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The Saltwater Review - August 8, 2001

Vol. 15, No. 13
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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

The second open period for Summer Flounder began Wednesday, August 8, 2001 and will continue through December 31. The minimum size limit for Summer Flounder remains 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). Beginning August 16 (and for the remainder of the season), the minimum size limit returns to 14 inches and the possession limit to 14-fish.

Bluefin tuna numbers have dwindled off the Virginia Coast but have been replaced by good numbers of above average-sized yellowfin, as many top 70 pounds (minimum qualifying weight for a citation) and some have tipped the scales at over 100 pounds. Chunking with butterfish at the Fingers, the Parking lot and lumpy bottom has produced the lions share of the larger tuna but trollers have also found big yellowfin out near the canyons.

Cobia continue to linger in the Bluefish Rock area and Latimer Shoals but these fish are showing more of an interest in the lower Bay buoys.

Croaker action remains excellent in most areas but the larger fish are headed for the deeper waters in the main stem of the Bay. These bottom dwellers are also beginning to aggregate off Cape Henry and over the mussel beds located near the First and Second islands.

Spot action is on the rise at several locations. The numbers of fish are not huge but most are good-sized, or, as one angler put it, "too big to consider using for bait."

Chincoteague -
Donna from Captain Bob's reported croaker have arrived "big time," with excellent catches recorded at Queen's Sound, Four Mouths and Cockle Creek. Spot have also appeared in surprisingly good numbers while trout are biting at Chincoteague Point and Cockle Creek. Offshore, more yellowfin than bluefin are being caught by both trollers and chunkers and "nobody's complaining," as the current run of yellowfin contains mostly fish of 40 to nearly 100 pounds.

Barnacle Bill's told of loads of croaker to over three pounds inside the inlet. "You can catch croaker just about anywhere," but the shop spokesman suggested Queen's Sound, Cockle Creek and the main channel as sure bets. Offshore, both trollers and chunkers are scoring on large yellowfin tuna, as the shop registered nearly a dozen yellowfin citations the past week. The Parking Lot, lumpy bottom area and the canyons all produced big tuna plus a pair of white marlin releases were registered.

Wachapreague
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Wachapreague Marina reported bottom fishermen are catching plenty of croaker inside the inlet while trollers scored on yellowfin tuna at the 20 Fathom Fingers. The shop also registered a blue marlin release and several white marlin releases. 

Captain Zed's said the crew on board the BIG DADDY released a white marlin on Saturday and the weekend tuna bite was excellent at the lumpy bottom and 21 Mile Hill. Inside the inlet, bottom bouncers caught lots of croaker, some spot and a few trout.

Cape Charles
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Chris' Bait and Tackle reported good hauls of croaker "right outside the harbor" with some of the biggest fish coming from the Cherrystone Reef site. The shop registered red drum release citations for James Beasley, Sr. (46-1/2 inches) and James Beasley, Jr. (47-1/2 inches). Both fish were caught with bait at buoy C-18. Phillip Juhring boated a 54-pound cobia at buoy 36A, where Robert Tilley landed a 52-2 cobia.

Onancock
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Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported good-sized spot moved into the area on Saturday and catches have been good ever since then. Croaker remain abundant and most run from 1 to 2 pounds with the smaller fish holding in the deeper water. Trout remain relatively scarce while parties are seeing more porgy and bluefish. Red drum are becoming more active in area waters. 

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -
Cobbs Marina weighed an 8-pound, 10-ounce spadefish for Keith Cole over the weekend. The marina also saw plenty of croaker and several cobia in the 30 to 40-pound range. On Monday, Jason White (2 pounds, 4 ounces) and Phillip Mayo (1-pound, 8-ounces) each decked citation-winning pompano at Harrison's Pier. 

Chris from Bubba's Marina told of grey trout beneath the Lesner Bridge, cobia in the vicinity of the 12 and 13 mile posts of the CBBT and spadefish hanging around the pilings just north of the Fourth Island. The shop also saw several yellowfin tuna, the heaviest going 76 pounds, that were caught at the Fingers.

Dr. Jim Wright said the Southern Tower was loaded with amberjack, as a mid-week trip to this structure, located some 50 miles SSE of Rudee, produced hook-up after hook-up. While at the tower, a school of jack crevalle moved through the area. Dr. Jim also indicated anglers chunking at the Fingers were having excellent success on large yellowfin tuna of over 70 pounds.

Donnie Wallace at Wallace's Marina described the week's cobia bite as "holding up well," especially in the vicinity of Bluefish Rock. Several dozen fish were boated in this area, including the week's heavyweight at 75-1/2 pounds by Malcolm Hodges. Donnie also told of a gentleman that caught a pair of speckled trout at Poquoson Flats but "that was it." Bottom fishermen seeking croaker have plenty of options, as these bottom feeders remain "just about everywhere" but for those looking for spot, Donnie suggested the mouth of Back River.

Johnny from Sunset Marina said bottom fishermen were bringing in plenty of good-sized croaker from "all-over" and Steve Edwards nailed the week's heaviest, at 3 pounds, 6 ounces, at the M & M crossing. Fred Grantier boated a 52-pound cobia at Bluefish Rock on a live eel and Mickey Baker boated a pair of citation-winning yellowfin tuna (74 and 83 pounds) at the Fingers.

Alan Vanasse at Vanasse Bait and Tackle told of good catches of croaker from Factory Point to Fort Monroe on squid and peeler, some good-sized spot at Bluefish Rock on bloodworm and cobia on live eels.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said plenty of 1 to 2-pound croaker still crowd the York River while spot are hitting around the mouth of Sarah's Creek. Danny Williams of Newport News caught a 17-ounce spot at the Coast Guard Pier. Jimmy added that trollers had decent catches of Spanish mackerel at York Spit.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club recorded impressive catches of amberjack, cobia, croaker, spadefish and tuna the past week. Armed with a live-well of various-sized croaker, the crew on the HEALTHY GRIN boated and released three amberjack between 50 and 55 inches and hooked and lost many others. The crew on the A TEAM had a 10-fish day on cobia and five of the cobia measured over 46 inches. That trip brought the A TEAM's cobia total to 88 fish this season. With a young crew aboard the ANNETTE SEA, Dr. Bob Allen headed for the Third Island and kept his group busy hauling in large croaker. The STRIPER SNIPER fished the Anglo African wreck site and limited-out on spadefish to 6-1/2 pounds. The same trip also produced several triggerfish of nearly 4 pounds. Crews aboard the DORTHY B, KIM ANN, MARY E, REELEASER all scored on nice-sized yellowfin tuna. The most consistent bite was at the Fingers, where most choose to anchor and chunk with butterfish. On days when the tuna are showing in the chunk line but not biting, lighter leaders, sometimes of only 30-pound test, was needed to fool the tuna. 

Virginia Middle Bay -
Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported a surge of spot over the weekend at the south end of Tangier Island and off Dividing and Indian creeks, noting "the fish aren't real big but their numbers are good." The best hauls of the larger croaker came from the RN2 buoy and the deepwater channel edges, "especially after dark." Trollers searching for Spanish mackerel had mixed results, "some had limits and some were pressed to catch any," according to Roger, but Smith Point Bar was the most consistent location.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said the heat took its toll on both fish and fishermen in recent days, though decent hauls of croaker were still coming in from Blackberry Hang, the SP buoy and "right out in front of the marina." Weekend trollers found some Spanish mackerel at the mouth of the river.

Locklies Marina reported decent weekend catches of spot and croaker plus some 15 to 18-inch trout at the Silos, at Butlers hole and the R2 buoy with peeler crab the favored bait.

Garretts Marina said catches of spot continue to improve, especially in the buoy 16 area while croaker are the mainstay at buoys 12 and 19. Morrattico Bar has bluefish and pan trout in addition to croaker.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said catches of spot were "spotty" and croaker numbers are dwindling at the R1 and R2 buoys while good numbers of large croaker remain just north of the Eastern Shore Range Light. Pods of Spanish mackerel and large taylor blues are holding around the mouth of the Rappahannock near Windmill Point Light.

Virginia Beach -
Folks from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported "they're catching everything" and preceded to list white and blue marlin, yellowfin tuna, dolphin, wahoo, shark, Spanish and king mackerel, amberjack, croaker and trout. The long list of citation-winning catches included a 76-pound yellowfin, 30-pound wahoo and a white marlin release aboard the BACKLASH, 78 and 93-pound yellowfin aboard the REBEL, a 10-foot long hammerhead release by Troy Warren and amberjack releases by Robert Kelly (48 and 53 inches) and a 52-inch jack from the BLUEWATER BULLET. 

Fisherman's Wharf Marina told of excellent offshore action for tuna and billfish. The Fingers remain a tuna hotspot for both trollers and chunkers. More of the largest individuals are being caught on the "chunk" but trollers often do as well or better in numbers plus are more likely to encounter dolphin or billfish. Bluefin appear to have moved further south and yellowfin tuna dominate the action. Best recent catches of billfish have been in water deeper than 50 fathoms and south of the Cigar.

Virginia Piers
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Grandview - Fair catches of croaker, spot and flounder are made during the day while pan trout and shark dominate the catch after dark.

Buckroe Beach - Catches here include good-sized spot, croaker and bluefish during daylight hours and after dark plus "tons" of pan trout and shark after dark. A 44-inch cobia was decked Tuesday. 

Harrison - Bottom fishermen recorded good weekend catches of croaker and spot on the late evening tide. On Monday, a surprising number of pompano were caught with the largest topping two pounds and a 42-pound cobia was decked. 

Lynnhaven - "Crabbing has been pretty good," said the pier spokesperson, "they're catching during the daytime but they bite better after dark." The same holds true for the fish, as daytime catches are poor but spot hit "two-at-a-time" after dark and other catches include croaker, bluefish and sea mullet.

Virginia Beach - Spanish mackerel and taylor blues have been biting at the end of the pier early and late in the day while sea mullet, spot and croaker were caught sporadically during the day. Water temperature at pierside was 77 degrees.

Sandbridge - Overall action was rated as "slow" but some spot and croaker were landed during the day.

Outer Banks, NC -

Surf and pier anglers along the Nags Head area beaches were limited to a mixture of small croaker, spot, flounder, snapper blues and sea mullet. Several of the piers did manage a few Spanish mackerel early in the morning and two small king mackerel were decked at the Kitty Hawk Pier. Flounder activity improved inside Oregon Inlet with some decent catches during periods of clear water. Puppy drum and speckled trout action also rebounded back inside Hatteras Inlet.

Catches from the beach south of Oregon Inlet were similar to the Nags Head beaches except pompano were an addition to the menu. Even the surf action at Cape Point was slow, with only a scattering of Spanish mackerel, snapper bluefish and the occasional pompano reported over the weekend. 

Offshore, the fleet sailing from Oregon Inlet Fishing Center enjoyed good catches of yellowfin and bigeye tuna plus some billfish, wahoo and dolphin. Thursday saw the FISHING FRENZY return with a 205-pound bigeye, CAPT BC a 65-pound wahoo, TUNA FEVER a pair of bigeye at 174 and 168 pounds and OUTRIGGERS released a sailfish and boated bigeye of 130 and 100 pounds. On Friday, the HAPHAZARD landed six bigeye up to 124 pounds, FLYING FISH had five bigeye from 80 to 95 pounds, OUTRIGGER had four bigeye up to 122 pounds, JO BOY landed bigeye of 128 and 123 pounds and a 42-pound wahoo, POINT RUNNER boated a 128-pound bigeye and released three white marlin and PELICAN caught and released five white marlin. On Saturday, the TUNA FEVER has three bigeye over 100 pounds, the CAROLINIAN bigeye of 150 and 122 pounds and the Hooker released a white and a blue marlin and boated a 48-pound dolphin. Inshore trips produced good catches of Spanish mackerel and snapper blues plus several cobia.

The offshore fleet from Hatteras Inlet recorded good catches of gaffer dolphin plus some wahoo, yellowfin tuna and king mackerel on Friday. Saturday produced more good hauls of dolphin plus wahoo, yellowfin and king mackerel. Charles Wilson of Virginia Beach boated a 41-pound wahoo and released a white marlin aboard the NO SLACK. Sunday saw loads of dolphin plus some wahoo and yellowfin tuna.

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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