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The Saltwater Review - June 28, 2000

Vol. 14, No. 10
by Lewis S. Gillingham

Due to the observance of the Fourth of July holiday, Tuesday, July 4, the Virginia Saltwater Review will not be published the week of July 5-9.

Virginia's Trophy Striped Bass season opened May 1 and closed June 15. Now that this season is over, it is most important anglers report their Trophy catch (all 32-inch or greater fish caught and kept between 1 May and 15 June) on forms available at all Citation Weigh Stations, many other tackle shops and marinas and our homepage web site (see address above). A reporting form is also enclosed in this report.

There are four ways to report 2000 Striped Bass Recreational Trophy fish. You can opt to pick up a report form from any weigh station and mail it in. You may choose to print or download a reporting form from the VMRC web site and mail or FAX it in. Or, download a form from the VMRC web site and e-mail it as an attachment. Lastly, you can now choose an on-line form to send in the information. The on-line form does not work with all browser e-mail systems (such as AOL), so please keep a copy of your information in case the information does not reach the VMRC. Reports received via e-mail or on-line form will receive a reply. The web address is http://www.state.va.us/mrc/recreational.htm, the e-mail address is lgillingha@mrc.state.va.us , the FAX number is (757) 247-2264.

Bluefin tuna are moving through Virginia's coastal waters, as tuna weighing to over 200 pounds were boated the past week. Before your first outing, make sure you know the Federal regulations. A copy of the current regulations are enclosed.

Cobia are still biting at their usual spring haunts but the fish appear to be scattering to other areas of the Bay as the month of June comes to a close.

The past week saw an upsurge in the number of citation-winning flounder registered in the VSWFT. Such well known areas as the Cell and CBBT were the most commonly listed location of the catch.

Chincoteague -

Donna from Capt. Bob's weighed several citation-size flounder last week including an 8 3/4 pounder for Betty Haran, a 6-9 fish for Robert Forrest, a 6 1/2 pounder for Jack Rippon and a 6-2 flounder for Ken O'Connor. Besides the trophy flatfish, several customers posted limit catches. Queens Sound and the main channel were the two top spots for flounder. Good numbers of croaker have invaded the inlet and Queen's Sound. Offshore, both yellowfin and bluefin tuna have arrived. The crew aboard the TOOLS-OF-TRADE nailed an 84 3/4 pound bluefin at the lumpy bottom while Paul Rippeon nailed a 208-7 bluefin "on the chunk" at the Parking Lot.

R & R Boat Rentals said good numbers of flounder were caught the past week but many of the flatfish were "throwbacks." The bigger flounder appear to have moved into deep water and the shop suggested the main channel as the best spot for keeper flatfish. Croaker have become abundant throughout most of the inside waters.

Barnacle Bill's weighed flounder to 5 3/4 pounds and suggested Queen's Sound or "just outside the inlet" as the top locations. Croaker have "invaded" and the aggressive fish can be a "problem" for flounder pounders. Large grey trout remain available with fish to 8 pounds captured on artificials at Chincoteague Point the past week. Offshore, a very few but large bluefin have been boated but trolling for yellowfin tuna was very productive at the lumpy bottom.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina told of good yellowfin tuna action at the Norfolk Canyon, lumpy bottom and 26 Mile Hill over the weekend, when several mako shark were boated and sightings of white marlin were reported. Inside the inlet, the flounder bite was rated just "so-so" but flatfish in the 4 to 5 pound range were caught each weekend day. From the bayside, Mark Smith caught a 3-3 croaker near Watts Island.

Capt. Zed's said trout, croaker as well as flounder were biting at the inlet. Offshore, catches of bluefin tuna were recorded at the 3 and 26 Mile hills while yellowfin tuna were boated at the lumpy bottom and Norfolk and Washington canyons. Heaviest yellowfin of the weekend weighed 68 pounds.

Cape Charles -

Chris' Bait and Tackle weighed several big cobia including a 73-13 fish for James Smith, a 67-11 cobia for Stanford Quarles, Jr and a 67 pounder for Russell Smith. The shop also registered cobia releases for Richard Mederith (52 inches) and Steve Quarles (54 inches) and a red drum release for Dave Sears (52 inches). Latimer Shoals and the buoy 13 area were the top spots for cobia while the red drum was boated just outside the Cement Ships. Other notable catches included 5-year-old Will Wyatt's 7-11 sheepshead at the High Rise and William Terry's 10-3 doormat flounder from the Cell.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen at Fish and Finn Charters reported bottom catches are running "nearly 50-50" of croaker and spot, as spot numbers continue to increase. Fair to good numbers of 14 to 17-inch pan trout with the occasional lunker to 4 pounds persist, as schools of "cigar-size" trout have invaded the area. Catches also include taylor blues, flounder and a few sea mullet. Several cobia were sighted but none were hooked the past week.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina told of good weekend catches of flounder and weighed five citation-winning flounder, with Robert Bosher's 7-7 flatfish from the Third Island, the heaviest. The shop also checked-in a 57-6 cobia for Steve McCartney.

John at Bubba's Marina told of excellent weekend catches of flounder and grey trout around the Third and Fourth Islands of the CBBT while cobia "are thick" at Latimer Shoals. Dave Limos, fishing aboard the private boat MISS JEN decked a 53-pound citation-winning cobia at the Inner Middle Grounds on a mid-week trip. John added that spadefish were available around the rocks of the Second and Third islands and the Tower Reef while trollers scored on Spanish mackerel between Cape Henry and Little Creek. Offshore, reports indicate school yellowfin tuna and dolphin were biting at the Fingers.

Dr. Jim Wright said large grey trout were hitting live bait fished amongst the pilings near the High Rise but rated the cobia bite as "slow" in the Bluefish Rock area. Offshore, triggerfish and tautog are holding on some of the inshore wrecks and yellowfin tuna, school-sized king mackerel and loads of false albacore have moved into the Fingers while the best recent bluefin bite had occurred at the lumpy bottom.

Wallace's Marina said the weekend's biggest flounder was Richard Baber's 9-15 flatfish, which was caught at the Third Island but good weekend hauls of flounder were also recorded at Back River Reef, where Ronnie Dunn nailed a 6 pounder. The list of citation-winning cobia was long--with the most recent catch (Tuesday) a 54-pounder caught by Larry Jackson. Roy Brinkley boated a 6-5 sheepshead at the Second Island while several large spadefish were captured at Thimble Shoals Light.

Sunset Marina told of good weekend catches of flounder around the Fourth Island, where customers reported limit catches of flatfish to 5 pounds while others managed to "limit-out" on flounder to 22 inches "right on Hampton Bar." The weekend's heavyweight cobia, a 71 pounder, was boated by Keith Price but Chandler Hogg's 67 pounder was nearly as impressive.

Vanasse Bait and Tackle said weekend catches included croaker, spot and flounder off Factory Point and a scattering of speckled trout from Poquoson Flats.

Penny from Salt Ponds Marina said the lone boat from their marina that fished offshore managed several yellowfin tuna. Greg Ellis was 5 miles off Cape Henry when he caught and released a 47-inch red drum.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said croaker remain abundant throughout most of the York River while flounder are biting in the Gloucester area and off Tue Marsh. Several 20-pound class cobia were caught near York Spit. Thirteen-year-old Christine Clinton was fishing from the families dock when she landed a 5-1 speckled trout on a small piece of bloodworm.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club found spadefish at the Tower Reef, false albacore and school king mackerel at the 26 Mile Hill, fair numbers of yellowfin tuna at the Cigar and reasonably abundant sea bass at the Triangle wrecks but failed to entice any amberjack at the Light Tower on live bait. Inshore, croaker are abundant inside Poquoson River and Dr. Robert Allen and his crew continued their mastery with wireline outfits on flounder at the CBBT.

Virginia Middle Bay -

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported spot numbers are increasing but they are "not as thick as the croaker," as croaker remain eager and are caught "wherever you drop a line." Grey trout to 8 pounds were caught at Smith Point Light and the Target Ships "but mostly at night," according to Roger. Trollers off the Great Wicomico at Bluff Point are catching some Spanish mackerel and loads of snapper blues.

Dan from Smith Point Marina weighed several citation-sized croaker the past week, including an 18 1/2 inch 3 pounder for Rosa Kirby. The Smith Point Light area produced many of the better hauls of bigger croaker. Boats leaving the marina and running into Maryland waters are chumming and catching plenty of school stripers while boats trolling off Smith Point are scoring on Spanish mackerel and snapper blues.

Locklies Marina said flounder catches continue to impress, as some customers are catching a limit of flatfish to 4 pounds. Best flounder action has been between Cherry Point and Parrots Island. The marina also heard of a good bite of large flounder at the Cell. Big croaker are found throughout much of the river with pan trout and "pretty spot" reported at Butlers Hole.

Garretts Marina told of continued good catches of croaker plus fair numbers of spot at buoy 19, which is located just off from the marina.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said good-sized croaker and some spot were holding in the river off Urbana while the grass beds on the backside of Windmill Point were producing a few speckled trout. Across the Bay, bigger croaker, spot, many juvenile shark, grey trout to 4 pounds and even an occasional cobia were holding near the range light. Capt. Thompson added that flounder were becoming active at the Cell.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center was serving as headquarters for the Red, White and Blue Fishing Tournament and on the first day (Tuesday) of the ladies event a 151 1/2 pound bluefin tuna was landed aboard the WATER WITCH to win that leg of the competition. Earlier, the FOUR T's released a pair of big bluefin and kept one 100-pound class fish. The larger bluefin have been caught at the Fingers. The headboat fleet sailing from the marina continues to split time between the Tower Reef for sea bass and the mouth of the Bay for pan trout and loads of croaker.

Paula Owens from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said in addition to the 100-pound class bluefin tuna, boats working the Fingers are catching fair numbers of 30 to 50-pound class yellowfin and the occasional dolphin. Inshore, boats trolling just off the oceanfront are catching Spanish mackerel and some snapper blues.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Several big cobia were decked here the past week, including a 57 pounder by James Lang. Anglers casting or jigging are routinely catching Spanish mackerel to 20 inches while bottom fishermen score on good-sized croaker and flounder.

Buckroe Beach - A 51-pound cobia was decked last Friday but the weekend failed to produce a keeper cobia. Bottom fishing for spot, croaker and flounder is steady while casters are catching Spanish mackerel and a few snapper blues.

Harrison - A huge cobia, estimated to 80 pounds, was hooked and pulled along side of the pier before breaking loose Tuesday but no keepers (37-inch minimum) have been successfully played and landed in the past week--though sightings are fairly routine. Daytime bottom fishermen find croaker and flounder reasonably cooperative while Spanish mackerel are active near the end of the pier early in the day. After dark, the croaker become more aggressive and pan trout swarm beneath the pier lights.

Lynnhaven - The pier enjoyed a fair run of crabs the past several days and several flurries of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues. Sea mullet provide steady bites most of the time while pan trout are available after dark.

Virginia Beach - Strong SW winds usually mean slow fishing along the oceanfront and that was the case over the weekend. A few sea mullet and lots of skate were caught plus fair numbers of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues in a brief period early and late in the day. Water temperature at pierside was 68 degrees on Tuesday.

Sandbridge - Again, SW winds made for slow fishing. The pier spokesman knew only of a handful of pan trout and some sea mullet that were caught in the past several days.

Outer Banks, NC -

Surf and pier anglers along the Nags Head area beaches were hampered by less than ideal conditions the past several days. "These strong SW winds have just killed us," noted Bill MaCaskill at Whalebone Tackle. On the bright side, black drum to 10 pounds and sheepshead nearly as large continue to provide steady action around the pilings of the Oregon Inlet Bridge, where an occasional keeper striper (28 inches ocean) is boated just east of the bridge. Back in the sounds, croaker and spot are available with anglers fishing the "right holes" managing some speckled trout and puppy drum.

For the fleet sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center, limits of yellowfin tuna have been the norm with fair catches of dolphin, wahoo and the occasional bigeye. However, Monday witnessed a shift in the action with fewer but larger yellowfin (50 to 80-pound class fish) and loads of dolphin. The best bite has been from the Point and north. Inshore, amberjack, spadefish and a few school king mackerel are holding on the artificial reefs and nearby towers. Trollers working the mouth of the inlet are catching plenty of Spanish mackerel and snapper blues. Cobia action rivals "the best ever seen," as boats working the tide line/color change south of the inlet sight-cast to pods of the big brown fish. The headboat found a mixture of pigfish and croaker inside the inlet and triggerfish and sea bass on nearby reefs located outside the mouth of the inlet.

The Hatteras fleet has enjoyed tremendous catches of dolphin the past several days but only a scattering of billfish, yellowfin tuna and wahoo. Best action has been centered near the Rockpile. On Monday, the RELEASE turned lose a blue marlin and a sailfish, as Scott Dray of VA Beach released a blue marlin aboard the CITATION. Inshore trollers are catching plenty of Spanish mackerel and snapper bluefish while bottom fishermen are seeing some flounder and trout.

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