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The Saltwater Review - August 9, 2000

Vol. 14, No. 15
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


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.

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

Large croaker have begun their seasonal move to deepwater channels in the main portion of the Bay, as they begin their spawning migration to higher salinity waters.

Catches of spot improved the past week, in spite of the heat, humidity and thunderstorms.

Big flounder were caught at the CBBT, Cape Henry Wreck area, Back River Reef, off Cape Charles and the 
buoy 42/Cell area but the "experts" felt the fish were slightly "off their feed" due to all of the rain and dingy water conditions. 

Cobia still linger at several of the spring haunts, especially the Bluefish Rock area, but many of the fish have scattered throughout the lower Bay and are spotted cruising near the surface or circling a buoy.

Offshore, bluefin tuna have been replaced by dolphin and yellowfin tuna off VA Beach while fair numbers of 
bluefin still linger off Wachapreague and Chincoteague. Several boats encountered "true" albacore tuna (longfins) over the weekend. One private boat, ROBINETTE'S RIDE, boated a dozen near the Norfolk Canyon.


Donna from Capt. Bob's reported Gerald Peck pulled an 8 and a 7 1/2 pound flounder from the main channel 
"right in front of Capt. Bob's." Jumbo croaker have moved into the inlet with some measuring nearly 20 inches. Good-sized trout remain available with best action coming on the top of the incoming tide. Offshore, the lumpy bottom continues to produce a mixture of bluefin and yellowfin tuna.

Bill Robbins from R & R Boat Rental said croaker were "all over" with the best recent catches of the biggest fish coming from the main channel near marker 25. A few flounder are still being reported--Bill saw a 6 1/4 pounder on Sunday. Chincoteague Point is still giving up a few trout.

Barnacle Bill's also told of loads of big croaker coming from the main channel while surf catches include flounder, croaker, bluefish, trout and shark. Offshore, big bluefin still linger and Shawn Giacoble weighed the week's heavyweight at 146 1/2 pounds.


Wachapreague Marina reported good catches of tuna at the lumpy bottom while action at the Parking Lot was slow. Frank Henderickson boated a 58-inch and 117 1/2 pound bluefin at the lumpy and the same location produced a 113 pounder for Dan Orem, III aboard the WHITE HOT while James Wright decked a citation 70 1/2 pound yellowfin. School-sized king mackerel, shark and large bluefish are occasionally hooked in the same waters. Glenn Clemson aboard the Shammy boated the week's biggest wahoo at 57 pounds. Inshore, few flounder were reported, as croaker gobble baited hooks almost before they reach the bottom.

Capt. Zed's said offshore catches included bluefin, yellowfin, dolphin, wahoo and several billfish. The 21 Mile Hill and waters from the 20 fathom finger out to the canyons were the most productive. Inshore, some flounder, trout and sea mullet were caught but croaker continue to dominate the action.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle Shop reported good weekend catches of cobia, croaker and flounder. The buoy 13 area was tops for cobia weighing up to nearly 40 pounds, as the seaside produced coolers full of croaker. Jumbo flounder were boated at numerous sites off Cape Charles. Dennis Register (9-7) and Steven Ross (9-8) boated citation-winning flatfish near buoy 42, Ray Poole nailed a 6 3/4 pounder just outside the Cement Ships, Hop Winfield a 6 1/2 pounder at Plantation Light and Judy Lessard a 6-3 fish at buoy 36A, where retired Marine Patrol Officer Robert Bois decked a pair of trophy flatfish at 6-2 and 6-0. Other impressive catches included an 8 3/4 pound sheepshead by Seth Rux at the Cell and a 72-inch tarpon release at New Inlet by Jeremiah Johnston. Reports from the State Park Pier at Kiptopeke indicate a mixed bag of spot, blowfish, pan trout and flounder.


Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported steady bottom fishing for large croaker and hand-sized spot. Catches include pan trout in the 14 to 20-inch range and snapper bluefish. Best action comes early and late in the day, as both fish and fishermen become sluggish during the mid-day heat. Flounder are available along the channel edges with cut spot a favored bait. 

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel

Cobbs Marina weighed a pair of award-winning sheepshead (12 1/2 and 9 1/2 pounds) for Mike Finnigan and both fish were boated at the First Island. Ron Silverman of Norfolk landed an 8-6 flounder at the Third island and Robert King of Edenton, NC captured an 8-3 spadefish at the crossing. Inside the Elizabeth River, Josh Porter landed a 3 1/4 pound croaker.

John from Bubba's Marina said flounder were being caught "from the Lesner Bridge out to the High Rise," while trout were still biting at the Third Island and Spanish mackerel at the 4A buoy off Fisherman's Island and at Cape Henry. John added cobia are starting to show on the buoys and pods of black drum are milling around the Second and Third islands.

Dr. Jim Wright and party drifted inside Lynnhaven Inlet on Thursday (because it was too windy to fish the Bay) and boated flounder up to 5 pounds. On the weekend, bottom fishing near Cape Henry Wreck produced a steady catch of 1 1/2 pound croaker while jigging for trout at the Third Island turned-up stripers to 26 inches (catch and release only in the Bay until October). Offshore, Dr. Jim heard of good catches of dolphin plus some yellowfin tuna.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina said chummers are still catching some cobia near Bluefish Rock. Best recent catch was Scott Christensen's 63 pounder. Big flounder were boated at several locations, including Back River Reef and the Cell but the biggest, a 6 1/2 pounder landed by Dwayne Hester, was caught at the Fourth Island of the CBBT. Donnie added that trollers are scoring on Spanish mackerel at the CBBT while casters are catching a few speckled trout, puppy drum and taylor blues at Poquoson Flats. 

Johnny from Sunset Marina checked-in a 9-pound and 10-ounce trophy flounder for Daryl Green. The citation catch was made at the Fourth Island. Johnny said the CBBT complex was also yielding "coolers full" of large croaker plus some trout.

Alan Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle said local speckled trout specialist Sonny Riss was still catching a few trout at Poquoson Flats despite the oppressive heat while bottom fishermen working Factory Point settled for pan-sized croaker and a few spot. Alan also heard of several cobia boated off Grandview in recent days.

Salt Ponds Marina said Dave Carney boated a 32-pound wahoo at the Fingers, where yellowfin tuna were also reported. The shop indicated the HRBT and Back River Reef were producing good hauls of croaker while flounder were caught at Back River Reef and the Second and Third islands of the CBBT. 

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said K.W. Goodwin boated a 71 1/2 pound cobia at Bluefish Rock while Amos West decked a 6-10 flounder off Cape Charles. Croaker remain abundant in the York River with the better hauls of bigger fish, plus a few pan trout, coming from the deepwater located off Cheatham Annex. Jimmy added that spot are available in Sarah's Creek, flounder to 22 inches are holding at the mouth of the Parrin River and cobia linger around York Spit.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club caught croaker of nearly 18 inches on the York River near the Coast Guard Pier. The same area produced a 1-pound and 5-ounce spot for Richard Bartlett, which is the heaviest spot reported thus far this season. Wire-linning specialist Robert Allen and his crew caught flounder to 8 pounds, striped bass (released) and trout at the CBBT. The crew aboard the HEALTHY GRIN fished the Chesapeake Light Tower and several nearby wrecks, catching and releasing a 53-inch amberjack and a 50 1/2 inch cobia while boating spadefish to 8 3/4 pounds and sea bass to 20 inches.

Virginia Middle Bay  

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported surface feeding schools of Spanish mackerel, snapper bluefish and striped bass are holding just SE of Smith Point Light. Trollers are also scoring on Spanish mackerel at the Asphalt Pile and off Dividing Creek. Bottom fishermen report croaker are "all over" with some spot showing at Dividing Creek. Trout to 5 pounds still linger around the rocks at Smith Point Light and the remains of the Target Ships.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said bottom fishermen are catching croaker to 3 pounds at Smith Point Light and Blackberry Hang while trollers working the edge of the channel near Smith Point Light are scoring on Spanish mackerel. Boats running into Maryland waters and chumming are catching plenty of school stripers and a few taylor blues.

Locklies Marina said flounder to 5 pounds were boated off Parrots Island while good hauls of large spot plus some medium croaker were made off the Silos and along the White Stone side of the Route 3 Bridge.

Garretts Marina said waters off Morratico produced good-sized croaker and a few pan trout while the action at buoy 19 was slow.

Capt. Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said trollers working Windmill Point Bar recorded good weekend catches of Spanish mackerel. Waters off Gwynn Island hold plenty of small to medium croaker but the spot bite has been "on and off," according to Capt. Jim. Better hauls of spot are coming from the Northern Neck Reef site, Butlers Hole and the Spike buoy while the best catches of large croaker were made near Tangier Island off the range light.

Virginia Beach

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported fair to good catches of dolphin plus a scattering of yellowfin tuna on the bluewater grounds. Inshore, boats scored on spadefish and Spanish mackerel while the headboat fleet continues to work the lower Bay for trout and croaker.

Paula Owens from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said decent numbers of yellowfin tuna were caught at the Cigar and north wall of the Norfolk Canyon. The weekend also produced scattered sightings and a few hook-ups of white marlin plus a number of longfin tuna (true albacore tuna) at the Norfolk Canyon. Inshore, trollers working the rips off the resort strip scored on Spanish mackerel.

Virginia Piers  

James River - Bob Wharton said catches of croaker and spot were good last week, "especially right after a thunderstorm." A few bluefish were caught during the daytime while pan trout appeared after dark.

Grandview - A pair of small cobia were decked last week but large croaker to over 3 pounds and decent sized spot provided most of the action. Pan trout and sharks made a strong showing after dark.

Buckroe Beach
- Anglers recorded mixed catches of croaker, spot, pan trout, flounder and Spanish mackerel the past week. The action is best early and late in the day.

- After dark hours produced fair to good hauls of spot and croaker while daytime action was rated "slow." A few flounder, trout and bluefish were also reported.

- Hand-sized spot provided the bulk of the activity for bottom fishermen with a few small flounder, sea mullet and snapper bluefish also reported. Crabbing was rated fair to good.

Virginia Beach
- Spot and sea mullet provided steady action the past several days with a few snapper blues and Spanish mackerel taken in the late evenings. Water temperature at pierside was 77 degrees on Tuesday.

- Several good-sized sharks were hooked Monday night while daytime catches include small black drum, spot, pan trout and croaker.

Outer Banks, NC

Surf and pier anglers from Kitty Hawk down to Oregon Inlet caught a mixture of spot, croaker, small flounder, puppy drum and trout. Casters working the ends of the piers added taylor blues to the list while Spanish mackerel were absent. Back in the sounds, speckled trout and puppy drum made fair to good showings with small flounder fairly abundant at Oregon Inlet and sheepshead around the pilings of the bridge. 

The fleet sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center recorded good hauls of dolphin, 2 to 9 yellowfin tuna (usually in the 40 to 50-pound range) per boat and the occasional wahoo in recent days. Half day boats trolling near the inlet found more snapper blues than Spanish mackerel while the headboat scored a mixture of croaker, sea bass and triggerfish. 

At Hatteras Inlet, boats consistently returned with limit catches of dolphin (if the crew wanted that many), more wahoo than yellowfin and some king mackerel. On Saturday, Owen Gwilliam of Springfield, VA and Joshua Gwilliam of Christchurch, VA each released a sailfish aboard the NATIVE SON. The same day produced a 52-pound wahoo for Earl Feltner of Bumpass, VA aboard the CITATION. Inshore catches of Spanish mackerel and bluefish remain consistent.

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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