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The Saltwater Review - 27 July 1999

Vol. 13, 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

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.

Bill Midkiff landed a 77-pound black drum which is a potential world flyrod record for 16-pound tippet. The record-setting catch was made at the First Island aboard the RHINO skippered by Ben Thomas, after an hour and fifty minute struggle. The drum was weighed on certified scales at Bubba's Marina.

Cobia continue to be caught off Grandview at Bluefish Rock and off Cape Charles at Latimer Shoals and the Cabbage Patch but reports indicate that some fish have moved to the lower Bay and inshore buoy lines.

Good-sized croaker, which have dominated the bottom fishing scene inside the Bay all season and often average near 1 1/2 pounds, have swarmed up along the Eastern Shore seaside with large catches recorded from Oyster to Chincoteague.

Chincoteague-

Donna from Capt. Bob's said while overall tuna catches slowed the past week several impressive fish were caught. James Thompson boated a 103-pound and 57-inch long yellowfin tuna at the lumpy bottom aboard the STINGER. It is the heaviest yellowfin tuna reported thus far this season. Another big yellowfin was claimed by Terry McGill. The tuna weighed 99.3 pounds. Jeff Schneder claimed the week's heaviest bluefin at 102 pounds while Troy Weider earned a release award for a 53-inch bluefin. But the week's heaviest tuna was a bigeye subdued by Susan Tegeler. Her fish weighed 106 pounds. Inside the inlet, "the croaker have really taken over," according to Donna.

Bill Robbins from R & R Boat Rental said bottom fishermen are catching loads of croaker with some of the best hauls coming from the main channel in front of the harbor basin. Just prior to the week-long closure for Summer Flounder (25-31 July) several parties pulled limits of flatfish from Black Narrows and Queens Sound.

Barnacle Bill's said the offshore bite of bluefin tuna slowed the past week, though Bill Heartneck boated a 100 pounder aboard the TOOLS-OF-THE-TRADE at the Parking Lot and Donald Hann's party aboard the ENFORCER scored on bluefin, dolphin and chopper blues. Chris Freeman weighed a 35-pound dolphin. It was caught at the lumpy bottom aboard the MISS LINDA. Inshore, croaker to 3 pounds and pan trout are keeping bottom fishermen busy.

Daisey's Dockside also told of loads of croaker--especially early in the week when anglers were coming in with "coolers full" of the tasty bottom feeders. The main channel at the south end of the island produced some of the better hauls.

Wachapreague-

Wachapreague Marina reported more yellowfin tuna had arrived along the 20 fathom line but overall tuna action had slowed the past week. Lucas Kellum released a white marlin at the Norfolk Canyon aboard the MAINE SQUEEZE, where Allen Evans boated a 34 1/4 pound wahoo aboard the CLIFF HANGER. Inshore, Barry Truitt released his second and third tarpon of the year (48 and 60 inches) while fishing with live spot inside Hog Island.

Capt. Zed's weighed one of the heaviest dolphin of the season for Henry Williams. The fish weighed 45 pounds and was caught at the 20 Fathom Finger aboard MISS MOLLY. Paul Bundick boated a 42-2 wahoo aboard the CANYON LADY, as Russell Glenn scored a 30-pound Citation wahoo. Zed's described recent catches of dolphin as "excellent" though none met the 20-pound citation minimum. Inside the inlet, bottom fishermen are loading up on croaker, "just about anywhere they drop a hook over."

Cape Charles-

Chris' Bait and Tackle told of superb angling for cobia, flounder and croaker the past week. Over a dozen cobia releases were registered with Daniel Bell, Jr. owning the biggest at 58 3/4 inches. Bell's cobia and many of the other releases came at Latimer Shoals. Other successful cobia anglers choose to weigh their prize. A sampling of the largest included 73 1/2 pounds (Mark Trouth, buoy 38A), 73-5 (Angie Hawkins, Latimer Shoals), 72-10 (Allen Cole, C-10), 71-14 (Gary York) and 69-14 (Harvey York, both buoy 38A aboard the Fin Finder). The list of award winning flounder was nearly as long and location of the catch similar, as most flatfish were boated off Cape Charles near the old C-10 buoy site. Glenn Moler claimed the heavyweight at 8-2 and it was caught at buoy 36A, where Bobby Longwood (7-14), Ray Longwood (6-3), and Robert Reed (6-7) all decked award winning flounder. Rob Bradshaw caught a 7-3 flounder at the Cell and Dennis West a 7 pounder at buoy 42. As for croaker, no three-pound citation sized fish were weighed but persistent bottom fishermen filled available coolers with 3/4 to 1 1/2 pound fish on the seaside waters out of Oyster.

Capt. Jim Jenrette and party boated three cobia to 50 pounds on Sunday while fishing at the Cabbage Patch on anchor and chumming with ground menhaden.

Onancock-

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters said the past week produced fewer but larger spot with the best catches coming from water 18 to 25 feet deep. The croaker bite remains steady--again most of the bigger fish are found in water less than 25 feet deep. Sunday's party boated croaker to 3 1/4 pounds, spot and pan trout in the 14 to 20-inch range. Bits of bloodworm were the top bait for the week, though croaker still hit strips of squid and cut spot. The most unusual catch of the week was a 31-inch Atlantic cutlassfish boated by a customer.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel-

Ruth Cobb from Cobbs Marina reported good weekend action on cobia and flounder (through Saturday, July 25) at the CBBT complex, where John Bailey (65 1/2 pounds) and Russell Rogers (58 pounds) claimed citation-winning cobia and Pat Powell (6-13), Gary Anderson (6-1) and Chuck Harrison (6-1) boated award winning flounder.

Johnny from Bubba's Marina said hard-fighting amberjack had arrived at the CB line buoys and at Tower Reef. Spadefish are likewise available at the Tower Reef but better weekend catches were recorded at the CBBT. The weekend hotspot for cobia was the buoy 16 area and the Cabbage Patch.

Dr. Jim Wright said the South Tower was loaded with small amberjack, many of which were below the 32-inch minimum size limit. Dr. Jim also commented that the offshore tuna bite slowed over the weekend, though bluewater trollers are seeing some billfish--mostly white marlin. Closer to the beach, trollers found plenty of Spanish mackerel off Sandbridge and further south. Spanish mackerel were also reported around the Anglo-African wreck site, where schools of smallish spadefish reside. Inside the Bay, large black drum are easily spotted cruising the First and Second islands. Leading up to Sunday's Summer Flounder closure, one of the better spots for bigger flatfish was around the red can buoy, located just bayside of the Fourth Island.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina said flounder action was excellent "right up through Saturday," as the season closed for the next seven days (25-31 July). Cobia continue to bite and nearly a dozen were weighed at Wallace's the past week bringing the shop's Citation total for the season to over 90 cobia. Along the northern sections of the CBBT complex, wireliners and live baiters continue to score on large weakfish. The 12 MP, High Rise and the rocks at the Third and Fourth islands have been the favored spots. Donnie added that some bottom fishermen have enjoyed success with the larger trout while using chunks of peeler crab bounced along the bottom. Spadefish are also available at the same locations with Graham Johnson's 7 1/4 pounder the heaviest of the week. Closer to the marina, croaker are still "all over," while several anglers scored on speckled trout inside Back River and along Poquoson Flats.

Johnny at Sunset Marina told of excellent flounder action and weighed a pair of citation-sized flounder just prior to the one-week closure (July 25-31). Richard Spencer boated a 7-2 flounder off Cape Henry, as the same waters produced a 6-2 flatfish for Raymond Cawley and a 24-fish limit of 18 to 23-inch flounder for Richard Spencer and his two-man crew. Customers reported limit catches of flounder at the Second Island and Joe Birch and his crew decked flounder to 5 3/4 pounds and weakfish of nearly 8 pounds as they wirelined the Fourth Island area. Large cobia continued to bite at Bluefish Rock, where Jim Brown (51 pounds), Bill Clayton (54 pounds) and Andrew Price (50 pounds) all recorded citation winning catches. Inside Hampton Roads, Johnny said the Ammo Pier, located just outside Hampton Bar produced nice catches of large croaker plus some pan trout.

Allen Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle said one party of anglers who fished Latimer Shoals for cobia failed to hook-up with their intended quarry but returned with a cooler full of large croaker. Allen added that spot are starting to show in the Factory Point area. Robert Mier weighed in a 57-pound amberjack from the South Tower.

Andy Watkins from Back River Market said Ron and Don Buhl boated over a dozen speckled trout on Saturday morning's falling tide at Poquoson Flats. The pair were casting artificals, as Don nailed the biggest, a long and skinny 6 pounder. Several citation-sized cobia were checked-in at the Market plus several nice catches of spadefish.

Salt Ponds Marina said the Fingers, Cigar and Triple 0's all produced weekend catches of billfish, dolphin and yellowfin tuna. The marina added that anglers fishing the lower Bay returned with lots of flounder to clean.

A & S Feed and Bait Supply weighed a pair of citation -winning 7-pound plus flounder the past week. Both fish were caught "across the Bay," off Cape Charles. Croaker continue to dominate the action inside the York River with many of the best reported hauls coming from York Spit, Cheatham Annex or the Gloucester Point Bridge.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club say spadefish are available over structure including such favorite spots as the Cell, Third and Fourth islands, the Anglo-African wreck site and Tower Reef. Dr. Bob Allen and various crews continue to have success on weakfish to 27 inches as they wireline the Fourth Island area of the CBBT complex. Moving offshore, amberjack are found over most inshore wrecks and structure, including the Tower Reef and Southern Tower. Billfish are active, though catches of tuna (both yellowfin and bluefin) slowed the past week. The Club's Youth Croaker Tournament held last weekend was won by Brandon Bartlett with a 2.24 pound fish from the upper York River. Catherine Roper finished second in the event, which was shortened due to afternoon thunderstorms.

Virginia Middle Bay-

Heidi Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported trollers caught Spanish mackerel and taylor blues at Smith Point Bar, the mouth of the Great Wicomico and off Dividing Creek. Weekend bottom fishermen found plenty of croaker plus some pan trout right at Smith Point Light, just north of the Northern Neck Reef, at the N2 buoy and south of buoy 62.

Smith Point Marina said croaker continue to bite throughout the area with best action coming on the evening tide. Spanish mackerel and taylor blues were reported north and south of Smith Point Light and at Blackberry Hang. Those seeking striped bass are running into Maryland waters to buoy 68 and the Middle Grounds, as both trollers and chummers are returning with limits of school stripers plus some bluefish.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service told of good flounder action at the Cell leading up to the week long closure (25-31 July). Despite the torrid weather, speckled trout decided to bite at Fleets Bay and Jerry knew of spotted fish to 22 inches that were caught on light-weight Finn-S jigs. Bottom fishermen reported decent hauls of spot from Butlers Hole and cobia at York Spit while trollers scored on Spanish mackerel off Hole-in-the-Wall near buoy #1.

Garretts Marina said croaker to nearly 4 pounds were caught the past week, though most range from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 pounds. Best hauls have come from the waters at buoy 19 (where catches include some spot) and down river to Morattico.

Virginia Beach-

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported weekend catches of white marlin and yellowfin tuna from the Fingers and Norfolk Canyon while Spanish and king mackerel were taken on the inshore grounds. The headboat fleet found plenty of croaker plus some pan trout when the boats fished the Baymouth while offshore wreck trips yielded sea bass.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina described the weekend as "a little slow," though the PURSUER returned Saturday with half-a-dozen 50-pound class yellowfin plus its anglers released both a blue and a white marlin. Most of the action took place along the 250-line in 30 to 50 fathoms. Paula added that several other customers released billfish at the Cigar and Norfolk Canyon.

Virginia Piers-

Grandview

Big croaker, several topping 2 pounds have been biting after dark. Largest for the week went 3 1/4 pounds and was caught by David Burrell. Bottom fishermen are also catching some small to medium spot and taylor blues. After dark, schools of pan trout move into the light line created by the pier lights.

Buckroe Beach

Daytime action has been slow with very few anglers fishing due to the heat. Spot and croaker are biting after dark, as swarms of pan trout are attracted by the pier lights. A 51-pound cobia was decked on Sunday.

Harrison-

Daytime catches are limited to a smattering of spot and croaker. As dusk arrives, the fishing improves dramatically--as both the size and the numbers increase. The pier's last reported cobia was a 60 pounder that was decked Wednesday.

Lynnhaven

"They really caught the fish on Monday," according to the pier spokesman and catches included pan trout, sea mullet, spot and bluefish.

Virginia Beach

Late evening and early morning hours have produced the best recent catches of spot, croaker, bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Water temperature at the pier pilings was a balmy 80 degrees on Monday.

Sandbridge-

The evening high tide has produced good catches of spot, sea mullet, croaker and Spanish mackerel. A 30-pound class cobia was decked over the weekend.

Outer Banks, NC-

Beach and pier bottom fishermen were limited to spot, croaker and sea mullet in the Nags Head area. The good news was that some of the spot were nearly 10 inches long and big spot were also beached at the north side of Oregon Inlet. Casters working the ends of the piers caught Spanish and taylor blues during first light and around dusk. A 35-pound jack crevalle was decked mid-week at the Outer Banks Pier. Back inside the sounds, speckled trout, puppy drum, a few flounder and plenty of spot and croaker were available, according to Whalebone Tackle. One of the better locations for trout and puppy drum continues to be Green Island Slough, located just inside the Oregon Inlet Bridge. South of Oregon Inlet, pompano to 3 pounds, croaker, and snapper blues were beached between Avon and Buxton while casters working the tip of Cape Point scored on Spanish mackerel and snapper blues.

Mixed sizes of dolphin dominated the catches of the bluewater fleet sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center the past several days, as catches of yellowfin tuna, billfish and wahoo were described as "scattered." The HOOKER nailed a 65-pound yellowfin, the MAD HATTER a 42-pound wahoo and the PELICAN a 50-pound wahoo on Saturday. On Sunday, the JOE BOY released a spearfish and the BOSS LADY boated a 60-pound wahoo. Monday the MARLIN FEVER released a pair of whites and boated a limit of dolphin.

Inshore, the half-day boats caught good numbers of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues plus a few cobia. The headboat returned with mixed catches of croaker, flounder, trout, sea bass and pigfish.

Out of Hatteras Inlet, billfish and dolphin dominated the bluewater action over the Friday through Sunday period. On Friday, the fleet captured over a dozen billfish with the TUNA DUCK and BIG EYE each releasing a blue and a white. Good catches of mixed sizes of dolphin plus a scattering of yellowfin to 50 pounds and a few wahoo rounded-out the days catch. On Saturday, the TUNA DUCK recorded a Grand Slam while the GECKO released three blue marlin. Bailer-sized dolphin dominated the "meatfish" category. Sunday, billfish and meatfish catches were down--but so was the temperature, after the passage of the front Saturday night.

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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