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The Saltwater Review - October 10, 2002

Volume 16. No.20
by Lewis S. Gillingham


The Virginia Saltwater Review will not be published the week of October 14 through the 18 due to the observance of Columbus Day.

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 began October 4 and will run through December 31. There is an 18-inch minimum size limit and a two-fish possession limit. In Coastal waters, the striped bass minimum size limit is 28 inches and there is a two-fish possession limit.

As expected, the first week of "striper season" produced mixed results and mostly school-sized bass. Water temperatures throughout the Bay remain in the 70's and the fish are scattered and less than enthusiastic. As waters cool into the 60's and upper 50's expect more consistent results and bigger fish. The first wave of large, "ocean fish" usually occurs in mid-November.

The fall run of large yellow-bellied spot remains underway with specific locations around the mouths of the major rivers, the lower Bay and the Virginia Beach oceanfront (including inside Rudee Inlet) the top locations. Some of these tasty fish top the one-pound mark, which is big enough for a citation and the heaviest the past week weighed 24 ounces but most are running between 8 and 12 ounces.

Offshore, tuna, dolphin, wahoo and even a few white marlin still linger in the canyons and over offshore lumps, as water temperatures are holding in the mid-70's. Expect the tuna bite to improve, as the other mentioned species move south with cooling water temperatures.

Chincoteague -

Barnacle Bill's reported wreckfishermen are making good hauls of sea bass plus some spadefish and triggerfish. Offshore, chunkers working the Lumpy Bottom, "when they can get out," are catching good-sized yellowfin tuna up to 83 pounds. John O'Brian (72 pounds) and Warren Hook (75 pounds) each decked citation yellowfin aboard the TOOLS-OF-THE-TRADE. John Christensen was trolling out at the Washington Canyon and hooked and released a 38-inch swordfish. Bill Rauf was fishing the same area and landed and released a white marlin. Inside the inlet, anglers fishing the bridge pilings after sundown are catching decent numbers of trout plus the occasional striped bass.

Captain Bob's has closed for the season.

Wachapreague -

Captain Zed's reported bottom fishermen working around the mouth of the inlet and along the channel in front of the Coast Guard Station are catching flounder but few keepers (17-1/2-inch minimum size limit). The same waters also hold trout and some taylor blues and a few sea mullet. Offshore, the crew aboard the AMERICAN MAID returned with a nice catch of dolphin, including two citation winners, and yellowfin tuna to 60 pounds.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported the best recent flounder hauls were made near buoy 18 and buoy 36A, though the weekend's only citation flatfish, a 7 pounder caught by Larry Shyne, was boated at the Fourth Island of the CBBT. The shop indicated live baiters are catching trout up to 30 inches at the CBBT plus big croaker still linger near the crossing's pilings. Louis Hollowell nailed a 3-1/2-pound croaker at the Third Island, Larry Shyne boated a 3-pound, 3-ouncer at the Fourth Island and Bryan Brown decked a 3-pound, 3-ounce croaker at the CBBT as well. Some tautog and sheepshead to over 10 pounds were pulled from the hulls of the Cement at Kiptopeke, as speckled trout are becoming more active in the bayside creeks. Robert Savage, Jr. released a 25-3/4-inch speckled trout at Hungars Creek, where Mike Ward boated a 26-1/2-inch, 6-pound, 10-ounce speck.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported good hauls of large spot the past several days. Parties caught several fish 16 ounces or better and the heaviest weighed 19 ounces. The larger spot are holding in 30 to 40 feet of water, according to Captain Wil, while the fish are more abundant but smaller in 20 feet or less. Keeper pan trout ranging from 14 to 17 inches are mixed in with the spot with larger trout, some topping 5 pounds, found along the deeper water channel edges in the evenings. "It was like a re-birth," noted Captain Wil, as good numbers of 12 to 14-inch croaker appeared in the catches over the weekend. Bottom fishermen are also catching a mixture of flounder to 22 inches, school stripers, sea mullet, blowfish, pigfish and scup. Anglers around the edges of the islands are picking up a few speckled trout. Water temperature off Onancock was a mild 72 degrees on Tuesday (October 8).

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported some big croaker to over 3 pounds still linger around the CBBT complex plus school sized stripers were biting at the First Island. Big spot are moving through area waters, as Ed Richfield nailed a 20-ounce spot right at the Little Creek Jetty.

Bubba's Marina said flounder were biting along the Baltimore Channel and around the Third and Fourth Islands while puppy drum, striped bass and flounder were caught right at the Lesner Bridge. The shop rated the striped bite as "so-so" around the CBBT rock islands. 

Dr. Jim Wright said large jack crevalle were still holding around the legs of the Chesapeake Light Tower and cobia could be found on the CB Line buoys early in the week. Other reports indicated good-sized shark (6-feet and longer) had moved into the Santori wreck site and large grey trout were hitting live bait out at the 8 MP of the CBBT while large spot had moved inside Rudee Inlet. 

Wallace's Marina indicated flounder and grey trout fishing "really picked-up" the past week with the Hump, the bay and ocean sides of the Third and Fourth islands, the High Rise section of the CBBT, Concrete Ships and Back River Reef flounder hot spots while the trout bit best along the CBBT from the High Rise to the Third Island. Biggest flounder of the week weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces and was caught at the CBBT by Darrell Sims on bunker. Good-sized trout are also biting at the HRBT, particularly after sunset. Big croaker still linger on the lower Bay, as Donald Morrison Sr. (3 pounds) and William Jordan (3 pounds) each boated citation winners at the Fourth Island. Mike Hiktle was casting grubs around the HRBT and landed a 16-ounce spot.

Johnny from Sunset Marina had a long list of anglers who boated spot of 16 ounces or more at the M & M crossing, including the father and son team of Jack (18 ounces) and Chris Hall (18 ounces), the husband and wife team of Benard (17 ounces) and Emily Lovett (21 ounces), William Overy (18 ounces), Barry Buchanan (19 ounces), Katie Keavney (16 ounces), Walter Gant (16 ounces) and Elton Lane (16 ounces). Betty Little boated a 17-ounce spot at the HRBT. Johnny said other than spot, most anglers were fishing for flounder and the weekend hotspot seemed to be just oceanside of the First and Second islands.

Allen Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle told of good catches of flounder at the Back River Reef site while puppy drum and pan trout were biting off Factory Point and inside Back River. Alan said a good run of spot developed early last week but had slowed considerably by the weekend.

Penny from Salt Ponds said a group of anglers that fished offshore on Saturday returned with a good catch of dolphin, yellowfin tuna and wahoo.

Jimmy Lewis at A & S Feed and Bait Supply said pan trout were biting inside the York River at the Lump, where some croaker still linger. Bottom fishermen working the public pier at Gloucester Point are catching a mixture of croaker and spot plus a few trout. Anglers fishing the grassy shoreline of the York River are still catching lots of small puppy drum plus some grey trout and school-sized striped bass. The Twin Stakes area continues to be the favored location for those anglers seeking spot, according to Jimmy. Inside Mobjack Bay, the fall run of speckled trout is underway. The fish are running small but they seem in fair to good supply.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Clubs said school stripers are available at first light around the CBBT rock islands while the fall run of grey trout is underway at both the CBBT and HRBT. Flounder continue to provide good action along the Baltimore Channel on either side of the CBBT while the offshore waters of the Cigar hold yellowfin tuna and wahoo. Poquoson Flats is yielding a mixture of speckled trout, spot, pigfish, flounder to nearly 6 pounds, puppy drum and taylor blues while big spot remain available at Twin Stakes, off Gwynn Island, in the lower James River and inside Rudee Inlet.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported speckled trout have finally appeared at the Dameron Marsh grass beds while spot continue to bite inside the Great Wicomico River and over the oyster beds in the lower Rappahannock. Chummers working the Northern Neck Reef site and Asphalt Pile are catching school stripers and taylor blues plus a few croaker and pan trout. Anglers using live bait and working the jetty also reported weekend success on striped bass.

Smith Point Marina said the charter fleet has been chumming and catching both bluefish and school stripers while the private boat fleet had their best success around the jetty with live spot.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Marina said some customers caught as many as 100 spot on just a dozen of bloodworms. The top weekend locations were Butlers Hole, the spike at buoy 3 on the Rappahannock and bayside of Gwynn Island in 25 to 30 feet of water. Stephen Powell of Seaford boated a 17-ounce spot off Gwynn Island at Deep Rock and John Crosby of Mathews boated a 17-ounce spot off Gwynn Island, where Graydon Powell of Cobbs Creek landed a 17-ounce spot. Weekend catches in the Piankatank River and Hole-in-the-Wall included speckled trout, small puppy drum, croaker and spot. Trollers working near Windmill Point Light caught bluefish while anglers working the nearby channel drop-offs with jigs scored on pan trout. Donald Ottarson of Schley landed a beautiful 6-3/4-pound, 27-inch long speckled trout in the North River on a TT-808 MirrOlure.

Locklies Marina weighed over thirty spot of 16 ounces or more in the past four days and the heaviest weighed an impressive 24 ounces! Best catches have come from "either side of the bridge," according to the marina spokesperson, and anglers are also catching a few trout and striped bass.

Tommy Lewis from Garretts Marina said spot are still biting off Moratico, where some keeper pan trout (14 inches or greater) are mixed in with the spot.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said Charles Shannon and his group from Richmond had a huge catch of large spot on Saturday that included seven fish of 16 ounces or more. The impressive haul, which included some pan trout and croaker, was made at Butlers Hole on the flood tide. The spike buoy off Stingray Point was another weekend hotspot but it was most productive on out-going water. Bottom fishermen using live spot for bait at Windmill Point Light had fair success on striped bass in the 24 to 28-inch range but trollers had minimal luck.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported good dolphin action (one boat had a limit) and scattered yellowfin tuna out at the Norfolk Canyon "when the boats can get out." Inshore, king and Spanish mackerel plus false albacore are holding at the Tower Reef and nearby wrecks. The headboat fleet did well on medium to large sea bass plus some nice triggerfish. Jerry Cole nailed a citation-winning 4-pound, 1-ounce triggerfish aboard the headboat BOBBI-LEE.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina told of good catches of dolphin and a scattering of tuna out near the Norfolk Canyon "when the boats can get out." Closer to port, hard fighting jack crevalle still linger at the Tower Reef while cobia are on the ocean buoys.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Anglers are catching decent numbers of keeper flounder and striped bass plus pan trout, croaker, spot, pompano, spadefish, puppy drum, bluefish and even a Spanish mackerel. Best action has been in the evenings, after the pier lights go on.

Buckroe Beach - Folks that fished Friday night enjoyed excellent catches of bluefish, school stripers and pan trout but the bite slowed Saturday and Sunday as the weather soured.

Harrison - The past several evenings have seen good run of large spot plus some puppy drum and speckled trout. Keeper striped bass are showing around midnight in the lights. Bottom fishermen are still picking up some flounder and croaker.

Lynnhaven - Daytime action has been limited to a few snapper bluefish and occasional spot and small flounder while recent nighttime hauls of spot have been impressive. School stripers up to 24 inches and small speckled trout are also attracted by the pier lights after dark.

Virginia Beach - Spot provided the bulk of the excitement in recent days but taylor bluefish, sea mullet, puppy drum, pan trout and small flounder were also caught.

Sandbridge - Big red drum made several good showings in recent days including Monday morning (October 7) when thirteen big reds were landed before noon. Bottom fishermen are also catching lots of spot and puppy drum plus a few bluefish and speckled trout.

Outer Banks, NC -

Along the Nags Head area beaches, surf fishermen enjoyed a good fall mixture of panfish including pompano, spot, snapper blues, small puppy drum and some large sea mullet. Pier anglers enjoyed a similar menu plus speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, small black drum, false albacore, croaker and red drum to 45 inches.

At Cape Point on Buxton Island, Thursday and Friday saw good catches of pompano, bluefish, sea mullet, pan trout and spot. Red drum to over 40 inches were beached and released each day. On Saturday, several huge sea mullet were landed, as well as spot, pompano, Spanish mackerel, bluefish and flounder. Channel bass and puppy drum were caught after sundown. On Sunday, a coldfront pushed through the area but not before bluefish, Spanish mackerel, flounder and several red drum were landed.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported their headboat caught a mixture of triggerfish, pigfish and sea bass on a recent outing while half-day boats trolling near the mouth of the inlet had bluefish, Spanish mackerel and false albacore. On Friday, the bluewater fleet reported fair catches of tuna, dolphin and wahoo with bigeye tuna to 184 pounds and wahoo to 55 pounds while most of the dolphin were bailers. Saturday saw a good number of king mackerel on the dock, decent numbers of dolphin plus some tuna and wahoo, including bigeye to 153 pounds and yellowfin to 73 pounds. On Sunday, the tuna bite improved while Monday's report indicated good catches of tuna, dolphin and king mackerel.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed good mixed catches of dolphin and wahoo plus a scattering of king mackerel and yellowfin tuna on Friday. Saturday, the fleet released seven sailfish plus good numbers of wahoo and dolphin plus some king mackerel, yellowfin and blackfin tuna. Webster Chandler of Norfolk released a sailfish aboard the NANCY K and Derek Sandhoff of Portsmouth released a sail aboard TOP BILLIN. Sunday's results were similar except no billfish were landed. On Monday, wahoo, yellowfin and blackfin tuna were all caught in good numbers. Gladys Ogilvie of Purceville released a sailfish aboard the GOOD TIMES.

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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