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The Saltwater Review - 21 September 1999

Vol. 13, No. 21
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 in less than two 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.

The past week saw some of the best catches of spot this season--especially along the Western part of the lower Bay, Rudee Inlet and from the two ocean piers.

On the other hand, croaker catches have been inconsistent for the past two weeks. It is not clear whether these fish have left the Bay or just are not feeding at normal levels. I suspect it is a combination of both factors.

Flounder appear to be one of the species most affected by the past two storms. A few nice fish were boated recently but overall numbers are far less than expected for mid to late September.

Speckled trout, red drum and weakfish have all provided brief flurries of action recently, despite less than ideal conditions. Expect a surge of catches of all three species as weather conditions improve and more anglers ply the waters.

Offshore, catches of yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dolphin have been surprisingly during the brief weather windows of the past ten days.


Capt. Bob's reported good catches of trout in Queen's Sound and around the bridge to Assateague Island. Some flounder were boated by anglers drifting the main channel but the croaker have moved offshore.

Barnacle Bill's said flounder catches have improved in recent days, though very few folks are fishing. Flounder, sea bass and blowfish were decked on the shop's pier while red drum and taylor blues were reported beached on Assateague Island. A lone offshore trip, produced a good haul of yellowfin tuna, dolphin and false albacore.

Tommy Daisey from Daisey's Dockside said a handful of flounder, blowfish and small sea bass were caught Saturday, as waters begun to clear. Fishing pressure has remained extremely light. Weakfish still linger amongst the pilings of the Queen's Sound Bridge. The party aboard the TWO ACES returned from an ocean wreck with a good catch of sea bass to 5 pounds.


Wachapreague Marina reported excellent weekend catches of dolphin at the Washington Canyon, as the HOBO and JANIE MAC each recorded big catches of the acrobatic fish. A handful of yellowfin tuna were also boated with one of the better catches credited to the crew aboard the SEA WITCH, who chunked with frozen butterfish at the Washington Canyon. Inside the inlet, fishing came to a near standstill over the weekend.

Captain Zed's said a party aboard the CANYON LADY pulled a good catch of sea bass from one of the inshore ocean wrecks on Saturday but the shop had no reports from inside the inlet.

Cape Charles-

Chris' Bait and Tackle Shop weighed a pair of citation-winning flounder over the weekend--one each for Stephen Smith (6-6) and Dave Barbee (6-4). Gary Seay caught and released a 49-inch red drum at the Cell and Charles Fillman released a 45-incher at buoy 36A. Weekend reports from the CBBT indicated fair to good numbers of flounder at the High Rise, though most were under the 16-inch minimum size limit.


Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported good hauls of 9 to 12-inch spot"straight off Onancock," in 15 to 25 feet of water. Some decent sized croaker still linger in area waters. Though spot dominant the catch, a typical outing produces pan trout, taylor blues, flounder, croaker, porgy, hogfish and sea mullet.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel-

Cobbs Marina reported the murky water conditions made for "real slow" fishing over the weekend. Several of the better catches were made near the end of the Little Creek jetty, where both puppy drum and sizable croaker were boated.

John from Bubba's Marina told of good catches of large spot and croaker from back inside Lynnhaven at Broad Bay. Reports ranged from fair to good for puppy drum along the marsh edges and poor to fair for flounder around the Lesner Bridge.

Dr. Jim Wright said both speckled trout and puppy drum were biting back inside Lynnhaven Inlet at Lynnhaven Bay while good-sized spot were caught at the ditch. Some big croaker still linger around the pilings of the Lesner Bridge, according to Wright, while good weekend catches of sea bass and spadefish were recorded at the 4A buoy. Moving offshore, yellowfin tuna, dolphin and false albacore were holding just north of the Cigar.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina described the weekend as "slow," saying "the water is really red, especially inside the river (Back River)." Some flounder were reported but over-all action was poor. A pair of citation-winning fish were checked-in over the weekend, as Bill McWethy boated a 5-pound speckled trout at Poquoson Flats and Ronald Williams a 5-13 sheepshead at the CBBT.

Johnny from Sunset Marina said the few who fished over the weekend returned a fair catches of medium croaker and spot. Dave Selby found some jumbo croaker at the HRBT and the largest weighed 3 1/2 pounds.

Andy Watkins from Back River Market described the water as "high and muddy" with few anglers fishing.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply told of good catches of pan trout over the weekend inside the York River at the Coast Guard docks and off Cheatham Annex. Fair numbers of croaker still linger inside the York with the heaviest weighing slightly over a pound. Spot were biting at Tue Marsh, Twin Stakes and around the mouth of the Perrin River. Jimmy said speckled trout were still biting inside Mobjack Bay--especially at the mouths of the Severn and North rivers.

Like many anglers, very few members of the Peninsula Anglers Club fished over the weekend but those that did reported reasonably good catches. A trip to the Cell produced tautog, sea bass, snapper blues and grey trout to 7 pounds for one party. Other reports indicated yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dolphin were available in the area of the Cigar. The Club will hold its annual picnic October 10, from 2 to 4 PM, at the Naval Weapons Station.

Virginia Middle Bay-

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported good action Sunday for Spanish mackerel and a scattering of 2-pound blues just north of buoy 62. Bottom fishermen working in deeper water to the south of the buoy reported mixed catches of croaker, spot and trout. Decent catches of spot were also recorded at the Great Wicomico River and Dividing Creek while chummers working "over the line" in Maryland waters reported school stripers. The protected waters surrounding the Smith Point Jetty yielded a scattering of keeper-sized flounder and puppy drum.

Smith Point Marina said boats fishing in Maryland waters scored on school stripers while trollers working near Smith Point Light caught Spanish mackerel and taylor blues.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service said waters along the western side of the Bay produced decent weekend catches despite murky water conditions. In the Gwynn Island area, good hauls of puppy drum, spot and even flounder were recorded while the Gwynn Island Reef site produced several limit catches of grey trout. Jerry said the guys working the reef site were jigging leadheads tipped with a rubbertail and a chunk of peeler crab.

Locklies Marina reported good bottom fishing for jumbo spot of nearly a pound "since Friday." The White Stone Bridge and waters off Parrots Island have been the local hot spots. A few pan trout are mixed in with the spot but the croaker have moved out of the area.

Capt. Jim Thompson said murky conditions made for slow bottom fishing at Butlers Hole and Windmill Point for the week but added that the spot that were caught were "real good-sized." Jim added that pan trout have been scarce since the passage of Floyd.

Virginia Beach-

Headboats sailing from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported nice catches of sea bass plus a few scup at the Tower Reef. Offshore, reports indicated yellowfin tuna and dolphin were available in the vicinity of the Cigar.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina reported good offshore catches of 20 to 40-pound class yellowfin tuna and false albacore plus a scattering of wahoo and dolphin for the few boats running. Best action has been on the "backside" of the Cigar in 20 fathoms.

Virginia Piers-


A surprising number of flounder were decked over the weekend which also saw a scattering of spot, croaker and pan trout.

Buckroe Beach

The weekend produced a decent bite of spot and pan trout but catches slowed by Monday.


A strong run of spot mid-day highlighted Friday's catch. Since Friday, the water has been "real red," according to the pier spokesman, and catches have been limited to a nighttime bite of pan trout beneath the lights and a few speckled trout at first light.


Friday was the day to be out on this pier as well, as bottom fishermen loaded-up on large spot plus some sea mullet. Unfortunately, the bite tapered off rapidly as the weather improved. Catches Tuesday morning included only a few puppy drum.

Virginia Beach

"Friday was fantastic," according to the pier spokesman, "we caught a little bit of everything and loads of spot." Once the wind shifted, the bite tailed off and "it has been slow since." Water temperature at pierside was a seasonal 70 degrees on Tuesday morning.


Friday was the day for spot, as bottom fishermen decked the tasty fish "two-at-a-time" for most of the day. Action has been "real slow" since than, according to the pier spokesman.

Outer Banks, NC-

Anglers fishing from the Outer Banks area piers enjoyed a strong run of jumbo spot following Floyd. Beach fishermen shared in the catch, though the really big hauls were made from the piers. Surf anglers did catch a good number of puppy drum, according to Whalebone Tackle. Chunks of shrimp or fresh mullet were the favored baits. Puppy drum, pompano and sea mullet were beached along the north shore of Oregon Inlet. South of the inlet, in the Rodanthe-Salvo area, beach fishermen reported decent catches of puppy drum and sea mullet. On the soundside, decent catches of speckled trout were recorded just north of Buxton, at the Canadian Hole.

Offshore reports have been very sparse the past week. A few boats sailing from Hatteras Inlet did fish over the weekend, boating fair numbers of yellowfin and wahoo but just a scattering of dolphin. On Monday, several sailfish entered the picture, as catches of yellowfin improved but dolphin remained scattered.

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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