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The Saltwater Review - September 14, 2000

Vol. 14, No. 19
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 changed as of Friday, September 1, 2000 and recreational anglers are now allowed an increased possession limit through October 15, 2000. Review the enclosed NMFS notice for specifics. 

Good catches of spot were recorded from most of the lower Bay piers early in the week, when winds were blowing from the northeast. The pier action has nearly come to a standstill as the weather has moderated but spot are still biting inside the Poquoson, Rappahannock and York rivers, in the Bay off Ocean View and inside Rudee Inlet.

Big croaker remain in the main stem of the Bay but at least some of the fish moved out into the ocean with last week's blow, as the headboat fleet working some 10 miles off Cape Henry at the Tower Reef area reported good catches of the tasty bottom feeders.

Striped bass are becoming more active at several sites around the Bay, where the season remains closed until October 4, 2000.

Although several citation-winning flounder were caught and weighed the past week, over-all action appeared hampered by the abundant rainfall of last week. 

Following the blow, offshore catches of dolphin improved considerably, as yellowfin and wahoo remained available. Fair numbers of white marlin were seen but not the anticipated blitz bite of billfish. 


Barnacle Bill's reported increased flounder activity, as inside waters have begun to clear following nearly a week of heavy rain and strong wind. Trout remain active--especially around "structure," such as bridge pilings, just before dark. Offshore, the Washington Canyon produced good weekend hauls of yellowfin tuna and dolphin plus a few billfish releases. 

Capt. Bob's registered several shark releases the past week. Earl Weaver released a 9-foot and 7 1/2 foot shark, Vance Weaver an 8 footer and Earl Weaver Jr. a 10 1/2 foot shark.


Capt. Zed's reported fair catches of flounder plus a scattering of jumbo croaker at the mouth of the inlet. Some trout are also being caught during the day but the best action comes after dark, around any of the lighted docks. Offshore, trollers working the 20 fathom line found good numbers of dolphin plus a few yellowfin tuna and wahoo.

Wachapreague Marina said decent catches of croaker were still being made just inside Paramour Island while offshore trollers recorded good catches of dolphin and a few yellowfin tuna. From the bayside, Brigette Farlow released a 49-inch red drum out of Bayford while James Bushling (7-6), Harry Mears (5-10) and Thomas Ebertis (5-3) all caught citation-winning speckled trout off Onancock.

Cape Charles -

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported overall action was slowed by heavy rains early in the week but the shop still saw a number of impressive catches. Bob Stainback boated a citation 7-2 flounder at buoy 18 while Jim Gilkely (6-13), Everette McKinnely (6-10) and Dave Stuart (6-3) all decked trophy flatfish at buoy 36A. Everette McKinnely earned a second citation award with a 47-inch red drum release at buoy 36A. Frank Brady released a 48 1/2 inch red drum at buoy 36A, as Robert Savage, Jr. (45 1/2 inches) and Stuart Wright (44 1/2 inches) each released a trophy drum at buoy 16. Peggy Rogers was fishing at the Cell when she boated a 19 1/2 inch and 3-pound and 5-ounce croaker. William Petka of Petersburg released a 46-inch black drum at the First Island of the CBBT. Virginia Beach resident Richard Wood was fishing Hungars Creek and landed a 6 1/2 pound speckled trout. Conditions on the seaside were less than desirable, as wind and heavy rains combined for "muddy and grassy" conditions for the weekend, but some croaker and trout were caught.


Captain Wil Laaksonen reported good catches of spot, bluefish, porgy and pigfish on the lower Pocomoke Sound. Croakers numbers have significantly diminished but some jumbos of over 3 pounds are still being caught. Grey trout numbers are steadily improving with many of the fish in the 16 to 20-inch range. Sea mullet have been strong the past several days. Flounder are reasonably abundant with flatfish to 6 1/2 pounds the past week but many measure less than the 15 1/2 inch minimum size. Speckled trout are becoming more active. Water temperature off Onancock was 74 degrees on Tuesday. 

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel-

Despite near ideal weekend weather, weekend action was slow, according to Cobbs Marina. Several customers reported decent catches of spot off Ocean View while others pulled flounder from the Baltimore Channel, east of the CBBT but "nothing spectacular."

John from Bubba's Marina said several good hauls of flounder were made near the Cape Henry wrecks, where anglers also reported seeing cobia, though no catches were made. Spot were also caught off Cape Henry and from the mussel beds located near the First and Second islands. Croaker continue to bite "from the Lesner Bridge (mouth of Lynnhaven) out to the High Rise," according to John. The inshore wrecks are holding school king mackerel and big amberjack while yellowfin tuna and dolphin were caught just east of the Fingers.

Dr. Jim Wright and his party were jigging big croaker on Optic Eye spoons tipped with squid along the bayside portion of the First Island, when Dr. Jim nailed a 10 3/4 pound sheepshead. On another outing, this one inside the protected waters of Lynnhaven Inlet, puppy drum to 25 inches and several keeper flounder 
were caught. Dr. Wright also indicated that good-sized Spanish mackerel were holding around the legs of the Chesapeake Light Tower, where live minnows produced a steady bite.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Bait and Tackle said the weekend flounder bite was less than expected--though three citation-winning flatfish were checked-in on Saturday. Other notable catches included a 55-pound cobia, boated by Jim Brown just east of Bluefish Rock and a 3 1/2 pound croaker, taken by Virgil Dennis just outside Back River. Donnie added that bottom fishermen caught spot inside the Poquoson River and at Twin Stakes, Poquoson Flats yielded some puppy drum, speckled trout and taylor blues to persistent casters and trollers found Spanish mackerel and taylor blues at the CBBT complex.

Johnny at Sunset Marina weighed-in one of their biggest cobia of the season, a 78-pound whopper, for Luke Lenix. The trophy catch was made near Bluefish Rock on a live eel. Other weekend catches included puppy drum, grey trout, black drum to 7 pounds and spot.

Vanasse Bait and Tackle saw speckled trout to 23-inches from Poquoson Flats and heard of good numbers of flounder being caught but "not a lot of keepers." The shop also indicated Spanish mackerel to over 4 pounds were caught by trollers working off Back River.

Mark at Salt Ponds Marina saw "mostly flounder" over the weekend and the Cape Henry area was the favored location. 

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said spot weighing up to a pound were biting "real good," inside the York River. Grey trout are becoming more active, especially at the lumps and just off the AMOCO Pier. Croaker still linger in the river but their numbers are down from last month. Jerome Booker (6-6) and Leonard Leiffer (6-14) each boated citation-winning flounder off Cape Charles and Bill Crewe nailed an 8 1/2 pound flatfish at the Third of the CBBT. Bottom fishermen using the public pier at Gloucester Point registered good catches of spot plus some croaker. Speckled trout are becoming more active inside Mobjack Bay at Ware Point and around the mouth of the Severn River.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club recorded impressive catches of grey trout, amberjack, jack crevalle, dolphin and jumbo croaker last week. Dave Carpenter loaded-up on large grey trout while wire-lining the Fourth Island. His heaviest went 9 pounds, 7 ounces. Jeff Dail was jigging for trout at the Third Island when he nailed a 4-pound croaker! Bob Allen and his crew fished the Norfolk Canyon, where they had a huge catch of dolphin (about half were released) but only one yellowfin. The crew aboard AQUAMAN boated six 50-pound class yellowfin tuna, a false albacore but only one dolphin east of the Cigar. Brandon Bartlett released a 53-inch amberjack and Phillip Neill a 44-inch jack crevalle at the Chesapeake Light Tower aboard the HEALTHY GRIN, as several other jacks were hooked and lost. Phillip released another amberjack (44 inches) at the Gulf Hustler wreck site.

Virginia Middle Bay-

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported decent numbers of croaker and pan trout still linger near buoy 62 and around the N2 buoy but rated the spot fishing as just "so-so." Trollers are finding Spanish mackerel and taylor blues around Smith Point Light and off Dividing Creek. Speckled trout are starting to become active on the grass beds inside Dameron Marsh.

Smith Point Marina said boats traveling into Maryland waters are finding decent numbers of school stripers at buoy 72 with chumming still the preferred method. Trollers find mixed schools of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues in the vicinity of Smith Point Light while bottom bouncers are catching spot at Blackberry Hang and near the jetty.

Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service told of schools of pan trout holding in the vicinity of buoy 42 while good numbers of spot were reported off Hole-in-the-Wall.

Locklies Marina weighed a 1-pound and 12 1/4 inch spot for Jeffery Brooks of Mechanicsville. The citation catch was made on a piece of bloodworm at buoy 8. Meanwhile, Timothy Jefferson, Jr. of Chesterfield boated a 7-3 flounder that measured 25 1/4 inches near the White Stone Bridge. The marina indicated "real good catches" of spot plus some pan trout, croaker and flounder were recorded near the Route # 3 Bridge, off Parrots Island and at buoy 8 over the weekend.

Garretts Marina told of good catches of spot at Morratico Bar and decent catches of pan trout at the power lines.

Captain Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina said waters from the Cornhouse to Deep Rock held good numbers of hand-sized spot and some medium croaker while larger spot were located over old oyster bottom off Fleet's Bay. Spot were also reported at Butlers Hole, Windmill Point Bar and "spike buoy" # 5 while "pan trout were everywhere." Captain Thompson cautioned, "most (of the trout) measure 12 inches or less" (14 inches is the current minimum size limit). Larger trout plus some spadefish are found around Wolf Trap Light. Trollers continue to have good success on Spanish mackerel and taylor blues at the F1 and F2 buoys off Fleets Bay.

Virginia Beach-

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the headboat fleet returned with excellent catches of sea bass from the Triangle wrecks and mixed catches of croaker, sea bass and even pan trout from the Tower Reef area. Offshore, good catches of dolphin plus a scattering of wahoo and yellowfin tuna were recorded by the charter fleet over the weekend. The crew aboard OUR DREAM released a blue marlin on Saturday.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina told of good weekend catches of dolphin plus some billfish and yellowfin tuna.

Virginia Piers-

James River- 

Bob Wharton said big croaker are "moving back through," as catching of these hard pulling bottom feeders improved following last week's cooler weather. Pan trout to 24 inches are also making a good showing, with best action coming after dusk on chunks of peeler crab. Other catches include snapper blues, school stripers (catch and release only until October 4), a scattering of spot and the occasional flounder.


Daytime anglers report a fair mixture of croaker, spot and flounder while school stripers, keeper-sized pan trout and small shark are active after dark. 

Buckroe Beach-

Sporadic daytime catches of croaker, spot and keeper flounder were reported. A pair of small cobia were caught and released on Monday. Keeper-sized pan trout are active after dark. Spot made strong runs early in the week but their numbers slowed dramatically as the weather has returned to summer-time conditions.


"The fishing has been down-right slow the past several days," noted the pier spokesman. Still, croaker and a few spot are caught after dark. Back in the middle of the week, jumbo croaker of nearly 3 pounds staged impressive runs during the height of the stormy weather.


Weekend action was described as "real slow," but speckled trout staged a brisk run Monday morning on the incoming tide. Mid-week, bottom fishermen loaded-up on hand-sized spot and puppy drum plus some flounder and jumbo croaker.

Virginia Beach-

"It's been poor the past several days," noted the pier's spokesman, with only an occasional snapper bluefish, pompano and school striper reported but the pier saw strong runs of spot in the middle of last week. Pierside water temperature on Monday (September 11) was 75 degrees. 


Action was rated "very slow" for the weekend with only the occasional spot and sea mullet reported. Several "keeper" puppy drum were decked on Friday.

Outer Banks, NC -

The Nags Head area piers enjoyed good runs of spot plus a scattering of sea mullet, croaker and snapper blues while beach fishermen in Duck reported whopper sea mullet and some spot. Anglers lining the shore at Oregon Inlet scored on puppy drum and snapper blues plus a few "keeper" flounder, according to Bill MaCaskill at Whalebone Tackle. Back in the sound, "the trout fishing is still really tough," noted Bill. On Hatteras Island, snapper blues moved into the surf at Cape Point at Buxton over the weekend, with fair catches of puppy drum, pompano, croaker, flounder and sea mullet also reported. The South Beach featured better numbers of flounder plus some spot, snapper blues and pompano while Spanish mackerel and snapper blues were beached from Ramp 55 to Hatteras Inlet.

Boats sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center remained in port until Friday last week due to rough sea conditions. On Friday, the catch consisted of mostly bailer dolphin with one sailfish release reported. Saturday, wahoo and gaffer dolphin made a strong showing while tuna remained scarce. The fleet recorded five white marlin releases plus a blue marlin and a sailfish release on Saturday. Sunday's "meatfish" catch was similar to Saturday with mixed sizes of dolphin dominating while eight white marlin were released. The tuna bite finally improved on Tuesday, as good numbers of dolphin plus several wahoo were also seen at the docks. The headboat caught mainly croaker and trout plus a scattering of flounder and sea mullet. Half-day boats trolling near the inlet had mixed catches of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues.

The offshore fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet was forced to remain in port through the week but was able to fish Saturday and Sunday, reporting excellent catches of wahoo, a mixture of bailer and gaffer dolphin and a few yellowfin tuna. The crew aboard the HIGH GROSS released a sailfish while a blue marlin was released aboard the BIG EASY.

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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