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The Saltwater Review - August 29, 2001

Vol. 15, No. 16
by Lewis S. Gillingham

OVERVIEW | Wachapreague | Cape Charles | Onancock | Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel | Middle Bay | Virginia Beach Virginia Piers | Outer Banks, NC


The Virginia Saltwater Review will not be published the weeks of September 3-8 and September 10-15.

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 weekend flounder bite was "off" for most anglers departing the from the western side of the Bay, as strong northeast winds prevailed. However, Eastern Shore anglers found smooth sailing (due to the lee shore effect) and recorded impressive catches of flatfish. Since the winds subsided late Sunday, catches have rebounded for Western Shore anglers.

Cobia still linger at several of their Western Shore spring haunts--most notably the waters surrounding Bluefish Rock and York Spit.

Offshore, an excellent bite of white marlin highlighted the week's bluewater action, as some boats released over a dozen in a single outing. The best recent concentration has been between the 200-line and Triple 0's in waters 100 fathoms or more.

Chincoteague -
Donna from Captain Bob's reported croaker dominated the action inside the inlet and many of the fish measured 16 to 20 inches. Richard Mapp caught the biggest of the week, at 3.3 pounds, near Inlet View. Good hauls of large croaker were also recorded at Queen's Sound and from the CV marker to buoy 23. Some flounder of over 20 inches were reported at Black Narrows and Four Mouths but the vast number of croaker has made flounder "pounding" difficult. Offshore, tuna fishing has been extremely lucrative the past week, for both bluefin and yellowfin by both trollers and chunkers. Anglers choosing to troll are also catching some dolphin and wahoo while most of the larger tuna were caught "on the chunk."

Wachapreague -
Wachapreague Marina reported waters inside the inlet were loaded with large croaker. Some flounder are still being caught but the croaker are "just about everywhere." Offshore, good-sized yellowfin tuna, wahoo to 50 pounds and the occasional bluefin tuna are biting at the lumpy bottom ( in 20 fathoms) and on out to the Washington Canyon, where longfin tuna (true albacore) remain available.

Captain Zed's told of an excellent offshore bite of tuna and wahoo plus a few dolphin. Some of the yellowfin top 80 pounds while several wahoo exceeded 35 pounds. Inside the inlet, croaker clearly dominate the catches--regardless of what, where or how people are fishing.

Cape Charles -
Chris' Bait and Tackle reported an excellent bite of flounder the past week, despite less than ideal weather conditions. A mid-week flounder tournament staged by a large group from Franklin, VA produced a winning flatfish of over 8 pounds and the top six fish all exceeded 6 pounds. Weekend catches were nearly as impressive, as over half-a-dozen citation-winning flounder were registered. Locations of the award winning flounder were all over the map, and included the Cell, Plantation Light, buoy 36A, the Cement Ships, the High Rise, the Fourth Island and the seaside off Oyster. In addition to yielding several citation flounder, the buoy 36A area also produced big cobia and red drum.

Onancock -
Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported good hauls of spot and croaker the past week off Onancock. The spot are running large and hitting bits of bloodworm while the croaker are medium to large and prefer cut squid or fish. Bottom fishermen are also catching a mixture of small shark, porgy, sea mullet, flounder to 25 inches and pan trout to 24 inches.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -
Peggy at Cobbs Marina reported bottom fishermen are still catching good numbers of croaker and flounder but spot are scarce. John Davidson boated a 27-inch, 9-pound, 11-ounce flounder at the High Rise section of the CBBT and Joseph Pralls decked a 25-inch, 6-1/2 pounder at the Third Island. David Hayslett also scored a citation-winning flatfish at the CBBT which weighed 6 pounds and measured 24 inches. Keith Cole caught at 9-3/4 pound, 22-1/4 inch sheepshead at the CBBT and Jim Armstrong, Jr. (46, 47 and 50 inches) and Scott Purkett (43 inches) released big jack crevalle at the Chesapeake Light Tower.

Bubba's Marina told of good catches of flounder at the CBBT complex "from the Small Boat Channel to the High Rise," and in the waters off Cape Henry. Cobia were scattered and had yet to make a strong showing on the buoys or the CBBT while puppy drum and spot were starting to show at Lynnhaven Inlet.

Dr. Jim Wright had another successful offshore trip aboard the HIGH HOPES, as his group released several white marlin east of the Cigar. Dr. Wright indicated amberjack and spadefish were holding at the Morgan wreck site but area wrecks were yielding few sea bass. Inside the bay, some of the best concentrations of large croaker were found inside the Third Island, along the channel edge marked by the green can buoy.

Donnie Wallace said the cobia bite continued the past week, as the shop weighed over a dozen of the large brown fish. Kevin Jenkins boated the heaviest of the week, a 75-1/2 pounder at Bluefish Rock. Donnie also told of good hauls of flounder coming from just inside the Third and Fourth islands between buoys 15 and 16, where John Costulis of Poquoson nailed a 9-1/2 pounder. Donnie added that plenty of croaker were still around, spot were available at the mouth of Back River and speckled trout were still "mighty scarce," although he knew two of the spotted fish were caught the past week--one at Poquoson Flats and one inside Back River.

Johnny from Sunset Marina told of good catches of large cobia in recent days. A party of anglers fishing with Captain Hogg boated six cobia near Bluefish Rock and kept a 63 pounder Derrick McAninch reeled-in. O. Chapland (56 inches), Mark Dean (51 inches), Keith Price (51 inches), Scott Miller (47 inches), Luke Lenix (46 inches), Bryant Healy (45 inches) all released big cobia and Matt Barnette (58 pounds), Willard Brewer (51 pounds) and Eugene Davis (50 pounds) all weighed-in heavy cobia. Nearly all the cobia were caught at Bluefish Rock or nearby "humps" on live eel. Johnny added that big croaker were hitting at the M & M crossing and off the Chamberlain Hotel but the week's heavyweight croaker, a 3-2 fish caught by Richard Garner, was caught at the HRBT.

Vanasse Bait and Tackle weighed a 6-1/4 pound flounder that was caught by Brad Andrews in York River Channel. The shop also registered several amberjack release citations from the South Tower and told of a good trout bite after dark from the local piers and around the HRBT.

Jimmy Jones from Back River Market said Barkley Sheppard caught a 3-1/2 pound croaker at Poquoson Flats but rated over-all action as slow.

Salt Ponds Marina said wireline anglers found a mixture of flounder and trout at the CBBT complex while bottom reported big hauls of large croaker plus some nice flounder.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said Bill Stem boated a 6-1 flounder at Cape Henry Wreck and Betty Duncan pulled-in a 6-9 flatfish from Back River Reef. Inside the York River, good-sized croaker plus some pan trout are biting at the lumps, spot are holding at the mouth of Sarah's Creek and a few cobia still linger at York Spit, where trollers are picking up some Spanish mackerel. Jimmy added that chunks of peeler crab were producing trout for bottom fishermen working the public pier at Gloucester Point.

Virginia Middle Bay -
Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported good catches of Spanish mackerel from Smith Point Bar to buoy 66 (located in Maryland) and heard the mouth of Cut Channel also produced decent catches of mackerel. Croaker continue to provide steady action at the N2 buoy but some decent-sized spot are starting to show in the same area. Pan trout remain scarce in local waters while flounder still linger around the jetty.

Dan from Smith Point Marina described fishing as "terrific" in recent days with schools of breaking bluefish around Smith Point Light, flounder around the jetty and Blackberry Hang and Spanish mackerel along the deepwater channels north and south of Smith Point Light. Some of the charter fleet are running up to buoy 68, anchoring, chumming and catching limits of school stripers. Dan added, "of course there's still plenty of croaker around but most people are tired of catching them."

Jerry Thrash at Queen's Creek Outfitter's said spot were caught in the Mud Hole (Piankatank River), off Cherry Point at Deep Rock and along the face of Gwynn Island. Trollers pulling small Drone and Clark spoons caught Spanish mackerel and bluefish at Windmill Bar, Stingray Light and off Gwynn Island. A few speckled and grey trout were caught inside the Piankatank River on peeler crab and artificials.

Locklies Marina told of good catches of spot and croaker plus a few trout and flounder with some of the better hauls coming from in front of the old pickle factory, Parrots Island and near the Silos.

Garretts Marina said bottom fishermen returned with "coolers full" of spot and croaker the past several days. The spot are "the biggest we've seen this season" while most of the croaker were three-quarters of a pound or better. "Right off from the marina" in 10 to 12 feet of water has been one of the more productive spots.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said good catches of spot were made in 46 to 48 feet of water at Butlers Hole and to a lesser degree at Mosquito Bar. Croaker are still mixed in with the spot at both locations. Spanish mackerel were caught by trollers working Windmill Bar and Fleets Bay.

Virginia Beach -
Headboats sailing from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center have been working the aggregations of croaker holding near the mouth of the Bay. Bottom bouncers are also catching some trout and flounder. Offshore, the billfish bite has been excellent with the bulk of the action centered between the Cigar and Triple 0's.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina likewise told of an excellent billfish bite, primarily white marlin southeast of Rudee Inlet. The best action has been in waters of 100 fathoms or more. Some gaffer dolphin are found when floating structure is located and a few yellowfin tuna were boated inshore.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Daytime action consists of sporadic catches keeper of flounder, croaker and spot. After dark, the corkaer bite improves plus pan trout and shark move near the pier pilings.

Buckroe Beach - Several 20-pound class cobia were decked the past week but nothing to compare to the prior week's 77 pounder. Scattered catches of flounder and medium croaker are made during the day. After dark, the size and number of croaker improve plus shark move within casting distance.

Harrison - Daytime action was described as "real slow" the past several days with only a handful of flounder and medium croaker reported. The action improves after dark when more and larger croaker and a few pan trout are hooked.

Lynnhaven - A scattering of spot and croaker plus good numbers of crabs are caught during the daytime while the croaker "turn-on" after dark.

Virginia Beach - Pier anglers recorded fair to good catches of sea mullet and spot in recent days plus a few Spanish mackerel, small trout and under-sized flounder. The water temperature at pierside was a warm 79 degrees on Tuesday.

Sandbridge - Overall action was rated as "very slow," by the pier spokesperson, who indicated only a handful of flounder, spot and croaker were decked in recent days.

Outer Banks, NC -

Heading into the weekend, beach fishermen found an assortment of snapper blues, spot and croaker around Oregon Inlet while pompano were added to this list between Kitty Hawk and the inlet. Pier anglers enjoyed mixed catches of Spanish mackerel, flounder, bluefish, croaker and pompano on Friday, when a 48-pound cobia was decked at the Avalon Pier. Both pier and beach anglers were nearly shut-out over the weekend as strong northeast winds prevailed through Sunday afternoon. Monday witnessed an improvement in both fish and weather and good catches of blues and Spanish mackerel returned to the surf.

South of Oregon Inlet, anglers fishing from the beach at Cape Point on Buxton recorded good catches of croaker but not much else on Friday. Saturday, everyone was "blown off the beach" except for a few hardy souls that tried their luck at Hatteras Inlet, which was loaded with grass. On Sunday, waters were stained but croaker to 1-1/2 pounds plus some spot, sea mullet and even several puppy drum were caught at Cape Point. By Monday, the surf had cleared and pompano were biting on the North Beach and at Hatteras Inlet. Spanish mackerel and bluefish made a strong showing at Cape Point Monday evening.

Offshore, the fleet sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported good catches of white marlin (up to five per boat) but poor catches of dolphin and tuna. Saturday and Sunday were both "blow-outs" and none of the fleet ventured outside the inlet. On Monday the fleet released a total of 157 marlin (mostly whites). Individual boats released as many as 14 billfish (PELICAN). The tuna and dolphin bite was rated as fair, though several large big eye tuna were boated. During this same period, inshore boats working just outside the inlet recorded good catches of bluefish and Spanish mackerel plus a few false albacore while the headboat reported a mixture of triggerfish, pigfish, sea bass and croaker.

The fleet from Hatteras Inlet reported fair catches of "meatfish" (dolphin, wahoo, tuna and king mackerel) on Friday. On Saturday, several of the boats returned early with a limit of dolphin plus a scattering of tuna and wahoo. Only two boats from the fleet from Hatteras Inlet fished offshore on Sunday, recording a fair catch of dolphin and wahoo. Robert Virts, fishing aboard the RELEASER, caught and returned a sailfish. On Monday, catches were on the rebound, as good catches of wahoo, decent numbers of dolphin and a scattering of yellowfin were reported.

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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