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The Saltwater Review - 31 August 1999

Vol. 13, 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


Due to the observance of the Labor Day holiday, Monday, September 6, the Virginia Saltwater Review will not be published the week of September 6-10.

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 in just over four 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.

Through the weekend, schools of large, hungry croaker were bunched at the mouth of the Bay, providing excellent angling for private, charter and headboat fishermen. Croaker also dominated the bottom fishing along the Eastern Shore seaside.

While many tackle shop owners rated overall flounder action as only "fair," a number of citation-winning flatfish were boated over the weekend off Cape Charles. The buoy 36A area and to a lesser degree, the Cell, were the two top locations.

Cobia still lingered in the Bay with most of the fish reported around the CBBT pilings and lower Bay buoys.

NOTE: Due to the approach of hurricane Dennis, some of the regular contacts could not be reached.


Donna at Capt. Bob's was "pull'in boats," Monday morning, as hurricane Dennis approached but said the week's fishing was very good. Offshore, anglers fishing the area known locally as "the lumpy bottom" recorded good catches of dolphin and yellowfin tuna plus some wahoo. Fishing at the Washington Canyon, Barbara Pryor released a blue marlin aboard the STINGER. Inside the inlet, big croaker continue to dominate the catches, though some nice flounder were caught in the main channel "right in front of Capt. Bob's," according to Donna. Weakfish are hitting chunks of peeler crab drifted along the flats at Black Narrows and Assateague Channel.

Maria from Barnacle Bill's weighed a 40-pound wahoo for Eugene Brinegar. The catch was made at the 30 fathom lump on a ballyhoo aboard the MISS ALICE. The party aboard the REEL TIME returned from an offshore outing with a good catch of dolphin plus several tuna. Maria said Queen's Sound was still loaded with large croaker but the crew aboard the ENFORCER managed to pull flounder to 23 inches from the same waters. Maria added that anglers were catching a mixture of croaker, blowfish and the occasional flounder from the shop's pier.

Tommy Daisey from Daisey's Dockside also told of plenty of big croaker to 3 pounds from Queen's Sound. A 7 1/4 pound flounder, caught at Tom's Cove, was weighed at the shop but the flatfish did not qualify for a citation because the angler did not have a saltwater fishing license. Offshore, Robbie Mears and Harvey Spurlock each released a white marlin while fishing aboard the SEA-SAW at the Washington Canyon.


Wachapreague Marina reported excellent offshore action the past week with the Norfolk and Washington canyons the top locations. Bill Hall, Mike Revwer, Bob Titus and James Mitchell all released big blue marlin while Edward and Katherine Ames, Cuttler Belote, Wayne Evans and Fulton Jeffries all earned release awards for white marlin. Fishing inshore of the Norfolk Canyon, Dennis Kramkoski released a pair of sailfish at the 20 Fathom Fingers, the largest of which measured 7-feet!

Capt. Zed's told of decent catches of dolphin and yellowfin tuna and registered a white marlin release for Elizabeth Marley from the BLACK WIDOW. Inside the inlet, croaker dominate the catches but flounder and pan trout are also being caught. From the bayside, Rick Gaskill (3 3/4 pounds) and Steve Gaskill (3 1/4 pounds) each boated citation-winning croaker at Hacks Rock and Jeff Ward released a 49-inch red drum off Bayford.

Cape Charles-

Chris' Bait and Tackle weighed several big flounder the past several days and most came from one of two places--the Cell or the buoy 36A area. Wayne Williams (7 1/2 pounds) and John Mlodynia (6 1/4 pounds) boated their citation flatfish at the Cell while Kevin Haxter (8 1/4 pounds), Phil Juhring (8-1), Linda Sadler (7-2) and Keith Keeter (6-13) decked their award winning flounder near buoy 36A. Jack Tatum caught a 7 pound flounder near the Fourth Island and Tony Rainone had a 6 pounder off Kiptopeke. The fall run of red drum is underway off Cape Charles and several released fish were registered over the weekend. Mike Rhoten released a 47-incher at buoy 36A, where Emmitt Morgan released a 45 3/8-inch drum. Joe Lambertson had a 46-inch release at the Cell, Tom O'Connor a 47-inch release at Plantation Light and Rossie Baker, Sr. a 48 3/4-inch release off Smith Island. Moving to the seaside, Barry Truitt released his fourth tarpon of the season, a 6-footer, near Hog Island. Leon Batts boated a 3-pound croaker at Indian Rock and Matthew Gray nailed a 3-2 croaker out of Oyster. Grace Purvis, Jr. boated a 6-9 speckled trout at Hungars Creek


Captain Wil Laaksonen at Fish and Finn Charters reported excellent bottom fishing the past week--"right up through Sunday," as hurricane Dennis approached. Saturday's party had the best catch of grey trout since the size and bag limit increased to 14 inches and 14-fish, as the group nearly limited-out on trout. Still, large spot, some measuring up to 13 inches, dominated the week's catch. The most consistent bite of the bigger spot was "straight out of Onancock, over shelly bottom," according to Captain Wil. Schools of croaker are spread-out and of mixed sizes, though most measure between 10 and 17 inches. Other catches include lots of porgy, some flounder and sea mullet, bluefish and Spanish mackerel.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel-

Bubba's Marina reported excellent catches of croaker in the 1 to 2-pound range with a few fish topping three pounds. Some of the best hauls are made between the Small Boat Channel and the Second Island. Weekend catches included fair numbers of cobia from the ocean buoys off Cape Henry plus some false albacore and king mackerel off Virginia Beach.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Bait and Tackle described the weekend as "beautiful," but as we spoke he stared at baitfish as they swam in his parking lot in water pushed by the extra high tides from hurricane Dennis. Weekend catches included several award-winning cobia from the buoy lines and CBBT pilings. Loraine Gousse pulled one of the heaviest, a 52 1/2 pounder, from one of the lower Baltimore Channel buoys, on an outing that produced several releases for other members of the party. Weekend wireliners scored on good-sized grey trout and keeper flounder at the CBBT. Good hauls of flatfish were also recorded at the Hump by persistent "flounder-pounders." Fair to good weekend catches of speckled trout were made inside Back River, as Emil Riss boated a 5-2 speck at the Middle Bar.

Johnny from Sunset Marina told of good recent catches of flounder at Hampton Bar, huge catches of jumbo croaker from several locations along the CBBT complex including the Fourth Island area, where James Freeman nailed a 3 1/2 pounder. Rob Lane weighed a 51-pound cobia which he pulled from one of the lower Bay buoys.

Andy Watkins from Back River Market told of big croaker "everywhere, that's all I hear," with some of the largest coming from the HRBT. Several 4-pound plus speckled trout were caught on Poquoson Flats over the weekend, "and the fishing will only get better next month," noted Andy. Out at the CBBT, anglers using live bait recorded good catches of large weakfish to over 8 pounds.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club had some memorable trips over the weekend. On Saturday, the crew aboard the ANNETTE SEA fished an ocean wreck and boated several dozen large sea bass before they motored to the Norfolk Canyon. Here, they located a line of lobster pots buoys (more likely sea bass pot floats), trolled from buoy to buoy and boated dolphin to 18 pounds. Then the group moved to the north wall of the canyon and fished the day with a good catch of yellowfin tuna. The crew aboard the BOBCAT trolled from the Fingers to the Norfolk Canyon and caught yellowfin tuna and false albacore, noting most of their knock-downs were in 50 to 60 fathoms of water. Supplied with 2 1/2 dozen croaker, the crew on the HEALTHY GRIN live-baited the Chesapeake Light Tower on Sunday, where their baits were quickly inhaled by jack crevalle and amberjack but not before several were cut-in-two by barracuda. In the Bay, puppy drum to 22 inches were biting at Poquoson Flats, where a gold Johnson Silver Minnow was the hot bait for Dave Moss. The crew on the TUNA TRACKER found plenty of hungry Spanish mackerel in the rips around the Fourth Island and along the York River entrance channel. Apair of club members fishing the East River (Mobjack Bay) boated seven speckled trout up to 5 1/4 pounds.

Virginia Middle Bay-

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported mixed schools of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues at Smith Point Bar, as many anglers returned with limit catches. Other recent fishing activity was sparse, according to Roger, "everybody been trolling for the mackerel."

Dan from Smith Point Marina also told of abundant schools of Spanish mackerel and bluefish around Smith Point Light, adding that fair numbers of school rockfish were mixed in with the blues and macs. As for bottom fishing, croaker remain plentiful "all-over, from the jetty on out," plus fair numbers of pan trout and a few flounder were boated over the weekend.

Jerry Thrash at Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service said a cooler full of croaker was still "no problem" but spot fishing "was iffy the past several days." Trollers working from Horn Harbor out to the Cell reported abundant schools of Spanish mackerel. Local anglers also scored on cobia, with one party claiming as many as five fish. Best action was on the buoys along Cut Channel and those near Wolf Trap Light. Anglers working the grass beds off Hole-in-the-Wall recorded decent catches of puppy drum plus a few speckled trout. Flounder fishermen had a disappointing weekend, as Jerry described that fishery as "just plain slow."

Beth Thompson from Locklies Marina said spot fishing was good over the weekend and even had a boat out Monday that returned with a respectable catch. Some of the better catches were made off White Stone, where a few croaker were also caught and around Parrots Island in 30 feet of water.

Garretts Marina described weekend bottom fishing as "just fair" but added that the croaker being caught were generally good-sized. Buoy 19 was the favored location. Catches here included some spot. The spokesman added that the waters off the Lively Airport near buoy 8 held schools of pan trout.

Capt. Jim Thompson described the spot bite on the middle Rappahannock as "spotty," noting that the most consistent action was at Butlers Hole early in the week but catches "fell-off" by the weekend. Weekend anglers found better bottom fishing in the Bay, off Gwynn Island, where catches included spot, croaker, pan trout. Good hauls of croaker were also recorded off Windmill Point and behind Sting Ray Light. Weekend trollers scored off Indian Creek on Spanish mackerel and some snapper blues.

Virginia Beach-

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported good weekend catches of yellowfin tuna and dolphin plus a decent showing of billfish on the offshore grounds. School king mackerel are showing consistently on many of the inshore lumps, wrecks and reefs. The headboat fleet enjoyed excellent hauls of large croaker on trips to the lower Bay while good numbers of sea bass plus increasing numbers of flounder were boated on the inshore wrecks and reefs.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina also spoke of "real good" offshore fishing for dolphin and, to a lesser extent, yellowfin tuna. Most of the recent action has centered around the Norfolk Canyon area. Billfish catches were less than expected but the majority of those landed were blue marlin. The crew aboard the ANA LEE released a pair of blues on Saturday.

Virginia Piers-


A recording indicated the pier would be closed Monday and Tuesday (due to hurricane Dennis).

Buckroe Beach-

No answer.


No answer.


The pier was open and people were hauling in spot plus some speckled trout and puppy drum on Tuesday. Weekend catches were not as productive, though spot were still the dominant catch.

Virginia Beach

The pier was closed Monday and Tuesday but a spokesman said decent catches of spot and sea mullet were made over the weekend. Several 18-inch plus puppy drum and three 28-inch plus striped bass were decked last week.


No answer.

Outer Banks, NC-

Prior to the weekend, a strong run of spot developed along the Nags Head area beaches and piers, as the fish bit throughout the day. Pier anglers found willing schools of Spanish mackerel and snapper blues at the ends of the piers on the early morning tide. Several cobia were decked through the week--the largest was a 68 pounder at Kitty Hawk Pier. Anglers fishing the Kitty Hawk Pier also enjoyed a good run of puppy drum on Tuesday. Snapper blues were reported along the north side of Oregon Inlet early and again late in the day prior to the weekend. Sheepshead, small black drum and grey trout were caught around the pilings of the Oregon Inlet Bridge while trollers working the mouth of the inlet scored on Spanish mackerel and snapper blues.

Offshore, dolphin dominated the action through the week with only a scattering of yellowfin and a fair number of white marlin off Oregon Inlet. Similar results were reported from the Hatteras Inlet fleet except good numbers of wahoo were boated while billfish were 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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