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The Saltwater Review - 10 August 1999

Vol. 13, 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


Black sea bass are "off limits" from August 1 and through August 15.

Another 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.

A 279-pound bigeye tuna boated by Shaw Hergenrather of Sterling, VA has been certified as the new state record for the species by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. The record setting catch was made Saturday, August 7, aboard the charter craft CANYON EXPRESS, skippered by Captain Greg Span at the Norfolk Canyon. The huge bigeye eclipses a 275-pound tuna caught by Greg Lohr in July of 1993.

Other offshore action was provided by good to excellent numbers of dolphin and above average numbers of wahoo and both blue and white marlin.

Inshore, cobia, spadefish and to a lesser degree amberjack are available over many shallow water wrecks and beneath buoys.

Schools of large croaker are congregating at the Baymouth along the deeper channels.

Citation-winning flounder were caught at the Cell, buoy 36A, various locations along the CBBT complex, off Cape Henry and even from the banks of the Lynnhaven.

Spanish mackerel are in good abundance on the lower Bay around Cape Henry and in the mid-Bay off Smith Point.


Donna at Capt. Bob's reported Queen's Sound holds loads of croaker plus some flounder. Anglers working Chincoteague Point on the evening tide are catching some nice-sized trout. Offshore, the bluefin tuna bite slowed--especially at the Parking Lot, where school king mackerel and some small dolphin were boated. Most of the offshore boats have opted to fish either the lumpy bottom or Washington Canyon and boated good catches of dolphin plus some yellowfin tuna.

R & R Boat Rental said some of the best recent hauls of croaker were made along the main channel from the Coast Guard Station and south. Croaker dominate the inshore catches but some flounder were caught around the pilings of the Black Narrows Bridge.

Barnacle Bill's said fishing was good "right off our pier," and catches included keeper-sized flounder, pan trout, croaker, blowfish and even a triggerfish. Outside the inlet, Bill and Bryan Martin aboard the OFFSHORE chunked-up five 40 to 50-pound class yellowfin tuna at the Parking Lot on a mid-week trip. And the crew aboard the REEL TIME had a even bigger catch of yellowfin at the lumpy bottom, returning with over a dozen tuna.

Tommy Daisey from Daisey's Dockside said fair catches of flounder were made inside Queen's Sound and several keeper flatfish were decked on the shop's pier. Large seatrout were boated around the pilings of the Assateague Island Bridge but big croaker remain the major catch throughout the backwaters. Offshore, the crew aboard the private boat SEASAW and skippered by Sawyer Mears, boated a good catch of dolphin and yellowfin tuna plus "jumped-off" several billfish while trolling the Washington Canyon area.


Wachapreague Marina reported nice catches of dolphin, some yellowfin tuna, a few bluefin tuna and billfish. Best action has been at either the lumpy bottom or Washington Canyon. Inside the inlet, croaker weighing up to 2 pounds are abundant at the inlet and Hummocks. Keeper flounder are still being caught, though croaker dominate the overall action.

Cape Charles-

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported good weekend catches of flounder were made at the Cell. Draco Weaver weighed the week's heavyweight, an 8 pounder, which was boated at the Cell. Alice Howard also claimed an award winning flounder at the Cell and it weighed 6 1/2 pounds. Tyler Blythe decked a 6-pound flounder at the High Rise. The waters near buoy 36A yielded a pair of citation-winning fish to a father and son team, as Gene Brockwell released a 47-inch red drum and Rick Brockwell boated a 51-10 cobia. Over on the seaside, out of Oyster, William Roland, Jr. released a 54-inch tarpon and Barry Truitt released a 72-inch blacktip shark. Weekend catches of croaker were down from earlier in the week out of Oyster but remained steady on the bayside around the Cement Ships.


Captain Wil Laaksonen at Fish and Finn Charters reported good catches of large croaker and spot while bottom fishing off Onancock in 20 to 25 feet of water. Top baits are bloodworm, peeler crab and squid but it seems the fish's favorite changes with the tide. Pan trout to 4 pounds are part of a typical day's catch but their numbers dwindled the past week. Keeper-sized flounder are caught along the deeper channel edges. Local anglers are catching speckled trout in evenings, though catches remain spotty.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel-

Cobbs Marina reported good catches of croaker and flounder from the waters surrounding the First and Second islands. The croaker range in size from less than a pound to over 2 pounds while flounder exceeding the citation minimum of 6 pounds were weighed at the shop. Gordon McClenny claimed the week's heaviest flatfish at 8-13. The catch was made at the Second Island on a live minnow. Other award winning catches from the CBBT complex included a pair of sheepshead boated by fishing partners Byron Farlow (6-14) and Kenny Bagley (6-15). Both fish were caught on fresh clam.

John from Bubba's Marina told of good catches of puppy drum and fair numbers of speckled trout inside Lynnhaven Inlet. Outside the inlet, both spadefish and cobia are holding on many of the lower Bay buoys while schools of large croaker are found along the Small Boat Channel and around the First Island. Offshore, John said white marlin, yellowfin tuna and loads of bailer dolphin were caught at the Hot Dog and Horseshoe Lumps.

Dr. Jim Wright boated a 6 1/4 pound flounder while wirelining near the Fourth Island, in waters he said were full of 1/2 to 1-pound croaker. Cobia made a strong showing on the lower Bay buoys lines the past week, though many more were sighted than could be coerced to strike. Offshore, trollers found plenty of dolphin plus some yellowfin tuna and billfish at the Norfolk Canyon.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina told of scattered cobia catches from Bluefish Rock, the Hump, Latimer Shoals and buoy lines. Evan Falls weighed the week's heaviest cobia at 60 pounds. Buddy Noland boated a citation winning 1 1/2 pound sea mullet at Latimer Shoals and brother Danny an award winning 10-14 sheepshead at the Second Island. Donnie also told of decent catches of pan sized speckled trout inside Back River at the Middle Bar. Joel Alexa decked a 41-pound wahoo at the Norfolk Canyon.

Brett Morgan, fishing with local sports writer Don Lancaster boated what was likely the season's first citation-sized triggerfish. The strange-looking fish was landed at the oceanside of the Fourth Island and kept alive in the boat's livewell until the pair returned to port, where the fish was identified, weighed on a hand scale (5-pounds and 10 ounces) and then released!

Johnny from Sunset Marina said Scott Nelms boated a 5-11 flounder at the CBBT on Saturday. The same day produced a dozen keeper flatfish to 4 3/4 pounds for Bud Abbott and his fishing partner, as they drifted just oceanside of the Fourth Island. Likewise, the crew on the DONNIE BOY reported a good haul of flounder at the First and Second islands and plenty of nice-sized croaker. Andrew Price weighed the weekend's only citation cobia--a 55 pounder from Bluefish Rock. Allen Brown released a 44-inch red drum at the Hump.

Allen Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle registered a 45 7/8 inch cobia release for John Smith. Smith was anchored at the Hump and using a live croaker for bait. Allen added that several customers had good catches of spot at Factory Point in recent days.

Andy Watkins from Back River Market said it was a quiet week fishing-wise with Dwight White's release of a 53-inch red drum the lone citation. Andy did say casters working the Poquoson Flats enjoyed fair success on speckled trout despite the heat and plenty of croaker up to 2 pounds remain inside Back River.

Mark from Salt Ponds Marina knew only of a few flounder that were caught near the entrance to Salt Ponds during the weekend.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply weighed a 3 1/2 pound croaker for local angler Mark Coates. The prize fish was caught in the York River. Jimmy said the best catches of the bigger croaker are made off Cheatham Annex in deepwater but croaker were biting "all over the river." Jimmy added that spot were reported around the mouth of the river and Spanish mackerel and a few cobia at York Spit Light.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club caught cobia on the lower Bay buoys, amberjack and spadefish at the Tower Reef and other inshore ocean wrecks, Spanish mackerel around the CBBT complex and oceanfront plus flounder and grey trout at the CBBT complex. Brandon Bartlett scored the largest cobia, releasing a 59-incher at the first green can buoy east of the Third Island. Crews who wirelined the Fourth Island area caught grey trout, Spanish mackerel, snapper blues and flounder. On the bluewater grounds, three separate trips saw waters from the southend of the Cigar to Triple 0's produce dolphin to 13 pounds plus a blue marlin "jump-off," waters east of the Cigar produced dolphin to 19 pounds, a few school yellowfin and lost chances on a wahoo and white marlin while waters 500 to 1000 fathoms east of the Cigar produced a pair of white marlin releases, three chunky yellowfin to 40 pounds and a 31-pound wahoo.

Virginia Middle Bay-

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported trollers are catching Spanish mackerel, taylor blues and school rockfish at Smith Point Bar. Spanish mackerel and taylor blues are also holding off Dividing Creek. Schools of pan trout are found at buoy 62, off Tangier Light, the SP buoy and Smith Point Light with the best action coming the last of ebb tide. Croaker are caught in the same areas--pan-sized fish during the day and jumbos after dark. A few spot are showing with Blackberry Hang the most consistent location.

Smith Point Marina said trollers working the Middle Grounds on Friday and Saturday loaded-up on Spanish mackerel and snapper blues. On Sunday, strong winds kept the fleet near port but crews still recorded good catches of Spanish mackerel at Smith Point Bar. Those opting for even more protection from the wind, found a scattering of keeper flounder just off the Smith Point Jetty.

Jerry Thrash at Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service said spot made a decent showing the past week at Cherry Point, the edge of Windmill Bar and at Butler's Hole. Flounder made a strong mid-week showing at buoy 42 and just below but the bite slowed considerably over the weekend. Throughout the areas, bottom fishermen find croaker plentiful. Weekend trollers working Fleets Bay, north of Windmill Point and just off Hole-in-the-Wall recorded good catches of Spanish mackerel.

Beth Thompson from Locklies Marina said bottom fishing was good inside the Rappahannock, as anglers boated good numbers of spot plus some croaker and a few pan trout at Butler's Hole and off Parrots Island.

Garretts Marina said bottom fishing slowed the past week, though good sized spot plus some croaker were boated at buoy 16 (Morratico Bar) over the weekend.

Jim Thompson from Jim-An-I Charters said Butler's Hole produced the week's best catches of spot while the best hauls of pound-sized croaker were made "across the Bay" in waters off Silver Beach. Pan trout have suddenly become scarce.

Virginia Beach-

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported good hauls of 5 to 30-pound dolphin, numerous blue and white marlin releases plus a decent showing of wahoo on the bluewater fleet the past week. The only downside was that catches of tuna, both bluefin and yellowfin, were few. On the inshore boats, catches included amberjack, cobia, Spanish mackerel and even a few king mackerel. The black sea bass season remains closed until August 16, so the headboat fleet concentrated on the vast schools of croaker found at the mouth of the Bay, where catches included some pan trout and flounder.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina said offshore catches included good hauls of gaffer dolphin, above average catches of wahoo to 60 pounds, fair to good billfish action and scattered catches of yellowfin tuna. The new state record bigeye tuna (279 pounds) was registered and weighed at the marina on Saturday. Best offshore action has been from the 200 to 300 lines and north.

Captain Pete Bregant aboard the KITAMARAN said big barracuda reside around the legs of the Chesapeake Light Tower, where one crew member subdued a 20 pounder. Amberjack are found slightly off the tower, especially when boat traffic is heavy. Capt. Pete added that a good yellowfin bite developed along the north wall of the Norfolk Canyon over the weekend.

Virginia Piers-


Pier anglers recorded decent catches of large croaker plus some keeper flounder, spot, sea mullet and taylor blues over the weekend. Pan trout remain abundant after dark around the pier lights.

Buckroe Beach-

Sunday saw fair to good action on croaker and spot plus a few bluefish and flounder.


Fair to good catches of spot and croaker were made the past week, though catches slowed by Sunday. Anglers also managed a few keeper flounder and snapper bluefish.


Weekend catches included mostly spot and sea mullet with a scattering of croaker and snapper blues.

Virginia Beach

Decent hauls of spot and croaker were made in recent days. A few pan trout and snapper blues were caught early in the morning. Water temperature at pierside was 79 degrees Tuesday morning.


Spot and a few snapper blues provided fair action the past several days.

Outer Banks, NC-

Beach and pier anglers along the Nags Head area beaches were treated to a typical summer pattern of fishing activity with Spanish mackerel and snapper blues biting at dawn, followed by an assortment of small panfish through out the day. Most notable in the past week, according to Whalebone Tackle, was the arrival of decent numbers of pompano in the surf. Catches included spot, croaker, sea mullet and a few trout. Pods of cobia continue to parade within site of anglers stationed at the tip of the piers and several were hooked and landed. Small sailfish were also seen but none were reported hooked.

In the sounds, speckled trout are available along the grass flats behind Pea Island, the edges of the marsh islands at the south end of Roanoke Island and the deeper holes behind Hatteras Inlet. Big sheepshead are holding around the pilings of the Oregon Inlet Bridge and bite best when the waters are clear and the tide slacking.

Offshore, the bluewater fleet sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported good hauls of dolphin plus some yellowfin tuna on Friday. Saturday saw limit catches of dolphin and fair numbers of billfish but few tuna. Sunday and Monday the fleet enjoyed excellent billfish action but only a scattering of "meatfish." Inshore boats recorded steady catches of Spanish mackerel and snapper blues during the same time frame. The headboat had mixed catches of sea mullet, sea bass, trout, croaker and triggerfish.

The Hatteras fleet enjoyed limit catches of dolphin, good numbers of wahoo and fair numbers of 50 to 60-pound yellowfin tuna on Friday. Dolphin were boated as close as 6 miles from the inlet. NATIVE SON released three billfish--a sail and a pair of blues. Saturday was similiar--good "meatfish" plus a strong showing of billfish. TOP BILLIN released four sailfish and HATTERAS BLUE weighed the heaviest wahoo at 60 pounds. On Sunday, only a pair of sailfish were reported but coolers were full of dolphin and wahoo. Yellowfin tuna were few in number but those boated were 40 to 50-pound class fish. The boats generally fished from the Rockpile southward to below Triple 0's.

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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