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The Saltwater Review - 6 October 2004

Vol. 18, 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The Virginia Saltwater Review will not be published the week of October 11 through the 15 due to the observance of Columbus Day.

The fall portion of the Chesapeake Bay Striped Bass season opened October 4 and will run through December 31.  The minimum size limit remains 18 inches and the possession limit is two fish but only one fish of the two-fish possession limit may be greater than 28 inches.  

Since the end of last year, regulations for black sea bass and summer flounder have been modified.

For black sea bass, the minimum size limit remains 12 inches while the possession limit remains 25 fish but the late summer closed period runs from September 8 through September 21.  The winter-closed period remains December 1 through December 31.

For Summer Flounder, the minimum size and possession limit have both changed.  The minimum size limit decreased from 17-1/2 inches to 17 inches in 2004.  The possession limit likewise decreased, from 8 flounder last season to 6 summer flounder in 2004.

Effective September 21, 2004, through the remainder of the fishing year (May 31, 2005), the daily recreational retention limit for bluefin tuna is one tuna (27 to less than 73 inches CFL) per vessel per day/trip.  This recreational limit applies in all areas, for all vessels fishing under the Angling category quota (i.e., both the HMS angling and Charter/Headboat vessels). 

One of the best fall runs of jumbo spot in recent years continued last week.  Last week's hot spots include the Lynnhaven complex, the M & M crossing, the HRBT, the mouth of the Elizabeth River, the mid to lower portion of the Rappahannock River, the Virginia Beach and Sandbridge piers, and Rudee Inlet.  The Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament was nearly overrun with spot meeting or exceeding the 16-ounce qualifying weight, as several popular weigh stations ran temporarily out of citation forms.

-  Donna from Captain Bob's reported flounder were reasonably abundant but the "keeper" ratio was only about 1-out-of -10.  Sea trout numbers are rising slowly and a few keeper striped bass (28 inches seaside) are showing inside the inlet, as one angler boated a 36-inch fish at the Queen's Sound Bridge while fishing for striped bass last week.  Trollers working in the vicinity of the Washington Canyon caught longfin tuna and the occasional wahoo while chunkers at the Lumpy Bottom still manage a few bluefin tuna.


Captain Zed's reported good catches of black sea bass on the ocean wrecks.  Both the CANYON LADY and SCORPIO ran successful wreck trips last week.  Further offshore, the best weekend yellowfin tuna bite was some 50-plus miles southeast of the inlet, south of the Norfolk Canyon and north of Wayne's World, where trollers also scored on a few big wahoo.  Longfin tuna were caught early in the week near the Washington Canyon.  Inside the inlet, sea trout are holding around the mouth of the inlet and along the channel that runs in front of the Coast Guard Station and bottom fishermen are also catching a few keeper flounder.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported big spot were caught over the weekend around the Cement Ships, as Faye Gill (16 and 18 ounces) and Roger Gill (17 ounces) both weighed citation spot.  Bottom fishermen at the Kiptopeke State Park Pier also caught some spot plus a few croaker and pan trout.   Flounder still linger off Cape Charles and some of the best recent hauls were made near buoy 18.  Robert Savage, Jr. caught and released a 46-1/2-inch red drum at buoy 16 while a trip to Hungars Creek produced a 6-pound, 10-ounce speckled trout.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen reported spot comprise the bulk of the catch for bottom fishermen but these bottom feeders are "not as plentiful as last week."  More pan trout are showing in the catches with the majority of the trout in the 14 to 16-inch range.  Croaker still linger off Onancock, as do flounder.  Anglers seeking striped bass should concentrate along the shorelines, according to Captain Wil, as the big open water schools have yet to materialize, but "it won't be long."

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina weighed several citation spot over the weekend but "that's about it."  Nearly all the citation spot were caught at the HRBT on bloodworm pieces.

Bubba's Marina said bottom fishermen fishing inside Lynnhaven Inlet enjoyed good weekend catches of large spot with many of the fish topping 16 ounces.  Waters back inside Lynnhaven also produced some speckled trout and puppy drum.  Anglers fishing around the CBBT complex since the opening of striped bass season caught mostly school-sized bass from 18 inches and up to 5 pounds.

Dr. Jim Wright also told of good numbers of large spot inside Lynnhaven Inlet, saying Long Creek was one of the better locations for fish 16 ounces and greater.  Waters around the Great Neck Bridge were also holding some large spot and Dr. Jim knew of an angler that boated a 38-inch striped bass at this location.  Dr. Wright fished Rudee Inlet and the Hot Ditch for speckled trout on Tuesday and summed up his day saying, "it was dead."  Offshore, waters south of the Cigar produced good catches of yellowfin tuna plus some large wahoo and false albacore long enough to qualify for a release award last week.

Folks at the Sunset Boating Center kept busy writing spot citations and had a stack of about 50 by the end of the week, including 10 for fish topping 20 ounces.  Aaron Bowman, Sr. and Cathy Matula caught the two biggest spot weighed at the shop. The twin spot weighed 24 ounces each. Folks looking for big spot did not have far to go from the mouth of Hampton Creek, as the top weekend location for jumbo spot was the HRBT on the Hampton side.  The shop indicated the flounder bite was slow the past week while decent numbers of grey trout had arrived around the HRBT.

Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina said anglers from the marina concentrated on the excellent run of large spot over the weekend.  Dave Priddy (18 ounces) and fishing partner Jake Evans (16 ounces) scored citation spot at the HRBT while Charles Robertson (20 ounces) and fishing companion Mary Leedom (19 ounces) boated citation spot at the M & M crossing.  Pat Pezjack (17 ounces, M & M) and Jake Mauld (17 ounces, HRBT) also registered citation spot over the weekend.

Jimmy Lewis at A & S Feed and Bait Supply said spot still linger around the mouth of Sarah's creek, where anglers are also catching some large pan trout.  Pan trout were also caught above the Gloucester Bridge at the Lump.  Anglers fishing the grass beds around Goodwin Island caught some puppy drum and the occasional speckled trout.  Better weekend catches of speckled trout were recorded at Poquoson Flats and inside Mobjack Bay, at Ware Point.

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said the spot bite on the lower James River remained excellent last week, as some anglers were able to catch over a hundred in a brief outing.  Many of these tasty bottom feeders top 16 ounces.  Club members fishing along the Baltimore Channel near the CBBT recorded decent catches of flounder and good-sized grey trout were caught around the HRBT after dark.  As lower bay waters continue to cool, tautog are becoming more active.  Near shore ocean wrecks are loaded with black sea bass and sometimes triggerfish.  Amberjack still linger around some wreck sites and some school-sized king mackerel have moved into these areas.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported anglers fishing Monday's (October 4) striper season opening had no problem filling their two-fish limit but "no real big fish were caught" and most ranged between 14 and 26 inches.   Anglers casting artificials or fishing live spot around the jetty and chummers working the Northern Neck Reef seemed to have the best success opening day.  Roger added that loads of taylor blues were in area waters.  "The guys fishing the Northern Neck Reef said the blues just about ate them up."  Good numbers of spot still linger around the mouth of Dividing Creek and Blackberry Hang but the Spanish mackerel appear to have departed area waters.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said striped bass as large as 38 inches were caught in Maryland waters in the vicinity of buoys 68/72 while anglers fishing near the jetty and the Northern Neck Reef site (Virginia waters) caught plenty of school stripers.  Snapper blues remain plentiful in local waters, where some spot still linger but grey trout remain scarce.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said the local rivers and creeks are full of school-sized striped bass.  Anglers using light tackle and casting should do well if they work pilings and other structure.  Anglers seeking speckled trout did well around Gwynn Island and in the Ware and Piankatank rivers last week.  Prior to the opening of striped bass season Monday, October 4, most anglers were concentrating on the fall run of jumbo spot.  The shop checked-in eleven spot heavy enough to qualify for a citation.  Top locations included the Spike, Butler's Hole and off Gwynn Island in 25 to 30 feet of water.  The weekend's biggest spot weighed 19 ounces and was caught in the Piankatank River by Charles Carter of Staunton.

Locklies Marina said anglers are still coming with lots of jumbo spot, estimating another "50 or so" citations had been written in the past week.  The Silos, Butlers Hole, Cherry Point and Windmill Point all produced award winning spot.  Bottom fishermen also boated fair numbers of trout in the 12 to 18-inch range and decent numbers of "sugar toads" (blowfish).

Garretts Marina said striped bass as heavy as 11 pounds were caught around the Tappahannock Bridge by trollers.  Surface feeding schools of striped bass are also showing in area waters with the best action early and late in the day.  The marina also heard of good hauls of large spot down river in the vicinity of Butlers Hole.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported excellent offshore action for yellowfin tuna and inshore bottom fishing for jumbo spot.  The offshore fleet returned Friday with good catches of yellowfin tuna, many in the 50-pound class, plus some dolphin.  Big spot topping 16 ounces were pulled from Rudee Inlet, where a few large croaker still linger, as James Moore weighed a 3-3/4-pounder.  Rough weather kept most of the offshore fleet in port on Saturday but seemed to stimulate the spot bite, as many fish topping 16 ounces were weighed at the Fishing Center.  The two heaviest spot weighed 20 ounces apiece and were caught by Thomas Bonelli and Richard Crews.  Seas calmed by Sunday and the offshore fleet was back in business on yellowfin.  One charter boxed a limit of tuna and several others were very close.  Big spot continued to bite inside the inlet.

Paula Owens from Fisherman's Wharf Marina described the yellowfin tuna action as "excellent" on Friday, when trollers also boated several large wahoo.  The best action was along the 115-line in about 35 to 45 fathoms of water.  The bite slowed over the weekend.  Since the opening of the fall striped bass season Monday, October 4, boats wireline trolling the "tubes" of the CBBT had limit catches of fish.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Closed indefinitely. 

Buckroe Beach - The pier was completely destroyed by Hurricane Isabel. The city of Hampton has expressed an interest to build a pier in this area.

Harrison - The new owner of the property where Harrison's Pier was located (prior to Hurricane Isabel) has announced plans to build a new pier at the same location. The estimated cost is 1.8 million dollars and the pier could be ready to open in early 2005.

Lynnhaven - The weekend produced several flurries of big spot action but not the daylong bite of the past week.  Other catches included sea mullet, speckled trout, bluefish and small flounder.

Virginia Beach - Bottom fishermen had "off and on" action for spot and most of the fish caught were really good-sized.  Other catches included small flounder, puppy drum, croaker, sea mullet and bluefish.

- Lots of excitement here, as several large red drum were decked during the week and at least a dozen on Sunday.  Bottom fishermen are also catching some spot, bluefish, speckled trout and even a stray pompano.

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach fishermen in the Nags Head area enjoyed mixed catches of snapper bluefish, puppy drum and speckled trout.  A 48-1/2-inch red drum was pulled from the surf at Corolla Beach and released.  Several large red drum were also decked at the Nags Head Pier.  Folks fishing the Nags Head and Avalon piers had nice catches of spot, snapper blues, speckled trout, black drum, pompano and puppy drum.  A great run of hand-sized spot developed on the south side of Oregon Inlet mid-week.

South of Oregon Inlet, at Cape Point in Buxton, about a dozen red drum were beached and released Friday night between 9 PM and midnight.  Saturday was a slow day with only a few snapper bluefish cooperating.  Catches improved Sunday with puppy drum, bluefish, spot, croaker and sea mullet but a run of large red drum failed to materialize through Monday night.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported excellent offshore action in recent days.  On Friday, wahoo to 70 pounds, plenty of yellowfin tuna plus a scattering of dolphin were landed.  More large wahoo hit the dock on Saturday plus good numbers of hefty yellowfin tuna and some gaffer dolphin.  The fleet brought in wahoo to nearly 60 pounds on Sunday along with good numbers of yellowfin tuna and some dolphin while several billfish were released.  On Monday, boats returned with as many as 13 wahoo plus good catches of yellowfin tuna and some dolphin and king mackerel.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed one of their best days this fall on Friday with limit catches of yellowfin tuna and dolphin.  Good numbers of large wahoo to 64 pounds also hit the dock plus some blackfin tuna while a pair of blue marlin were released.  Saturday also produced excellent catches of yellowfin tuna plus good numbers of wahoo and some dolphin.  The crew aboard the SEA CREATURE released a pair of sailfish.  Sunday was the day of the dolphin, as most boats recorded limit catches and good catches of yellowfin tuna.

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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