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The Saltwater Review - August 2, 2000

Vol. 14, No. 14
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

 

OVERVIEW

Virginia's recreational Summer Flounder season re-opened Wednesday, August 2 with a minimum size limit of 15 1/2 inches and a possession limit of 8 fish.

This is a reminder of a "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) is notified that the fishery will be closed until the start of the next quarter (see enclosed commercial closure notice). The commercial fishery also operates under a 10-inch minimum size limit plus assorted gear and area restrictions.

Federal regulations governing the retention of bluefin tuna changed as of Monday, July 31, 2000 and anglers are allowed just one large school to small medium tuna per vessel. Review the enclosed NMFS notice for specifics. 

A final reminder, the Fall Grey Trout (weakfish) season opens August 16, 2000 and runs through April 30, 2001. During this portion of the season, trout must measure at least 14 inches (the minimum size limit is 12 inches from May 1 through August 15, coupled with a 4-fish possession limit) but anglers are allowed to keep up to 14 trout per angler. Again, for the Fall Grey Trout (weakfish) season, August 16, 2000 through April 30, 2001, the minimum size for trout is 14 inches with a 14-fish possession limit.

Chincoteague-

Donna from Capt. Bob's reported good catches of bluefin and yellowfin tuna at the lumpy bottom with bluefin to 61 inches and yellowfin to 50 pounds. The action was especially good since the passage of severe weather early in the week. Flounder were "off limits" all week, so inshore anglers concentrated on croaker and trout. Croaker were not hard to locate but many of the best hauls came from buoys 15 and 16 or 20 and 22. Chincoteague Point provided the best chance at trout, as Queen's Sound was "really grassed-up," according to Donna. 

Barnacle Bill's told of big catches of croaker off Inlet View and along the main channel by the high school. Trout are hitting at Chincoteague Point. Croaker, sharks, skate and sea mullet were reported from the surf. Offshore, both yellowfin and bluefin tuna were caught over the weekend.

R & R Boat Rental was busy with Pony Penning activities for most of the week but said croaker "are just about everywhere," plus the shop reminded me that flounder season was closed all last week.

Wachapreague-

Wachapreague Marina reported excellent tuna action at the lumpy bottom, where Karey Hunt (55 inches), Robert Hilton (52 inches), Mike May (51 inches), Carl Lindgrew (51 inches), Ed Pearson (56 inches) and Ben Flatland (52 inches) all released big bluefins and Frank Bryant boated a 55-inch and 112 pounder. Other citation-winning catches included a 78-pound yellowfin tuna at the Washington Canyon by Dana Martin, a white marlin release aboard the RED TIDE and a released an 85-inch white marlin at the Poor Man's Canyon by Craige Lipscond.

Capt. Zed's also told of excellent tuna action, saying "everyone going is catching." The lumpy bottom and the 20 Fathom Finger have been the two favored locations for the tuna. Inshore, good-sized croaker dominate the action but some sea mullet and pan trout were also caught over the weekend (as the flounder season was closed). 

Cape Charles-

Chris' Bait and Tackle Shop reported huge numbers of croaker on the seaside out of Oyster with squid and shrimp the top baits. Over on the bayside, Doug Piotrowski nailed an 8-15 spadefish at the High Level Bridge aboard the BUCCANEER, John Tippet boated a 54-pound cobia at buoy 16 and Steve Gaskill pulled a 17-ounce spot off Hacks Rock. Folks fishing from the State Park pier at Kiptopeke enjoyed decent catches of croaker and taylor blues during the day and a fair run of pan trout after dusk.

Onancock-

Captain Wil Laaksonen reported good weekend catches of spot and croaker despite a near constant threat of thunderstorms. The best bite continues to be early and late in the day. Pan trout are mixed in with the spot and croaker. Surface feeding schools of snapper blues and Spanish mackerel are active off Onancock and can be caught "casting and trolling," according to Capt. Wil. Waters surrounding the beach beacon hold mixed schools of Spanish mackerel and snapper blues with pan trout often holding below.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel-

Cobbs Marina reported good catches of spadefish at the Third and Fourth islands and the Tower Reef. Several sheepshead were boated at the First Island and medium-sized croaker are "all-over."

Bubba's Marina also told of good catches of spadefish coming from the Fourth Island and the Tower Reef plus some cobia at Latimer Shoals. Trout have become harder to catch at most of their CBBT haunts, according to the shop but trollers working between the CBBT and Cape Henry are scoring on Spanish mackerel. Inside Lynnhaven, spot and croaker are caught with regularity and puppy drum are holding around the Lesner Bridge pilings.

Dr. Jim Wright and crew fished the South Tower last week, releasing several dozen amberjack, including a 57-inch jack Wright tamed with a flyrod. Later in the week, a trip to the lumpy bottom was uneventful except for a lone 70-pound yellowfin. Dr. Jim indicated that Lynnhaven was loaded with croaker and 3 to 4-inch spot.

Donnie Wallace saw nine citation-winning cobia cross his dock over the weekend and the largest weighed 74 pounds and was caught at Bluefish Rock. Donnie told of mixed catches of spadefish and triggerfish on bits of clam at the CBBT and jumbo spadefish at the Anglo-African wreck site, where Pat Hessig nailed an 8 1/2 pounder. A mixture of a few speckled trout and puppy drum plus an ample supply of taylor blues are holding on the flats off Poquoson River. Several good hauls of spot were recorded near the mouth of Back River. As for the offshore gang, "the weather was just too threatening," according to Donnie, as most chose to remain closer to shore. 

Johnny from Sunset Marina weighed a 54-pound cobia for Bill Savage. The citation fish was boated at Bluefish Rock on a live eel. The shop also registered a 47-inch red drum release for Tom Mattioli from the CBBT. Several other customers returned from the First and Second islands with coolers brimming with large croaker.

Alan Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle said croaker and pan trout are caught "all over" with spot biting at the mouth of Back River and cobia off Grandview. The shop indicated some speckled trout were caught at Poquoson Flats and large grey trout at the CBBT.

Salt Ponds Marina had a boat overnight near the Norfolk Canyon and return with bluefin tuna and a 32-pound wahoo for Lance Pittman.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said croaker are found throughout the York River but the biggest croaker plus some pan trout, are caught off Cheatham Annex. Spot are available around the mouth of Sarah's Creek. Trollers caught Spanish mackerel at York Spit, where boats anchored and chummed several cobia in the 20 to 30-pound range. Jimmy also indicated a few small speckled trout were caught at Ware Point.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club say the Third and Fourth islands are holding some large grey trout while the Cape Henry area has some large croaker. The South Tower is loaded with hungry amberjacks while only a scattering of these hard-pulling jacks are holding at the Chesapeake Lighthouse and surrounding wrecks. Wrecks in the Tower Reef area do hold decent numbers of sea bass to 4 pounds, various sizes of spadefish and a few cobia.

Virginia Middle Bay-  

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported croaker remain abundant off Smith Point with some of the better hauls of bigger fish made in 45 to 60 feet of water just south of buoy 62. Spanish mackerel numbers are on the rise and Smith Point Bar, the mouth of the Great Wicomico and off Dividing Creek and provide the best opportunity for trollers. Bottom fishermen recorded decent catches of small to medium spot inside the Great Wicomico. Waters surrounding Smith Point Light and the Tangier Target Ships continue to yield nice grey trout in the 3 to 6-pound range.

Dan from Smith Point Marina reported good weekend fishing despite the thunder storms. Boats running into Maryland waters and chumming near buoy 72 registered easy limits of school stripers plus a few taylor blues. Back in Virginia waters, anglers reported catching and releasing stripers at Smith Point Light and boating good numbers of weakfish to 7 pounds. Don also indicated a pair of 30-pound class red drum were taken at the same location. Trollers working near Smith Point Light and along the nearby channel edges scored well on Spanish mackerel and the occasional snapper bluefish.

Locklies Marina said spot "really came on strong" the past week, as excellent hauls were recorded at the Silos and the White Stone side of the Route # 3 Bridge. The same waters yielded some croaker, a few trout to 20 inches and sea mullet.

Steve at Garretts Marina saw very little activity the past week due to recurring thunder storms but the few anglers that fished returned with nice-sized spot and croaker to 2 1/2 pounds. Due to weather concerns, most of the boats, especially the smaller ones, fished nearby at Bowlers Rock but waters off Morrattico also produced good catches of spot and croaker plus a few pan trout.

Capt. Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said Bubba's Hole and buoy 7 were good for spot and small croaker. Waters off the Silos also produced spot but not consistently. Pan trout remain relatively scarce in the river but better numbers are found in the Bay. Deep Rock and Gwynn Island hold good numbers of spot. Captain Thompson rated the range light area as the top spot for jumbo croaker, as a member of his party nailed a 3 1/4 pounder over the weekend and fish consistently ran 16 inches and up.

Virginia Beach-

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center told of a good billfish bite near the Norfolk Canyon, as the charter craft CHAOS scored a rare Grand Slam, releasing a blue and a white marlin plus a sailfish. Catches also included some tuna and a sprinkling of wahoo and dolphin. Inshore boats worked the ocean wrecks and reefs for spadefish while the headboats concentrated their efforts at the mouth of the Bay for croaker and trout.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina also spoke of an excellent billfish bite just SE of the Norfolk Canyon and well south, along the 100-line. Yellowfin tuna in the 45 to 70-pound range and dolphin to over 40 pounds were caught in the vicinity of the Cigar. 

Virginia Piers-  

Grandview - 

Richard said the fishing was excellent for large croaker and good-sized spot following a brief period of NE wind. Several citation croaker were decked with the largest, at 22 1/2 inches and 3-7, hauled- up by Robert Chaden. One barely legal cobia was landed. After dark, pan trout continue to swarm in the shadows cast by the pier lights.

Buckroe Beach
- 

The pier spokesperson indicated bottom fishermen were "kicking butt" on nice spot but only a few croaker were reported. A pair of 20-pound class cobia were decked over the weekend. Trout and small shark are biting after dusk.

Harrison
- 

Charlie said the pier was packed in recent days, as folks filled 5-gallon buckets with hand-sized spot. Charlie described the affair as "all you want"' of the prized bottom feeders. Several cobia were hooked but all broke lose.

Lynnhaven
- 

"We had good catches of spot all weekend," according to the pier spokesperson, who added that the best bite was coming on out-going water.

Virginia Beach

Spot and sea mullet provided most of the action the past several days. A handful of snapper bluefish and Spanish mackerel were caught by casters working the end of the pier at dawn. Water temperature at pierside was 77 degrees on Tuesday.

Sandbridge
- Overall action was rated as "slow" with only a scattering of spot and croaker.

Outer Banks, NC
-

Spot, small croaker and sea mullet provided the bulk of the action for pier and beach fishermen in the Nags Head area. Flounder, with only an occasional keeper, pigfish and juvenile black drum were also reported. Casters scored on Spanish mackerel and snapper blues from the ends of piers with best action early and late in the day. "Live baiters" working from the end of the piers scored on cobia to 50 pounds and several jack crevalle to 20 pounds. On the south beaches from Avon to Hatteras Inlet, surf fishermen also had opportunities for sea mullet to 2 pounds and pan-sized pompano. Cape Point at Buxton and Hatteras Inlet were the best spots to cast for Spanish mackerel--especially at dawn.

The charter fleet sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center enjoyed excellent catches of dolphin, as extensive grass lines have moved in the area. Billfish action improved the past week, as the CAROLINIAN scored a grand slam last Monday. Yellowfin tuna catches have been slight but several huge bigeye tuna weighing up to 294 pounds were boated last week. Half day trips continue to produce good catches of Spanish mackerel and snapper blues, as the boats troll just outside the inlet.

Recent catches recorded by the fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet have been dominated by dolphin with many boats returning with a 60-fish limit. Dolphin to 10 pounds were boated within a few miles of the inlet. Fair numbers of yellowfin tuna, wahoo and king mackerel were also part of a typical catch. On Friday, the crew on the LUCKY CHIP released a pair of sailfish and Allen Clark of VA Beach released a sail aboard the TUNA DUCK. On Saturday, Daniel Miller of Chester, VA released a blue marlin aboard the NATIVE SON. Inshore action included good hauls of Spanish mackerel plus some snapper blues and even a few dolphin.


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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