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The Saltwater Review - July 18, 2001

Vol. 15, No. 10
by Lewis S. Gillingham

The recreational season for Black Sea Bass closed Sunday, July 15, 2001 and will remain closed through Tuesday, August 14, 2001. Anglers are reminded that the recreational Black Sea Bass minimum size limit is 11 inches with a 25-fish possession limit. Additionally, the NMFS has closed (as of 0001 hours July 17, 2001) the commercial sea bass fishery through September 30, 2001, to all Federally permitted vessels (notice is enclosed).

The summer closed period for Summer Flounder runs from Tuesday, July 24, 2001 through Tuesday, August 7, 2001. The minimum size limit for Summer Flounder will remain at 15-1/2 inches and the possession limit is 8-fish.

Anglers are reminded that a 12-inch size limit and 4-fish possession limit is in effect from May 1 through August 15 for weakfish (grey trout).

Bluefin tuna have arrived off Virginia's coast. The NMFS has adjusted angling category retention limit for Atlantic bluefin tuna for the upcoming season. A copy of this notice and final quota specifications is attached.

Excellent catches of bluefin tuna highlighted offshore catches the past week. Most of the larger fish were caught while chunking, either at anchor or on the drift. Catches of bluefin in excess of 100 pounds were reported from the Fingers, 21 and 26 Mile hills, the Parking Lot and lumpy bottom. Stories abound of the "big one that got away" probably a fish close to 200 pounds or more.

Big flounder were boated at so many different locations it is hard to pinpoint any one spot but most came from relatively deepwater and certainly the buoy 42/Cell area, the CBBT complex and waters off Cape Henry were several of the top locations.

Good numbers of cobia remain inside Chesapeake Bay but the fish have dispersed widely and are often spotted idling along on the surface "out in the middle of nowhere." Fish up to 84 pounds were boated the past week and a 71-pounder was decked at Buckroe Pier.

Chincoteague -
Captain Bob's reported dozens of 100-pound plus bluefin tuna were caught at the lumpy bottom in recent days. The heaviest went 145-1/2 pounds and nearly all were caught chunking. Trollers working the Washington Canyon caught yellowfin and dolphin and a few smaller bluefin. Inside the inlet, flounder fishing was "a little slow" but some keepers are being caught in the deeper holes of the main channel. 

Barnacle Bill's said overall fishing action inside the inlet was slow, "we've got croaker here one day but not the next." Flounder appear to have slipped into their "summer doldrums" period, as hot weather prevailed much of the week. On a positive note, Spanish mackerel and several cobia were caught inside the inlet the past week. Offshore, the tuna bite was described as "excellent," most of the fish are being caught at either the Parking Lot or lumpy bottom by boats chunking with butterfish. Most of the tuna are bluefin. The shop weighed half-a-dozen bluefin in excess of 100 pounds and the largest went 138 pounds but stories of much bigger fish were common.

Wachapreague Marina reported a good "chunk bite" of bluefin tuna at the 21 and 26 Mile hills while trollers boated yellowfin, dolphin and the occasional bluefin between the 20 fathom finger and Washington Canyon. Bill Tytus released a blue marlin aboard the RED TIDE and Edgar Kale released a blue marlin aboard the HEAT WAVE. Inshore, Beverly Hill of Parksley (81 inches) and Tyler Hill (78 inches) each released big shark at Green Channel and Bill Killmon of Onley boated a 6-1/2 pound flounder at Quinby. 

Captain Zed's told of excellent tuna fishing offshore. Richard Horton nailed an 87-pound yellowfin at the 21 Mile Hill and the shop weighed several bluefin tuna in excess of 100 pounds. Flounder action was rated as "fair" inside the inlet. Charles Lewis stopped-in to weigh an 8-1/2 pound flounder from the Cell.

Cape Charles
Chris' Bait and Tackle registered cobia releases for Paul Bowers (44 inches), Steve Bowers (44-1/2 inches), Dave Barbee (46 inches), James Councilman (47 inches) and Richard Hubbard (49 inches), as Scott Rittenhouse (61 pounds, 2 ounces) and Charles Gunther (64 pounds, 6 ounces) checked-in weight citations. Most of the cobia were caught between buoys 16 and 36A. The High Level Bridge area produced citation-winning spadefish for Charles Lewis (8-1/4 pounds and 9-1/4 pounds) and Ronda Petka (8-1/4 pounds). Robert Overton boated a 6-1/4 pound flounder at the Cell while Dennis Bridgeman (6-15) and Greg Coates (7-11) each pulled citation flounder from the waters surrounding the High Rise section of the CBBT. James Beasley, Jr (45 inches) and James Beasley, Sr (49 inches) each released red drum at the Cabbage Patch. The seaside port of Oyster served-up shark release awards for Shane Smith (6-1/2 feet), Dale Smith (7-feet) and Scott Rittenhouse (10-feet).

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported plenty of good-sized croaker off Onancock, as spot and trout numbers improved the past week. Most spot are large, running 8 to 10 inches while most trout measure 14 to 20 inches. Other catches include bluefish, flounder and shark. The early morning and late evening tides have produced the best action. 

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -
Cobbs Marina saw several large bluefin tuna in recent days and the heaviest weighed 130 pounds. Most of the tuna were caught between the Fingers and Norfolk Canyon. The marina received good reports of flounder from the Third and Fourth island areas and weighed several flatfish meeting and exceeding the qualifying weight of 6 pounds. Anglers are also reporting seeing plenty of spadefish around the CBBT complex but the fish are reluctant to bite.

Bubba's Marina told of good flounder action around the First and Third islands and checked-in an 11 pounder on Monday. Pods of black drum are becoming more prominent around the islands while spadefish are abundant at the Fourth Island and Tower Reef but "not biting."

Dr. Jim Wright said the High Level Bridge area was producing some big flounder, as Jimmy Kolb boated a 6-5 citation-winner mid-week. Dr. Jim described the amberjack bite at the South Tower as "awesome" with many of the jacks measuring in excess of the 48-inch qualifying size for a release award. Offshore, anglers anchoring and chunking with cut butterfish at the Fingers are catching limits of bluefin tuna.

The spokesman from Wallace's Marina felt the cobia bite had slowed, even though over a dozen were weighed-in over the weekend including a pair of 70-pounders plus an 84 pounder. Flounder were hitting best around the Third and Fourth islands and off Cape Henry and spadefish were available around the Fourth Island and many of the inshore ocean wrecks. Further offshore, the bluefin tuna bite was "real good" and the shop weighed tuna up to 138 pounds over the weekend.

Johnny at Sunset Marina said one party of anglers caught four citation spadefish at the High Rise. William Polk used small bits of clam to fool 8-3/4 and 8-1/2 pound spadefish into hitting the hook while fishing partner Paul Eilers hooked-up on 8-1/4 and 8-1/2 pound fish wielding a flyrod and home-made fly. Kimberly Price boated a 55-pound cobia at Bluefish Rock, Kent Davis nailed a 6-1 flounder at the HRBT and Stanton Jones landed a 3-1/2 pound croaker at the M & M crossing.

Allen Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle told of good catches of croaker to 2-1/2 pounds at Back River Reef and nice hauls of flounder off Buckroe Beach, the HRBT, Back River Reef and the CBBT complex.

Back River Market said the York Spit Light area produced several cobia in the 30 to 40-pound class the past week and a 55-pound citation winner for Ryan McDougal. The shop received good reports of spadefish from the High Level bridge and Fourth Island areas of the CBBT, where Steve Forrest nailed a 10.2 pounder. Benjamin Wright weighed-in a 75-pound yellowfin tuna. The catch was made at the Norfolk Canyon on a live croaker.

Mark from Salt Ponds Marina weighed several citation-sized flounder from the Third Island area on Monday. Mark said weekend catches included tuna and dolphin for the offshore boats while croaker and trout were caught outside the entrance to Salt Ponds.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply told of good catches of flounder, with several topping 6 pounds, in the buoy 42 area. Some flounder are still being caught "locally" around the Gloucester Point Bridge. Croaker are "all over the York River" but smaller-sized fish are starting to dominate. Spot are starting to show in the catches but pan trout have become scarce. Cobia were caught at York Spit and the Swash over the weekend.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club reported swarms of hungry amberjack at the South Tower, bluefin tuna in excess of 100 pounds at the Fingers and citation flounder at the CBBT complex. Bill Cook, Jeff Dail and Jay Graber fished the South Tower with live croaker and boated 27 jacks of which 20 were long enough to qualify for a release award (48 inches). Their longest fish measured 52 inches. Several different groups fished the Fingers, chunking with butterfish for bluefin tuna. Results were uniformly good. The crew fishing with Don Crist accounted for the biggest bluefin, a 142 pounder but fish estimated to 200 pounds were hooked and lost. The Club's heaviest reported flounder of the week, a fat 9 pounder, was caught "accidently" while catch-and-release striper fishing at the CBBT.

Virginia Middle Bay -
Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported steady action on croaker along the channel edges off Smith Point, where some pan trout were also boated. Some of the best hauls of croaker have come during the late evening tide in 55 feet of water and just south of buoy 62. Decent catches of flounder were made along Smith Point jetty while trollers outside the jetty worked hard for a few Spanish mackerel.

Smith Point Marina told of decent catches of croaker and bluefish plus a few large spot to 16 ounces.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitter's told of good catches of flounder from the Cell\buoy 42 area, as Wayne Webb of Center Cross landed a 7-1 flatfish and North Carolina angler Wayne Lilly a 6 pounder. Spadefish remain available at the Cell but the fish average smaller than a month ago. Trollers working the same waters report decent numbers of taylor blues but very few Spanish mackerel. Bruce Wiltshire of Maidens boated a 54-pound cobia at York Spit Light.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen were loading coolers full of croaker at the R2 buoy and Butlers Hole while spot to over 16 ounces were being caught in the vicinity of the White Stone Bridge.

Garretts Marina also told of excellent catches of big croaker (the shop checked-in four citation fish to 3-1/4 pounds in recent days) plus some spot to 17 ounces and the occasional pan trout. The channel edges near buoy 19 seem to be producing the best action.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina told of good weekend flounder action at the Cell, where bottom fishermen are also catching good numbers of croaker plus some shark. Decent catches of spot were also recorded off Windmill Point, at Butler's Hole, while the captain described the trout bite at Windmill Point Bar as "hit or miss."

Virginia Beach -
Headboats sailing from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center are fishing the lower Bay for flounder and croaker while most of the offshore fleet has switched to chunking for bluefin tuna. Limit catches of bluefin to over 100 pounds are common for the offshore fleet, whose catches include some yellowfin tuna and dolphin. Inshore, half-day boats are trolling for Spanish mackerel and taylor blues along the Virginia Beach oceanfront.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina said their fleet was fishing in the vicinity of the Fingers, were anchoring and chunking for bluefin tuna. Limit catches of bluefin in the 70 to 100-pound range were common. Several billfish were caught and released over the weekend.

Virginia Piers
Grandview - Fair numbers of flounder and some medium croaker were caught during daylight hours while catches of croaker improved after dark, when trout, spot and sea mullet added to the action. A 42-inch cobia was decked Tuesday (July 17).
Buckroe Beach - A pier spokesman told of good daytime catches of flounder plus some croaker. Pan trout are showing beneath the pier lights after dusk when shark usually move within casting distance. A 71-pound cobia was decked Monday morning (July 16).
Harrison - Charlie said sadly, "its been slim pickings the past few days," as small to medium croaker and "hundreds of rays" dominated the action. On the plus side, crabbing has been excellent since Monday, a 40-pound cobia was decked over the weekend and pan trout are holding around the pier lights after dusk.
Lynnhaven - Fisher folks witnessed an influx of crabs the past week and reported catching some Spanish mackerel, bluefish, spot, croaker and sea mullet. Best action is between dusk and dawn.
Virginia Beach -Fishing was slow following the weekend but the pier spokesperson said good catches of spot, croaker, keeper flounder, sea mullet, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and crabs were recorded over the weekend. Water temperature at pierside was 73 degrees on Tuesday (July 17).
Sandbridge - While overall action was rated "real slow" by the pier attendant, some croaker, sea mullet and trout were decked but most came "real early in the morning or late in the evening."

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach and pier action was slow from Duck to Oregon Inlet. Early morning and late evenings produced a scattering of snapper blues, sea mullet and spot in the surf while casters working the ends of piers recorded a few Spanish mackerel and bluefish.

South of Oregon Inlet, Spanish mackerel and taylor blues were hitting at Cape Point on Buxton at daybreak and dusk. South Beach and Avon had a mixture of panfish including sea mullet, pompano, spot and croaker. A 44-inch cobia was beached at Cape Point Sunday morning and Willis Muska of Roanoke landed a citation 2-3/4 pound pompano earlier in the week.

Offshore, the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported decent numbers of gaffer dolphin, some yellowfin tuna, several bigeye tuna and a few billfish on Friday. The crew aboard the CAROLINIAN boated bigeye of 147, 149 and 186 pounds and three bigeye were also pulled aboard the PELICAN. Heaviest bigeye for the day was a 246 pounder on the FIGHT-N-LADY. A sailfish was released by the TUNA FEVER. On Saturday, Bill Smith of Richmond released a blue marlin on the CAROLINIAN, the crew aboard CAPT BC released a pair of whites and boated a 49-pound wahoo. A blue marlin and sailfish were released aboard the WILD FIRE. On Sunday, CAPT BC released a sailfish and boated a 100-pound class bigeye, the PELICAN landed a 129-pound bigeye, the FIN GALLEY released a blue marlin and the REEL MAGIC boated a 97-pound yellowfin and released a white marlin. On Monday, the FIGHT-N-LADY landed a 196-pound bigeye, the CAROLINIAN had bigeye of 105 and 160 pounds and TUNA FEVER boated five bigeye. For the same time period, the inshore boats trolling near the mouth of the inlet recorded good catches of taylor blues plus some Spanish mackerel, bonita and several cobia. The headboat had light catches of croaker, flounder and sea bass.

For the bluewater fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet, results at the end of the day Friday, Saturday and Sunday were nearly identical--plenty of bailer and gaffer dolphin, scattered catches of yellowfin tuna and wahoo and several billfish releases each day. Monday saw a big increase in billfish, as the fleet recorded nearly two-dozen releases and dolphin remained in good supply. The TUNA DUCK II released three white marlin and boated citation dolphin of 61 and 37 pounds for one of the top catches. David Brasford of Leesburg released a blue marlin aboard the GAMBLER.

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.

Click on Newsletter link to get to the index of previous Saltwater Reviews

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