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The Saltwater Review - August 15, 2001

Vol. 15, No. 14
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 remained closed through Tuesday, August 14, 2001. The recreational season re-opened Wednesday, August 15 and will run through December 31. Anglers are reminded that the recreational Black Sea Bass minimum size limit is 11 inches and a 25-fish possession limit is in place. 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.

The first weekend of the second open period of the recreational flounder season had mixed reviews. While citation-winning catches were impressive, most anglers failed to realize the anticipated bonanza in terms of numbers of flatfish. 

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.

Bluefin tuna numbers continue to dwindle off the Virginia Coast but have been replaced by good numbers of above average-sized yellowfin, as many fish top 70 pounds (minimum qualifying weight for a citation) and some have tipped the scales at over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.

Chincoteague -
Donna at Captain Bob's said schools of jumbo croaker have moved inside the inlet with excellent hauls coming from Queen's Sound, the CV buoy and marker 23. Many of the fish range from 15 to 20 inches and top 3 pounds. Richard Mapp boated the week's heavyweight off Inlet View, the citation croaker weighed 3. 3 pounds. Fair numbers of flounder to 22 inches were reported at Black Narrows and Four Mouths, "where the croaker aren't quite as thick." Steven Knavu landed a 12-1/2-pound tautog at the Queen's Sound Bridge. Offshore, the lumpy bottom produced good numbers of yellowfin tuna in the 40 to 60-pound range while the Parking Lot yielded several bluefin tuna. Steve O'Neil boated a 107-pound bluefin tuna at the lumpy bottom while Scott Richardson (79 pounds), Cy Onder (78 pounds) and John Chenault (74 pounds) all boated award winning yellowfin tuna near the Washington Canyon. The crew aboard the KAT-ATTACK released a 77-inch white marlin and boated a 78-pound yellowfin at the Washington Canyon where Greg Powell reeled-in a 22-pound dolphin.

Barnacle Bill's said croaker were "all over the place" and making it very difficult to even fish for flounder, although flatfish to 24 inches were pulled from the main channel. Offshore, an excellent bite of yellowfin tuna continues at the Parking Lot, according to the shop, where a few bluefin still linger.

Wachapreague Marina reported good catches of yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna and wahoo offshore, near the Washington Canyon. Matthew Black aboard the RED TIDE weighed a 39-2 wahoo and Mike LeVan aboard the LUCKY DOG landed a 53-6 wahoo. Inside the inlet, croaker dominate the action but some flounder were reported.

Captain Zed's said bluefin and yellowfin tuna were caught at the lumpy bottom, and 21 and 26 Mile hills. Both trollers and "chunkers" are catching the tuna but trollers are also returning with dolphin and wahoo. Waters inside the inlet are loaded with croaker, according to the shop, "there's so many croaker you can't fish for flounder in most places." One of the places that did produce a few flounder was the channel in front of the old Coast Guard Station.

Cape Charles
Chris' Bait and Tackle reported jumbo croaker at Hacks Rock, where Rick Gaskill (3 pounds, 3 ounces) and Steven Gaskill (3 pounds, 1 ounce) each boated citation fish. Grayson Driskill boated a 6-5 flounder at buoy 36A and John Mlodynia decked a 7-1 flatfish at buoy 38A, where Dale Smith released a red drum. Over on the seaside, Tim Brown released a 96-inch lemon shark out of Oyster, Bruce Edmonds released a 74-inch tarpon and Barry Truitt released a 60-inch tarpon. As for bottom fishing, "the croaker are all over the place off Oyster." 

Captain Wil Laaksonen at Fish and Finn Charters reported good numbers of 9 to 11-inch spot have moved into area waters to compliment "all you want" numbers of croaker. Bottom fishermen also saw increases in the number of trout, flounder and "schools of baitfish" the past week. Other catches include small shark, porgy, Spanish mackerel and blowfish. 

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -
Cobbs Marina weighed a number of citation fish over the weekend, including award winning cobia for Scott Cripps (69 pounds) and Steve Hasynic (59-3/4 pounds). Donald Gairett boated a 7-10 flounder at the Second Island, David Eure landed a 6-2 flounder at the Fourth Island and David Gaither captured a 6-13 flatfish at the Ocean View Reef site. Brent Cole pulled-in a 6-5 sheepshead at the CBBT, where Keith Cole boated a 4-1 triggerfish.

Bubba's Marina told of fair catches of puppy drum, croaker and flounder inside Lynnhaven while boats drifting off Cape Henry are loading-up on large croaker and catching more flounder. Spadefish are still holding around the islands but are somewhat reluctant to bite. Several big black drum were caught and released in the same area.

Dr. Jim Wright said good numbers of black drum are holding around the Second Island and will hit a slow sinking 2-ounce jig tipped with a large rubber tail cast near the spine of the tunnel. Dr. Jim said flounder are congregated around the rainwater outfalls located off Virginia Beach while an inshore wreck south of Sandbridge held hungry triggerfish to nearly 3 pounds on Thursday. Water temperature at this shallow water wreck was 81 degrees. A "chunking" trip earlier in the week aboard the HIGH HOPES produced near continuous action on large yellowfin tuna, including citation fish of 72, 74 and 80 pounds. Dr. Wright heard of a 50-pound king mackerel reportedly caught in one of the lower Bay pound nets and told of a good bite of tarpon on seaside Eastern Shore.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina weighed several citation yellowfin tuna (70-pound minimum) and the heaviest was boated by Dorothy Litz and weighed 87 pounds. Best action has been to anchor and chunk with butterfish at the Fingers. Inshore, John Price (7 pounds, 13 ounces) and Robert Jackson (7 pounds, 5 ounces) boated citation flounder at the CBBT while Myra Thompson reeled in an award winning flatfish at Back River Reef. The crew aboard the TRAVELLER wirelined the High Rise section of the CBBT and boated trout to 7 pounds, which Donnie described as, "encouraging." Only a handful of cobia were weighed last week at Wallace's and the Bluefish Rock area was again the top location. William Payne of Newport News caught the biggest, at 72-1/2 pounds, at Bluefish Rock.

Johnny from Sunset Marina said weekend bottom fishermen caught "a lot of nice croaker," and the biggest of the bunch was a 3-1/4 pounder, caught on shrimp, at the HRBT by L.R. Jennings of Newport News. The shop also weighed a 7-pound, 1-ounce, 27-inch flounder for Luke Lenix that was caught off Cape Henry and a 7-pound, 3-ounce, 26-1/2-inch flatfish boated by Mike Wade at the Baltimore Channel. 

Alan Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle said customers coming from the two local piers reported catching trout, flounder and "lots of nice croaker." Steven Hughs was fishing from the beach at Grandview and reeled-in a 3-1/4-pound croaker. Alan said boaters drifting bottom baits off Factory Point also caught plenty of mixed size croaker.

Back River Market weighed in an 8-pound, 9-ounce flounder for Ricky Hall from the Fourth Island of the CBBT. The shop indicated that good-sized croaker were being caught "all over."

Salt Ponds Marina told of good catches of large yellowfin tuna at the Fingers and weighed a 41-pound wahoo for Patrick Woodward of Richmond. The citation catch was made near the Ocean Venture wreck site. At the CBBT complex, "Gibby" Gibson of Clover boated a 9-1/4-pound flounder and Harold Jackson of Richmond nailed a 7-3/4 pounder.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply told of excellent hauls of 1-1/2 to 2-pound croaker off Cheatham Annex, where a few large spot and pan trout were also reported. For spot, Chuck suggested the mouth of the river, "that's where the headboats have been running and doing well."

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club caught numerous citation-sized yellowfin tuna, dolphin, flounder, black drum, amberjack and jack crevalle. Gene Hunsecker and his crew chunked the Fingers and filled their cooler space with 8 large yellowfin tuna before leaving. Top tuna went 80-1/2 pounds. The crew aboard the DORTHY B fished the same area and landed four citation yellowfin. Their heaviest weighed 86 pounds. A fun fishing trip aboard the REELEASER produced three citation yellowfin to 79 pounds. Craige Stallings nailed a 7-pound flounder at the CBBT. A trip to the Tower Reef aboard the HEALTHY GRIN produced a pair of 50-inch amberjack, two jack crevalle and a happy barracuda that ate several of the large croaker meant for the jacks.

Virginia Middle Bay -
Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported bottom fishermen are still doing "real good" on croaker around the N2 buoy and just south of buoy 62. The Spanish mackerel bite remains "on and off" with some trollers barely able to find enough to eat while others are catching a limit (10 fish person angler). Since flounder season re-opened Wednesday, keeper-sized flatfish have been caught around the jetty and further out around buoy 42 and the Cell. Fair numbers of spot are holding around the mouths of Indian and Dividing creeks. 

Dan from Smith Point Marina said bottom fishermen working near the SP buoy are catching plenty of croaker plus some spot while trollers working the channel edges near Smith Point Light are catching Spanish mackerel. Flounder were caught just outside the Little Wicomico River while charter boats working up near buoy 68 are catching school stripers and a few taylor bluefish. One charter ventured down off Cape Charles and boated a cobia.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said bottom fishermen are catching a mixture of croaker, spot and small shark. Trollers pulling small spoons early and late in the day at Windmill Bar and off Gwynn Island are catching Spanish mackerel and snapper blues. Don Dunn of Herndon boated a 6-pound, 13-ounce flounder on a live minnow at buoy 42. 

Locklies Marina reported excellent bottom fishing for croaker and spot the past several days. Some of the best hauls have come from off the old Pickle Factory, the Silos and at Mosquito Point. A one day fishing tournament sponsored by the Hartfield Fire Department produced a winning flounder of 4.43 pounds and croaker up to 2.09 pounds.

Garretts Marina told of excellent catches of croaker in excess of 3 pounds. Top spots have been the waters surrounding buoy 19 and Morattico Bar. Decent numbers of large spot plus some bluefish and pan trout are mixed in with the schools of croaker.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said schools of croaker are moving down the Bay and good numbers a currently located about 3 miles off the R1 buoy. A few spot are mixed in the croaker. Better numbers of spot can be found along the shore from Gywnn Island to Dividing Creek, the backside of the Windmill Point, inside the Rappanhannock at Butlers Hole, Sturgeon Bar and the # 7 day marker. Fair numbers of legal trout (14 inches) are taken along the tide breaks while fair numbers of flounder were found near the Cell.

Virginia Beach -
The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the headboat fleet has been loading-up on large croaker off Cape Henry about three miles. The headboats will resume wreckfishing trips for sea bass when the season re-opens Wednesday (August 15). Offshore, the fleet split time between anchoring and chunking for large yellowfin tuna at the Fingers and trolling for billfish, tuna and dolphin in 50 fathoms between the Norfolk Canyon and the Cigar. 

Fisherman's Wharf Marina told of good billfish action in the vicinity of the Norfolk Canyon over the weekend, where several groups encountered longfin tuna ("true" albacore). The marina indicated that much of the fleet has resumed trolling (instead of chunking) because of the numbers of billfish and chance for wahoo and dolphin. 

Virginia Piers
James River - Bob Wharton said the croaker bite has improved considerably since the weather has cooled. Pier anglers are also seeing more striped bass (catch and release only until October 4) and flounder. Other catches include a scattering of spot, bluefish and pan trout. 

Grandview - Daytime catches are mostly croaker plus a few spot. After dark, schools of pan trout move into the shadows of the pier lights, bigger croaker begin to bite and small shark move into the picture.

Buckroe Beach - "It's been kinda slow," according to the pier spokesman but persistent anglers did catch some flounder, spot, croaker and a few Spanish mackerel.

Harrison - Even Charlie, the veteran pier spokesman, was surprised by the number of pompano caught last week, noting "several were heavy enough for citations." A number of the pompano were caught "three-quarters of the way out on the pier and on double speck rigs." Go figure but the pier quickly sold-out of the spec rigs once the word got out. Several cobia were decked the past week and the largest weighed 48 pounds and was caught last Sunday. Bottom fishermen are catching a few keeper flounder and large spot but mostly "it's been croaker." 

Lynnhaven - Bottom fishermen are seeing a good variety including spot, croaker, sea mullet, bluefish and pan trout with the best action coming after dark.

Virginia Beach - Bottom bouncers recorded fair to good catches of spot, sea mullet and croaker depending on the tide. Casters working from the end of the pier are catching a few Spanish mackerel and snapper bluefish. Water temperature at pierside was 75 degrees on Tuesday (August 14).

Sandbridge - Not much variety, according to the pier spokesperson, as bottom fishermen have been limited to spot and croaker the past several days.

Outer Banks, NC -
Spanish mackerel made a good showing at the Nags Head area piers from early in the week until the weekend, when water temperatures along the surfline took a nose-dive into the 60's. Beach anglers and bottom fishermen working from the piers recorded a mixture of croaker, sea mullet, spot, flounder and small pompano. Grey trout made a good showing at Avalon Pier Wednesday, where an estimated 100-pound tarpon was caught and released the same day. At Oregon Inlet, puppy drum to 25 inches made a decent showing on the flats just inside the bridge, while an occasional flounder was caught in the channel.

South of Oregon Inlet, spot, croaker, sea mullet and the occasional pompano provided fair action. On Buxton at Cape Point, some snapper blues and Spanish mackerel were caught Friday evening. On Saturday, the same waters produced only croaker. Following cooler air temperatures, a mixture of sea mullet, croaker and snapper blues were caught Sunday. On Monday, surf water began to clear and puppy drum, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, flounder and croaker were all reported by mid-day. Monday evening, Spanish mackerel swarmed within casting range.

Offshore, the fleet docked at the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center continued to enjoy good catches of bigeye tuna and fair to good numbers of yellowfin tuna while dolphin numbers were off recently. On Friday, the ESCAPE landed bigeye of 101 and 105 pounds and the TUNA FEVER released a sailfish. On Saturday, MARLIN FEVER IV released a blue marlin and boated bigeye tuna of 100, 113 and 105 pounds. WILDFIRE (120, 126 and 132 pounds) and FISHIN FRENZY (106, 128 and 199 pounds) also boated three large bigeye. FIN GALLEY landed tuna of 117 and 121 pounds, SEADUCER landed a 174 pounder and the PELICAN had a 154 pounder. On Sunday, the PELICAN boated six bigeye from 100 to 129 pounds and the REBAIT had three (112, 125 and 175 pounds). In this same time span, the headboat had good catches of croaker plus some pigfish and triggerfish. Inshore boats trolling just outside the inlet recorded good catches of Spanish mackerel and snapper bluefish.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet reported good catches of dolphin and yellowfin tuna plus some wahoo and king mackerel. Billfish action was described as "spotty," though both the GAMBLER and NO SLACK released sailfish on Friday.

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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