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The Saltwater Review - 29 June 1999

Vol. 13, No. 11
by Lewis S. Gillingham
OVERVIEW Chincoteague Wachapreague Cape Charles Onancock
Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel Virginia Middle Bay Virginia Beach Virginia Piers Grandview
Buckroe Beach Harrison Lynnhaven Sandbridge Outer Banks, NC


Due to the observance of the Fourth of July holiday, Monday, July 5, the Virginia Saltwater Review will not be published the week of July 5-9.

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

There are four ways to report 1999 Striped Bass Recreational Trophy fish. You can opt to pick up a report form from any weigh station and mail it in. Or 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. Or 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, the e-mail address is , the FAX number is (757) 247-2264.

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 season. On March 1, 1999, Virginia modified its season, size and bag limits to achieve a 40% reduction. Anglers are reminded that part of Virginia's 40% reduction in the recreational flounder catch (34.2% was obtained by increasing the size limit from 15 to 16 inches) for the 1999 season requires a one-week closure during July. The flounder closure runs from Sunday, July 25 through Saturday, July 31.

Cobia and spadefish highlighted the inshore action over the weekend. Cobia moved close to the Buckroe and Grandview beach shorelines, as anglers fishing both beach piers scored on citation-sized fish. Spadefish action was best at the Cell and the Tower Reef but the hard-fighting fish were also boated at several locations along the CBBT. The past weekend was likely the most lucrative of the season for bluewater anglers, as blue and white marlin, bluefin and yellowfin tuna, wahoo, dolphin and mako shark were boated.


Donna from Capt. Bob's weighed a pair of big flounder the past week, a just-miss citation-sized flatfish for 8 year-old Keith Tindall at 5-14 and a 7-2 fish for Steve Sommerkamp, Sr. Both flounder were boated at Queen's Sound. Decent catches of flounder were also made at Black Narrows but the biggest flounder of the week invariably come from Queens Sound, where croaker have begun to arrive. Trout action remains above average with the pilings of the Queen's Sound Bridge one of the favored locations. Offshore, bluefin tuna have arrived on the inshore hills. The crew aboard the KAJA boated a 194.5 pound mako. Mark Quina weighed the heaviest dolphin of the week, an 18 3/4 pounder.

R & R Boat Rental saw one of its largest trout of the season last week as 11-year-old Doug Quinn weighed a 7-11 fish. The catch was made at Black Narrows and the fish hit a live minnow/ squid strip combination. Black Narrows was also the week's best site for flounder, according to the shop. Bottom fishermen also boated some croaker in the main channel and beached croaker and spot in the surf.

Rosaleen from Barnacle Bill's said some flounder were caught in the main channel and from the shop's pier over the weekend but overall action was slow. Offshore, chopper blues, dolphin and several mako shark were boated.

Daisey's Dockside said flounder were abundant inside Queen's Sound but most were an inch short of the 16-inch minimum size limit. Offshore, a crew fishing with Capt. John Henry trolled several 30-pound class bluefin tuna and a number of chopper blues.


Wachapreague Marina reported Gene Crockett, fishing aboard the JAMES GANG, released an estimated 500-pound blue marlin near the Norfolk Canyon but most of the offshore action was provided by dolphin and yellowfin tuna. Many of the dolphin were in the 5 to 8 pound range but Ron Pelton boated a 21-13 citation-winning bull. Inshore, Robert Marsh pulled a 9 1/2 pound spadefish from one of the nearshore ocean wrecks. Dan Bowers checked-in an 8-3 spadefish from the Cell and Bill Hall stopped by to register a 54-inch cobia release from the CBBT.

Capt. Zed's told of good weekend tuna action for both yellowfin and bluefin. Most of the reports on bluefin came from the 26 Mile Hill while the yellowfin were found at the "canyons," either the Norfolk or Washington. Inside the inlet, Green and Drawing channels served-up the best catches of flounder while sea mullet, croaker and a few flounder were pulled from the channel in front of the old Coast Guard Station.

Cape Charles-

Chris' Bait and Tackle weighed several citation-sized cobia including a 63-6 fish for Warren Meadows , a 62 pounder for Frank Black and a 52-10 cobia for Gary Loughry. Latimer Shoals was the weekend's premier cobia spot, though the 62 pounder was boated at Bluefish Rock. Several angling groups fishing the CBBT did very well on large grey trout. One party fishing around the legs of the High Rise boated trout up to 8 1/2 pounds. Shorebound anglers fishing from the Kiptopeke State Park Pier did well on pan trout after dusk and reported steady croaker and sea mullet action during the day. The shop added that croaker were "all over the Bay" and were starting to show on the seaside at the Tripod buoy out of Oyster.


Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported plenty of croaker, limits of weakfish to 6 pounds and fair numbers of large spot. Capt. Wil said one the his party's croaker topped 4 pounds while an angler fishing aboard the Barbara Anne boated a 15-pound weakfish! The biggest croaker continue to bite on the evening tide with fresh shrimp the favored bait. Anglers fishing specifically for flounder are finding fair numbers of flatfish in the 3 to 4 pound range along the channel edges.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel-

Cobbs Marina reported decent catches of flounder at the CBBT over the weekend while Bluefish Rock was the hot spot for cobia. Offshore trollers found dolphin, some yellowfin tuna and a few wahoo at the Norfolk Canyon.

John from Bubba's Marina said the Tower Reef was "covered-up" with spadefish while trollers scored on Spanish mackerel off Rudee Inlet and around Cape Henry. Inside the bay, trout remain abundant around the four rock islands of the CBBT while cobia provided good weekend action at Bluefish Rock, Inner Middle Ground Shoals and Latimer Shoals.

Dr. Jim Wright spent the early part of the week in Charleston, SC, where he saw and hooked tarpon. Back in local waters, trollers pulling spoons at 9-Foot Shoals scored on red drum while live-baiting with croaker at the Third Island produced weakfish to 7 pounds. Dr. Jim added that amberjack have arrived in good numbers at the South Tower.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Bait and Tackle said "I think everybody went fishing last weekend," as the shop was busy from dawn to after dusk. All tolled, 24 cobia were weighed on Saturday and Sunday, the heaviest was boated by Wayne Gousse and weighed 78 1/2 pounds. The majority of the cobia, including Wayne's 78 1/2 pounder, were caught at or near Bluefish Rock. In addition to the cobia Donnie was impressed with the number and size of the grey trout which were caught. Wirelining the CBBT complex in the vicinity of the 12 MP seemed to produce the biggest and best hauls of trout. Donnie added that "there's still croaker everywhere."

Johnny at Sunset Marina weighed several citation-sized cobia over the weekend including an 80 pounder for Buddy Hollowell, a 78 pounder for Luke Lenix, who also registered a 54-inch cobia release and a 54-pound cobia for Mary Lenix. All were caught at Bluefish Rock on live croaker. The crew aboard the DONNIE BOY limited-out on grey trout to 7 pounds at the CBBT while Ray Cawley traveled up the Bay to buoy 42, where he was rewarded with a 6 1/2 pound Citation flounder.

Allen Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle said cobia made a strong weekend showing around Bluefish Rock and well inshore--as anglers fishing the ends of both Buckroe and Grandview piers had multiple hook-ups as did boats anchored a few hundred yards off the piers. Allen also had good reports of flounder inside Back River and nice catches of trout at the CBBT complex. The shop weighed a 5-2 Spanish mackerel from the CBBT that was caught by Bob Westrill and registered a 7-foot mako shark release for Jerry Jones.

Andy Watkins from Back River Market saw numbers of 30 to 40-pound class cobia over the weekend but only Robert Stanfield's 57 pounder meet citation weight. Bob boated the award winning fish off Plum Tree Island on a live bait. The grass flats off Poquoson are producing some speckled trout for persistent anglers willing to lose some gear to the "green gars." Decent numbers of flounder were caught around the mouth of Back River, according to Andy, with about a 50-50 split of "keepers to throwbacks."

Several members of the Peninsula Anglers Club enjoyed a productive fishing week. Dr. Robert Allen and his fishing cronies continue to find grey trout in the 20 to 26-inch range and a few "keeper" flounder as they wireline the northern section of the CBBT complex. On Saturday the crew headed offshore, trolled the waters surrounding the NOAA weather buoy and boated dolphin to 20 pounds and a small mako. Another pair of club members aboard the HEALTHY GRIN boated bluefin tuna to 53 inches and large false albacore inshore of the Cigar and gaffer dolphin and 20-25 pound yellowfin on and just east of the Cigar. The trip also produced a 75-inch mako, estimated to be near 200 pounds, which was released. The crew aboard the STRIKER fished the Norfolk Canyon, boating school yellowfin, then headed to the Cigar where they were treated to dolphin up to 30 pounds! The crew on the TUNA TRACKER fished the 26 Mile Hill but failed to find any tuna in the 68 degree water. A trip aboard the LAVINIA ANNE began the same way--no bites at the Hot Dog but the crew continued east, fished the Cigar and boated dolphin to over 20 pounds and one yellowfin.

Ben from Salt Ponds Marina said a private boat returned from the Norfolk Canyon with several dolphin and a small mako on Sunday. Inside the Bay, reports indicated cobia were biting at the Second Island and croaker at the Third Island.

Virginia Middle Bay-

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported waters 45 to 50 feet deep surrounding the N2 buoy and the Northern Neck Reef produced good weekend catches of croaker and pan trout. Peeler crab was the favored bait. Trollers pulling small spoons are catching taylor blues and the occasional Spanish mackerel. Roger heard of several cobia that were reportedly boated off Smith Point but did not have any other details. He did confirm that several cobia have been caught in local pound nets.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said several cobia were boated south of Smith Point Light over the weekend while bottom fishermen registered big hauls of croaker and limits of pan trout at the mouth of the river and around Smith Point Light. An angler weighed a nearly 3 1/2 pound croaker on Saturday but left before filling out a citation application for verification. Those charter craft seeking stripers are running into Maryland waters, some 16 miles to the Airplane wreck and returning with limits of 18 to 28-inch bass and taylor blues.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Downrigger Service said spadefish were crowded around the Cell and were hitting tiny bits of clam on small hooks. At buoy 42, anglers jigging 3-inch B2 squids, sweetened with a strip of squid loaded-up on good-sized trout but flounder action in the surrounding waters was rated just "so-so." Croaker remain available "everywhere," according to Jerry, with some of the best hauls of the biggest fish coming just east of the Cell in 35 feet of water.

Jim Thompson from Locklies Marina told of steady bottom fishing inside river. "On the days when it's windy and we fish shallower, more protected water and actually end up catching bigger croaker." The buoy 7 area was suggested as a good location for mixed catches of both spot and croaker plus a few pan trout. Outside the river, the waters between the Cell and Nassawadox Creek hold some of the best concentrations of croaker.

Garretts Marina said bottom fishing remained excellent for good sized croaker with many of the fish running between 2 and 3 pounds. Some of the best action occurred "just out from the marina," according to the spokesman.

Virginia Beach-

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported good weekend catches of dolphin and yellowfin tuna offshore while inshore boats connected with cobia and Spanish mackerel. The headboat fleet reported a mixture of croaker, pan trout and sea bass.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said offshore action for yellowfin tuna and dolphin was very good over the weekend, when several billfish were also released. Robert Seldaggi released an estimated 500-pound blue marlin aboard the HIGH HOPES on Sunday. Saturday, the WATER WITCH released a blue and a white marlin, as several other white marlin were caught and freed. Most of the action occurred from just north of the Cigar up to the north corner of the Norfolk Canyon.

Virginia Piers-

Grandview- Several cobia had already been decked by mid-day Monday and anglers landed cobia up to 40 pounds on Sunday. Sunday also produced decent numbers of Spanish mackerel, pan trout, flounder and croaker.

Buckroe Beach- Three cobia over 60 pounds and a number of others in the 30 to 40-pound class were decked over the weekend, as cobia staged their strongest showing in recent weeks. Spanish mackerel provided "fantastic" action, according to the pier spokesman, who added the locally tied "straw rig" was the hot ticket for the macs. Bottom fishermen reported decent catches of spot, flounder but only a few croaker. After dusk, pan trout are abundant around the pier lights.

Harrison- Flounder provide the bulk of the daytime action but most measure less than 16 inches and must be released. After dark, bottom fishermen are hauling up spot and croaker, often "two-at-a-time" while pan trout are caught on small jigs around the pier lights. At the end of the pier, it was "one or two cobia each day last week," according to the pier spokesman, and the heaviest weighed 66 pounds.

Lynnhaven- Spot have been biting on the early morning and late evening tides the past several days. Bottom fishermen are also managing a few sea mullet and flounder. Crabbing is improving.

Virginia Beach- The pier spokesman rated weekend catches of spot and sea mullet as "excellent" but catches have slowed since Sunday. The past few days also produced a few croaker, flounder, grey and speckled trout. Casters working the end of the pier are catching a few Spanish mackerel--mainly in the evenings. Water temperature at pierside was a seasonal 74 degrees on Tuesday.

Sandbridge- Water around the pier was described as "muddy" on Monday morning and fishing slow. However, the weekend produced a strong run of spot, decent numbers of Spanish mackerel and some taylor blues. A 12-pound chopper blue was decked on Sunday.

Outer Banks, NC-

Outer Banks pier and surf anglers shared in weekend catches of spot, grey and speckled trout, small croaker and bluefish, according to Bill MaCaskill, though the action was not spectacular. Casters working the ends of the pier had the advantage when it came to the bluefish and Spanish mackerel, recording decent catches during the early morning and late evening hours. Down at Oregon Inlet, flounder action was good during clearwater conditions and some anglers choose to play catch-and-release with the striped bass schooled around the bridge pilings. Puppy drum action was rated very good in Davis Slough, where a few speckled trout were also reported. Further inside the sound, spot made a surprise strong showing and more speckled trout were taken.

The bluewater fleet sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported good catches of yellowfin tuna and dolphin plus several bigeye tuna, blue and white marlin. Most of the action was centered around the Point and to the south.

Out of Hatteras, billfish highlighted recent action, though good to excellent numbers of dolphin and yellowfin were taken by some boats. Best billfish bite has been from the Rockpile to the south. Winds have been strong from the SW and many trips were re-scheduled but those that fished in the heavy seas usually did exceptionally week. On the 28th the crew aboard the CITATION had a Grand Slam--two blues, a white and a sailfish. Several other boats scored multiple billfish releases. Dolphin were the most prevalent "meatfish" with the better tuna action located between diamond Shoals Tower and the Point.

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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