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The Saltwater Review - August 16, 2000

Vol. 14, No. 16
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

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 will change as of Friday, September 1, 2000 and will an increased possession limit through October 15, 2000. Review the enclosed NMFS notice for specifics. 

A final reminder, the Fall Grey Trout (weakfish) season opened 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.

Croaker remain available throughout most, if not all, of Virginia's portion of the Chesapeake Bay and tributaries. Increasingly, the bigger fish are moving to the deeper and saltier portions of the system in preparation for spawning. At least two croaker of over 4 pounds were caught in the past week and one of those was just ounces shy of 5 pounds! 

Flounder was on the mind of many anglers last weekend but strong winds and rain prevailed and catches were sub-par. Coming into the weekend, flatfish exceeding 6 pounds (the citation minimum) were reported from several locations including the CBBT complex, Cape Henry Wreck, the Cell/buoy 42 area and waters off Cape Charles. 

Offshore, the "early" bluefin bite appears about over except for those boats running north out of Wachapreague and Chincoteague. A good white marlin bite developed over the weekend off the VA Beach coast but it was nearly an 80 mile run. Dolphin have yet to show in abundance but the recent winds from the northeast could push weedlines and dolphin within reach of the recreational fleet.

Chincoteague

Donna from Capt. Bob's reported bluefin tuna still linger at the Parking Lot and lumpy bottom but yellowfin now out-number the bluefin. Early in the week, longfin tuna ("true" albacore tuna) were found along the 30 fathom line out towards the canyon. King mackerel and a few Spanish mackerel are holding on the inshore hills. Inside the inlet, a few flounder were boated but most of the action has been provided by aggressive croaker. 

Bill Robbins at R & R Boat Rental told of decent catches of croaker plus a few flounder and trout despite "dirty water and grass all-over" following the strong winds and rain. As the waters clear, Bill suggested the main channel, Queen's Sound and Black Narrows as the top prospects. 

Barnacle Bill's described their weekend as "real slow" due to the weather, indicating the croaker bite had even been affected. Offshore, catches included dolphin, yellowfin tuna and several wahoo with the Parking Lot and 30 fathoms the favored locations.

Wachapreague

Wachapreague Marina reported croaker were still "stacked-up" inside and around the inlet. Joseph B. Roub caught and released a 78-inch dusky shark at Quinby Inlet. Offshore, Larry Anderson boated a 54-inch and 40 1/2 pound wahoo at the 20 fathom line aboard the WHITE HOT, where Bagley Walker decked a 49-inch and 37 1/4 pound king mackerel aboard the SHORE BIRD. Jake Farley landed a 49-inch and 23 1/2 pound dolphin at the Washington Canyon. 

Captain Zed's said large croaker are being caught around the inlet, as Ben Borum collected the week's heavyweight at 3 pounds and 5 ounces. The shop indicated grey trout, flounder and sea mullet were also caught the past week. From the bayside, Walter Zuchel boated an 18-ounce spot at Hacks Rock. Offshore, bluefin and yellowfin tuna were caught from the 20 fathom line out to the canyons. Ben Hamer boated a 31-pound wahoo at the 30 Fathom Finger.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported good catches of large flounder during the week but the action cooled over the weekend as rain and north to northeast winds prevailed. Dennis Allen checked-in the week's heavyweight at 8 pounds even. The citation catch was made at Fisherman's Island. Steve West boated a 7-2 flatfish at the Cell, where Steve West decked a 6-11 flounder. Linda Howell had a 6-14 fish just off the Ships and J. R. Condra (6-12) and Wayne Bradshaw (6-7) boated citation-winning flatfish at buoy 36A. Travis Bulter (48 1/2 inches) and G. Melvin Elder (46 inches) were both drifting near buoy 36A when they caught and released large red drum. Scott Rittenhouse also earned a red drum release award (49 inches) and he was fishing near buoy C-10. On the seaside, croaker remain abundant out of Oyster. William Bennett caught and released a 72-inch shark at Sand Shoal Inlet.

Onancock

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Fin Charters said poor weather conditions kept him in port much of last week but on a couple of abbreviated trips a mixture of spot, croaker and trout were landed. The usually productive but shallow waters near Onancock were stained from the week's rain and fish were scattered. Captain Wil said the main channels had clear water and "that's where we caught the fish." 

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel

Cobbs Marina reported decent weekend catches of croaker, flounder and spadefish at the CBBT but did not register any citations catches.

John from Bubba's Marina told of good hauls of flounder coming from over the Third and Fourth island tubes and between the First Island and Yancey Wreck site. Bottom bouncers reported plenty of large croaker, with some topping 3 pounds, at the Fourth Island Channel while pods of large black drum roam the First Island. Inside the Lesner Bridge, a few speckled trout and puppy drum are beginning to show on Lynnhaven Flats. Offshore, spadefish remain available at the Tower Reef while catches of yellowfin tuna, dolphin and several billfish were made from the Fingers to the Cigar.

Dr. Jim Wright told of excellent catches of Spanish mackerel at the Cape Henry rips and medium-sized spadefish to 5 pounds at the Anglo-African wreck site. Offshore, a few wahoo are mixed in with a scattering of yellowfin and dolphin. Deepwater ocean wrecks are holding good numbers of large sea bass.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina told of good catches of flounder at Back River Reef, Bluefish Rock and the Hump. Raymond Foster weighed the biggest flounder of the week--a fat 9 pounder. Cobia still linger in the area, as Don Foreman registered a 51-inch release on Tuesday. Bottom fishermen report croaker are "all over" with some spot to 12-ounces holding at the mouth of Back River. A few speckled trout and puppy were caught at Poquoson Flats but overall action remains slow.

Johnny from Sunset Marina checked-in one of the season's biggest croaker--a 4 3/4 pound whopper for Henry Radford. The huge fish and several others close to 3 pounds were caught just off Fort Monroe, on Sunday, when strong NE winds prevailed and "they couldn't go any farther because it was so rough." Other catches included a 6 1/4 pound flounder from Hampton Bar for Patricia Hushour and amberjack releases from the South Tower for Luke Lenix (50 inches), Mark Winkler (50 inches) and John Schultz (50 inches). 
Vanasse Bait and Tackle said weekend fishing activity was severely limited due to the weather. Several anglers found good-sized spot inside Back River and others managed a mixture of croaker and flounder near the Back River Reef site.

Salt Ponds Marina had a boat offshore Tuesday on an "over-nighter" but indicated weekend anglers at the marina remained in port due to the weather.

A & S Feed and Bait Supply said croaker remain the dominate catch for bottom fishermen but some decent hauls of spot are made off Gaines Point and pan trout are mixed in with croaker off Cheatham Annex. Trollers working the mouth of the river are catching Spanish mackerel and a few snapper blues. Mobjack Bay remains quiet for speckled trout.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club reported a mixed bag at the CBBT, where wireline trolling produced flounder to 23 inches, trout, snapper bluefish, Spanish mackerel and even croaker. A group that traveled to the South Tower battled amberjack to 43 inches until they ran out of live baits.

Virginia Middle Bay  

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported trollers scored on Spanish mackerel, taylor blues and school-sized striped bass just off Smith Point but weekend wind and rain hampered their efforts. Bottom fishermen working the lee shore reported good catches of croaker and improving numbers of spot. Roger also indicated a few speckled trout are beginning to show inside Dameron Marsh.

Dan from Smith Point Marina described the weekend as "pretty quiet," due to winds and rain but said trollers recorded good hauls of Spanish mackerel, taylor blues and school stripers at Smith Point Bar despite the conditions. Large grey trout still linger at Smith Point Light but most of the fish are caught after dark. Croaker still remain in fair supply but bottom fishermen are seeing a smaller class of fish.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service said anglers did "real well" on flounder off Cape Charles mid-week but windy conditions kept most anglers in port or in the rivers since then. Jerry indicated the East River was producing some speckled trout and croaker remain abundant.

Locklies Marina told of good catches of spot plus a few croaker at the Silos early last week, a very slow weekend and catches of spot and a few flounder off White Stone near the Route 3 Bridge since Sunday.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina described river fishing as "super" with excellent hauls of large spot plus some 14-inch plus trout at Butlers Hole and spot and taylor blues at Stove Point and the Mud Hole. Captain Jim added that trollers were still catching some Spanish mackerel and taylor blues at Windmill Point. 

Virginia Beach

Headboats sailing from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center continue to work the lower Bay for croaker, trout and flounder.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina told of a good weekend billfish bite some 80 miles due east of the inlet in 1500 fathoms near the 240/695 line. On a mid-week trip, the crew aboard the WATER WITCH spotted 5 white marlin and captured and released a pair, as yellowfin tuna and dolphin remain scarce on the offshore grounds. Inshore trollers are scoring on Spanish mackerel and taylor blues with the rips off Cape Henry one of the favored locations.

Virginia Piers  

James River - Bob Wharton said the cooler weather brought an influx of larger croaker to the pier, as bottom fishermen also reported spot and some flounder during the day and decent catches of pan trout after dark.

Grandview - Big croaker have been biting the past several days, as some fish top 3 pounds and measure better than 18 inches. Spot, flounder, Spanish mackerel and good numbers of pan trout contribute to the action.

Buckroe Beach
- Croaker and spot provided the bulk of the activity but catches also included shark, pan trout and even a 2-pound pompano.

Harrison
- Daytime action remains relatively slow but once the sun sets spot and croaker gobble bits of bloodworm and squid fished on bottom rigs and pan trout school beneath the pier lights.

Lynnhaven - Incoming tide has produced the best action for spot and croaker in recent days. The pier spokesman also indicated that crabbing was good.

Virginia Beach
- Weekend catches included a surprising number of spadefish up to 8 pounds. Tuesday morning saw an excellent run of spot--"two-at-a-time all morning," according to the pier spokesman. Other catches included sea mullet, a pair of "keeper" striped bass (28-inch minimum size limit in the ocean) and a scattering of Spanish mackerel and snapper blues in the late evenings.

Sandbridge
- The surf was muddy but the spot were biting Tuesday with steady action much of the day. A 42-inch cobia and fair numbers of Spanish mackerel were decked on Wednesday.

Outer Banks, NC

Spot provided the bulk of the action for surf and pier anglers along the Nags Head area beaches, though scattered catches of croaker, flounder, black drum, sea mullet and puppy drum were recorded. Jennettee's Pier reported a strong run of taylor blues Tuesday morning. The north side of Oregon Inlet saw a decent run of puppy drum plus a few "yearlings," according to Bill MaCaskill. Spot, striped bass and small flounder also made decent showings at Oregon Inlet. On Hatteras Island, Spanish mackerel were caught at Cape Point on Buxton over the weekend, as puppy drum staged several flurries of activity with catches recorded from the Point to Avon. Waters at the Point also produced a mixture of sea mullet, spot, croaker and occasional pompano.

The fleet sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center enjoyed good catches of dolphin and scattered wahoo and yellowfin tuna on Friday, as the crew aboard the HOOKER released a white marlin. On Saturday, the white marlin bite improved, as the OUTRIGGER released seven, the HAPHAZARD five and the HOOKER three. Dolphin catches were rated as "good" but tuna were scarce. On Sunday, catches of dolphin and yellowfin were "scattered," as most boats focused on billfish. The OUTRIGGER again released 7 whites, the PELICAN and TUNA FEVER each released four, BOSS LADY recorded three releases, the CAROLINIAN had two whites and the HOOKER released a white and a blue. The best recent billfish bite has been "way to the NE," according to one captain.

Out of Hatteras Inlet, most boats were returning with limit catches of dolphin and good numbers of wahoo going into last weekend. Friday's take included good hauls of dolphin, king mackerel and wahoo plus a scattering of yellowfin tuna. On Saturday, the dolphin bite slowed but good catches of king mackerel and wahoo were reported plus a scattering of yellowfin tuna. Sunday, yellowfin tuna and king mackerel catches were rated as "fair," as the dolphin bite grew colder. Several large wahoo were caught. Billfish remained relatively scarce in recent days.


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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