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The Saltwater Review - 24 August 1999

Vol. 13, No. 18
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


As a 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.

King Mackerel State Record Broken--A 52-pound, 2-ounce king mackerel caught by 12-year-old Andrew John Allessio of Virginia Beach, Virginia has been certified as the new state record for the species by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. The record-setting catch was made August 19 at the Little Island Fishing Pier, located on the oceanfront at Sandbridge. For more information, contact Claude Bain, director of the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament at (757) 491-5160.

Croaker remain the dominate catch throughout most of Virginia's portion of the Chesapeake Bay and the Eastern Shore seaside. Flounder action receives only a fair rating for number of fish but ranks above average in terms of trophy-sized flatfish. Spanish mackerel are found feeding aggressively throughout the lower Bay and red drum numbers are building off Cape Charles. Cobia still linger but most have moved to the buoy lines in preparation for their departure.

Offshore, billfish action is nearing its seasonal peak with the waters east of the Cigar the most recent hotspot for the long-bills. Dolphin are available beneath nearly every floating piece of debris while tuna remained tight-lipped the past week.


Donna from Capt. Bob's reported excellent catches of croaker with many of the best catches of bigger fish pulled from the waters just north of marker #5. Anglers drifting Queen Sound Flats with chunks of peeler crab are catching good-sized trout to 25 inches and the occasional flounder. Offshore, the area known locally as "the lumpy bottom" holds plenty of school to gaffer-size dolphin plus a few yellowfin tuna and wahoo.

Bill Robbins from R & R Boat Rental said croaker were "everywhere" inside the inlet with the main channel and Black Narrows producing some exceptional hauls. Some good-sized flounder are still being caught despite the croaker--a 23 1/2 inch and 5-pound flatfish was weighed Monday. The catch was made at Black Narrows. The bridge pilings at Black Narrows and Queen's Sound are holding large weakfish. One angler using a Hopkins tipped with squid had an exceptional catch on Sunday. Others have had success with a basic bottom rig baited with either chunks of peeler crab or strips of squid.

Barnacle Bill's said bottom fishermen were catching loads of croaker plus some blowfish and flounder. "They're catching a lot of croaker right off our pier," noted the shop spokesman. Offshore catches include wahoo, yellowfin and bluefin tuna, dolphin, false albacore and skipjack. Anglers are employing both chunking and trolling techniques, working the waters between the Parking Lot and lumpy bottom.

Tommy Daisey at Daisey's Dockside also told of tremendous catches of "the biggest croaker I've ever seen." A pair of fish in excess of 3 pounds were weighed at the shop which the anglers were unable to register for citation awards because they had did not have a Virginia Saltwater Fishing License. Anglers working the bridge pilings at Queen's Sound with chunks of fresh peeler crab or jigs are catching some nice weakfish, according to Tommy. Offshore, the TWO ACES had a decent catch of dolphin and a few yellowfin tuna on a recent outing. The crew aboard the SEA-SAW released a pair of white marlin at the Washington Canyon--one each for Sawyer Mears and Mike Justice. The billfish hit rigged ballyhoo.


Wachapreague Marina reported good offshore action for dolphin, wahoo and billfish. Rafts of grass have moved into 30 fathoms and held good numbers of dolphin. The crew aboard the VIRNAJO boated three wahoo to 33 pounds on Saturday. Tom Darek released a white marlin aboard the CLASS ACT, as Gil Pruitt and Norman Katrobos each released a white aboard MAINE SQUEEZE. Inside the inlet, croaker "are everywhere" while good-sized weakfish are caught after dark around lighted piers and docks.

Capt. Zed's also told of good bluewater action with the area known locally as the "lumpy bottom" the top spot. The crew aboard the CANYON LADY decked three wahoo to 49 pounds plus several dolphin and yellowfin tuna while trolling the lumpy bottom on Saturday. Inside the inlet, croaker continue to dominate the catches.

Cape Charles-

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported good catches of flounder at buoy 36A and the High Rise. Heaviest flatfish of the week was an 8 3/4 pounder boated by retired Marine Patrol Officer Robert Bois. Bill Reynolds (7-2) and Jim Conrana (6-10) also weighed citation-winning flounder at the shop. Bottom fishermen also scored big on croaker recently with the waters surrounding the Cell and areas out of Oyster the top locations. Bill Reynolds weighed the week's heavyweight croaker at 3-1. The citation-winning fish was boated at the Cell. Others with award winning catches include Gary Bryan with a 5-pound speckled trout from Plantation Creek and Mike Denmark, who released a 78-inch shark at Quinby Inlet.

Captain Jim Jenrette said the fall run of red drum was underway off Cape Charles, as cobia numbers are "dropping off." Captain Jenrette added that puppy drum and speckled trout were becoming more active at a number of the Eastern Shore bayside creeks.


Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported good catches of spot with many measuring 9 inches or more. Croaker remain available but the schools "are not as thick," according to Captain Wil. Evenings produce the best catches of bigger croaker and Wil has been working the 25 to 35-foot range along the channel edges just off Onancock. Hogfish, pan trout, porgy and taylor blues round-out the typical day's catch. Anglers working the grassy shorelines with chunks of peeler crab are catching some puppy drum, speckled trout and huge croaker.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel-

Ruth Cobb from Cobbs Marina reported good weekend catches of large flounder, croaker and cobia. The better flatfish hauls were made at the First, Second and Third islands while croaker were "in close" and weighed up to 3 1/2 pounds. The shop also weighed cobia of nearly 60 pounds.

John at Bubba's Marina told of excellent catches of flounder at the High Rise, Smith Island Flats and inside Lynnhaven at the Lesner Bridge. Schools of spadefish were holding around many of the lower Bay buoys, according to John, and were biting "real good" on bits of fresh clam. John knew of speckled trout to 23 inches that were caught inside Lynnhaven and described the trout bite as "very good" inside Rudee Inlet. Moving outside the bay, anglers using live croaker for bait caught amberjack and a few cobia at the Tower Reef while trollers working the Fingers and Hot Dog reported good hauls of dolphin plus a few blue and white marlin.

Dr. Jim Wright said trollers pulled Spanish mackerel and taylor blues from the rips around the Fourth Island while flounder fishermen enjoyed fair success near the tube. Offshore, trollers encountered a steady billfish bite at the Norfolk Canyon for most of the week.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina said "we've got the fish, we just need the weather." Noting cobia are still being caught off Back River, as James Woolfolk weighed the heaviest recent catch, a 63 pounder, boated at the Hump. Donnie added that other catches of cobia were reported from Bluefish Rock, the buoys and the CBBT complex. The CBBT also produced the week's biggest flounder, an 8-7 flatfish, caught by Mike King, as he drifted near the Fourth Island. Anglers wirelining the same waters are also catching good-sized flounder and large grey trout. Inside Back River, speckled trout are becoming more abundant. Bill House and his fishing partner boated their limit and released as many more specks as they cast paddle-tailed grubs over Middle Bar. As for croaker, "they're still everywhere you drop a line," quipped Donnie.

Johnny from Sunset Marina said Luke Lenix boated a pair of citation cobia (52 and 70 pounds) on his boat while Dylan Capps (51 pounds) and Donald Whittmire (62 pounds) decked one each aboard the CRAFTSMAN. Tony Pena and party decked over two-dozen jumbo croaker to nearly 3 pounds near the First Island. Ron Smith and his fishing buddies boated a yellowfin tuna and a wahoo at the Fingers.

Allen Vanasse at Vanasse Bait and Tackle told of fair catches of spot off Factory Point, flounder at the hump, trout at the Third and Fourth islands and croaker "just about anywhere."

Andy Watkins from Back River Market checked-in a pair of citation -winning catches over the weekend, as Linda Tillage boated a 63-pound cobia at York Spit and Edward Sheppard decked a 7-6 flounder at the Fourth Island. Andy said casters were catching a smattering of speckled trout at Poquoson Flats, plenty of large croaker in Poquoson River and 3 to 8 pound weakfish at the Fourth Island. Cecil Miller and his buddies loaded-up on 2-pound and better croaker at the CBBT.

Salt Ponds Marina said weekend catches included dolphin and large false albacore off the Virginia coast, flounder at the Hump and CBBT and jumbo croaker at the CBBT and HRBT.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said bottom fishing action slowed in the York River the past week, though catches of croaker were still made just off Cheatham Annex. But while fishing action cooled on the York, speckled trout catches were up in the Mobjack Bay, especially along the shoreline surrounding Ware Point.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club passed along mixed reviews on the offshore fishing. One party that fished the 26 Mile Hill released 7 false albacore while boating just one dolphin. Another trip that began near the NOAA Weather buoy (located near the Cigar) and well south on the 050-line produced false albacore and a smattering of small dolphin. Again commencing at the NOAA buoy, still another party fished eastward into 40 fathoms, where the group hooked a white marlin and caught a 35-pound yellowfin. Continuing east, the crew was "covered-up" with small yellowfin as they reached 50 fathoms. Another white was hooked when they reached the 100 fathom line, as well as another 30-pound class yellowfin. Following the 250 line, a weed line and temperature break had formed in 500 fathoms and the crew wrestled with various sizes of dolphin and boated a wahoo.

Virginia Middle Bay-

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported weekend trollers found a mixed bag of Spanish mackerel, taylor blues and striped bass at Smith Point Bar. The waters surrounding the N2 buoy also produced some mackerel and bluefish for trollers and decent catches of croaker and pan trout for bottom fishermen. Spot were caught near the mouths of Dividing and Indian creeks over oyster shell bottom.

Smith Point Marina said trollers found large schools of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues from Point Lookout to Tangier Island while bottom fishermen continue to catch large croaker to over 2 pounds. Walter Knight boated a 7 3/4 pound flounder at buoy 42 and several cobia were taken near Smith Point Light.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service said large croaker were showing around the oyster reefs located inside the Piankatank River. Pods of large trout to 27 inches are holding in deepwater off Silver Beach and along the edges of Cut Channel. Fair catches of spot were recorded just inside Hills Bay while puppy drum and speckled trout were reported at Hole-in-the-Wall. Several of the wrecks located near Wolf Trap Light are reportedly holding some big spadefish.

Beth Thompson from Locklies Marina said spot dominate the catches inside the river, as the waters off Parrots Island and just off White Stone produced the best hauls. Bottom fishermen are also catching some croaker but "not the really big ones we had last month" and a sprinkling of pan trout.

Garretts Marina reported fair to good catches of spot at buoy 12, where trout are hitting chunks of peeler crab or strips of squid after dusk. The numbers of big croaker have dwindled but decent catches are still made at buoys 18 and 19.

Virginia Beach-

Troy from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center estimated their charter fleet had released upwards of 40 white marlin and at least a dozen blue marlin in the past week. Yellowfin tuna remain slow but the fish caught are running good-size--from 40 to 75 pounds. Dolphin catches are steady and the wahoo bite remains above average. Inshore ocean wrecks are holding amberjack and school king mackerel while trollers are scoring on Spanish mackerel just outside the inlet. The headboat fleet finds plenty of croaker at the mouth of the Bay and sea bass plus a surprising number of flounder on the inshore ocean wrecks.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina told of excellent weekend catches of billfish--primarily white marlin. Recent catches of white marlin have been from "all over" but the largest percentage were made just east of the Cigar, along the 200-line in waters 100 fathoms or more. A sprinkling of good-sized yellowfin tuna were boated but many more were sighted that would not bite.

Virginia Piers-


Good-sized spot and croaker are biting early and late in the day. Fair numbers of 16 to 18-inch flounder and pan trout are caught sporadically throughout the day.

Buckroe Beach

An impressive run of pompano developed Sunday, as some anglers decked over a dozen. Weekend catches include some good-sized spot and a sprinkling of croaker. Pan trout are biting after dusk as they congregate beneath the pier lights.


Croaker and spot provide the bulk of the action with the best catches coming in the late evenings. Pan trout are "hit-or-miss," beneath the pier lights.


Bottom fishermen enjoyed steady runs of spot, some sea mullet and taylor blues plus the occasional "keeper" flounder and puppy drum the past few days

Virginia Beach-

Spot provided the bulk of the action here, as well. Add a sprinkling of croaker, taylor bluefish, flounder, sea mullet and puppy drum when a crowd is fishing. It hasn't helped the bottom fishing that surf waters are clear and warm (79 degrees).


Bottom fishing was slow over the weekend and into Tuesday morning. Catches include a smattering of spot, a few taylor blues and the occasional flounder. Earlier in the week, several king mackerel were decked, including a new state record for the species at 52-2 (see overview for more details).

Outer Banks, NC-

Ocean waters along the Outer Banks are very warm, ranging from the upper 70's in Duck to the low 80's on Hatteras Island and a variety of fish species are available. In the Nags Head area, surf and pier anglers enjoyed good to excellent catches of pompano. Schools of Spanish mackerel and taylor are roaming the coastline and most often come within casting distance early and late in the day. Beach and pier anglers are also catching good numbers of medium-sized croaker and hand-sized spot, according to Whalebone Tackle, while small boaters working the shallow waters of the sound report continued good success for speckled trout and puppy drum. Sheepshead continue to oblige at the Oregon Inlet Bridge pilings. Anglers drifting the waters nearby are catching some flounder and lots of medium croaker.

The bluewater fleet sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center enjoyed excellent catches of dolphin and white marlin plus some yellowfin tuna and wahoo. Many boats recorded limit catches of dolphin over the weekend, when the fleet averaged 4 to 11 yellowfin tuna (which ranged in size from 30 to a hefty 70 pounds) per boat. The best billfish action was northeast of the inlet, near Triple 0's, while the waters surrounding the Point produced the best hauls of tuna. Inshore, the "half-day" boats reported good catches of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues. School king mackerel were available "about 15 miles off," according to a spokesman from the Center. The headboat catch included croaker, pigfish, triggerfish and sea bass.

Boats sailing from Hatteras Inlet were kept in port on Saturday due to rough seas and early morning thunder storms. On Sunday, dolphin action was good, as many boats registered limit catches. The wahoo bite was above average--especially near the Diamond Shoals Light Tower. Yellowfin tuna were scarce. The party aboard the TUNA DUCK returned with a pair of citations--a 40-pound dolphin and a 45-pound wahoo. On Monday, the entire fleet cashed-in on wahoo while yellowfin and billfish remained scarce.

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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