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The Saltwater Review - October 22, 2003

Volume 17. No. 20
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 2003.

Boaters should continue to exercise extreme caution, as huge amounts of floating debris still linger throughout the lower Bay and Western Shore tributaries.

The fall portion of the Chesapeake Bay Striped Bass season began last Saturday, October 4 and will run through December 31.  There is an 18-inch minimum size limit and a two-fish possession limit.   

Since the end of last year, regulations for black sea bass, grey trout and red drum have been modified.  

For black sea bass, the minimum size limit has been increased to 12 inches while the possession limit remains  25 fish.  The summer closed period ran from September 2 through September 15 and the season is now open.  A winter closed period will run from December 1 through December 31.

The minimum size limit for grey trout is 12 inches and the possession limit is 7 fish year round.

For red drum (i.e. puppy drum), the slot limit was reduced to fish within 18 to 26 inches and the possession limit reduced to a 3 fish possession limit.  Fishermen (recreational and commercial) can no longer possess any red drum greater than 26 inches.

Striped bass already dominate the Bay fishery and that will only increase next month.  Most the stripers are running 18 to 28 inches but expect a wave of ocean "migrants" in mid-November and some of these fish will top 40 pounds.

Offshore, weather permitting, good hauls of good-sized yellowfin tuna have been made south of Rudee Inlet at Triple 0's and just north of the Norfolk Canyon.  Black sea bass on the ocean wrecks is a sure bet right now.  Anglers are reminded the black sea bass season will be closed from 1 December through 31 December.

Chincoteague -

Barnacle Bill's reported poor weather and the time of year combined for a slow week, as only a handful of anglers attempted to fish.  Inside the inlet, striped bass are available amongst the pilings of most bridges.  Offshore, one party wreckfished over the weekend and had a nice catch of black sea bass.

Wachapreague -

Captain Zed's reported bottom fishermen recorded good hauls of black sea bass on the ocean wrecks "when they can get out there."  The CANYON LADY returned with a cooler full of sea bass on a recent outing.  A few black and red drum still lingered on the shoals around the mouth of the inlet as recently as mid-week but the next coldfront will likely push them out of local waters.  Striped bass were biting around the mouths of Metomkin and Wachapreague inlets and the next coldfront will only serve to improve this fishery.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported some nice-sized spot still lingered at the mouth of Cape Charles Harbor and along the Concrete Ships last weekend.  Flounder action remains below par but several flatfish in the 6-pound range were boated last week.  Tautog are becoming more active and reports indicated decent catches were made at Plantation Light, the Cement Ships and around the Third and Fourth islands.  Likewise, speckled trout were active at several bayside creeks with the best reports coming from Hungars Creek, where James Misselivitz landed a 6-pound, 5-ounce beauty on a small jig.  School-sized stripers are reasonably abundant around the High Rise section of the CBBT while bass up to 30 pounds were caught on live bait drifted over the Third/Fourth Island tube.  Some red drum still linger in the Barrier Island surf.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported parties are seeing more pan trout and most range from 12 to 15 inches.  Often the feeding trout are marked by flocks of excited birds.  Snapper bluefish up to 2 pounds remain abundant but few stripers over 20 inches were reported.  The local creeks hold a fair supply of speckled trout with most fish in the two-pound range.  As for bottom fishing, "the spot, croaker and sea mullet are pretty much gone," according to Captain Wil.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina weighed a 23-ounce spot for Mike Poulter.  The citation catch was made near the HRBT and just off the Chamberlain Hotel.  The other award winning catch of the week was made by Robert Hambley, who boated a 3-pound, 1-ounce croaker at the Third Island.  The marina indicated anglers fishing the CBBT had no trouble catching limits of school-sized striped bass but those fishermen drifting for flounder had little success.

Lou at Bubba's Marina said weekend anglers recorded good hauls of school stripers inside Lynnhaven Inlet at the Great Neck and Lesner bridges, and out in the Bay, at the CBBT.  Spot fishing inside the inlet slowed but the shop still weighed several spot of 16 ounces or more last week.  Boats fishing the ocean wrecks recorded good catches of black sea bass "whenever they can get out to them."

Dr. Jim Wright fished a small wreck off Kiptopeke near buoy 36A and boated triggerfish to nearly 4 pounds,  several black sea bass "big enough to keep" (minimum size limit 12 inches), a few tautog and a yearling black drum.  Dr. Wright said large spot were still being caught inside Lynnhaven Inlet at Long Creek and speckled trout have made their best showing of the season.

Wallace's Marina reported most anglers stayed in port on Saturday due to the weather but Sunday was a better weather day and many anglers fished.  Bernard Hopkins and Joey McKnight fished the Third Island on Sunday and boated a dozen keeper tautog, topped by Bernard's 10-pound, 6-ounce fish.  The day's catch also included several triggerfish in the 3 to 4-pound range.  The same pair fished the Third Island earlier in the week and Joey earned a tautog release for a 24-inch fish and Bernard boated a 4-1/2-pound triggerfish. Good sized tautog were also caught by Tim Ziager and Mac Ballard at the Back River Reef site. The PIRATE LADY, COLORADO GIRL and DEBRA ANN all fished the CBBT Sunday and  came in with limit catches of striped bass to 30 inches.  The shop said many of their customers were wirelining the CBBT for stripers and having good success with bucktails and soft plastic baits, though anglers drifting the Third/Fourth Island tube with live bait are catching bigger average-sized fish.  On the downside, the flounder bite remains subpar and the fall run of jumbo spot at the HRBT appears to be over for the season.

Debbie from Sunset Marina in Hampton Creek recorded nearly a dozen citation spot of 16 ounces or more over the weekend with the HRBT and Fort Monroe areas the top locations.  The largest spot weighed 20 ounces and were caught by Art Latimer and "Pop" Lovett on separate outings.  Limit catches of striped bass to 28 inches were recorded at the M & M crossing, where plastic Storm lures were a top bait.  The crew on the MADDY J limited out on striped bass to 28 inches at the HRBT, where Tim Parker boated a 34-inch striper.

Salt Ponds Marina said a few customers wire-lined the northern sections of the CBBT complex and recorded fair to good catches of school striped bass plus a few fish over 30 inches.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said keeper-sized pan trout still linger at the lump located off Cheatham Annex while spot are available at Gaines Point/Sarah's Creek.  Larger grey trout were caught  at the mouth of North River the past week and a few flounder were boated at the Hump.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club say some of the best tuna fishing of the year is occurring just north of the Washington Canyon and south of Rudee Inlet between Triple 0's and the 900-line.  Sea bass action over the ocean wrecks remains good while tautog are becoming more active in the Bay.  The phenomenal run of jumbo spot at the HRBT and M & M crossing appears to be over but these tasty bottom fish are still being caught at Rudee Inlet.  A scattering of speckled trout and puppy drum can be caught at Poquoson Flats but school stripers and taylor bluefish are a more likely catch.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported chummers are seeing plenty of school stripers plus some taylor blues in their slicks.  The Northern Neck and Asphalt Pile reef sites are the two most popular locations.  A few pods of pan trout are moving along the deepwater channel edges and can be caught vertical jigging.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said "everybody is striped bass fishing and all catching their limit."  Most of the fleet is chunking with buoy 68, the Northern Neck Reef site and the Wicomico jetties the favored locations.  Anglers are also catching some taylor blues and the occasional flounder.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Marina said striped bass up to 26 inches were caught by trollers, casters and chummers.  Top locations include the Northern Neck Reef site, the Cell, Windmill Light, and Stingray Light.  Flycasters and light tackle anglers are scoring in shallow water around private docks in the Piankatank and Rappahannock rivers.  Chummers are also reporting some bluefish up to 5 pounds.  Anglers jigging the channel edges near Windmill Bar scored on keeper pan trout.

Locklies Marina heard of a few trout and suspected some spot still linger in area waters but very, very few people have been fishing recently.

Garretts Marina said school-sized striped bass are holding around the bridges and "any structure" but the best striper fishing "is yet to come."  As for bottom fishing, "spot and croaker have been gone."

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina that local waters still contain a significant amount of floating and submerged debris and urged boaters to use extra caution.  Croaker and spot have departed area waters for the season but striper action is on the upswing.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the crew aboard the BACKLASH boated five yellowfin tuna in the 40 to 60-pound range on Saturday and Frank Adkins, III, released a white marlin.  The headboat fleet recorded good hauls of black sea bass ranging up to 4-1/2 pounds.  Inside the inlet, casters are catching a few speckled trout and puppy drum while bottom fishermen using bloodworm bits are still managing a few large spot.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said overall fishing effort has been light due to the weather but on Tuesday (October 21) the crew on the FIRST LAP ran down to Triple 0's and boated seven nice yellowfin tuna.  On Wednesday, the HIGH HOPES fished the Third Island area and returned with a limit of striped bass.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Badly damaged and still closed.

Buckroe Beach - Badly damaged and still closed.

Harrison - Completely demolished.  Closed indefinitely.

Lynnhaven - Lost a significant portion on the end but has re-opened.  Fishermen are catching a mixture of taylor bluefish, puppy drum, school striper, and speckled trout.

Virginia Beach - Lost a portion of the end of the pier but has re-opened.  Fishing has been slow the past several days with only a few spot and occasional striped bass reported.  Water temperature was 65 degrees mid-week.

Sandbridge - The pier survived but the newly re-built access ramp was destroyed.  The pier is closed--possibly for the remainder of the year.

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach fishermen from Corolla to Nags Head managed a few snapper bluefish and occasional puppy drum last week.  Avalon Pier reported good catches of spot on Friday but strong winds curtailed the bite Saturday.  Saturday did see a pair of 40-inch plus red drum caught and released.  Sunday produced a great run of spot plus some speckled trout, blowtoads, snapper bluefish and sea mullet. The water temperature averaged 66 degrees during the three-day period.  The Outer Banks Pier has reopened and reported fair catches of snapper blues, puppy drum, sea mullet and black drum.

South of Oregon Inlet, Cape Point featured mixed sizes of red drum during the day on Friday and at least two-dozen large drum were beached between sunset Friday and sunrise Saturday.  Daytime catches Saturday included scattered bluefish, croaker, spot and blowtoads.  Bluefish, spot, puppy drum and sea mullet provided fair action on Sunday.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported yellowfin catches ranged from four-fish to limits on Friday.  The SKILIGAL, RIGGEED UP and FULL DRAW all landed nice wahoo and FIN GALLEY and TOP BILLIN decked limit catches of king mackerel.  Inshore boats had mixed catches of black sea bass, striped bass and false albacore while the headboat recorded fair numbers of pigfish and sea bass. The tuna bite slowed on Saturday but several large wahoo were landed and the TOP BILLIN found dolphin.  The tuna bite was "on" for Sunday and many boats recorded limit catches of 40 to 60-pound fish.  Several large wahoo and some dolphin were also landed.  Monday produced good catches of yellowfin ranging from 30 to 60 pounds on the bluewater grounds while inshore boats recorded mixed catches of king mackerel and false albacore.

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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