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The Saltwater Review - October 2, 2002

Volume 16. No.19
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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


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

Big sea mullet are showing around the mouth of the Bay, at Rudee Inlet and in the surf from Croatan Beach to below the Sandbridge Pier.

Puppy drum (juvenile red drum) remain unusually abundant in many locations from the Virginia Beach surf to the Virginia\Maryland border inside the Bay. Anglers are reminded that the minimum size limit is 18 inches. The fish can easily be identified by one or more spots (ocellus) on the tail portion of the fish.

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 -

Donna from Captain Bob's reported B.J. Meadows landed a 27-inch, 7-1/2-pound flounder on a live minnow in Queen's Sound. Flounder were also caught around buoy 14 and off the memorial park but most of these flatfish were under the 17-1/2-inch minimum size limit. Bottom fishermen caught a mixture of spot and blowfish in Assateague Channel while nighttime anglers enjoyed good success on trout around the bridge pilings. Offshore, few boats were out recently due to weather but earlier in the week the crew aboard the TIDERUNNER fished the Norfolk Canyon and had a good catch of yellowfin tuna plus some bailer dolphin.

Wachapreague -

Captain Zed's said James Mayfield released a white marlin out in the Washington Canyon aboard the AMERICAN MAID. The same trip produced a nice catch of tuna and dolphin. Inshore, wreck fishing for sea bass was very productive while flounder action improved, especially around the inlet near the Coast Guard Station.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported a slow weekend of fishing due to the weather. Some "throwback" flounder were caught around the Ships on Saturday. On Sunday, Dennis Hare traveled out into the Bay to the Cell and returned with a 10-pound, 2-ounce flounder. A mixture of panfish, spot, sea mullet, medium croaker and pan trout were caught from the State Park Pier at Kiptopeke.

Onancock -

Spot were the highlighted species for bottom fishermen off Onancock, as fish topping 16 ounces were pulled-in last week. Pan trout are becoming more predictable as the fish school in tighter groups along the shipping channel edges and over structure such as Stone Rock. Anglers working the grassy shallows around Watts Island are managing some speckled trout, lots of small puppy drum plus the occasional lunker to over 40 inches and even a few striped bass pushing 20 pounds.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported big spot are back inside Little Creek, as David Wright caught a 19-ounce spot near the Shore Drive Bridge. The marina also heard of good catches of flounder along the CBBT complex.

Bubba's Marina told of plenty of big flounder from the Lesner Bridge, where an 8-pounder was caught, and all along the CBBT to the rockpile at the High Rise. Good flounder catches were also recorded along the Baltimore and Thimble Shoals channels, out away from the bridge. Speckled trout numbers inside Lynnhaven Inlet are increasing, as puppy drum remain abundant.

Dr. Jim Wright also told of loads of small puppy drum, most under the 18-inch size limit, inside Lynnhaven Inlet. A recent offshore trip to Norfolk Canyon produced a 37-pound longfin tuna but little else. So the group headed into the Chesapeake Light Tower and boated a mixture of snake king mackerel and Spanish mackerel to 3 pounds. Dr. Jim had also received reports indicating that cobia were still hanging on the ocean buoys.

Wallace's Marina reported Back River Reef produced good catches of trout, flounder, croaker and tautog. Harry Edestein (21-1/2 inches) and Terry Lowry (22 inches) each earned release awards for tautog at the reef while Thomas McDonald boated a 3-pound, 10-ounce croaker. Good hauls of flounder were recorded at the Hump, Concrete Ships, the High Rise and the Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT. The High Rise section of the CBBT was a wire-line hot spot for trout the past week. The same technique is also producing some keeper flounder and bluefish. A scattering of speckled trout were caught on Poquoson Flats and just inside Back River.

Sunset Marina checked-in over a dozen, citation-winning spot for anglers on the weekend and most were caught at or near the M & M crossing, including those caught by Mike Kyle (18 ounces), Donna Kyle (17 ounces), Mike Brown (17 ounces) and Chris Hall (18 ounces). Ricky Hall boated a 17-ounce spot at Twin Stakes while Wilbert Lovett Jr. landed an 18-ounce spot at the HRBT. Other than spot, weekend catches included some trout and croaker at the M & M crossing. 

Allen Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle described the current flounder bite as "very good" with some of the biggest flatfish and better hauls coming from the CBBT complex and off Fort Monroe. Anglers fishing the Twin Stakes area are also catching flounder, according to Allen , while Factory Point is yielding a mixture of croaker and spot and puppy drum are holding just inside Back River.

Cindy from Salt Ponds Marina described the weekend "pretty quiet" due to the windy weather but did hear croaker and flounder were biting at the CBBT. Bernard Friedland weighed-in an 18-ounce spot that was caught at the M & M crossing.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply rated bottom fishing inside the York River as "real good" for a mixture of croaker, big spot and trout. Some of the best hauls of trout are coming from the Cheatham Annex area while the best concentration of large spot was located at the mouth of Sarah's Creek. Chuck added that there were "oodles" of small puppy drum in the grass beds along the shoreline.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club wire-lined the HRBT and caught plenty of grey trout up to 27 inches. Other information suggested good numbers of nice spot still congregate around Twin Stakes while the offshore tuna bite is improving daily while a few billfish still linger in the same waters. Wahoo remain available in the vicinity of the Cigar.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported spot to over 16 ounces were biting at Blackberry Hang and around many of the oyster beds located near the mouth of the Rappahannock River, plus some croaker still linger in the area. Trollers are finding plenty of taylor blues near the Asphalt Pile while bottom fishermen working the same waters are catching a mixture of bluefish and trout.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said poor weekend weather conditions kept most anglers in the creeks and protected portions of the rivers. Fortunately, the fish cooperated. Large spot were caught in Butlers Hole, around the buoy 3 at the spike, inside the Piankatank at the Mud Hole and off the Gwynn Island Reef. Speckled trout, small puppy drum, croaker and spot were caught inside the Piankatank River and at Hole-in-the-Wall. Winfield Taylor of Hopewell boated a 19-ounce spot aboard the PROVIDENCE.

Jack from Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen loaded up on jumbo spot all week, as the shop registered over two-dozen citation spot (16 ounces or more). Included in those registering citation spot were James Reed (17 ounces, Parrot Island), W.L. Canada (18 ounces, off White Stone Beach) and Gary Jeffries (18 ounces, off White Stone Beach). Jack said Ralph Norcom caught half-a-dozen black drum up to 8 pounds and knew of flounder to 22 inches and puppy drum to 20 inches that were caught the past week.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said a Richmond party filled coolers full of spot to over a pound at Butlers Hole over the weekend. Pan trout are in the same area but only about "1 in 8" meets the 14-inch minimum size limit, according to Captain Thompson. Chummers are catching plenty of taylor bluefish weighing up to 3 pounds at Windmill Bar.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center had a slow week overall due to rough sea conditions but a day early in the week produced good hauls of yellowfin tuna and dolphin while the few boats that fished Sunday returned with fair catches of yellowfin tuna and some bailer dolphin. The headboat fleet continues to do well on the inshore ocean wrecks for sea bass "when they can get out." Inside the inlet, bottom fishermen had spot to over 16 ounces and croaker topping 3 pounds.

Boats docked at Fisherman's Wharf Marina were idled most of the week due to weather but the few that went out managed several longfin tuna at the Norfolk Canyon, some yellowfin and dolphin between the Fingers and the Norfolk Canyon and school king mackerel and large Spanish mackerel around the Chesapeake Light Tower. 

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Bottom fishermen are catching mostly spot, croaker, sea mullet and puppy drum. A few striped bass, legal-sized pan trout (14 inches) and flounder were also reported.

Buckroe Beach - Anglers are catching a wide variety of fish including croaker, spot, flounder, puppy drum, pompano, pan trout, striped bass, false albacore and shark. 

Harrison - Charley said the weekend produced excellent runs of spot with most of the fish running 12 to 14 ounces and the heaviest went 20 ounces. Best action was on the evening tide. Speckled trout and puppy drum were also caught but many of both species were under the minimum size limit (14 inches for speckled trout and 18 inches for red drum).

Lynnhaven - Nighttime activity remains good for pan trout, croaker, sea mullet and some spot. Other catches include puppy drum, speckled trout and striped bass.

Virginia Beach - Bottom made catches of sea mullet, puppy drum (a few had met or exceeded the 18-inch minimum size in recent days), striped bass and bluefish. Earlier in the week, when the winds were northeast the spot were biting "pretty good," according to the pier spokesperson. Water temperature at pierside remains a balmy 77 degrees. 

Sandbridge - Bottom fishermen are catching a mixture of spot, sea mullet, puppy drum, croaker and even pompano. Several large red drum were caught and released the past week. Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish are caught from the end of pier on high tide when clear water prevails.

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach and pier fishing perked-up mid-week, as a cold front pushed through the area. Before waters became too rough, beach fishermen had a mixture of small puppy drum, spot, sea mullet and bluefish. Pier anglers had the same species but in greater quantity, plus some false albacore, speckled trout, croaker, small black drum and even pompano.

South of Oregon Inlet, beach fishermen found a mixture of small pompano, flounder, bluefish, sea mullet and spot between Salvo and Avon. At Cape Point on Buxton, anglers caught sea mullet and bluefish despite winds to 30 knots. Not much going on Saturday (due to weather) but red drum to 44 inches were caught early Sunday and a good bite of big channel bass occurred Sunday night. By Monday, seas had calmed and waters cleared and no red drum were caught but spot, pompano, and flounder did make a decent showing.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported decent catches of croaker, bluefish, pigfish and sea mullet the past several days. Inshore boats did well on Spanish mackerel, taylor blues and false albacore. Offshore, the bluewater fleet reported fair catches of yellowfin tuna and dolphin plus scattered wahoo and bigeye tuna on Friday. Heaviest bigeye of the day weighed 168 pounds. On Saturday, bigeye up to 200 pounds were boated plus fair numbers of yellowfin and dolphin plus several white marlin were released. Sunday's catches were similar with a couple of yellowfin tuna in the 70-pound range. The crew aboard the SKILIGAL came in with an 865-pound blue marlin.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet reported rough sea conditions on Friday but good catches of dolphin, wahoo and king mackerel. On Saturday, yellowfin tuna made a fair showing, combining with dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna and king mackerel. Sunday, dolphin and blackfin tuna dominated the action, though anglers reported seeing lots of sailfish but "no takers."

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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