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The Saltwater Review - September 21, 2001

Vol.15, No. 17
by Lewis S. Gillingham

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


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 fall portion of the Chesapeake Bay Striped Bass season begins October 4 and will run through December 31. There is an 18-inch minimum size limit and a two-fish possession limit. 

Strong northeast winds curtailed weekend fishing plans for most anglers. There were a few bright "spots" and several occurred on the lower bay piers, where large, yellow-bellied spot provided "two-at-a-time action. Large spot were also in a near feeding frenzy in parts of the Rappahannock and York rivers. As the winds subsided, schools of these tasty bottom feeders moved into Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlet, where fish in excess of 16 ounces were caught.

Another plus, the cooler weather has spurred bluefish, trout and striped bass into more active states. This is especially so for striped bass, whose fall season will open October 4 and run through December 31.

Surface feeding schools of taylor bluefish are becoming more commonplace in the middle portion of the Bay off Smith Point, though the fish still generally adhere to the "early and late" in the day rule.

The Eastern Shore side of the Bay provided enough lee near the shoreline to allow weekend anglers to do some fishing, as citations for flounder, cobia and red drum were registered.

Prior to the weekend, cobia and spadefish still lingered around lower Bay buoys and inshore wrecks while an intense white marlin bite was underway south of the Cigar.

Chincoteague -
Captain Bob's reported flounder were caught between the CV marker and buoy 23 and at Cockle Creek while catches of trout and a scattering of spot were recorded around the draw bridge, Chincoteague Point and Queen's Sound. Even prior to the weekend blow, the tuna bite was slow at the Parking Lot, though dolphin were holding around the sea bass pot floats while good hauls of yellowfin plus some bluefin were reported off Ocean City at the Hot Dog. The lone citation of the week was a 73-1/2 pound yellowfin tuna caught by Jeff Rippian at the Hot Dog. Sea bass are becoming more active on the inshore wrecks and hard bottom areas.

Wachapreague -
Randy Lewis from Captain Zed's reported the offshore fleet stayed in port Friday through Monday, as strong northeast winds prevailed. Inshore, flounder and a scattering of croaker remain available to bottom fishermen. On Saturday, a party fishing with Captain Bobby Turner found flounder at Horseshoe Lead and at the mouth of Millstone Creek. Some croaker still linger at Green and Drawing channels but the majority of these fish have moved offshore.

Cape Charles -
Chris' Bait and Tackle Shop checked-in a red drum release (44-1/2 inches) for Dwight Jerrigan and a cobia release (also 44-1/2 inches) for James Jerrigan. Both fish were caught at the Cabbage patch. Despite the strong northeast winds over the weekend, Mildred Brown boated a 6-pound, 9-ounce flounder at Latimer Shoals and Tim Shipley nailed an 8-1/4 pound flatfish near the Cement Ships. Seth Rux pulled a 3-pound, 5-ounce croaker from the protected waters of Hungars Creek on a chunk of peeler crab. Just prior to the weekend blow, croaker were poised at the mouth of the inlet off Oyster and have likely moved offshore.

Onancock -
Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported excellent catches of large spot with some fish topping 16 ounces. The schools of croaker have scattered but fish are still being caught while the numbers of keeper pan trout are on the rise. Bottom fishermen are also seeing an influx of sea mullet plus some porgy, flounder and bluefish. Anglers working grassy shallow water areas are seeing some speckled trout and red drum.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -
Cobbs Marina had no reports from the weekend but had nine boats out Tuesday morning.

Bubba's Marina said only a handful of anglers fished inside Lynnhaven Inlet over the weekend and they caught some flounder, a few puppy drum and spot weighing over 16 ounces.

Dr. Jim Wright said a mid-week trip off Cape Charles produced five red drum and a cobia while on another outing, the waters around the CBJ buoy produced a good catch of flounder. Dr. Jim also told of red drum decked at the Sandbridge Pier and good hauls of spot inside Rudee Inlet.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina said fishing activity was nearly non-existent over the weekend. Glenn Jenkins had the lone citation catch, a 3-pound, 6-ounce croaker from the pier at Fort Monroe. Billy Redfearn released a 45-1/2 inch cobia just prior to the weekend, when several other parties of anglers pulled 20 to 35-pound class cobia from a number of the lower Bay buoys. Donnie added that Dennis Cozzens managed three speckled trout inside Back River Wednesday morning, noting, "they were small but they were trout." Donnie expects spot will make a good showing once anglers are back out on the water, as good numbers of these fish are being caught in local gill nets.

Johnny from Sunset Marina said only a handful of anglers even considered fishing over the weekend, as northeast winds gusted to nearly 30 knots. Of those who went out to "take a look," nearly all turned around at the mouth of Hampton Creek when greeted with two to three-foot whitecaps. Despite the unfavorable conditions, Tommy Mattioli left the creek, motored down to Hampton Bar and returned a few hours later with a 5-3/4 pound flounder. Earlier in the week, waters along the Baltimore Channel off Cape Henry produced good catches of 2 to 5 pound flounder, according to Johnny.

Alan Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle said nobody fished over the weekend and "not many since then." Allen heard only of a few spot that were caught inside Back River.

Back River Market weighed several good-sized trout from the Back River Reef but none made citation weight of 9 pounds. The shop also saw average-sized flounder from the CBBT complex.

Salt Ponds Marina said "we didn't have a soul out over the weekend," but one party was out Tuesday morning and had yet to return.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said weekend catches were nearly non-existent but reports prior and since the weekend indicate decent catches of large pan trout between the Coast Guard Station and Cheatham Annex and spot in excess of 16 ounces at Y-9 (Twin Stakes).

Virginia Middle Bay -
Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported bluefish were "a sure thing" with acres of breaking fish showing early and late in the day around buoy 62 and Smith Point Light. Some Spanish mackerel are still mixed in with the taylor blues and could linger in the area for another two weeks. Schools of trout are holding along the channel edges near the N2 buoy and buoy 62. The most productive method for the trout has been to search these areas with a depth finder, locate a school and then stop and jig. Roger indicated some croaker still linger in the area along with a scattering of spot. 

Smith Point Marina described the weekend as "real slow," but said croaker still linger in area waters.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek said cobia are still lingering off Silver Beach and around the mouth of Mobjack Bay while Spanish mackerel and taylor blues are holding at Windmill Bar, Stingray Light, the Cell and off Gwynn Island. Spot are being caught around the Route 3 Bridge, off Cherry Point and in 25 feet of water off Gwynn Island but the biggest spot of the week, a 16-ouncer, was caught in the Piankatank River by Paul Merritt of Gloucester. Anglers casting MirrOlures or bottom fishing with chunks of peeler crab are catching a few speckled trout in the Piankatank and at Ware Neck. 

Jack at Locklies Marina told of tremendous catches of jumbo spot, "we're getting four or five citations in here everyday," he noted. "These spot have taken on a golden color and their marking are extremely brilliant, they almost look like tropical fish." Many of the better hauls have come from just above the White Stone bridge in 30 to 40 feet of water. Bottom fishermen are also catching a few snapper blues, flounder and keeper pan trout.

Garretts Marina reported good catches of spot just outside the marina and on Morrattico Bar. Bottom fishermen are also catching an occasional croaker but most of these fish appear to have moved on.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said bottom fishing for large spot was excellent at Butlers Hole, adding the spike buoy off Stingray Point and Gwynn Island offered similar action. Other catches include some keeper pan trout (14-inch minimum) and taylor bluefish.

Virginia Beach -
Cathy from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported an excellent white marlin bite early last week, as the Center registered dozens of release awards. Several 70-pound plus yellowfin were also boated with the heaviest weighing an impressive 118 pounds. The waters around the Chesapeake Light Tower produced several crevalle jack while king mackerel to 33.4 pounds were boated in nearshore waters. The weekend was a total "blow-out" for the offshore crowd but the strong northeast winds ushered-in good numbers of spot to Rudee Inlet. The headboats resumed their regular schedule on Tuesday and recorded good catches of sea bass plus some flounder. 

Paula Owens from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said two of their charter fleet fished Tuesday (18 September) and found dolphin and billfish along the 050-line. The HIGH HOPES returned with an unusual catch--a 50-pound class golden tilefish! On Wednesday, a pair of boats each released three white marlin near the 100-line.

Virginia Piers -
Buckroe Beach -Catches include puppy drum, black drum, pompano and croaker with pan trout showing in the lights after dark. 

Harrison - Spot made a strong showing the past several evenings with some of the tasty bottom fish topping 16 ounces. A few jumbo croaker and the occasional pompano still linger in the area. Pan trout are abundant after dark around the pier lights but most measure less than 14 inches and must be released.

Lynnhaven - Catches of spot and croaker were "real good" over the weekend, according to the pier spokesperson. Other catches include good-sized flounder, speckled trout up to 4 pounds, puppy drum and striped bass.

Virginia Beach - Yellow-bellied spot have been staging a strong bite on the northside of the pier around high tide, according to the pier spokesperson. The water temperature at pierside was still a comfortable 73 degrees on Wednesday.

Sandbridge - Several red drum were landed prior to the weekend blow. Fishing has been slow since with only a few spot and bluefish reported.

Outer Banks, NC -

Prior to the weekend, flounder, spot, croaker, bluefish and Spanish mackerel were caught by beach and pier anglers along the Nags Head area beaches. The weekend offered very little to anglers, though a few croaker were reportedly decked on several of the piers. Fishing improved by Monday, as winds moderated to 15 knots, though the surf remained dirty and rough. By Tuesday morning, an excellent run of spot had developed at several locations, including the Avalon Pier.

South of Oregon Inlet, sea mullet, snapper bluefish and pompano were beached at Cape Point on Buxton on Friday. Bill McWethey beached one of the biggest pompano of the season Friday evening, reeling in a 5-pound, 11-ounce fish. On Saturday, a scattering of croaker, spot, sea mullet and puppy drum were landed at the Point but everyone on the beach took a good "sand-blasting." Anglers looking for an escape from the wind found the wind at their backs and a good bite of taylor blues at Hatteras Inlet. Sunday, three to five pound blues were hitting at Hatteras Inlet while the "Point" featured shark, large rays, sea mullet, croaker and bluefish. On Monday, bluefish were so thick at Cape Point anglers could hardly catch anything else, though a few puppy drum and flounder were landed. 

Offshore, the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported an excellent white marlin bite some 50 miles ENE of the Inlet. Top boats on Thursday were the RIGGED-UP with twelve white marlin releases and the two-man crew of Donald Rice and Steve Walls aboard the PELICAN with five white marlin releases a piece. The same trip produced a 42-pound dolphin for Steve. On Friday, bigeye tuna to 127 pounds were boated but the main focus was on billfish. The crew on the PELICAN released thirteen whites while both RIGGED-UP and SKILIGAL released nine white marlin. Weather idled the offshore fleet for the weekend but half-day boats recorded nice catches of bluefish and Spanish mackerel and the headboat managed some pigfish and blowtoads.

The bluewater fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet was able to fish Friday but reported the bite as "scattered" and returned with dolphin, wahoo, yellowfin tuna and king mackerel. Boats were idled at the dock Saturday through Monday but were able to fish Tuesday, and recorded good catches of wahoo plus some dolphin, yellowfin tuna and king mackerel.

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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