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The Saltwater Review - 20 October 2004

Vol. 18, No. 20
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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


OVERVIEW

This will be the last Virginia Saltwater Review for 2004.

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 and the late summer closed period ran 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). 

A splendid fall run of flounder developed at the mouth of the Bay in the past 10 days and only poor weather conditions have slowed the bite.

School-sized striped bass are available on nearly every piece of structure that has tidal current.  Bridges are the most obvious targets but rock piles, channel edges and reefs offer other hot spots. 

Offshore action for yellowfin tuna, wahoo and even dolphin was excellent but for nearly a week boats have been unable to reach the offshore grounds due to poor weather.


Chinoteague
-  Donna from Captain Bob's reported striped bass have been slow to move into area waters and nobody had been able (due to the weather) get offshore "for about two weeks."  With that, the shop was closing its doors for the 2004 season.


Wachapreague
-

Wachapreague Marina had no weekend reports, as strong winds kept anglers in port.  Earlier in the week yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, dolphin and true albacore tuna were biting around the Norfolk Canyon.  

Captain Zed's described the weekend conditions as "very breezy," and had no weekend report of activity.  Mid-week, the crew aboard the CANYON LADY had a nice catch of pan trout and flounder at Green and Drawing channels and offshore boats had yellowfin tuna.  The shop also indicated striped bass were holding on the shoals surrounding the inlet.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported flounder fishermen were "doing well" whenever the weather allowed them to fish.  Unfortunately, last weekend few anglers were able to fish due to the strong west winds.  The flounder hotspot during the week was buoy 18, where John Stiglic nailed an 8-1/4-pounder and other anglers filled their six-fish limit.  For anglers that were able to access the protected waters of the bayside creeks, speckled trout provided decent action.  Mel Coates boated the lunker of the week, a 6-pound, 9-ounce beauty, at Plantation Creek while Joe Pearson caught a pair of citation trout at 5 pounds, 7 ounces and 5 pounds 15 ounces.  Bottom fishermen at the Kiptopeke State Park Pier recorded fair catches of spot plus some blowfish, snapper bluefish and small flounder.  Cooler weather means falling water temperatures and these conditions signal the start of the fall tautog bite.  Waters surrounding the Cement Ships and Plantation Light produced tog over the weekend but the bite was limited due to the weather.  Under better sea conditions, the mussel beds off Cape Charles and CBBT complex are usually productive locations for tog in the fall.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen reported the fall striped bass run off Onancock was heating up, as open water schools of rockfish, marked by frenzied flocks of birds, are showing.  Vertical jigging has proven successful for school stripers to 24 inches plus pan trout to 22 inches and plenty of taylor bluefish.  "The weather is the only thing that has held us back," noted Captain Wil, as strong winds, coupled at times with hard rain, forced cancellation of numerous outings.  A few croaker and spot still linger in area waters but both of these bottom feeders were "pretty much gone" from area waters, according to Laaksonen.  Larger stripers should begin showing in local waters next month.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported weekend weather had anglers searching for productive protected waters and the lee of the Little Creek jetties provided both.  "We saw a lot spot caught around the mouth of Little Creek."  That was where Bruce Graham caught weekend's biggest spot, a fat 20-ouncer, on a piece of bloodworm.  Earlier in the week, Herschel Matthews nailed a 7-pound, 10-ounce flounder on a live minnow at the First Island.

Patrick at Bubba's Marina told of good numbers of speckled trout around the Lesner Bridge and nearby sandbars.  Taylor blues and some school stripers are holding in the same area.  Bottom fishermen are catching a few croaker but the spot appear to have departed.

Dr. Jim Wright told of good numbers of speckled trout inside Lynnhaven Inlet.  "Many of the trout are 14 inches or less," according to Dr. Jim but some quality fish were also hooked over the weekend.  As anglers looked for places to fish "out of the weather," striped bass to nearly 30 inches were pulled from around the pilings of the Lesner Bridge and nighttime anglers found active stripers under the lights of the Great Neck Bridge.

Sunset Boating Center had a very slow weekend due to the weather but a number of successful outings took place during the week.  Close by, the rips created by the HRBT were loaded with school stripers after dark on the moving tide.  Anglers also boated a few grey trout and bluefish.  Frank Sebra and crew boated a dozen keeper flounder up to 5 pounds at the Third Island of the CBBT.  Rich Meister and Mike Stearn had similar results on flounder up to nearly 7 pounds.  John Derreck and Bill Harris caught flounder up to 6-1/4 pounds at the HRBT and Ricky Rogers nailed an 11-pound, 5-ounce tautog off Fort Monroe.

Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina said Jeff Ford was bottom fishing, using cut squid for bait at the CBBT complex, and caught a citation 3-pound croaker.  The jumbo croaker was Jeff's first ever citation.  "Gimpy" Gibson was trolling the same area and boated a 7-pound, 9-ounce flounder.  A few big spot still linger around the HRBT, as John Mauch nailed a 17-ouncer last week.     

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said jumbo spot were still being caught inside Lynnhaven Inlet last week.  The flounder bite remains very good at the mouth of the Bay, although strong winds have kept "a lot of people home" in recent days.  Speckled trout continue to make a strong showing, with many fish in the 14 to 16-inch range.  Large grey trout have arrived at the CBBT complex and the Third and Fourth islands are top locations.  School stripers are holding around all the local bridges while tautog are active at the Back River Reef site.  Offshore, bottom fishermen say the ocean wrecks are loaded with black sea bass, with tilefish, Pollack and red hake an added bonus on the deeper wrecks while yellowfin tuna and wahoo are caught by trollers "when they can get out."

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported chummers working the Northern Neck Reef site are catching loads of 22 to 26-inch striped bass plus a larger class of bluefish weighing as much as 5 pounds.  Once the bigger stripers arrive in area waters (usually mid to late November) "everyone will be trolling."  Anglers fishing live spot are catching quick limits of school stripers around the jetty and Smith Point Light.  But for bottom fishermen "the spot are pretty much gone except for a few babies up in the creeks," according to Roger.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said striped bass as big as 39 inches were caught last week but most "keeper fish" range from 21 to 28 inches.  Many of the bigger stripers are coming form the buoy 62 area but anglers using live spot for bait and working the jetty or Smith Point Light are catching large slot-sized bass.  Most of the charter fleet continues to anchor and chum but some are starting to shift to trolling in hopes of locating larger fish.  Bluefish remain abundant with fish as large as 6 pounds showing in the chum lines.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said casters throwing leadheads and "Storm-type" shads are catching plenty of school stripers around pilings and other local structure.  Anglers blessed with a supply of small to medium live spot are also very successful with the bass.  Chummers are likewise catching loads of school stripers but, cautioned Thrash, their slicks quickly become loaded with taylor bluefish.  Speckled trout are providing good sport at Hole-in-the-Wall, Cherry Point, the East and Ware rivers (both located inside Mobjack Bay) and inside the Piankatank River.  Some jumbo spot still linger in the Piankatank and off Gwynn Island, as Paul Merritt nailed a one-pounder on bloodworm in the Piankatank early in the week.  Schools of pan trout are moving through the Piankatank and Mobjack Bay.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen are still catching some jumbo spot, loads of snapper bluefish plus some pan trout but "not many fished recently because of all the wind."  Many of the better hauls were made around Parrots Rock.  Trollers are picking up some school-sized stripers and snapper bluefish.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported strong winds kept the offshore fleet in port recently but good hauls of yellowfin tuna, wahoo and even dolphin were made near the Norfolk Canyon early in the week.  The headboats, working inshore ocean wrecks, caught plenty of black sea bass plus some triggerfish and a few flounder.

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 - Bottom fishermen caught some spot but not the daylong bite of the past week.  Other catches included sea mullet, school stripers, speckled trout, bluefish and small flounder.

Virginia Beach - Bottom fishermen caught spot, small flounder, puppy drum, croaker, sea mullet and bluefish.

Sandbridge
- Large red drum went missing last week after unprecedented runs of a dozen or more per day the prior week.  Could be the run is over for the season or just a lull.  Northern Outer Banks piers did catch large drum last week.  Bottom fishermen at Sandbridge caught some spot, bluefish, speckled trout and even a stray pompano.

Outer Banks, NC -

Surf and pier anglers from Corolla Beach down to Oregon Inlet had shots are big red drum last week.  Pier anglers clearly had the edge, as they could reach the deeper sloughs but several drum topping 40 inches were beached by shore fishermen.  Spot and snapper bluefish were abundant on most days.  The fall run of speckled trout is shaping up and several trout topping 4 pounds were landed.  Top locations for the trout were from the Avalon and Nags Head piers and the nearby sloughs.  Other catches included sea mullet, pompano, croaker, juvenile black drum and puppy drum.  Beach fishermen working around Oregon Inlet enjoyed good action on snapper blues, speckled trout, spot and flounder. 

South of Oregon Inlet at Cape Point on Buxton, beach fishermen landed several large red drum to 46 inches on Friday.  Bait fishermen also caught bluefish, puppy drum and pompano.  On the Saturday the wind kicked-in and fishing was slow with only a scattering of trout and bluefish reported.  Sunday was "windy and slow" with only a scattering of bluefish landed.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center had no boats offshore on Friday due to rough sea conditions but on Thursday the fleet had loaded up on king mackerel.  One boat did leave the inlet on Friday but they stayed inshore and caught king mackerel and false albacore. Other parties that did fish on Friday worked in the sound (mainly around the Manns Harbor Bridge) for striped bass with good results, as the fall season opened.   Limit catches of 2 to 8-pound stripers were the norm. The bluewater vessels were idled Saturday and Sunday due to weather but were able to fish on Monday and recorded good hauls of school king mackerel plus a few yellowfin tuna and wahoo.

The bluewater fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet remained in port Friday due to weather considerations but anglers that fished the sound recorded good mixed catches of grey and speckled trout.  Windy conditions were on tap again Saturday and only a handful of boats went offshore but they returned fair catches of king mackerel, blackfin tuna and wahoo.  Sunday was a "beautiful day" but the wind kept the offshore fleet in port once again.  Back in the sound, grey and speckled trout provided good sport.  Snapper bluefish and keeper flounder were also caught.  Monday weather was near ideal and the fleet enjoyed big catches of king mackerel and blackfin tuna plus a scattering of dolphin and wahoo.


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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