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The Saltwater Review - August 1, 2001

Vol. 15, No. 12
by Lewis S. Gillingham

OVERVIEW | 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).

Poor weather conditions and a closed flounder season was a dominate theme in this week's report and in tandem produced a very light turn-out of anglers in most areas.

One bright spot was the cobia action in the vicinity of Bluefish Rock, where fish to over 80 pounds were boated.

Another was several of the area piers that experienced especially good runs of spot and croaker.

Spot are also making a decent showing in the middle portions of the Rappahannock River but concentrations of these sought after bottom fish are hard to locate in most other areas.

Tuna remain available on the offshore grounds, though bluefin are being replaced by yellowfin in terms of abundance in the southern areas.

Chincoteague -
Donna from Captain Bob's reported bluefin tuna are being caught at the Parking Lot and lumpy bottom "whenever the weather cooperates," which hasn't been often recently. J.R. West chunked-up a 113-1/4 pound bluefin at the lumpy bottom on butterfish but most offshore anglers opted to remain in port due to rough seas and strong winds. Inshore, with flounder season closed, catches were mostly croaker and a few sea mullet.

Barnacle Bill's said the croaker bite was "hot and heavy" at Queen's Sound and between buoys 4 and 5. Offshore, tuna remain the main catch with bluefin holding at the Parking Lot and lumpy bottom and yellowfin further offshore near the canyons.

Wachapreague Marina reported the annual Eastern Shore Marlin Club's billfish tournament was held last week, despite poor weather conditions on the offshore grounds. Time-of-release determined the winner, as the crew on the WHITE HOT finished in first place with a white marlin release, the JAMES GANG was second with a blue marlin release and the WAVE DANCER was third with a white marlin release. Jim Robertson on the LUCKY DAWG reeled-in the event's biggest bluefin at 190 pounds while John Patterson on the CLIFF HANGER landed the heaviest yellowfin at 70 pounds. C.L. Marshall on the CONTENDER boated the heaviest wahoo at 56-7 and Dave Barbour on the SCORPIO entered the biggest dolphin at 30 pounds, 6 ounces.

Captain Zed's indicated both chunkers and trollers were catching tuna at the 26 Mile Hill, the Parking Lot and at the 30 Fathom Fingers. Inshore, some large spot moved into the inlet and John Wood aboard the TEACHER'S PET landed a citation-winning 17 ouncer.

Cape Charles
Chris' Bait and Tackle Shop registered just one citation-winning fish, a 48-inch cobia release by Shane Smith of South Carolina from buoy 36A, the past week. "It was a real slow week," as weather, coupled with the flounder closure, kept many anglers off the water. Those that bottom fished off Cape Charles found decent numbers of large croaker while those fishing on the seaside out of Oyster reported better numbers of croaker but smaller sizes.

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported plenty of croaker ranging up to 2 pounds. Spot remain relatively scarce while decent numbers of trout, blowfish, sea mullet, bluefish, sharks and "lots of small sea bass" make for near continuous action. Some large black drum still linger in area waters. 

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -
Cobbs Marina had no fishing activity to report for the weekend and through Monday, "its just been too windy and rainy."

Chris from Bubba's Marina described the past several days as "really slow," and heard only that good numbers of croaker were biting off Cape Henry.

Dr. Jim Wright said anglers that fished the protected waters inside Lynnhaven Inlet caught decent numbers of croaker and spot and a surprising number of flounder, "even though they weren't fishing for them (flounder) and had to throw them back (because of the closed season)." Dr. Jim expects the flounder bite will be very good once the season re-opens August 8, "based on what I saw them catching inside Lynnhaven." Dr. Wright also told of a good run of crabs at Lynnhaven Pier and back inside the Lynnhaven complex.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina said cobia fishing was surprisingly good over the weekend, "considering the weather," as nine cobia were checked-in. Billy Savage boated the lunker at 81 pounds. The windy conditions persisted Tuesday but Don Foreman and crew aboard the A TEAM caught ten cobia, releasing all but a 49 pounder. Donnie said the Bluefish Rock area, or more specficially some lumps slightly northeast of Bluefish Rock, was the hotspot. Donnie added that some decent-sized spot were caught on bloodworms at the mouth of the river but "people just don't fish for spot like they used to." As, for speckled trout, "I don't know where they are but they're not here."

Rick from Sunset Marina told of decent hauls of large croaker from the M & M crossing despite poor weather conditions the past week. Stanton Jones of Chesapeake weighed the heaviest croaker of the week at 3 pounds, 11 ounces.

Vanasse Bait and Tackle reported good cobia action between the rockpile and Bluefish Rock. Spadefish remain available in the High Level Bridge area and croaker are "still in strong" from Factory Point to the HRBT. The HRBT also features sizable grey trout after dark. 

Back River Market said Freddie Bogges boated a 52-pound cobia off Back River and Owen Belamy released a 47-inch red drum while fishing Poquoson Flats but overall fishing activity was very low due to poor weather conditions.

Salt Ponds Marina said few anglers fished over the weekend due to weather and "we've got a lot of people that just fish for flounder and the season is closed." The weather improved by Tuesday and several groups returned with some big croaker.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said fishermen were scarce the past week, "between the weather and the closing of flounder season," not many folks fished. Jimmy did know croaker were still biting in the York River off Cheatham Annex and spot were caught at Gaines Point (also on the York River).

Like most anglers, most members of the Peninsula Anglers Club stayed in port last week due to the inclement weather. Two exceptions were the crew on board the A TEAM, as Don Foreman released a 54-inch cobia and Dave Boyce a 42-incher off Back River while Captain Richard Barlett's party on the REELEASER boated three yellowfin tuna at the Fingers in Saturday's northeast gale.

Virginia Middle Bay -
Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware had very little to report, "the weather was so windy all last week hardly anybody fished." Once the weather improves, Roger expects croaker to remain "status quo," which means "you'll catch them anywhere you drop a baited hook over." Roger was concerned about the lack of Spanish mackerel in local waters before the weather returned sour. "I sure hope they show up in better numbers soon."

Folks at Smith Point Marina described the week as "very slow," due to poor weather. Anglers that did fish found plenty of croaker "every place they went," including Blackberry Hang and "just outside the jetties." Trollers reported Spanish mackerel at Smith Point Light while chummers returned from buoy 62 (Maryland waters) with limit catches of 18 to 24-inch school stripers.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitter's said strong winds restricted fishing to the rivers most of the week and bottom fishermen soaking bits of bloodworm at Butlers Hole, off the Silos and Cherry Point caught decent numbers of #1 spot. Some of the charter fleet fished between Silver Beach and buoy 42 on Saturday and recorded good catches of croaker plus some pan trout and spot. Gary Conner of Hudgins boated a 5-1/4 pound Spanish mackerel on a gold #00 Clark Spoon, trolled 1 mile east of Gwynn Island.

Locklies Marina said spot and croaker were biting "real good" at Cherry Point, Mosquito Point and off the Silos. "It seems the spot are biting all up and down the river the past couple of days," noted the marina operator.

Garretts Marina said folks are catching fish but most say the croaker bite has slowed. Area waters are also yielding a few large spot while trout are scarce.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said croaker numbers have begun to dwindle while spot are increasing in the R1 to R2 buoy area. Spot are also showing at Butlers Hole and Sturgeon Bar. Pan trout are active at the mouth of the river but so are small shark. Across the Bay, waters surrounding the Tangier Range Light hold plenty of large croaker. Several cobia were boated in this area and a 69 pounder was weighed at Windmill Point Marina.

Virginia Beach -
The Virginia Beach Fishing Center told of very good catches of large yellowfin tuna and scattered catches of bluefin early in the week but no boats sailed Saturday, Sunday or Monday. One headboat ran to the mouth of the Bay for croaker on Tuesday.

Paula from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said boats are chunking at the Fingers near the 400\900 line whenever the weather allows. The catch has shifted from mostly bluefin tuna to nearly all yellowfin tuna. Boats seeking billfish hooked-up several south of the Cigar along the 900-line but "no one has really been able to fish (offshore) the past two weeks," due to poor weather conditions.

Virginia Piers
Grandview - Croaker dominate the catches but bottom fishermen also reported some spot, sea mullet and taylor blues. Shark and trout are biting after dusk.

Buckroe Beach - Bottom fishermen have been catching mostly spot and croaker during the daytime while shark and trout are biting after dark. Fair numbers of crabs were also reported.

Harrison - Charlie said good numbers of spot returned to the pier Sunday evening and have staged a good run the past two days from late afternoon until dark. The fish are good-sized and many run from half-a-pound up to 12 ounces. One 40-pound cobia was decked early in the week. Charlie added that the rays have moved out but "so have the crabs."

Virginia Beach - Rough seas produced "fantastic, two-at-a-time" catches of spot and croaker in recent days. Some bluefish and sea mullet were also reported. The water temperature at pierside was 75 degrees on Wednesday.

Sandbridge - Overall action was slow over the weekend, the few people fishing (due to weather) managed a handful of small spot and croaker. Prior to the weekend, casters working the end of the pier reported Spanish mackerel and taylor blues.

Outer Banks, NC -

Surf fishing continued to be slow along the Nags Head area beaches, as water temperatures dipped into the 60's on Saturday following several days of strong WSW winds. Catches consisted of mainly small "panfish," such as croaker, spot, sea mullet and a few snapper blues. The catwalk at Oregon Inlet produced a few legal stripers (28 inches) while nearby sound waters yielded puppy drum and flounder.

Surf action was equally slow south of Oregon Inlet for most of the week. On Thursday, waters at Cape Point were "murky" but medium croaker were "all over," according to Red Drum Tackle. Friday morning saw a scattering of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues at the Point and a few pompano in the surf north of Avon. Saturday was overcast and croaker were the featured fish of the day at the Point. Sunday produced a scattering of Spanish mackerel, bluefish, flounder and croaker during the day and a few puppy drum in the evening.

The ocean fleet docked at the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center recorded good catches of yellowfin, a scattering of dolphin and wahoo plus several bigeye tuna on Thursday. The CAROLINIAN boated four bigeye, ranging from 127 to 162 pounds. On Friday only one boat fished due to weather conditions and they managed a pair of yellowfin, a wahoo and a dolphin. On Saturday, no boats left the inlet. On Sunday the RIGGED-UP released a pair of white marlin, MARLIN FEVER boated a 131-pound bigeye and WILDFIRE boxed a 79-pound yellowfin. Monday was another "no sail" day. For this same time period, inshore boats recorded decent catches of Spanish mackerel and bluefish plus a few false albacore while croaker was the dominate catch on the headboat.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet enjoyed a good catch of dolphin and fair catches of yellowfin tuna and wahoo on Friday. Saturday, the wahoo bite was above average but the dolphin catches slowed. Some king mackerel and yellowfin tuna were also landed. Jeff Collins of Richmond released a blue marlin and Thomas Pomozzi of Mechanicsville released a sailfish while fishing aboard the NANCY K. Sunday's catches were below par with scattered catches of dolphin, yellowfin, wahoo and king mackerel.

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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