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The Saltwater Review - July 12, 2000

Vol. 14, No. 11
by Lewis S. Gillingham

OVERVIEW

The Mid-Atlantic Council/Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Flounder Plan mandated that all states reduce their recreational flounder catch by 40% for the 1999 and 2000 seasons. Anglers are reminded that part of Virginia's 40% reduction in the recreational flounder catch for the 2000 season requires a 9-day closure during the summer. The flounder closure runs from Monday, July 24 through Tuesday, August 1.

This is a reminder of "non-closed period." For the past two years, sea bass have been off limits to recreational anglers during the first two weeks of August. However, after reviewing two years worth of data (catches from north of Cape Hatteras, NC to Maine) it was determined that the 10-inch size limit had produced an adequate reduction in the recreational sea bass catch and the closed period has been lifted. Therefore, there will be no closed season for black sea bass in 2000 for recreational anglers. As a side note, the commercial fishery is managed by a separate quota, which is divided into quarters and each quarter has a specified possession limit. When and if the coastwide commercial quota is reached during a quarter, the commercial industry (all holders of federal permits) are contacted that the fishery will be closed until the start of the next quarter. The commercial fishery also operates under a 10-inch minimum size limit plus assorted gear and area restrictions.

One of the heaviest cobia reported in recent years was caught over the long Fourth of July weekend by Larry Lusk. His trophy fish weighed 100 pounds and will be mounted.

Big flounder staged one of their best showings the past week as 118 trophy flatfish were registered in the annual VSWFT the past week.

Big bluefin tuna (for Virginia waters), many in excess of 100 pounds, are being caught at the Fingers, the Parking Lot and lumpy bottom. Make sure you know the current federal regulations regarding the species (see enclosure).

Chincoteague -

Donna from Capt. Bob's reported big flounder at Queen's Sound and loads of croaker at Four Mouths. Duane Keadee had the week's biggest flatfish, a 6-7 fish, which hit a squid and minnow combination at Queen's Sound. Flounder are also biting "right out front" (of Captain Bob's) in the main channel, according to Donna. Large grey trout remain available inside the inlet with best recent catches reported at Chincoteague Point and Queen's Sound. Offshore, bluefin and yellowfin tuna are caught at the Parking Lot, where the crew aboard the Kat Attack boated a 145 pounder. Trollers working this area are also catching school-sized king mackerel and false albacore.

Bill Robbins at R & R Boat Rental said several keeper flounder were caught "right off the end of our dock" but suggested drifting the edges of the channel on outgoing tide and either Black Narrows or Queens Sound on incoming tide. Lots of croaker have moved inside the inlet with some of the biggest fish reported at the mouth of Queen's Sound.

Barnacle Bill's described the croaker bite as "hot and heavy," saying the fish were most concentrated around the inlet. The shop suggested Queen's Sound and Chincoteague Channel as the best bets for flounder. Offshore, the fleet working the Parking Lot and lumpy bottom are catching bluefin, yellowfin, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel and false albacore.

Wachapreague -

Henry from Wachapreague Marina reported bluefin tuna in excess of 100 pounds were caught at the 20 fathom finger over the weekend, Bill James boated a 100 1/4 pounder aboard the WHITE HOT and Marshall Schimitt decked a 117 pounder and Val Hopkins released a 51-incher aboard the LUCKY DAWG. On two separate trips aboard the JANIE MAC, James Kline boated a 122-pound bluefin and Bruce Wingling a 103-6 tuna. Chris Taylor earned a citation award with a 125-pound bigeye from the Washington Canyon. Inshore, croaker have swarmed into the inlet and dominate the catches.

Capt. Zed's also told of plenty of croaker inside the inlet but added that decent catches of flounder could still be made around the old Coast Guard Station. Offshore, both trollers and chunkers were catching bluefin and yellowfin tuna at the lumpy bottom and Washington Canyon.

Cape Charles -

Mark from Chris's Bait and Tackle weighed several large cobia over the weekend, including citation-winning fish for Donald Goshorn (76 pounds) and Sonny Spiers (66-5) and registered a release for Jim Gordon (48 inches). The buoy 13 area continues to produce the best results. Award winning flounder were weighed by Clarence Wilson (6-14), Chris Quarles (6-9), Lindsay Dickson (6-5) and Mike Jones (6 pounds). The waters surrounding buoy 36A and the Cell produced most of the weekend catches of quality flounder. Mixed sizes of croaker are abundant off Cape Charles and are appearing in greater numbers on the seaside, out of Oyster.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen reported steady action on croaker, spot and trout the past week. More flounder were in the catches the past week, which also saw a scattering of porgy, hogfish, snapper bluefish and sea mullet. Most of the flounder are "keepers" and run from 16 to 19 inches. "It's a typical summer-time pattern," noted Captain Wil, as "the fish bite best early in the morning and late in the day."

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Nancy Cobb from Cobbs Marina reported good weekend catches of flounder along the CBBT, at the Ocean View Reef site and off Cape Henry. Various sizes of weakfish were caught at the Third and Fourth islands, with a decent showing of Spanish mackerel off the Little Creek jetties and in the rips at Cape Henry.

Mike from Bubba's Marina told of good flounder action "around all the islands (CBBT) and especially the First," with trout showing at the Third Island. Trollers find good numbers of Spanish mackerel off Cape Henry and king mackerel and bluefin tuna at the Fingers while bottom fishermen are catching some flounder and puppy drum around the Lesner Bridge. The only negative the past week was the spadefish bite had slowed considerably.

Dr. Jim Wright said schools of large spadefish and amberjack circled a wreck near the Chesapeake Light Tower but were disinterested in biting a baited hook. The 12 and 13 MP's produced several cobia in recent days but Dr. Jim rated the action as only "fair." Offshore, bluefin tuna in excess of 100 pounds were caught at the Fingers while a mixture of school bluefin, yellowfin tuna and king mackerel were caught by trollers working between the 21 and 26 Mile hills.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina said anglers were still talking about the 100-pound cobia landed by Larry Lusk over the July 4 weekend. The huge fish was landed at Inner Middle Shoals on a live eel. Since then, numerous citation-sized cobia (50 pounds weigh-in or 44-inch release) have crossed the marina's docks "but nothing to compare to that 100 pounder." Eddie McCormick weighed the heaviest recent cobia--a respectable 78 pounds while Michael Owen registered the longest release at 54 inches. Flounder catches were good last week with citation-sized flatfish reported from the Back River Reef site, buoy 42 and the CBBT complex. The heaviest flounder weighed was caught at Back River Reef. It was caught by Johnny Lewis and weighed 8 3/4 pounds. Wireliners continue to score on trout and flounder at the CBBT while a scattering of speckled trout, puppy drum, bluefish and striped bass (catch and release only) were caught at Poquoson Flats.

Johnny at Sunset Marina told of weekend catches of flounder to 5 pounds at the Second and Third islands, where limit catches of grey trout (4 fish possession at 12 inches or greater) were also recorded. Elton Lane of Carrollton boated a 63-pound cobia off Buckroe, George Fowler nailed a 59 pounder at Thimble Shoals and Mary McAnally had a 51 pounder at Bluefish Rock.

Vanasse Bait and Tackle reported good catches of cobia just north of Bluefish Rock, some speckled trout at Poquoson Flats and a mixture of trout and croaker in Back River. Recent flounder action was rated only "so-so" except for a couple of big hauls made at the CBBT by wire-line trollers.

Salt Ponds Marina said offshore boats caught a mixture of bluefin and yellowfin tuna while bottom bouncers working outside the entrance to Salt Ponds reeled-in some flounder and croaker.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply weighed several cobia in the 30 to 40-pound range from York Spit the past several days but the only fish heavy enough for a citation was Kevin Greene's 66 pounder. Inside the York, croaker still dominate the catch for bottom fishermen but spot made a significant showing the past week. Flounder were caught around the mouth of the Parrin River and at Yorktown in the York and across the Bay, at buoy 42. Trollers scored on Spanish mackerel off Tue Marsh and around York Spit. The public pier at Gloucester recorded good hauls of both croaker and spot.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club reported catches of flounder at buoy 42 (where Michael Hudgins nailed a 25-inch and 6 pounder), the Hump and Back River Reef. The Back River Reef site remains a consistent producer of nice-sized croaker. The CBBT produced a good mixed catch of keeper flounder, grey trout and several bluefish for skipper Robert Allen and his two-man crew. The only offshore report came from Craige Stallings, as his group boated three yellowfin tuna at the Fingers.

Virginia Middle Bay -

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported mixed schools of croaker and pan trout are holding south of buoy 62 in 40 to 60 feet of water while trout to 6 pounds were caught during the late evening tide at Smith Point Light. Bottom fishermen are catching some keeper flounder around the Smith Point jetty while fair numbers of spot are reported inside the Great Wicomico. Trollers score on snapper blues and Spanish mackerel off Bluff Point, Dividing Creek and the Great Wicomico.

Dan from Smith Point Marina told of good catches of large flounder at the Cell. Many of the flatfish were in the 4 to 5 pound range with a 6-10 fish the heaviest of the week. Big croaker remain available with some of the biggest (several fish over 3 pounds were weighed the past 10 days) coming from the waters surrounding Smith Point Light. Good-sized trout are caught at the Smith Point Light with catches of pan trout reported from Blackberry Hang and the SP buoy. Charter craft traveling into Maryland waters (where the striped bass season is open) are returning with limit catches of school-sized fish. Trollers working local waters are catching Spanish mackerel and snapper blues.

Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service spoke of good flounder action at buoy 42 but had no other reports.

Locklies Marina registered a 6-1 flounder for Harold Gooden. The citation catch was made at buoy 42. Closer to the marina, Canadian angler Daryl Tubman decked a 3-1 croaker off Parrots Island, where Reed Murray caught a 15-ounce spot.

Garretts Marina told of decent catches of croaker and spot plus a few pan trout and the occasional white perch at buoy 19, which is located just outside the marina.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported their headboat fleet recorded good catches of croaker and trout plus a few flounder when fishing the lower portion of the Bay and sea bass when they fished the inshore ocean wrecks. Offshore, several citation-winning bluefin tuna in excess of 100 pounds were claimed over the weekend, according to the spokesperson.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said the marina registered "a lot of weight and release citations for bluefin tuna" in recent days. The heaviest tuna was boated aboard the private boat DEBIT by Brian Deans and it weighed an impressive 174 pounds! Paula added that good numbers of school-sized king mackerel plus a few small yellowfin tuna were caught in the same waters. The marina also weighed a 9-10 sheepshead that was pulled from one of the inshore wrecks.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Bottom bouncers caught a mixture of flounder, sea mullet, spot and croaker over the weekend. Several cobia were hooked from the end of the pier.

Buckroe Beach - Flounder and Spanish mackerel provide most of the excitement during the daylight hours with pan trout making a strong showing after dusk around the pier lights. Several cobia in the 30-pound range were decked the past week.

Harrison - Spot made a strong showing the past several days, as they, along with croaker, provided steady action. Only the occasional keeper flounder has been decked in recent days.

Lynnhaven - Spot made a surprisingly strong showing the past several days. Other catches include sea mullet, taylor bluefish, Spanish mackerel, speckled trout and a precious few keeper flounder.

Virginia Beach -"Every time the wind shifts to NE, we see a good run of spot," noted the pier operator. That happened over the weekend and as recently as Tuesday. Other catches include sea mullet plus the occasional flounder and trout. Despite clear and warm (78 degrees) water conditions around the pier, Spanish mackerel have remained absent for the most part.

Sandbridge - A variety of species were caught in recent days, though none were exceptionally abundant. Catches include pan trout, sea mullet, spot, croaker, flounder, Spanish mackerel, skate and shark.

Outer Banks, NC -

Spot, sea mullet and croaker provided decent action along the Outer Banks last weekend. Add pompano to the mixture on Hatteras Island. Spanish mackerel and snapper blues were caught "early and late" in the day from the ends of local piers and from the beach at Cape Point and Hatteras Inlet when clearwater conditions prevailed. Folks fishing Jennette's Pier enjoyed a good run of hand-sized spot Tuesday morning, according to Bill MaCaskill at Whalebone Tackle. Sheepshead and black drum remain available around the pilings of the Oregon Inlet Bridge while certain "holes" back inside the sound are yielding some speckled trout--"but everybody's not catching them (the trout) like they were last year," noted Bill.

Offshore, the fleet sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center remained in port the past few days due to rough seas. Prior to this, decent catches of yellowfin tuna and dolphin plus a few billfish, bigeye tuna and wahoo were reported. Inshore boats are finding Spanish mackerel and snapper blues near the mouth of the inlet but the cobia bite has slowed.

Out of Hatteras Inlet, dolphin fishing has been excellent recently and the catches are spiced with a few large yellowfin tuna, wahoo and billfish. Boats moving inshore report good hauls of king mackerel, especially around the numerous wrecks and rough bottom areas. Keeva Pawlik of Richmond released a sailfish aboard the TUNA DUCK on Saturday and Lee Skinner of Suffolk had a blue marlin release aboard the HATTERAS FEVER II on Sunday. Boats working near the mouth of the inlet are nearly assured of limit catches of Spanish mackerel plus a good helping of snapper bluefish.

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