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The Saltwater Review - August 22, 2001

Vol. 15, No. 15
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 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 14-inch size limit and 14-fish possession limit is in effect from August 15, 2001, through April 30, 2002 for weakfish (grey trout). 

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. 

Cobia still linger in the vicinity of Bluefish Rock and a 77-pounder was decked on the Buckroe Beach Pier Monday but overall action continues to fade.

Flounder are moving to their deepwater haunts, such as the edges of the shipping channels located at the mouth of the Bay. That said, what likely was the heaviest flatfish of the week was boated at the mouth of the Lynnhaven River, pulled from amongst the pilings of the Lesner Bridge.

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.

Chincoteague -
Donna from Captain Bob's told of excellent catches of jumbo croaker inside the inlet, especially at Black Narrows and inside Queen's Sound. Barbara Kwapecius boated a 19-inch, 3-11 croaker at Black Narrows while Michael Remy nailed a 3-3/4 pounder at marker 16. Donna described the flounder bite as just "so-so" but John Shields managed a 6-5 flounder at Cockle Creek. Outside the inlet, Paul Klechner released a 45-inch cobia in the ocean off Chincoteague while yellowfin tuna were caught at the lumpy bottom and at the Parking Lot.

Wachapreague Marina weighed a 59-2 wahoo for Kelly Nekunas aboard the ROY-JO, a 53-6 wahoo for Mike Levan aboard the LUCKY DAWG and a 39-2 wahoo for Matthew Black aboard the RED TIDE. Chuck Blanchard checked-in a 72-2 yellowfin tuna aboard the JAMES GANG and Edgar Kolb a 79-pound yellowfin aboard the HEAT WAVE. The marina indicated a good bite of longfin tuna developed last week east of the Washington Canyon in 500 fathoms of water.

Captain Zed's told of loads of large croaker inside the inlet at Green and Drawing channels. Flounder fishermen are having a hard time keeping baits on the bottom because of the croaker but the shop suggested the bend near buoy 6 and Horseshoe Lead as top flounder areas.

Cape Charles
Chris' Bait and Tackle Shop registered a 51-inch cobia release for Gene Brockwell and a 48-inch red drum release for Everett McKenny. Both catches were made near buoy 16. I.B. Hall boated a 6-2 flounder off Cherrystone Creek and Joan Clinedinst nailed a 6-6 flounder at the CBBT complex. Over on the seaside, Barry Truitt caught and released his second tarpon of the year in Hog Island Bay.

Captain Wil Laaksonen at Fish and Finn Charters reported loads of croaker and plenty of spot off Onancock. Trout and flounder numbers continue to improve. Other catches include bluefish up to 7 pounds, small shark, blowfish, porgy and sea mullet.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -
Cobbs Marina reported good weekend catches of croaker and large flounder. David Pridgen of Norfolk bagged the week's heaviest croaker at 3 pounds, 7 ounces while Dennis Register claimed the heavyweight flounder at 6 pounds, 10 ounces. Both fish were caught at the CBBT complex, where Steve Kasynic landed a 67-1/2 pound cobia.

Bubba's Marina told of large flounder of up to 10 pounds that were caught at the Lesner Bridge, where a few puppy drum were also landed. The shop indicated good hauls of large croaker were made along the channel edges near the First and Third Islands while offshore anglers recorded good catches of yellowfin tuna and white marlin recently.

Dr. Jim Wright said his party went 1-for-3 on white marlin and boated a good catch of longfin tuna (true albacore) at the Norfolk Canyon on Tuesday. On Thursday, a trip to the South Tower produced a dozen amberjack releases and sea bass to 3 pounds at the 4A Drydock on the way back.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Bait and Tackle checked-in a pair of Citation flounder over the weekend from Back River Reef. Joel Alexa boated an 8-3/4 pounder and Brian Lengacher weighed a 6-13 flatfish. Good numbers of flounder were caught near the CBBT complex, between buoys 15 and 16 but "no Citations," according to Donnie. Cobia still linger in the Bluefish Rock area, where Kenneth Abernathy decked a 70 pounder. Several anglers recorded good catches of nice-sized spot at the mouth of Back River while croaker remain abundant off Back River and along the channels edges at the mouth of the Bay. One party of anglers made the long trip to the South Tower and were rewarded with amberjack releases in the 48 to 50-inch range.

Johnny from Sunset Marina weighed several Citation cobia over the weekend and the largest was a 61-inch, 67 pounder caught by Luke Lenix on a live eel at Bluefish Rock. Others with citation-winning cobia included O.L. Chapman (release, 56 inches), Keith Price (release, 51 inches), Mark Dean (release, 51 inches) and Willard Brewer (51 pounds). All were caught near Bluefish Rock and most were fooled into striking a live eel.

Vanasse Bait and Tackle said the croaker bite in nearby waters was tapering off but bottom fishermen were still catching some large ones--especially around Back River Reef. Cobia numbers were likewise on the wane but some fish were still being caught off Grandview Beach.

Salt Ponds Marina told of big croaker around the Third Island, where wireliners recorded decent catches of flounder and trout. Offshore, best recent action has been at the Fingers for yellowfin tuna.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said big croaker are still biting at the lump (York River) while decent numbers of spot were caught at the mouth of Sarah's Creek. Rickie Lewis boated the week's biggest croaker at 3 pounds, 2 ounces. Grey trout numbers are improving, especially off Cheatham Annex and at the lump. Most fish range from 16 inches up to 5 pounds. The cobia bite at York Spit slowed the past week while reports of a handful of speckled trout at Ware point trickled-in.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club recorded catches of flounder and trout while wire-lining the High Rise, good hauls of croaker along the edge of the channel at the Fourth Island and sea bass out at the Santori wreck site. The Chesapeake Light Tower held jack crevalle early in the week, as one crew caught and released eight but amberjack dominated late in the week, when the crew on board the HEALTHY GRIN caught and released jacks to 58 inches. The "resident" barracuda was still holding around the legs of the Light Tower. The Gulf Hustler also produced amberjack and the NCD buoy yielded a 58-inch and 54-pound cobia to Brandon Barlett. Word among club members was the chunk bite had slowed at the Fingers but the Triple 0's area held both white and blue marlin.

Virginia Middle Bay -
Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported several cobia were caught near Tangier Island by the western shore fleet the past week. Trollers caught a mixture of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues at Smith Point while bottom fishermen found "no shortage of croaker," the past week.

Dan from Smith Point Marina checked-in a pair of citation-winning croaker from the Cell last weekend and indicated good catches of croaker were also coming from Blackberry Hang. Flounder were biting at the SP buoy and in the mouth of the Little Wicomico River while trollers scored on Spanish mackerel along the channel edges and taylor blues at Smith Point Light and at the mouth of the Potomac River. Chummers working near buoy 68 are taking limit catches of school-sized striped bass.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said #1 spot were holding off Cherry Point in 25 to 28 feet of water and along the south face of Gwynn Island. Schools of croaker are "on the move" in local waters, with the R-1 buoy and mouth of the river two of the better locations to intercept fish. Trollers pulling small spoons "early and late" in the day at Windmill Bar and off Gwynn Island were rewarded with Spanish mackerel. Large spadefish were reported at the Cell and Wolf Trap Light.

Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen were catching a "50/50 mix" of spot and croaker off Parrots Island and at Butlers Hole. The spot are running from jumbo to medium while the croaker range from 1/2 to over a pound. Fair numbers of trout are showing at the same locations.

Steve at Garretts Marina said the bottom fishing action has slowed "a little, but what they're catching has been real nice," as the croaker run 1-1/2 to over 2 pounds, including a citation-winning 3-1/2 pounder. The spot are likewise, "all good size." Morattico Bar and the various oyster bars between the marina and Morattico Bar have all been productive.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina described the weekend bite of flounder and croaker at the Cell was "off considerably" but good numbers of croaker were still holding at the range light. Scattered schools of spot were found at the spike buoy, Mosquito Bar, Butlers Hole, Windmill Bar and buoy 2 off Sting Ray Point Light.

Virginia Beach -
The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported their headboat fleet is splitting time between working baymouth waters for jumbo croaker and fishing the inshore ocean wrecks for sea bass and the occasional flounder. Offshore the billfish bite was described as "excellent" the past week, as several dozen releases, mostly for white marlin, were registered by the charter fleet. The waters surrounding the Cigar have proved to be the most productive. Other catches include dolphin, wahoo and yellowfin tuna.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina told of an excellent bite of white marlin the past week. Best action has been near the Cigar seamount and out to the northeast in nearly 500 fathoms. As for "meatfish," fair numbers of gaffer dolphin but few tuna were reported. 

Virginia Piers
Grandview - Daytime catches consist of a scattering of croaker, trout and flounder but the bite improves considerably once the sun sets for croaker, trout and small shark. Several small cobia were also decked the past week.

Buckroe Beach - Highlight of the week was a 77-pound cobia decked by Gene Cooley on Monday. Other catches include croaker, sand perch, blowfish and scattered flounder during daylight hours plus good numbers of pan trout after dark.

Harrison - Best action has come during the late evening tide, as good numbers of croaker plus some spot are slung over the rail. 

Lynnhaven - Could not be reached.

Virginia Beach - anglers enjoyed fair success in recent days and reported mixed catches of good-sized sea mullet, croaker, spot, Spanish mackerel and bluefish. Water temperature at pierside was 75 degrees on Tuesday.

Sandbridge - Overall action was slow, according to the pier spokesperson but bottom fishermen did catch some spot and croaker.

Outer Banks, NC -
Beach and pier fishermen enjoyed a summertime mixture of small panfish including croaker, sea mullet, snapper blues and spot. Pier anglers also decked some Spanish mackerel. The Avalon Pier claimed four king mackerel on Friday and the heaviest weighed 42 pounds.

South of Oregon Inlet, anglers fishing from the beach at Cape Point, Buxton, reeled-in a mixture of snapper blues, Spanish mackerel, small pompano and sea mullet on Friday. On Saturday, croaker and spot bit all day and there was a good run of Spanish mackerel in the evening. Sunday was very windy (sand-blasting strength) and only a few spot, croaker and snapper blues were reported.

Offshore, the fleet sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported a surge of dolphin plus good numbers of billfish on Friday. On Saturday the HOOKEM released four white marlin and the DOGHOUSE boated a 174-pound bigeye. Sunday, the OUTRIGGER released eight white marlin, FISHIN FRENZY released five, as did the crew on the CAROLINIAN. During this same time period, inshore catches included snapper blues, Spanish mackerel, cobia and false albacore. The headboat reported small flounder, pigfish, shark and triggerfish. 

The 18th annual Pirates Cove Billfish Tournament produced a field of 126 boats which caught and released 257 billfish. The event was won by the OUTER LIMITS, whose crew boated and released 12 marlin.

The fleet at Hatteras Inlet released ten billfish on Friday and returned with decent catches of yellowfin tuna, dolphin, wahoo and a few king mackerel. Saturday produced sub-par catches of dolphin, wahoo, yellowfin tuna and king mackerel. The fleet remained in port Sunday and Monday due to poor weather conditions.

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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