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The Saltwater Review - August 23, 2000

Vol. 14, No. 17
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


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.

Federal regulations governing the retention of bluefin tuna will change as of Friday, September 1, 2000 and will carry an increased possession limit through October 15, 2000. Review the enclosed NMFS notice for specifics. 

Big croaker continue to filter into the main portion of the Bay, seeking deeper and higher salinity waters. Many of the best concentrations of the largest fish are now located in the lower portion of the Bay, between Cape Charles and Cape Henry.

Spot are being caught with more regularity at numerous locations from the Rappahannock River to Lynnhaven Inlet but the fall run has yet to begin in earnest.

The run of jumbo flounder appears to have been slowed by a combination of rainfall and windy weather. The rains came early in the week and the winds came over the weekend. Still some big flatfish were boated off Cape Charles and along the CBBT complex.

Cobia still linger in area waters but most anglers have shifted their focus to other targets. Reports indicate pods of cobia holding around several of the lower Bay and inshore ocean buoys.

Spanish mackerel are scattered throughout the Chesapeake Bay from Cape Henry to at least up to the Annapolis Bay Bridge area with some of the best Virginia hauls off Smith and Windmill points, along the CBBT complex and the rips off Cape Henry.

Chincoteague -

Donna from Capt. Bob's reports croaker are starting to leave the inlet, though a few big fish still linger. The departure of most of the croaker was welcomed by diehard flounder fishermen, whose catches improved the past week. Joan Anders was drifting the main channel off Capt. Bob's and hooked and landed a 6 1/4 pound flatfish. Other flounder catches were recorded inside Queen's Sound and at the mouth of the inlet. Offshore, anglers chunking with butterfish are reporting a mixed bag of yellowfin and bluefin tuna. The crew aboard the SEASAW boated a 78-pound bluefin and yellowfin to 55 pounds just south of the Parking Lot.

Bill Robbins said the weather was good but the fishing had slowed, though he knew of a 5-pound flounder and some croaker that were caught on Sunday. 

Barnacle Bill's told of improved catches of flounder following the weekend, with best action in Queen's Sound and along Chincoteague Channel. The croaker bite has slowed considerably and the shop figured the recent thunderstorms had chased the fish out into the ocean. Offshore, yellowfin tuna remain available at the Parking Lot.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported good catches of croaker and improving numbers of flounder inside the inlet. Offshore, dolphin are found along the 20 fathom line while yellowfin tuna and wahoo are caught at the Washington Canyon. Ed Ames, aboard the MAIN SQUEEZE boated the heaviest tuna of the week, a fat 81 3/3 pound yellowfin while Cutter Belote had the biggest wahoo at 48 pounds and 2 ounces.

Capt. Zed's said flounder action had improved with the cooler weather and several flatfish of over 6 pounds were caught in recent days. William Leach had the biggest flounder of the week, a 6 3/4 pounder at the inlet with many of the better flounder catches made near buoy 10. Offshore, the shop indicated decent catches of yellowfin tuna were made at the 21 and 26 Mile hills and the lumpy bottom. A 33-pound wahoo was weighed-in on Sunday.

Cape Charles -

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported excellent catches of croaker from both the bayside, off Cape Charles and the seaside, out of Oyster. The biggest croaker of the weekend came from the bayside, though no 3 pounders (citation minimum) were weighed. Several anglers did manage citation-winning catches including Delaware angler John Bennett, who boated a 77-5 cobia at C-10, Terri Driskill with a 6 1/2 pound flounder from Plantation Light and Charlie Blaschke with a 5 3/4 pound speckled trout from Hungars Creek. James Beasley released a 46-inch red drum at buoy 16 and Stan Barto released a 44 1/2 inch red at C-10.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported good catches of large spot and mixed sizes of croaker the past week. Parties are also catching fair numbers of pan trout in the 14 to 18-inch range, bluefish up to 4 pounds, porgy, pigfish and blowfish. Best action has come on the incoming tide over hard, oyster bottom or along the channel edges. Water temperature off Onancock was 74 degrees on Monday.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported decent catches of keeper-sized flounder and medium to large croaker during the weekend. The heaviest flounder weighed tipped the scales at 6 pounds and 1 ounce and was caught by Ronald George at the Ocean View Reef site while several anglers had croaker in excess of 2 pounds but none topped 3 pounds.

Bubba's Marina told of good catches of flounder up to 3 pounds around the First and Second islands with bigger flatfish, some exceeding 6 pounds, boated near the Third and Fourth islands. Jumbo croaker line the channel edges at both locations. Cobia are showing beneath many of the lower Bay and nearshore ocean buoys but few have been caught. Spanish mackerel are still holding in the rips off Cape Henry. Further offshore, the shop had good reports of dolphin, yellowfin tuna and wahoo.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Bait and Tackle said cobia still linger off Grandview but very few folks are fishing for them. Fair to good catches of spot were made just outside the Poquoson River, at buoy 21, Twin Stakes and the mouth of Back River. Flounder were caught at Back River Reef, around buoy C-10 and the CBBT complex. 

Johnny from Sunset Marina said croaker weighing up to 2 1/2 pounds were caught off the Chamberlain Hotel but the biggest fish of the weekend came from the HRBT, where Sulleiman Ibrahim boated a 3-pound and 2-ounce croaker. Good numbers of croaker to over 2 pounds plus some flounder were caught on Hampton Bar. The week's heaviest flounder was checked-in by Roy Massengill. It weighed 9-7 and was caught off Back River.

Vanasse Bait and Tackle told of good hauls of large croaker and flounder at the Back River Reef site, hand-sized spot inside Back River and large flounder off Cape Charles. Anglers who fished the "hump" caught a few flounder but complained about the abundance of small shark. Moving up the Bay, trollers reported good numbers of Spanish mackerel at the Cell and spadefish were caught around York River Light.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said spot to 14 ounces were caught in the York River at the mouth of Sarah's Creek and off the Coast Guard pier. Medium-sized croaker are scattered throughout the river with some pan trout holding in the deepwater off Cheatham Annex and flounder at the mouth of the Perrin River. Cobia still linger at York Spit, as Anna Cooper boated a 58 pounder on Monday. Speckled trout and a few puppy drum were reported from Ware Point.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club reported large jack crevalle and good numbers of sea bass at the Tower Reef but very few spadefish. Richard Bartlett boated the only spadefish on one outing but it was a citation-winning 8.25 pounder. Inside the Bay, flounder to over 6 pounds, croaker and a 40-inch cobia were landed off buoy 36A. A cobia trip to the hump produced a pair of small "keeper" cobia and "a bunch of sharks." The High Rise section of the CBBT was another good spot for flounder and grey trout to 25 inches. 

Virginia Middle Bay-

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported trollers recorded excellent catches of Spanish mackerel just north of Smith Point Light while taylor blues are most active off the Great Wicomico and the M2 buoy. Some of the better spot hauls were made inside the Great Wicomico while fair numbers of croaker linger throughout local waters. As for pan trout, "I haven't heard of much since the size limit changed to 14 inches," noted Roger.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said mixed sizes of croaker remain abundant in local waters and grey trout to 6 pounds still linger around the rocks of Smith Point Light. Boats leaving the marina and traveling north, into Maryland waters, are returning from the Triangle area with limits of school stripers.

Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service heard only that big croaker were still biting at the Cell and Cherry Point.

Locklies Marina said a surprising number of keeper flounder were being caught around the Route 3 Bridge while the waters off the Silos produced the best hauls of spot. For the most part, numbers and sizes of croaker have dwindled in area waters but the shop indicated several customers scored on large croaker at the Silos on Sunday.

Garretts Marina told of fair to good catches of spot plus some pan trout and croaker at buoy 19 and off Jones Point.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said trollers had good catches of Spanish mackerel working between the Piankatank River and Dividing Creek. For bottom fishermen, best hauls of spot came from between Mosquito Point and Butlers Hole, though "the fish seem to be moving down to Windmill Point Bar," since the weekend. Croaker, "except for pinheads" appear to have left the river. Good numbers of pan trout are showing but few meet the 14-inch minimum size limit. Best recent catches of croaker, with some fish topping 2 pounds, have come from the buoy 42/Cell area.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported numerous white marlin releases in recent days. The marina also recorded citations for flounder, croaker, false albacore, yellowfin tuna and a bluefin tuna release. The headboat fleet sailing from the marina continues to work the mouth of the Bay for croaker.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said a good bite of 50-pound class yellowfin tuna developed Friday at the Fingers on the 400/900 line. Unfortunately, Saturday was a blow day (as was Monday) but the fleet located pods of billfish and larger yellowfin tuna (some topping the 70-pound mark) on Sunday. Cheryl Allen, fishing aboard the CHAOS, boated a 49-3 dolphin and released three white marlin and a sailfish on Sunday.

Virginia Piers -

Grandview - Croaker provided the bulk of the recent action, though catches included spot, sea mullet, flounder, spadefish and a few 14-inch plus pan trout.

Buckroe Beach - Nearly the identical report--mostly croaker plus some spot, flounder, pan trout and spadefish.

Harrison -Daytime action has been slim but croaker and spot are biting after dark, though catches are off from the prior week. A pair of small cobia were decked and released last week. 

Lynnhaven - Several nights the past week saw "good catches of spot all night," according to the pier spokesman. A few croaker were also decked. Crabbing slowed from the prior week and was rated as only "fair."

Virginia Beach - "Overall it's been real slow," confided the pier operator, but a handful of legal-sized flounder and a few spot were caught. Water temperature at pierside was a coolish 74 degrees on Tuesday.

Sandbridge - Action was rated as "slow," with only a scattering of spot, sea mullet, snapper blues and flounder reported in recent days.

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach and pier anglers along the Nags Head area did not fare well over the weekend, despite the cooler weather ushered in by northeast winds. Such conditions normally produce fast action. "I guess we saw more sea mullet than anything else," noted Bill MaCaskill at Whalebone Tackle, but not the expected and hoped for blitz of Norfolk spot. Anglers working Oregon Inlet did see some positive effects of the weekend weather--flounder and puppy drum catches were up and striped bass "turned-on" at the Manns Harbor Bridge.

Further south, sea mullet and snapper blues were beached at Buxton's Cape Point while the South Beach yielded a mixture of flounder, small pompano, croaker and spot. A 36-inch red drum was reportedly beached (and released) at ramp 30.

The fleet sailing from Oregon Inlet recorded fair to good catches of dolphin, some large wahoo and a scattering of yellowfin tuna and billfish (mostly white marlin). Many of the boats have been running "well to the northeast" and encountering boats from the Rudee Inlet fleet.

For boats sailing from Hatteras Inlet, dolphin limits have been the order of the day with a mixture of both "gaffers" and "bailers" in the take. Other catches include big wahoo, king mackerel, yellowfin tuna and several sailfish releases. Inshore, Spanish mackerel and snapper blues provided steady action for trollers pulling small spoons near the inlet.

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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