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The Saltwater Review - July 26, 2001

Vol. 15, No. 11
by Lewis S. Gillingham


Wachapreague | Cape Charles | Onancock | Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel | Middle Bay | Virginia Beach Virginia Piers | Outer Banks, NC

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 began Tuesday, July 24, 2001 and will continue 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 the angling category retention limit for Atlantic bluefin tuna for the upcoming season. A copy of this notice and final quota specifications is attached.

Good catches of cobia weighing as much as 84-1/2 pounds were recorded over the weekend despite strong northeast winds. Expect these gamesters to remain within the Bay system through August.

With flounder season closing Tuesday, July 24, many anglers focused their weekend fishing activity on these delectable flatfish. Though hampered by strong northeast winds, flounder were caught at the usual suspect locations, such as the CBBT and HRBT complexes, off Cape Henry, along the Baltimore Channel, off the Cement Ships and in the vicinity of buoy 42.

More spot were reported the past week along the Western Shore, especially in the mid-portion of the Rappahannock River, the mouth of Sarah's Creek in the York River and from several of the piers in Hampton Roads.

Chincoteague -
Donna from Captain Bob's reported the run of big bluefin tuna slowed last week, as weather the latter part of the week kept most offshore anglers in port. Earlier in the week, bluefin tuna in excess of 100 pounds were common place and "everything was at the lumpy bottom." The most successful method was to anchor and chunk with either butterfish or sardine. Schools of large bluefish arrived and bluefin catches have since dropped. Just prior to the rough weather, anglers retreated to the Parking Lot and caught bluefin tuna but very few bluefish. Results from the shop's tuna tournament show Tom Valek winning the event with a 149-pound bluefin and Ken Goeller placing second with a 145-pound bluefin. Inshore, the flounder bite slowed considerably as the season came to a close July 24. Some croaker were being caught between the CV buoy and marker 15. 

Barnacle Bill's rated tuna fishing as "excellent, when they can get out." Limit catches of bluefin tuna were made at the Parking Lot on Monday but most boats were "blown out" Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Schools of pan trout are holding a few miles from the inlet. Inside the inlet, "even the croaker bite was slow," and the shop's spokesman felt waters inside the inlet were "just too warm."

Wachapreague Marina reported strong northeast winds brought fishing action to a near standstill, "even the croaker bite was slow." Prior to the weekend, Wayne Evans released a blue marlin at Norfolk Canyon and Edward Overton boated an 82-5 yellowfin tuna at the lumpy bottom.

Captain Zed's said catches of tuna earlier in the week were very good at the 21 Mile Hill and the lumpy bottom. Inshore, croaker have moved in and now dominate the catches, though some flounder and trout were reported.

Cape Charles
Chris' Bait and Tackle registered six citation-winning flounder (6-pound minimum) the past week. Three of the flatfish were 7 pounds or better and were caught by Joseph Bargess (7-9), George Giamanco (7-6) and Bruce Jenrette (7 pounds). The Cell, the Cement Ships and Baltimore Channel were the top locations for flounder. Ron Hoover boated a 61-inch and 72-pound, 1-ounce cobia at Latimer Shoals and J.A. Scott beached a 20-inch, 3-1/2 pound croaker at Smith Beach.

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported rough seas on Saturday "but my party caught lots of fish." Croaker continue to dominate the catches in 25 to 30 feet of water off Onancock but anglers are seeing an increasing number of flounder and shark, a scattering of trout and some taylor blues and sea mullet. Spot have become suddenly scarce.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -
Cobbs Marina reported a "very slow weekend" due to the weather and "now the flounder season has closed," and their lot was nearly empty of boat trailers.

Bubba's Marina told of excellent offshore action for bluefin tuna at the Fingers, where anchoring and chunking with butterfish has provided the best success. Strong northeast winds limited fishing activity over the weekend but coming into the weekend (and during the weekend for a handful of hardy anglers) good catches of flounder were recorded near the Third Island of the CBBT, along the Baltimore Channel and off Cape Henry.

Dr. Jim Wright and his party fished for flounder and caught flounder on a mid-week outing to the CBBT complex. Upon returning to the dock, Dr. Jim saw "the best stringer of flounder I've ever seen" as two anglers had a dozen flatfish and over half exceeded 6 pounds. The pair had fished between the Fourth Island and the High Level Bridge.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina said 18 cobia crossed the docks at Wallace's over the weekend despite less than ideal weather "and that's a pretty good number of cobia anytime of the season," according to Donnie. The parade of cobia was lead by Don Foreman's 84-1/2 pounder. Foreman's trophy catch, and catches of most of the other cobia, were made in the vicinity of Bluefish Rock. Danny Boulais nailed a huge 11-pound, 1-ounce spadefish at the Fourth Island and fair to good numbers of flounder were brought in but "I didn't weigh any citations," which was unusual. The best flounder areas were Back River Reef, the CBBT complex and off Cape Henry.

Johnny from Sunset Marina weighed a 6-pound flounder for Dwayne Wade of Hampton. The citation catch was made at the HRBT on a live minnow. Dennis Weeks also fished the HRBT and returned with a 3-1 croaker. Other reports indicated fair to good catches of croaker around the HRBT and a few keeper flounder "but a lot of throwbacks" at Hampton Bar.

Salt Ponds Marina checked-in half-a-dozen citation flounder just prior to the closed period. The largest weighed 7 pounds, 11 ounces and nearly all the jumbo flatfish were caught while wirelining near the Third Island. One of the wirelining anglers even boated a 48-inch cobia, which was released. The marina indicated that spadefish were still abundant at the CBBT complex and anglers were catching the saucer-shaped fish "when they fish for them."

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply weighed a 57-1/2 pound cobia for Bob McComb, III of Gloucester Point. The citation catch was made at York Spit. Jered Hooks boated a 7-1/2 pound flounder near buoy 42. Croaker continue to dominate the bottom fishing action in the York River, though some spot were caught at the mouth of Sarah's Creek and flounder were hitting near the Gloucester Bridge. In addition to cobia, anglers reported catching Spanish mackerel at York Spit. 

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club were hampered by strong winds for much of the week and all of the weekend but still managed some good catches. One group fished the Fingers and chunked-up a 124-pound bluefin tuna while another party found keeper flounder at the HRBT. The crew fishing aboard the A TEAM chummed for cobia and Don Lancaster released a 45-inch cobia while Don Foreman boated a 66-inch and 84-1/2-pound cobia. A half day trip live-baiting at the Chesapeake Light Tower produced a mixture of jack crevalle, amberjack and barracuda!

Virginia Middle Bay -
Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported waters around the N2 buoy are loaded with croaker and a few pan trout and small spot. Flounder to 26 inches were caught near the jetty over the weekend. Trollers working Smith Point Bar report fair to good success on Spanish mackerel and snapper bluefish early and late in the day while mid-day action has been uniformly disappointing.

Smith Point Marina told of excellent bottom fishing for croaker "just about anywhere" while flounder provided decent action at the Smith Point Jetty until the season closed Tuesday, July 24. Trollers found Spanish mackerel and snapper blues around the Smith Point Light while waters right at the light produced trout to 5 pounds in the evening and after dark. Some boats continue to fish for rockfish and are running into Maryland waters (where the season is open), chumming near buoy 72 and catching decent numbers of school stripers. 

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said weekend winds kept most anglers in the rivers and creeks where they caught various-sized croaker and some small spot. At the mouth of the Rappahannock, bottom fishermen working between the R1 and R2 buoys enjoyed good catches of croaker . Several cobia were boated off Silver Beach while fish were sighted at the Cell but would not bite. Saturday's Flounderamma Tournament held at Windmill Point Resort was won by Joe Holloway with an 8.1 flatfish. On Sunday, Michael Hanhart of Hopewell decked a 7-pound, 1-ounce flounder at buoy 42, James Donahue landed an 8-2 flounder at Cape Charles Reef and Quanda Rice caught a 20-1/2 inch, 3-3/4-pound croaker at the Route 3 Bridge.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen recorded good weekend catches of hand-sized spot at Butlers Hole and mixed sizes of croaker at the R2 buoy. The waters surrounding the R2 buoy also produced shark up to 3 feet long, snapper bluefish and pan trout. 

Garretts Marina told of good hauls of large croaker, as the shop registered several citation fish of over 3 pounds on the weekend. Spot numbers have improved recently with some fish going 16 ounces and better. The top locations have been Morratico Bar and buoy 19.

Captain Jim Thompson at Windmill Point Marina said bottom fishing was "real good out in the Bay when we can get out," and suggested drifting in 30 to 35 feet of water between the R1 and R2 buoys. The same waters hold "lots of shark," according to Captain Thompson. Captain Jim knew of several big flounder that were boated near buoy 42 on Saturday, despite strong northeast winds. Captain Thompson indicated that the spadefish bite at the Cell had slowed considerably.

Virginia Beach -
The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported excellent catches of bluefin tuna to 160 pounds the past week but with big seas and winds from the northeast no trips were made by the offshore fleet from Friday through Sunday. Prior to the rough conditions, trollers scored on yellowfin tuna near the Norfolk Canyon and several billfish were caught and released near the Triple 0's. Inshore, taylor blues provided the bulk of the action for trollers working outside the breakers along the resort strip, as Spanish mackerel became scarce the past week. The headboats, when they could fish, found a mixed bag of croaker, flounder and pan trout at the mouth of the Bay but will concentrate on croaker the next two weeks as both flounder and sea bass are now closed (flounder will re-open Wednesday, August 8 and sea bass will become a legal target Wednesday, August 15).

A spokesman for Fisherman's Wharf Marina said a few of their boats went out Sunday, caught and released white and blue marlin and boated a few small dolphin and a scattering of tuna, "but they haven't been out since."

Virginia Piers
Grandview - Good catches of 15-1/2 to 19-inch flounder were made up until the flounder season closed, Tuesday, July 24. Bottom fishermen also recorded decent catches of croaker to 1-1/2 pounds, trout to 19 inches and some hand-sized spot. No cobia were decked the past week but good numbers of shark have been biting in the evenings and after dark.

Buckroe Beach - Scattered catches of spot and croaker during the daytime with better catches of croaker plus some trout and shark after dark. Several small "pup" cobia were decked the past week but nothing large enough to keep (37-inch minimum size limit).

Harrison - Daytime catches are slim for finfish with only a few scattered croaker reported. Most of the daytime action has been supplied by crabs and catches of several dozen are not uncommon. After dark, fishing improves and decent numbers of spot, croaker and pan trout were caught.

Lynnhaven - Female blue crabs remain in fair to good supply but weekend catches of fish were very light. "We really haven't done much since the storms, until last night (July 24)" when anglers began catching spot "like crazy" on bits of bloodworm.

Virginia Beach - Overall action was rated as slow the past week with sea mullet and croaker providing most of the limited action. Water temperature at pierside was 75 degrees on Wednesday (July 25).

Sandbridge - Bottom fishing was slow most of the week with a scattering of spot and croaker reported. Shark of up to nearly 50 pounds have created some excitement for those fishing bait on the bottom after dark. A few snapper blues and Spanish mackerel were decked early Monday (July 23) and several cobia were hooked earlier the past week.

Outer Banks, NC -

Panfish dominated the catches along the Nags Head area beaches while some considerably bigger fish were decked on the area piers. Bottom fishermen from both surf and pier reported fair catches of croaker, spot and some sea mullet. Casters working the ends of the piers scored on some Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish early and late in the day while live-baiters recorded catches of cobia, king mackerel and jack crevalle early in the week. Several dolphin (fish) were even decked at the Avalon Pier! Casters standing on the north side of Oregon Inlet managed a few Spanish mackerel and snapper blues while several puppy drum were caught on bait. The Catwalk at Oregon Inlet produced a mixture of black drum, striped bass, spadefish, bluefish, puppy drum and flounder. Several cobia were spotted amongst the pilings.

South of the inlet, the north beach areas between ramps 23 and 27 produced a few puppy drum plus a mixture of flounder, pompano, sea mullet, snapper blues and pan trout. A red drum was decked at Avon Pier on Saturday. Cape Point at Buxton, featured an "on and off" early morning, late evening bite of Spanish mackerel and snapper bluefish with spot and croaker the main catch during the day. Despite rain and wind on Sunday, a citation sea mullet of nearly 2 pounds and a 2-5 pompano were checked-in at the Red Drum Tackle Shop. Sunday evening, an estimated 90-pound tarpon was caught and released at Frisco Pier.

Offshore, the fleet docked at the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center recorded excellent catches of billfish on Friday, with as many as six releases from a single boat. On Saturday, fair catches of yellowfin tuna, a few dolphin and several large wahoo complemented the billfish action. The crew aboard the DOG HOUSE was high boat with two blue marlin releases and one white marlin release. On Sunday, dolphin were more abundant and several boats returned with limit catches. Fair numbers of yellowfin and billfish were reported. The crew on board the PELICAN released a pair of white marlin. On Monday, billfish numbers were up again. The HAPHAZARD released six white marlin and a blue marlin. The PELICAN released a pair of whites and two blues. The HIGH RETURN and RIGGED-UP each released three white marlin and the GALOMINE boated a 186-pound bigeye tuna.

The offshore fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet reported good numbers of dolphin and wahoo plus some yellowfin tuna on Friday. The RELEASE boated and turned loose a pair of sailfish and HATTERAS FEVER released a single sail. On Saturday, the fleet returned with fair numbers of dolphin and wahoo plus a few yellowfin tuna. Sunday's catches were similar plus there were some king mackerel. On Monday, the dolphin numbers improved, tuna were scarce but decent numbers of wahoo and king mackerel were recorded.

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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