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The Saltwater Review - October 24, 2002

Volume 16. No.21
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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


This will be the last Virginia Saltwater Review for 2002.

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.

Some big spot still linger in several lower Bay locations but the next coldfront will likely send the remainder of these fish out of the Bay system.

Schools of grey trout are holding in pockets along the channel edges from the Virginia/Maryland border to the CBBT. Some of these handsome fish top 8 pounds and measure 30 inches or more.

Striped bass catches have been dominated by school-sized fish up to 24 inches and reports of fish 30 inches or better have been rare. Typically, a pulse of large ocean fish will show at the mouth of the Bay by mid-November with some of the best catches of large stripers coming in December. 

In recent years, some of the best yellowfin tuna action of the season has come during the month of October and lingered into early November but a combination warmer than normal water temperatures (for October) and rough sea conditions combined to curtail this fishery thus far this month. Bluefin tuna, averaging over 100 pounds, have moved into nearshore waters of Virginia the past several years. Those targeting the bluefin usually check wreck sites from the Tower Reef out to the Triangle but each year one or more bluefin are hooked by anglers trolling for striped bass inside three miles.

Chincoteague -

Barnacle Bill's reported striped bass are starting to show after dark around the various bridge pilings. The flounder bite remains sluggish but one customer boated six keepers on a recent outing. Offshore opportunities have been severely limited due to weather. Early last week, Edward Ward, Jr. landed a 40-pound wahoo aboard the OCTOBER MOON at the Washington Canyon while Allen Cole nailed a 79-pound yellowfin tuna aboard the TOOLS-OF-THE-TRADE at 30 fathoms. Sea bass and triggerfish up to 4 pounds remain available at the Blackfish Banks.

Wachapreague -

Some striped bass are starting to show around the inlet while the inshore ocean wrecks are producing good catches of large black sea bass "weather permitting." Bluewater action has come to a near standstill due to weather and many of the charter boats have "retired" for the season.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported the fall flounder run is underway off Cape Charles with some of the best recent catches coming from the buoy 18 area. Tom Parker weighed the biggest flatfish last week, at 7 pounds, 15 ounces, and it was caught off Kiptopeke. Trollers wirelining around the Third and Fourth islands are catching trout and school striped bass. Lori Hauer was jigging for trout at the CBBT and hooked, landed and released a 48-inch red drum. Kevin Crumb (47 and 49 inches) released a pair and Brian Attwood released another large red drum from the Barrier Island surf last week. A few large speckled trout remain available in the bayside creeks and Charles Lewis pulled-in the week's biggest, at 5 pounds, 2 ounces, from Plantation Creek.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported only scattered catches of spot and croaker as "we're almost at the end for bottom fishing," though some good-sized fish were pulled from the creeks. Weakfish numbers and sizes continue to improve with limit catches of 14 to 20-inch fish very attainable. Some of the best action on the trout has been just south of Tangier Island along the channel edges in 40 to 60-feet of water. Robin Hood, located inside Pocomoke Sound, has also been productive. Vertical jigging has been the most effective method for these deepwater trout. Striped bass in the 16 to 23-inch range are also becoming more active and bigger fish should begin to show next month.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Kathy from Cobbs Marina reported good weekend catches of spot plus some flounder and striped bass at the CBBT. Carla Judge of Norfolk weighed the biggest spot of the week, a 21-ouncer, that was caught along the oceanside of the Second Island of the CBBT. Donald Henderson (20 ounces) and Joseph Henderson (19 ounces) decked big spot aboard the BUBBA LIP at the same location, as did Jim Young (20 ounces). Carl Meyer was casting a grub at the HRBT and caught a 7-1/4-pound flounder.

Bubba's Marina said Lynnhaven Inlet is loaded with small speckled trout and puppy drum, where school stripers are active after dark. Some jumbo spot still linger back inside Lynnhaven but their numbers have dwindled considerably in recent days. Outside the inlet, grey trout and striped bass to 26 inches are active at the CBBT while flounder were biting best near buoy 11 and along the Baltimore Channel.

Wallace's Bait and Tackle said flounder were biting along the oceanside of the Third and Fourth islands, at the High Rise and over the Hump. A four person crew that fished the Third and Fourth islands on Sunday kept ten nice flounder, including a 6-1/4 pounder by Joanne Julian and a 5-1/2-pound flatfish by Allena Whippo. Wireliners working the HRBT and northern sections of the CBBT caught large trout up to 8-1/2 pounds, school stripers and taylor blues. The crew aboard the DEBRA ANN wire-lined a limit of striped bass, kept grey trout up to 6 pounds and boated a speckled trout on Sunday. Tautog are becoming more active at various locations, including the rocks around Thimble Shoal Light. A few speckled trout were caught just inside Back River and over Poquoson Flats the past week. 

Johnny from Sunset Marina said big spot were still available at the M & M crossing and HRBT, as William Odem (21 ounces), Harry Miller (20 ounces), and Jim Mattox (18 ounces) earned citations at the M & M for spot over a pound while Jim Brown (19 ounces) and Charles Cockras (17 ounces) boated award winning spot at the HRBT. Waters surrounding the HRBT also produced a 3-pound croaker for Jim Petrakas and a 7-1/2-pound tautog for Larry Newsome. The marina hosted the Get Hooked on Hampton Striped Bass Tournament last weekend. Matt Hardison took first place in the open division. Bill Tice was second, Jim Freeman third and Jim Miller finished fourth. In the youth division, Chris Hall placed first and Tierra Belton finished in second place. 

Allen Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle said local fishermen are catching school stripers at the mouth of Back River. Chris Martin stopped-by and weighed an 18-ounce spot that was caught at the M & M crossing. Allan added that tautog were becoming more active on the inshore wrecks and one customer came in with fish near the 9-pound citation mark. 

Cindy from Salt Ponds said Ken Freeman and his family fished Hampton Bar recently and boated five spot of a pound or more. Cindy also heard of catches of striped bass and flounder from the CBBT.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said the trout bite was "really on at the lump off Cheatham Annex," where bottom fishermen were catching pan trout up to 20 inches and the occasional school-sized striper. The best striped bass catches, according to Chuck, have been made by anglers "dock hopping" after dark. Spot and croaker have all but departed the river, though some small croaker are still hanging in the Cheatham area. A few speckled trout were caught in Mobjack Bay but "nothing to get excited about."

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club reported good mixed catches of trout, striped bass and bluefish while wirelining at the HRBT and Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT. Early in the week, big spot still lingered at the HRBT, where John Costulis and Charles Southall had five of 16 ounces or more.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported limited fishing activity the past week due to the weather. Some of the larger boats that chummed in the vicinity of the Northern Neck Reef and Asphalt Pile caught school stripers and bluefish while bottom fishermen drifting near the Asphalt Pile caught trout to 5 pounds and some medium croaker. As for the fall run of jumbo spot, "it's all but over," according to Roger, but a surprising number of small puppy drum still linger in area waters. 

Dan from Smith Point Marina said the charter fleet caught plenty of striped bass, "not that big," though the fish ranged from 18 inches up to a respectable 32 inches. Anchoring and chumming with ground menhaden at the Middle Grounds has been the most popular method of fishing for the stripers and usually produces good action from taylor blues as well. Those seeking mainly bluefish, however, often opt to chase breaking schools of fish located near Smith Point Light or the Middle Grounds. The marina also weighed several good-sized speckled trout recently that were caught "across the Bay," off Tangier Island.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Marina said area waters cooled seven degrees in the past week and fish are responding "by either feeding or leaving." Trout, striped bass, bluefish and even puppy drum fall in the "feeding" class while spot and croaker have become hard to find. Still, several spot of 16 ounces or more were boated last week near the mouth of Carter's Creek, where James Bowman of Charles City (20 ounces), Camille Burrell of Charles City (18 ounces) and Charles Black of Providence Forge (16 ounces) all earned citations. Good numbers of grey trout were holding along the drop-offs near Windmill Point and were best caught vertical jigging while bottom fishermen using squid caught trout at Butlers Hole and over Deep Rock, located near Gwynn Island. Casters working the pilings of the Gwynn Island Bridge at first light and around dusk scored on trout, striped bass and puppy drum. Bluefish in the 2 to 5-pound range are schooled and active at Windmill Point and Stingray Point bars while school stripers are active early and late in the day, on most structure. The fall run of speckled trout seems to be peaking, as good catches were reported in the Piankatank, East and North rivers, Hole-in-the-Wall and Ware Neck. J.W. Haney of Dutton landed a 5-pound, 3-ounce speck on a grub at Hole-in-the-Wall and Wayne Pollard of Sandston nailed a 5-3/4-pound trout on a MirrOlure in the Piankatank.

Locklies Marina said anglers working the pilings at the Route 3 bridge caught keeper stripers in the 4 to 6-pound range plus some grey trout. Grey trout up to 4-1/2 pounds were also caught off Parrots Rock on bloodworm. A few jumbo spot still linger in area waters but bottom fishermen are not filling coolers with these tasty fish like a week earlier. Puppy drum up to 26 inches still linger along the shoreline of the river. Peeler crab is the preferred bait--if you can find it.

Tommy Lewis at Garretts Marina said anglers working the oyster rock near the White Stone bridge caught trout to 26 inches and "plenty of striped bass up to 24 inches." 

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said bluefish out-numbered striped bass at the Northern Neck Reef site over the weekend "10 to 1." The larger bluefish run up to 5 pounds, though Bob Tillie of Fredericksburg landed an 8 pounder. Most of the rockfish are schoolies but a 32-inch fish was caught over the weekend. The fall run of spot is winding down but some large spot were caught at Butlers Hole in as deep as 55 feet of water and in shallow water inside Little Bay over the weekend. Striped bass to 28 inches were caught on live bait fished around Windmill Point Light while trout to 22 inches were reported at Butlers Hole and off Gwynn Island.

Virginia Beach -

The top weekend story from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center was the 275-pound bluefin tuna caught Sunday while trolling at the Fingers aboard the WAVERUNNER. Six different anglers fought the big tuna which took four hours to land. On Saturday, good catches of bailer dolphin plus a few "gaffers" and yellowfin tuna were caught. The fish were scattered from the Fingers to the canyons. The headboat fleet recorded good hauls of sea bass and triggerfish to over 4 pounds at the Triangle Wrecks. A 10-pound bluefish was decked aboard the headboat BOBBI-LEE. 

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said a handful of boats fished offshore Saturday and caught some dolphin. October has been one of the best months for yellowfin tuna in recent years but few days have been fishable this season due to the weather. Inside Rudee Inlet, speckled trout staged a good showing early last week but have seemingly disappeared since the weekend.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Karen said school sized stripers up to 26 inches were providing good action in the evenings, though some fish were caught during the day. Some croaker and bluefish still linger around the pier where pan trout become plentiful after dark, when the pier lights come on.

Buckroe Beach - The pier has reduced its hours to favor striper fishermen (late afternoon until after dark) and the pier spokesman said anglers are catching striped bass "when we're open." Other catches include some pan trout, puppy drum, bluefish and small flounder.

Harrison - Charley told of steady action for puppy drum and school stripers, though it appears the spot run has "all but ended." A few speckled trout and pan trout were also caught.

Lynnhaven - Closed for the season.

Virginia Beach - The weekend produced a decent run of large spot, puppy drum, school stripers and a few flounder.

Sandbridge - Several large red drum were decked early in the week at the end of the pier. Closer in, bottom fishermen caught mostly puppy drum plus some spot, bluefish and small flounder.

Outer Banks, NC -

Along the Nags Head area beaches, surf fishermen enjoyed a mixed bag of bluefish, spot, puppy drum, speckled trout, croaker, small black drum, sea mullet and even a stray pompano or two. Anglers fishing from the local piers had a similar menu of fish but were able to fish regardless of surf conditions. Large red drum to nearly 50 inches were also decked on several of the piers. Water temperature on Sunday (October 19) was still a mild 70 degrees.

South of Oregon Inlet, slot-sized puppy drum, several large pompano, bluefish and a scattering of sea mullet were caught at Cape Point on Friday while several large red drum were hooked that night. On Saturday, surf fishermen working behind the motels in Buxton enjoyed a solid run of speckled trout. At the Point, several large jack crevalle were hooked at first light while bottom fishermen settled for some puppy drum, croaker and bluefish. Sunday morning at the Point, puppy drum, Spanish mackerel and bluefish staged a good showing but the action slowed throughout the day. Monday's action was highlighted by a run of large drum at dusk.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported fair catches of yellowfin tuna plus a decent amount of bailer dolphin on Friday. The headboat had a mixed catch of bluefish, spot and trout. On Saturday, the offshore fleet had fair catches of yellowfin tuna and some bailer dolphin. Inshore boats found ocean stripers to nearly 20 pounds. Sunday's offshore catch was more varied, as several large wahoo were boated and some boats had limit catches of king mackerel plus more dolphin and a few yellowfin tuna. Monday saw an increase in yellowfin tuna, plus more king mackerel, bailer dolphin and several good-sized wahoo.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet witnessed an influx of larger king mackerel last week. On Friday, good hauls of king mackerel plus some bailer dolphin and a scattering of wahoo, yellowfin and blackfin tuna were brought to the dock. Claude Smith Jr. of King William boated a 58-pound king aboard the TUNA DUCK. Good catches of king mackerel continued Saturday and Sunday. Sean Healy of Warrenton released a blue marlin aboard the NATIVE SON and Robert Bullen of Deltaville released another aboard the TUNA DUCK. Ronald Minder of Warrenton boated an 8-pound Spanish mackerel aboard the BIGEYE and Cleo Boothe of Chincoteague landed its twin aboard the BITE ME.

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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