia Middle Bay -
In the mid-portion of the Bay, the summertime fishery for trophy-sized flounder is near its peak in the buoy 42/Cell area. This area is producing quality flatfish in excess of 6-pounds on a routine basis, though limit catches (eight flounder) are not common. Spadefish and trout are holding around the Cell while spadefish are also available at Wolf Trap Light. Croaker are being caught in most portions of the Rappahannock and York rivers while fair to good numbers of spot were reported in the mid-portion of the Rappahannock. Trollers pulling small spoons are having success on both Spanish mackerel and taylor blues at the mouth of the Rappahannock.

Virginia Beach -
The headboat fleet sailing from Rudee Inlet recorded decent catches of sea bass plus a few flounder around the Tower Reef and several inshore wrecks. Spadefish action slowed considerably at the Tower Reef, though the fish remain seemingly abundant. The bluewater fleet worked mainly between the Fingers and Norfolk Canyon. For trollers, the tuna bite, both bluefin and yellowfin, slowed from the prior week, though bluefin in excess of 200 pounds were reportedly hooked and lost. Ocean waters near the canyon became uniformly warm the past week and concentrations of fish (tuna or dolphin) were hard to locate. Some of the best hauls of tuna in recent days were recorded by boats that either anchored or drifted at the Fingers and chunked with butterfish, though the bite slowed over the weekend as the private boat fleet expanded in number. Prior to the weekend, limits of bluefin (see enclosed notice from the NMFS) plus some yellowfin tuna and occasional dolphin were a normal day's catch. Donald Crist (112 pounds) and Danny Forrest (104-1/2 pounds) each boated citation-winning bluefin tuna at the Fingers last week. Boats making the trip to the South Tower (listed as the A Tower on most charts) found plenty of large, hungry and aggressive amberjack. Live baits were not required but certainly good insurance if the jacks became more selective.

Inside Rudee Inlet, large spot of nearly 12 ounces were reported, though 1/2 to 1-pound croaker were decidedly more abundant. Good numbers of flounder were also available, though the majority were under the 15-1/2-inch minimum size limit. Snapper blues and Spanish mackerel are holding around the mouth of the inlet with best action early and late in the day--when boat traffic is light.

Virginia Piers
The two ocean piers and Buckroe and Grandview piers all had decent runs of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues the past week. Best catches correlated with high tide and dawn and dusk. Bottom fishing tended to be fair at best during the mid-day periods but most piers reported pan trout around the pier lights after dark, as well as more aggressive action from croaker and spot. Cobia remain a possibility at the Sandbridge, Buckroe Beach and Grandview piers. 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.

Click on Newsletter link to get to the index of previous Saltwater Reviews

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