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The Saltwater Review - 20 July 1999

Vol. 13, No. 13
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

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.

Another "closed period" is fast approaching, this one is for sea bass. Black sea bass will be "off limits" beginning August 1 and through August 15.

A final reminder, the Fall Grey Trout (weakfish) season opens August 16, 1999 and runs through April 30, 2000. 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, 1999 through April 30, 2000, the minimum size for trout is 14 inches with a 14-fish possession limit.

Many anglers took advantage of relatively calm seas over the weekend and fished offshore. In the waters off Wachapreague and Chincoteague, tuna dominated the catches and several bluefin in excess of 100 pounds were boated. As a reminder, the bluefin tuna possession limits are set to change July 25, 1999 (see enclosure). For the most current information regarding tuna, anglers should call 1-888-USA-TUNA or 1-978-281-9305.

Off Virginia Beach, anglers reported excellent billfish action from the Cigar to Triple 0's. Yellowfin tuna, dolphin and even wahoo were caught in the same area.

Flounder action improved along the CBBT the past week but many of the most recent citation-winning flatfish were boated off Cape Charles, near the "old" C-10 buoy site (it's now buoy 36A).

Chincoteague-

Donna from Capt. Bob's described the offshore bluefin tuna action as great. Leading up to the weekend, Vince Gambino boated a 99.9 pound bluefin aboard the STINGER at the Parking Lot. Over the weekend, a tuna tournament headquartered at the shop produced even more impressive tuna. Lee Michalski decked the winning tuna, a 116.55-pound bluefin, aboard the TIDERUNNER with Dan O'Neill aboard the TAKING TIME finishing a close second with a 107.69-pound bluefin. Inside the inlet, Donna said the main channel, "right in front of Capt. Bob's" produced good catches of flounder and croaker.

Bill Robbins from R & R Boat Rental said good-sized croaker had moved into Four Mouths and were hitting squid, cut bait and even live minnows. The best catches of keeper flounder are coming from the deeper holes inside Four Mouths and Queen's Sound.

Folks at Barnacle Bill's were kept busy weighing bluefin tuna. Their three heaviest were 117 1/2 pounds, caught aboard MY GIRLS by Bob Osborn, 111 1/2 pounds, caught aboard MISS ALICE by Andy Linebrugh and 104 1/2 pounds, caught aboard REEL TIME by Evan Chee. Nearly all the bluefin have been caught chunking, south of the Parking Lot on the lumpy bottom, where catches include some chopper blues. Inside the inlet, Bob Meiley boated a 6 1/2 pound flounder in Chincoteague Channel while folks fishing with Bucktail Charters reported good hauls of big croaker in Chincoteague Channel near the inlet.

Tommy Daisey from Daisey's Dockside said flounder fishing was good in the main channel and down inside Queen's Sound, where the MISS MARY ANN recorded several nice hauls of flatfish. Bottom fishermen are also reporting an influx of croaker and a scattering of trout. Tommy added that the crew aboard the TWO ACES has been limiting out on bluefin tuna to 100 pounds at the Parking Lot nearly each time out.

Wachapreague-

Wachapreague Marina reported excellent offshore action, recording blue and white marlin releases, bluefin tuna releases and weigh-ins of bluefin exceeding 100 pounds. Dan Riley (30 Fathom Lumps), Greg Elder (Norfolk Canyon) and Robert Herly (off Wachapreague) each released blue marlin while Andy Dize and Jeff Schellin each released white marlin at the 20 Fathom Fingers. Mike Howes (56 and 55 inches), Doug Harks (57 inches), and Bill Turner (53 inches) each recorded award winning releases for bluefin tuna while Dan Williams weighed a 100 pounder and James Swineford a 102.6 pound bluefin. Richard Youngblood boated a nice, 60-inch wahoo at the Norfolk Canyon that weighed 46-3 back at the dock.

Capt. Zed's weighed one of the season's heaviest yellowfin tuna for Robin Long of Norfolk. Fishing aboard the HOOK'EM, the tuna was boated "off Wachapreague," measured 54-inches long and weighed 84-6. But bigger tuna were captured over the weekend. John Marsh released a 55-inch bluefin at the lumpy bottom, where John Bundick boated a 100-pound bluefin. Lennard Broadwater released a blue marlin. Inshore, the best recent flounder catches have come from in front of the old Coast Guard Station, where more croaker are showing with each passing day.

Cape Charles-

The "old" C-10 buoy site was the weekend flounder hot spot, according to Chris' Bait and Tackle Shop, as many anglers reported limit catches of sizable flatfish. Retired Marine Patrol Officer Robert Bois weighed a pair of citation-winning flounder at 6 1/2 and 7 1/4 pounds. Waters surrounding the C-10 buoy also produced award-winning flounder for Phillip Price (6-9) and Mike Campbell (7-11). Ray Poole (7-13) and William Driskill (6-2) boated big flounder just off the Cement Ships while the weekend biggest flatfish, an 8 3/4 pounder, was claimed by female angler Susan Smith at the High Rise. Cobia were again active off Cape Charles, as Steven Bell (50 inches), Steve Clarke (49 1/2 inches), Anthony Parks (47 inches) and Mark Fitzgerald (45 1/2 inches) all earned awards for releasing big cobia. William Inser boated the weekend's heaviest cobia at 70 1/4 pounds.

Onancock-

Captain Wil Laaksonen at Fish and Finn Charters reported good catches of 7 to 12-inch spot the past week with bloodworm the preferred bait. Croaker remain abundant in both sounds with the best bite of the larger fish coming on the early morning or late evening tide. Captain Wil felt fresh shrimp was the best bait for the jumbo croaker and larger trout. Schools of taylor blues often rise to the surface to feed on schools of baitfish at dawn and dusk. The flounder bite remains slow, though most pulled from the deepwater channel edges are good-sized fish.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel-

Cobbs Marina weighed a pair of citation-winning cobia from Bluefish Rock--a 66 pounder for Tracy Lebell and a 50 3/4 pounder for Brant Cole but the weekend's biggest cobia was boated at the Fourth Island by Andrew Texton. It weighed 67 pounds. Gloria Robinson also made an award winning catch at the Fourth Island, a 6-3 flounder, while Leila Paulette boated her 7-pound flounder at the First Island. Small pods of black drum remain available at all four of the islands of the CBBT. Recent release citations for black drum include Chuck Harrison for a 48 1/2-inch fish at the Third Island and Mark Merissen with a 52-inch drum release at the Second Island. Offshore, John Abraham released an 84-inch white marlin at the Cigar. Stan Simmerman and a pair of fishing buddies caught and released 23 amberjack at the South Tower on live croaker aboard OUR ONLY SON. Although all but one of the fish were released, only Stan's 48 1/2-inch jack was long enough to qualify for a release citation.

John from Bubba's Marina said flounder and cobia provided the best recent action. Flounder were caught "all over," from inside Lynnhaven Inlet out to the Fourth Island while the best cobia action was on the Eastern Shore side of the Bay, from Latimer Shoals up to the Cabbage Patch. John added that cobia were starting to show on the buoys, especially those along York Channel.

Dr. Jim Wright and party caught trout in the 3 to 5-pound range while jigging with Wright's "Optic-Eye" lure at the High Rise. Around the Fourth Island, the crew caught flounder to 4 pounds plus some Spanish mackerel and taylor blues.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina quipped "the cobia are still biting at Bluefish Rock," noting that 15 cobia were weighed from Friday through Sunday. The heaviest went 69 pounds and was landed by William Rollins. Donnie described the flounder bite as "real good" at the Hump and bayside of the Fourth Island, near buoy 16. Croaker are still "everywhere" plus a few spot are beginning to show around the mouth of Back River. Jeff Sweeney weighed an 11-3 sheepshead from an inshore ocean wreck. The shop also registered over a half-dozen white marlin releases for the weekend and weighed a 71-pound bluefin tuna for Frank Long.

Johnny from Sunset Marina checked-in several cobia--and all were listed as being caught at Bluefish Rock. Andrew Price's 55 pounder hit a live croaker, as did Andrew Rice's 50 pounder. Jim Brown's 51 pounder hit a live eel while Bill Clayton's 54 pounder picked-up a hook baited with cut fish. Kristin McCormick weighed the weekend's only citation flounder, a 6-2 flatfish from the Fourth Island, but the crew aboard the Donnie Boy landed flounder of nearly 6 pounds in the same area (plus they limited out on grey trout). Johnny added that good catches of flounder, trout and croaker were recorded at the Ammo Loading Pier and Hampton Bar while spadefish continued to bite at the Tower Reef.

A.D. from Vanasse Bait and Tackle said most of their customers were fishing for and catching flounder with some of the better hauls made at the mouth of Back River. A.D. added that croaker were still "everywhere you drop a baited hook."

Andy Watkins from Back River Market weighed several cobia to 66 pounds over the weekend. Bluefish Rock remains the favored location. Fair to good catches of spot and croaker were reported at Twin Stakes. Andy described weekend flounder action as just "so-so." A pair of white marlin releases and a dolphin weigh-in citation was registered by a group that fished the Cigar.

Ben at Salt Ponds Marina said crew aboard the private boats HAT TRICK and MISS ROSE each released white marlin over the weekend. Inside the Bay, four-year-old Hunter Thuston decked a 6-7 flounder at the Third Island.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said big croaker are holding in 50-foot depths off Cheatham Annex, where bottom fishermen also report some pan trout. Flounder continue to be taken around the pilings of the Gloucester Point Bridge while spot are biting on the lower portion of the river at Sarah's Creek and off Tue Marsh Light. A pair of citation-sized flounder were checked-in last week--both were caught "across the Bay," off Cape Charles. John Dunn (7-5) and Amos West (6-11) were the lucky anglers. Several groups of Gloucester anglers "convoyed" offshore, fishing from the Cigar down to Triple 0's catching dolphin, yellowfin to 40 pounds, king mackerel and a 53-pound wahoo.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club reported improved flounder action at the CBBT complex and Baymouth while spadefish remain available at the Third and Fourth islands, the Cell and Tower Reef. Several crews headed offshore over the weekend and met with moderate success. Catches included a scattering of yellowfin and a few small dolphin at the Cigar and surrounding waters while the 26 Mile Hill remained unproductive--even for Dr. Robert Allen and his crew. Perhaps the Club's catch of the weekend was turned-in by 6-year-old Bradon Bartlett, who released an 84-inch white marlin at the Cigar.

Virginia Middle Bay-

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported small to medium spot arrived at Blackberry Hang the past week, where croaker and a few pan trout were also caught. Pan trout and bigger croaker are being caught at the Northern Neck Reef and just north of buoy 62 in 45 to 50 feet of water. Trollers recorded mixed catches of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues at Smith Point Bar and just outside Dividing Creek.

"Croaker are all over the place," according to Smith Point Marina. The week's heaviest was boated at Smith Point Light by John Wyatt and weighed 3-6. Grey trout are also being caught around Smith Point Light and the west side of Tangier Sound. Chummers are working north of the Target Ships and catching a mixture of taylor blues and striped bass. A few flounder were caught at the jetty.

Jerry Thrash at Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service said weekend trollers scored on Spanish mackerel off Gwynn Island and at Windmill Point. Bottom fishermen reported good hauls of croaker on Saturday but catches were "way off" Sunday at the same locations. Overall flounder action in the buoy 42/Cell area remains slow but "there are a few big fish out there," confided Jerry. Spadefish are still biting at the Cell but their overall size has decreased. Spadefish are also available at Wolf Trap Light. A lone cobia was reportedly boated off Silver Beach.

Jim Thompson from Locklies Marina reported good catches of spot plus some smallish croaker at Butlers Hole. Jim said the waters "across the Bay" from Silver Beach to the Cell were loaded with good-sized croaker.

Steve from Garretts Marina told of good catches of 1 1/4-pound to nearly 4-pound croaker plus some hand-sized spot. Some of the biggest croaker were boated just a 1/2 mile below the marina, though buoy 19, just off from the store, was producing good catches of slightly smaller fish.

Virginia Beach-

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina reported excellent offshore action the past several days, as over two-dozen release awards were written for billfish as well a half-dozen wahoo weigh-ins. The heaviest wahoo was boated at Norfolk Canyon by Mac Engel aboard the BIG BULL and weighed 57 1/2 pounds. The fleet also found some gaffer-sized dolphin and school-sized yellowfin. Paula added that most of the weekend action took place south of the Cigar, between the 100 and 950-lines in 30 to 50 fathoms of water.

Virginia Piers-

Grandview

Fair catches of spot and croaker were made during the daylight hours. A pair of "too small" cobia (minimum size limit 37 inches) were decked over the weekend. After dark, pan trout swarm beneath the pier lights.

Buckroe Beach-

Daytime bottom fishermen are catching mostly spot plus some croaker and a few flounder. After dark, trout are attracted to the pier lights and are easy targets for anglers. Several cobia were decked in recent days. The heaviest weighed nearly 40 pounds.

Harrison

Charlie said anglers are loading-up on pan trout and croaker after dusk while action has been slow during the mid-day. Some spot are starting to show and several pompano were decked Monday evening.

Lynnhaven

Bottom fishermen enjoyed fair to good catches of spot plus some croaker and sea mullet last week. Crabbing remains very slow.

Virginia Beach

Nighttime has produced the best catches of spot and sea mullet. A few "keeper" flounder are caught during the daytime. Casters are catching Spanish mackerel in the late evening before dark. Several puppy drum were decked Monday. Water temperature at pierside was 77 degrees on Tuesday.

Sandbridge

Waters surrounding the pier have been exceptionally clear the past several days and bottom fishing has suffered. Only a few spot and flounder were reported.

Outer Banks, NC-

Shorebound fishermen along the Nags Head area beaches were forced to settle for spot, croaker and sea mullet, lots of sun and light SW winds over the weekend. Catches from the area piers were similar--spot, croaker and sea mullet, though casters working the ends of the pier did connect on some Spanish mackerel and taylor blues at times. In addition, pier jockey's working the end of the pier with live bait managed to land several cobia. At Avalon Pier, Debi Lewis decked one of the season's first pier-caught king mackerel--a 50-pound whopper! In the sounds, a summer bite of spot and croaker has developed. Speckled trout remain available, according to Bill MaCaskill, as the shop weighed speckled fish of nearly four pounds last week but "not everybody's catching them."

The bluewater fleet fishing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center enjoyed excellent billfish action as winds and seas calmed mid-week. The Wednesday through Saturday period was especially good for blue marlin, though catches slowed by Sunday. By Monday, only one billfish, a sailfish was reported. Dolphin catches Friday and Saturday were good but even better Sunday and Monday when boats returned with limit catches. The tuna bite was described as only "fair during the four-day period. On Monday, a 163-pound bigeye was boated, as well as some king mackerel. Half-day boats working near Oregon Inlet recorded good hauls of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The inshore fleet boated eight cobia on Friday and five on Saturday (including a 46 pounder).

The Hatteras fleet reported very similar catches for the period. Billfishing was excellent Friday and Saturday but slowed Sunday and Monday. Dolphin dominated the "meatfish" category but yellowfin and wahoo were also caught. Most of the recent action was concentrated around the Rockpile and south down to Triple 0's.

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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