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The Saltwater Review - October 26, 2007

Plans and Statistics Department
2600 Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor
Newport News, VA 23607-0756

Vol. 21, No. 17

Saltwater Review - Full Version with Attachments

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


Plans and Statistics Department Staff


Editor's Note: The Fisheries Management staff at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission would like to thank all of our fishing report contributors for their time and efforts in assisting with producing timely reports for the Virginia Saltwater Review each week. The review reflects a true cooperative effort between the agency, the anglers, and the recreational industry that has been ongoing for 21 years. The staff would like to dedicate this final issue for 2007 to our contributors, all of whom we enjoy hearing from each week, and look forward to continuing to work with during 2008. 


Anglers normally grimace at the sight of storm clouds and rain. However, the week ending weather fronts that have overtaken our area are a welcome sight to many. Though it will only put a dent into the drought we are currently suffering through, this may also represent the start of more traditional fall weather and fishing conditions. Only time will tell. 

What we do know is that many of our summer regulars, such as cobia and red drum, are still around, and the traditional trolling season for striped bass may be closer to Thanksgiving than Halloween. The weather pattern does foretell of the possibility of another warm Fall and early Winter, and some wonder if we will see another angler and boat friendly weather pattern in December for striped bass fishermen.

This has been an interesting year for Virginia anglers. From watching an ever growing tilefish and grouper fishery last spring, which seemed to produce a new record breaking fish every week for a while, to the record smashing croaker caught in August by Mr. Jenkins off of Mathews county. These are just a few of the many highlights for the 2007 fishing year, and who knows what else may occur in November and December! 

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has implemented the Virginia Recreational Assessment Program, a cooperative effort for all involved, agency and anglers, to work together for Virginia's fisheries. Whether you go fishing at the Norfolk Canyon or Hampton Bar, at the Northern Neck Reef or the Towers, we would like to know more about what you are catching, so we can better address the concerns and questions of the recreational angling community. 

Get hooked and report your catches at The Virginia Saltwater Journal provides anglers the ability to start compiling a Virginia recreational fishing database, with data provided by Virginia anglers, for Virginia anglers, that will assist VMRC in future fishery management issues. See page 9 for more details!

And remember, you catch it, you fillet it, but then donate the whole carcass to science. Participate in the Marine Sportfish Collection Project, earn a project tee shirt, and find out about the age and sex of your catch. Click here & See page 10 for more details and where to participate! 

And a final reminder, the Virginia Recreational Fishing Advisory Board meets Monday, November 5, 2007. See page 11 for the meeting details and agenda.

Chincoteague -  

Donna at Captain Bob's reports a variety of fish available around Chincoteague. Kingfish, red drum, and striped bass have been reported around the bridges and embankments of Queen's Sound. Striped bass are available on the incoming tide, and Donna expects a big bite with the full moon. Anglers are also finding numerous undersized flounder and sea bass. Bluefish are biting like crazy, and they seem to have inundated the surf and inland waters with small bluefish (snapper blues) between 10 and 20 inches. According to Donna, every angler coming out to fish will at least be kept busy. Captain Bob's plans to close, for the season, during the first weekend in November. However, if the weather is still nice, they will remain open longer. The marina will reopen in the spring with the return of the spring flounder season. 

Wachapreague -

Large wahoo, blue marlin, white marlin, and an 80 lb yellowfin tuna were reported from Wachapreague Marina this week. Most of the offshore boats are reporting success with wahoo and dolphin near Bob's Canyon. Inshore, the action is slower, but staff is already looking forward to reporting a nice spring flounder season when the Saltwater Review returns in 2008. 

Bottom fishing was popular this week at Captain Zed's. While there were few keepers, anglers were still going after flounder, grey trout and kingfish. Offshore, anglers are having success at the wrecks with sea bass and triggerfish. The tuna fishermen reported a single yellow fin tuna citation by Robert Michael of Smithfield, Virginia. There was also an 86 lb wahoo citation earned by angler Jeffrey McClusky of Delaware. The MARLIN MAGIC also reported wahoo as well as both a white and blue marlin release. Staff at Captain Zeds are looking for a good fall run of flounder and hoping for an exciting striped bass season as well.

Cape Charles -

Speckled trout are biting in the seaside and bayside creeks, according to staff at Chris' Bait and Tackle. Flounder have been landed near Buoy 18 and at the 3rd and 4th islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. The pier at Kiptopeke and the waters around Cape Charles are producing small spot and croaker with a few small striped bass in the evenings. Near the high-rise of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, grey trout in the 5 ½ lb range have been landed. 

Ernie at Cherrystone Bait and Tackle reports that the shop is closed for the season. It will reopen for business on March 15 of next year. 

Onancock -

Captain Wil reports varying sized red drum landed over the past week. Flounder is still hit or miss, but bluefish are numerous. A few spot and croaker are available to those with bloodworms and squid around the shell beds. A few speckled trout are being caught, as well as a few dogfish. Sea mullet and sea bass are small but numerous over the oyster beds. Evening and morning fishing seems to be producing the best. In the evenings, rock piles, islands and target ships are producing the occasional keeper striped bass. Captain Wil encourages everyone to enjoy the season, and says that the big striped bass will come in November and December—Thanksgiving is usually the highlight!

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel

Flounder and red drum have been seen at Cobb's Marina this week. Randy Price of Norfolk had a 47 inch red drum release near Virginia Beach. Staff has seen tautog and small striped bass coming from the Bay. Many anglers report small striped bass when hunting for flounder or tautog. According to staff at the marina, the warm water is keeping the big striped bass away. On November 16 and 17, the 4th Annual IBEW Local 50 Tournament will be held, which benefits the United Way. The entry fee is $25 which includes a T-shirt and a cookout, and anglers can sign up at Cobb's Marina. 

Staff at Wallace's Bait and Tackle reported several citations this week. Two citation Spanish mackerel were landed west of the Light Tower. At the 3rd island of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, a citation triggerfish and tautog were caught. Citation sized speckled trout were found at the Hampton Bar and the Lynnhaven area. A citation flounder was brought in from the Cape Henry Light area. 

Fishing has been slow this week at Sunset Boating Center. Small striped bass and the occasional flounder have been reported. Most anglers are having luck at the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and the Monitor Merrimac Bridge Tunnel. 

At Salt Ponds Marina, no citations reported this week, despite the beautiful weather. A few flounder catches were reported in the area. 

Ken Neill, reporting secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, contributed the following:

There have been some really impressive catches of large yellowfin tuna in the Baltimore Canyon. Boats running out of Virginia's Eastern Shore have been able to get in on this action. The best fishing has been a nighttime chunk bite. They are catching swordfish at the same time. Somebody has put a wall up out there somewhere because the tuna are not coming further south. Water temperatures are good, and there is a lot of bait out there, but nobody is home to eat it. Wahoo is your best bet on the troll. There are some dolphin around and the occasional marlin. Right now, you have a better shot at catching a swordfish than a yellowfin tuna at the Norfolk Canyon. The tuna bite could turn on any day, and it should. A few boats are starting to try the daytime deep-drop swordfish thing, and there has been some success. Also bottom fishing for tilefish and grouper has been very good. So, if you are out there and the tuna don't want to play, there are still fish to be caught. Inshore, there is a lot of action going on. Speckled trout are being caught at all of the speckled trout spots but I am not supposed to talk about it. The spot bite remains good in the James River. Flounder fishing has been hit and miss. The channel edges at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay have been producing some nice fish with live spot producing the larger fish. There should be some nice flounder around ocean structures like the Brass Spike and the Triangle Wrecks, but nobody has told me that they have tried there. King mackerel and false albacore continue to be caught from False Cape on up to Cape Henry from the beach on out to the Chesapeake Light Tower. Jacks are still a possibility at the light tower. Cobia just don't want to leave this year and are still being encountered at the mouth of the bay and along the coast. Keep your eyes open as you are fishing for flounder or king mackerel. There is a good possibility that you may have a chance to cast to a cruising cobia. Schools of big red drum are still around for sight casting opportunities. They have been surprising some flounder fishermen who are getting to test out their tackle on some big drum. Anglers encountering working birds in the Chesapeake Bay are finding schools of hungry bluefish. Some of these schools of bluefish have schools of grey trout under them, cleaning up their scraps. Striped bass are around. They are being caught in shallow water by speckled trout fishermen and along the light lines of the various bridges at night. The largest fish are being caught by anglers chunking with bunker.

Dr. Julie Ball, IGFA International Representative for Virginia Beach, contributed the following:

All the rage is centered on the incredible king mackerel run off the Virginia coastline. This is by far the best year for smokers in many years, and anglers are wasting no time getting in on the action. Whether presenting live bait or trolling lures or ballyhoo, boats are rarely returning to the dock empty-handed. Several recent trips off Virginia have yielded over a dozen kings, with a few topping 30-pounds. Jamal Esfahani of Virginia Beach landed a 37-pound smoker while fishing near the "golf ball" aboard the MEGA BITE out of the Fishing Center this week. Try your luck in clean water from the Chesapeake Light Tower, on into shallower water along the shore. Balls of bait present along the beach, from Sandbridge down to False Cape, is a good sign that kings are around. 

Big red drum continue to tear through these same bait pods near the Virginia shorelines. With all of the bait present paired with moderate water temperatures, the red drum may just stay around for awhile. Boats are having good luck throwing lures, cut bait, and live bait into working schools of red drum, while trollers and surf casters are also scoring with big reds. Astonished anglers working their bait near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel for flounder, striped bass, and triggerfish are also hooking an occasional surprise bull (large red drum) on light tackle. 

Another pleasant surprise is the report of big cobia falling to sight casters from Cape Henry to Sandbridge. Hooking into one of these stragglers can certainly round out a trip on the oceanfront. 

Speckled trout action is exploding in the lower bay and adjacent waters. Great catches are coming from all over, but some of the hottest trout holes include Long Creek, the Poquoson Flats, Back River, the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, Rudee Inlet, and the Elizabeth River. Speckled trout in the 5 to 6 pound range were weighed in from the Elizabeth River this week, and 3. 5 pounders are common lately in Lynnhaven on Mirrolures and Gulp grubs. Puppy drum (juvenile red drum) are still active within the shallows and inlets, mixed in with the speckled trout. 

The striped bass fishery is rolling right along with plenty of school size fish available in all the usual haunts. The Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, the Monitor Merrimac Bridge Tunnel, and the James River Bridge are providing steady action for anglers casting top water plugs and jigging around the pilings and structures. Some anglers reported fish up to 31-inches caught near the James River Bridge, while chunkers are also finding a decent class of fish up to about 38-inches. Expect small grey trout and snapper blues in the same areas. 

Spot anglers are still waiting for the big fish. Several experts are predicting the run of big yellowbellies, usually occurring by now, is not going to materialize. But there are plenty of respectable-sized spot available, and the action is almost non-stop within Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets, the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, Ocean View, and the Hampton Bar. Nice croaker are still taking bait off Little Creek, the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and within Lynnhaven Inlet. One angler filled a bucket with 3-pound hardheads from Lynnhaven this week. 

Tautog action is warming up. Folks targeting these structure-oriented fish are finding their limits of decent fish, with a few bigger ones in the mix. The structure around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and inshore wrecks are providing the best action on crab. 

Flounder are still lined up along the floor of the lower bay awaiting their mass migration to deeper water, but with the water temperatures holding, there is no reason to leave right now. A few anglers who worked hard for their catches were rewarded with fish up to ten pounds drifting along deeper channels in the lower bay and around the high rise section of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. 

Captain Skip Feller aboard the Rudee Angler out of the Virginia Beach Fishing Center has had good luck with trigger fish and sea bass on near shore and deeper water wrecks lately. Chopper bluefish could show up any day around offshore wrecks and the Chesapeake Light Tower. False albacore are also around, mixed in with nice Spanish mackerel, and small king mackerel in the Light Tower vicinity. With the water sitting in the 70's this past week, spadefish were still schooling the tower and inshore wrecks, with divers taking a few on the spear. Expect them to move on soon with the upcoming cold air moving in. 

The yellowfin tuna fishing has been very good up north, but offshore anglers are watching for the tuna to migrate into local waters. Wahoo are still the main scene, with false albacore, and a shot at a billfish your best bet. Many are turning to swordfishing with some success, and deep droppers are beginning to show more interest. 

Gene DuVal, IGFA Representative for Richmond, passed away on October 14th, after a long, strong battle. Gene was a mentor, a friend, and a true World Record angler. Gene was also an amazing, caring person, who always offered her unyielding support with a warm smile. She was an avid, accomplished angler, and held countless IGFA world records. She was very involved in the IGFA and the IWFA. The fishing community will certainly feel the void left by such a positive influence. 

Virginia Middle Bay -

Jetts' Hardware has seen a pretty slow week due to the local weather. Before the front got here, the usual denizens could be found which included spot, grey trout and bluefish. The striped bass have started to pick up, but no real concentrations of them yet to keep the anglers hopping. Hopefully the weather will improve along with the fishing soon. 

Dan of Smith Point Marina reports that the striped bass fishing has been doing well. The fish are starting to school up around the jetties, at the mouth of the Potomac River, and are in the 20 to 28 inch range. As the weather starts to cool off they should be increasing in size. People have been chumming for striped bass, with success, around the Northern Neck Reef, and have also been pulling in a few bluefish as well. 

Locklies Marina is seeing a good variety of fish being landed. Striped bass are making an appearance around the White Stone Bridge along with some small black drum and bluefish. Live bait is the bait if choice here. There are still some spot around for the bottom fisherman. Speckled trout are still available, and a 21 inch speckled trout was the winner for the Northern Neck Anglers Tournament held last week. 

Jerry Thrash of Queen's Creek Outfitters contributed the following:

Water temperatures continue to be about 70 degrees, and spot are still around. However, they are thinning out. Most spot have left the creeks, which are cooling quicker than the deeper waters. 

We have had pretty good runs of pan-size keeper grey trout mixed with spot and schooled under feeding bluefish. The stripped bass haven't schooled yet, but the bluefish may be found under working sea gulls and caught by trolling or by casting jigs with a rapid retrieve. If you study your fish finder while in a school of bluefish, you may see what looks like piles of debris on the bottom. These are grey trout feeding on the bait remnants drifting down from the feeding blues. Drop a bucktail jig or a "Stingsilver" or "Deadly Dick" to the bottom and jig for the grey trout. 

Fishing continues to be good for speckled trout. Speckled trout have cooperated in the Ware Neck area, at The Hole-in-the Wall, in the Piankatank and in Fleets Bay above Windmill Bar. 

Schooling striped bass can be had by casting around structures such as docks, bridge pilings, rock piles and hard bottom using live bait, jigs or chumming. With warm waters, we will likely not have a trolling season for striped bass until early-mid November. 

Virginia Beach -

At the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, fishing has been slow due to lack of charters. Spot are numerous in the inlet, and king mackerel mixed with a few bluefish can also be found. Offshore trips are reporting dolphin, wahoo, and billfish. Headboats have brought home triggerfish, sea bass, and flounder. Staff has heard rumors of striped bass, but hasn't seen any at the fishing center. 

Paula from Fisherman's Wharf Marina reports plentiful tilefish in the Norfolk Canyon caught by anglers who were deep dropping. Inshore, the catch consists of king mackerel off the beach and near the Chesapeake Light Tower. A few dolphin have also been landed while trolling. The annual MidAtlantic Rockfish Shootout is scheduled for January 10th, 11th, and 12th. Weigh in is at the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, and information on the event can be found at

Virginia Piers -

At the Lynnhaven Pier, fishing has been slow when the water is clear. A few speckled trout, bluefish, small flounder, and occasional puppy drum (juvenile red drum) are found during the day. After 10 pm, large spot and croaker begin biting until dawn. 

At the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier, anglers are catching spot, but no yellowbellies have been seen yet. Sea mullet and numerous small speckled trout (in the 13-14 inch range) are biting. Quite a few keeper puppy drum (juvenile red drum) with a few pompano mixed in were landed. Fishing has improved this week with the rain and Northeast wind. The Pier has extended the operating hours by an additional week (closing November 4th, instead of the 28th), due to the weather. The hours during this time are 8 am to 8 pm, pending weather. 

Fishing has been very slow at the Sandbridge Pier. A single red drum was landed this week. On November 1st, hours at the pier will change to 7 am to 5 pm, daily, with no charge. This opening, which continues until April 1, is specifically meant to give anglers a chance for striped bass fishing. 

Outer Banks, NC

Fishing in the Nags Head area continues to be slow. The best action for offshore anglers has been dolphin, with a few wahoo, yellowfin and king mackerel thrown in. Billfishing has been extremely slow. People fishing closer to shore have been able to find blueline tilefish, king mackerel, black sea bass, triggerfish, hake and tautog. Nearshore waters continue to produce summer denizens like small bluefish and large Spanish mackerel. Fishing in the bays and inlets is slow as well, with spotted seatrout and weakfish the primary catches in and around shallow water. 

Avalon Pier reports the fishing has improved with the onshore breeze dirtying up the water and turning the spot and red drum bite on. There were several releases of red drum over the weekend. Other species landed included pompano, sea mullet, croaker and black drum. The bottom fishing was the best in the afternoons. Some bluefish and Spanish mackerel could to be found at the end of the pier. 

South of Oregon Inlet, anglers had to pick the times to fish based upon the wind and strong currents. When the conditions allowed, some large red drum mixed with puppy drum (juvenile red drum) could be found around the Hatteras Point along with bluefish. The largest drum weighted in at 46 pounds, and several other citation fish were seen, mostly in the evenings and early mornings. Flounder, spot, sea mullet and bluefish were also biting. 

Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported that the strong winds kept the offshore fleet tied up until Sunday, but after the winds died down early in the week, the fleet was able to find good catches of king mackerel and blackfin tuna. Some yellowfin tuna and wahoo were adding diversity to the catches. Nearshore boats were able to find albacore, bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Inshore anglers found sea mullet, bluefish, striped bass and puppy drum (juvenile red drum). 

Pirates Cove anglers had similar problems with the wind and were restricted to nearshore and inshore fishing for most of the weekend. Mackerel, amberjack and bluefish helped to keep people busy until the winds died out. The offshore fleet was able to find blackfin and yellowfin tuna, and king mackerel. Tilefish were also available for bottom droppers. 

Hatteras Harbor saw a decent bite of billfish, king mackerel, dolphin, wahoo, and blackfin tuna when the winds allowed offshore fishing. Bottom droppers also reported catches of tilefish and grouper. Inshore fishing produced bluefish, speckled trout, flounder, weakfish and puppy drum (juvenile red drum). 

If you have additional information or would like further details contact Joe Grist at (757) 247-2237.

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.

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