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The Saltwater Review - 17 August 1999

Vol. 13, 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 black sea bass season has re-opened following a fifteen day closure from August 1 and through August 15. As a reminder, the minimum size limit for sea bass is 10 inches.

Another reminder, the Fall Grey Trout (weakfish) season opened August 16, 1999 and will run through April 30, 2000. During this portion of the season, trout must measure at least 14 inches (the minimum size limit was 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.

Fast approaching, Virginia's Fall Striped Bass Bay and tributary season (excluding Potomac River tributaries--see enclosure for details) begins less than eight weeks. Season length, size and possession limits are unchanged from 1998. The Fall season will open October 4 and will run through December 31. The minimum size limit will be 18 inches and there is a two-fish possession limit. No special permit or license is needed, however, an appropriate saltwater fishing license is required. Gaffing or spearing of striped bass is prohibited.

Spanish mackerel staged their best showing of the season the past week with consistent catches reported from the rips of all four rock islands of the CBBT complex, off Cape Henry, along the Virginia Beach ocean strip and as far up the bay as Gwynn Island.

Croaker continue to dominate the bottom fishing throughout the bay and most of the lower portions of its tributaries with a greater percentage of the larger fish holding in deep water channels in the main stem and lower Bay.

Offshore, blue and white marlin are providing above average action--considering peak catches are usually recorded in early to mid-September. Yellowfin tuna numbers are down while bluefin have become nearly non-existent. The bluewater equivalent to the "silver-lining" is any grass line or significant piece of floating debris is usually teeming with various sizes of dolphin.


Donna from Capt. Bob's reported decent catches of dolphin, some wahoo and a few tuna at the "lumpy bottom," while strikes have been few and far between for chunkers working the Parking Lot. Inside the inlet, Sterling Forwood decked a 7 1/4 pound flounder at Queen's Sound, where croaker remain the dominate catch. The bridge pilings at the Queen's Sound crossing are holding some big sheepshead, as Joe Michalski boated a pair of citation-winning fish at 10 1/4 and 11 pounds on peeler crab.

R & R Boat Rental said flounder catches improved the past week, especially at Inlet View while croaker are still caught "all over" and remain the dominate catch. Anglers working Chincoteague Point are catching some keeper-sized weakfish.

Barnacle Bill's reported good fishing "right off our dock," as folks decked flounder, croaker, blowfish and "lots of crabs." Out in the main channel, croaker dominate the catches with some fish as long as 18 inches! Offshore, catches of tuna (bluefin and yellowfin) have been slight, though good numbers of dolphin are being caught.

Daisy's Dockside said overall flounder action remained seasonably slow but suggested the waters south of the Queen's Sound Bridge were producing better than average catches of flatfish. Croaker remain scattered throughout the protected waters inside the inlet with some of the better reported catches made while drifting the main channel.


Wachapreague Marina weighed a pair of big wahoo over the weekend, as Greg Breuker landed a 39 pounder west of the 21 Mile Hill and Bryan Lutz decked a 42 pounder aboard the WHITE HOT. The crew fishing aboard the WAVE DANCER happened upon a school of white marlin at the Norfolk Canyon and caught and released two. Shawn Faillor aboard the JANIE MAC also registered a white marlin release. A line of strong thunder storms early Saturday morning kept the offshore crowd in port but the fleet did sail Friday and Sunday.

Capt. Zed's also spoke of impressive catches of wahoo and dolphin plus some yellowfin tuna, skipjack and billfish. Most of the boats have worked between the 21 Mile Hill and the lumpy bottom. Inside the inlet, croaker remain available "just about anywhere," according to Zed's while flounder are caught off Cedar Island and weakfish in the gut across from the old Coast Guard Station.

Cape Charles-

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported big hauls of croaker out of the seaside port of Oyster, though the major concentration of fish appears to have moved nearer the ocean, as best catches of the biggest fish were made near the old Tripod buoy site. On the bayside, schools of croaker are holding along the channel edges off Kiptopeke, where Johanna Massie boated a 6-1 flounder. The shop also weighed award winning flatfish for Greg Elder (7-3) and Bernard Poole (6-0). Both were caught at the Fourth Island. Cobia numbers continue to thin off Cape Charles and Elton Merritt boated the lone citation cobia weighed at the shop recently--a 63-11 specimen from the buoy 38A area.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel-

Cobbs Marina reported decent weekend catches of flounder and croaker along the CBBT complex. The marina weighed one citation-sized flounder that was caught at the Fourth Island on a bucktail.

John at Bubba's Marina said schools of Spanish mackerel are holding in the rips around the CBBT rock islands and off Cape Henry. Spadefish and cobia are found amongst the pilings from the Fourth Island out to the High Level Bridge. Flounder catches dipped the past week--those caught were often good-sized, just not as many. Along the Virginia Beach resort strip, spot staged a decent showing with best hauls usually coming on the last of the incoming tide. Inside Lynnhaven Inlet, puppy drum, flounder and a few speckled trout were caught around the Lesner Bridge.

Dr. Jim Wright also told of a strong showing of Spanish mackerel at the CBBT, especially the Fourth Island, where Dr. Jim's party enjoyed multiple hook-ups of mackerel to 20 inches plus a few chunky taylor blues. Dr. Wright said the Anglo-African wreck site was holding plenty of spadefish but the fish were much smaller than earlier in the season. Wright's crew also boated several triggerfish while fishing at the wreck.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina weighed three citation-sized cobia over the weekend and heard of several more that were boated but weighed less than 50 pounds. Cobia were caught at Bluefish Rock but catches were made at various lower Bay buoys, the Hump and Latimer Shoals as well. Donnie rated recent flounder action as "just fair," adding that the better catches were made at the Hump, Back River Reef, the northern-most sections of the CBBT complex and around the Cape Henry wreck site. Speckled trout, from just under 14 inches up to 18 inches, were caught inside Back River at the Middle Bar and outside the river's mouth at Poquoson Flats.

Johnny from Sunset Marina said Richard Carter and Eddie Grey boated over two-dozen croaker to nearly 3 pounds at the Ammo Loading Platform while the crew aboard the DONNIE BOY had a big haul of croaker at Thimble Shoals Channel. On a mid-week trip, another party found big spot, croaker and a few sea mullet near Fort Wool. Johnny added that word from the local cobia "sharpies" was that the cobia have moved to the buoy lines.

A.D. from Vanasse Bait and Tackle said croaker were "scattered all over," with some of the bigger fish caught off Factory Point. A.D. knew of several weekend catches of spot. One was made well inside the York, near the Gloucester Point Bridge and another came from inside the Poquoson River.

Andy Watkins from Back River Market said fair to good weekend catches of speckled trout up to nearly 4 pounds were made just inside Back River and outside the river over the Poquoson Flats. One group of anglers that wire-lined the northern portion of the CBBT complex had a big catch of 3 to 8-pound grey trout. As for flounder, Andy described the weekend catches as fair at best with the Hump one of the more productive locations.

Salt Ponds Marina heard only of a few flounder that were "wire-lined" at the CBBT complex over the weekend.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said weekend bottom fishing action slowed on the York River, though schools of big croaker were still holding in the deepwater off Cheatham Annex. Jimmy heard of a few flounder boated at the Parrin River but the catch included many more under-sized flatfish that were released. Several 30-pound class cobia were reported at York Spit but "no Citations."

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club reported flounder at the hump, Fourth Island and off Cape Henry. One of the better flounder catches was turned-in by Richard Madison and Dave Agee, as they decked 13 keepers at the Fourth Island. Prior to the start of the fall grey trout season on August 16 (when the size limit changes to 14 inches and 14 fish) Doug Roper and Craige Stallings recorded limit catches of trout two days in a row while wirelining near the Fourth Island. Moving outside the Bay, Ken Neill and Richard Bartlett caught jumbo croaker at the Third Island and used the live fish to bait jack crevelle to 43 pounds at the Tower Reef, where the pair had one large croaker cut-in-two by a barracuda. Offshore, reports indicate a strong billfish bite along the 340 line in 500 fathoms and at the north wall of the Norfolk Canyon.

Virginia Middle Bay-

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware told of weekend catches of spot off the mouths of Indian and Dividing creeks. Bottom fishermen also reported plenty of small croaker by day and large to jumbo fish after dark. Pods of 14-inch plus pan trout are holding near the N2 buoy. Decent catches of flounder were recorded near Smith Point Light, the N2 buoy and buoy 62. Trollers found willing schools of Spanish mackerel at Smith Point Bar through the week but the schools "disappeared" by the weekend, according to Roger.

Smith Point Marina told of "croaker by the thousands" along the deepwater channel edges off from Smith Point. Pan trout were caught at Blackberry Hang and around Smith Point Light. Boats venturing into Maryland waters (where the striped bass season is open) reported plenty of school stripers from 18 to 26 inches.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service said a good flounder bite developed at buoy 42 on Tuesday and Wednesday but it has been "hit or miss" on the flounder since with the crew aboard the MISS PAT reporting flatfish to 7 pounds on Friday but generally poor results on Sunday. Pan trout are holding on most of the channel edge drop-off's, according to Jerry, where the vast schools of small, "pinhead" croakers are congregated. Good catches of Spanish mackerel were made off Gwynn Island and along the edge of Fleets Bay last week and a few speckled trout were pulled from the grass beds around Cherry Point.

Beth Thompson from Locklies Marina said good weekend catches of spot were made at Butlers Hole, off Parrots Island and along Windmill Point Bar.

Garretts Marina said bottom fishing for croaker, spot and white perch had slowed from prior weeks but some fish were being caught up-river, near the power lines and out from the marina, at buoy 19 and Morratico Bar.

Captain Jim Thompson at JIM-AN-I Charters said catches of trout in the river increased but spot continue to provide the bulk of the action. Some of the better hauls were made at Windmill Point Bar and Butlers Hole, where catches include some medium-sized croaker and the occasional flounder.

Virginia Beach-

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center registered several blue and white marlin release citations the past week, as well as weighing a handful of big wahoo. Most of the action was in the vicinity of the Cigar, according to a marina spokesman. Inshore, good catches of Spanish mackerel plus a few cobia were reported while the headboat fleet returned with nice hauls of croaker and trout from the Baymouth area and black sea bass (since Monday, August 16) from the ocean wrecks and reefs.

Paula Owen at Fisherman's Wharf Marina told of a "real good" billfish bite in recent days with several boats catching and releasing three or more 'long-bills" in a single outing. The bluewater trips are also producing some small dolphin and a handful of yellowfin tuna. Best action on the billfish has been between the 300 and 380 lines in water 500 fathoms or greater.

Virginia Piers-


Bottom fishermen had decent weekend catches of croaker to 2 pounds and nice-sized spot. Flounder to 22 inches were also part of the weekend catch.

Buckroe Beach

A 26-pound cobia was decked by Steve Camp on Sunday but this was the first cobia in over a week. Spot provided the most consistent action in recent days, as bottom fishermen also scored on croaker, taylor blues and keeper flounder. After dark, the spot and croaker bite intensifies and pan trout appear below the pier lights.


Spot and croaker provide good action after dark for bottom fishermen. Pan trout attracted by the pier lights are hitting small jigs, Gotcha's and other small minnow imitations. Daytime action has been limited to a scattering of spot and the occasional Spanish mackerel, bluefish, puppy drum and flounder (with even fewer of the flatfish large enough to keep).


Fair catches of spot were recorded over the weekend and the tasty bottom fish were still biting Monday morning. A few croaker, sea mullet and bluefish were also reported. The pier spokesman added that folks fishing for crabs are "still doing pretty good."

Virginia Beach-

Spot and croaker are hitting sporadically during the day and fairly consistently after dark. A strong run of mostly spot developed Monday night about 10 PM and continued for several hours. Other catches include bluefish, Spanish mackerel, spadefish and even a few pompano. Water temperature was 77 degrees at pierside on Tuesday morning.


A wind shift to the northeast put large spot at the pier pilings Monday morning and action was brisk. The bite cooled considerably throughout the day and by Tuesday just a scattering of spot plus a few bluefish were reported.

Outer Banks, NC-

Decent numbers of pompano have arrived along the Nags Head area beaches, according to Bill MaCaskill at Whalebone Tackle. Most of the fish are hand-sized but a 2 1/4 pounder was weighed at the shop last week. Keeper-sized flounder were claimed along the same beaches, though spot and snapper blues provided more consistent action. In addition to the spot and snapper blues, pier anglers decked fair numbers of Spanish mackerel with the bite usually early and late in the day. At Oregon Inlet, puppy drum and good-sized croaker were caught at the pond while flounder are taken during periods of clear water in the inlet. On the flats west of the bridge and even further back in the sound, speckled trout continue to provide better than average summer action. South of the inlet, beach anglers found loads of small croaker plus a few good-sized sea mullet between Rodanthe and Salvo.

Out of Hatteras, limits of mixed sizes of dolphin are commonplace while yellowfin and billfish have been scarce recently. Wahoo have replaced the void created by the slow tuna bite with some boats claiming as many as eight of these high speed game fish a single outing. The offshore fleet continues to concentrate their efforts south of the inlet, in the vicinity of Triple 0's. Inshore, Spanish mackerel are available around the mouth of the inlet, while both grey and speckled trout are reasonably abundant inside 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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