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The Saltwater Review - 19 October 1999

Vol. 13, No. 24
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.

Virginia's Fall Striped Bass Bay and tributary season (excluding Potomac River tributaries--see enclosure for details) opened October 4. Season length, size and possession limits are unchanged from 1998. The Fall season 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.

Despite the unsettled weather of the past two weeks, offshore action has been surprisingly good and consistent. Yellowfin tuna remain in good supply at the Washington and Norfolk canyons with some of the best concentrations of the biggest tuna found some 70 miles SSE of Rudee Inlet. Catches also include some dolphin, wahoo and king mackerel.

Inshore, the ocean wrecks were sporting good numbers of large sea bass, king mackerel and even a few wahoo prior to the passage of hurricane Irene, as water temperatures were holding in the upper 60's.

After several weeks of "lockjaw," flounder had become interested in various offerings, including big strips of fresh cut bait, squid and large, live minnows. Some of the best hauls were recorded just east of the CBBT complex, along the edges of the channels leading into and out-of the Bay.

On the downside, the splendid run of croaker appears nearing and end, though an occasional jumbo-sized fish is claimed by the fleet working the lower Bay.


Capt. Bob's reported flounder are making a fair fall showing inside Queen's Sound where schools of snapper blues are abundant. Fishing activity at this time is minimal.


Wachapreague Marina reported good numbers of flounder "at all the usual spots" but many of the flatfish are "throwbacks," fish less than 16 inches. Offshore, yellowfin tuna remain abundant at the Washington Canyon, where most anglers have chosen to chunk rather than troll. Some dolphin still lingered prior to Irene's passage.

Cape Charles-

Capt. Jim Jenrette reported decent catches of tautog to nearly 10 pounds over the mussels beds off Cape Charles Harbor. Catches include blowfish and pigfish but the croaker appear to have departed this area.

Chris' Bait and Tackle Shop weighed a pair of citation-winning speckled trout over the weekend, as William Terry landed a 6-3 trout at Cherrystone Creek and W.T. Nottingham caught a 5-3 speck at Hungers Creek. Donovan Webb was bottom fishing at the Cabbage and caught a 1-11 sea mullet. Flounder catches were on the upswing--both in numbers and size just prior to the passage of hurricane Irene. Wanda Blythe boated the week's heavyweight, a 7 1/4 flatfish, just off the Cement Ships but many of the better hauls of flatfish were caught at or near the CBBT complex.


Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported flocks of birds are working over schools of migrating weakfish off Onancock, and anglers are "having a ball" jigging trout to 4 pounds. Good numbers of taylor blues are mixed in with the trout but very few striped bass. As for bottom fishing, "the spot and croaker are about gone," according to Captain Wil.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel-

Cobbs Marina weighed a 9-13 citation-winning flounder for Lee Williams on Saturday. The trophy flatfish was boated near the CBBT. Other customers returned with good catches of flounder but Williams' fish was the only flounder to top 6 pounds. Other weekend action at the CBBT complex included fair to good numbers of grey trout but only fair catches of 18 to 23-inch striped bass.

John from Bubba's Marina checked-in nearly a dozen citation flounder on Saturday, saying the Baltimore Channel was the top spot. John told of good catches of grey trout to nearly 9 pounds "everywhere," especially around the Second and Third islands of the CBBT and at the HRBT. Nighttime anglers are finding plenty of school stripers along the CBBT but the action slows considerably during daylight hours. Inside Lynnhaven Inlet, the speckled trout bite improved the past week while puppy drum numbers are on the wane.

Dr. Jim Wright told of a friend that was one of a party of two which caught five citation-sized speckled trout on the Eastern Shore on Saturday. The heaviest trout weighed nearly 7 pounds! Wright also told of fair to good weekend action for speckled trout inside Lynnhaven at Long Creek, "especially on the falling tide." Out at the CBBT, big grey trout received top billing from Dr. Jim, as the larger stripers have yet to put in an appearance. Offshore, yellowfin tuna remain abundant from the Norfolk Canyon down to the Point.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Bait and Tackle told of school stripers at the mouth of Back River and at the CBBT but "nothing big, yet." Wireliners trolling bucktails and anglers drifting live spot, menhaden or even porgy are catching jumbo grey trout at the CBBT. Flounder are also biting on the lower Bay in the vicinity of the CBBT, where a few jumbo croaker still linger. Donnie weighed several croaker on Saturday that just missed the 3-pound citation mark. Speckled trout were still being caught on Poquoson Flats prior to Irene while tautog were starting to bite at the Back River Reef and CBBT.

Johnny at Sunset Marina said George Huddins caught both tautog and grey trout that scaled nearly 7 pounds at the HRBT, where anglers also reported a scattering of school rockfish. Four-year-old Shawn was fishing with his dad, Lloyd Smith at the HRBT, when he landed his first striper. The pair also caught several grey trout. Johnny also had good weekend reports of flounder in the vicinity of the Second and Third islands.

Allen Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle weighed a 9-3 flounder for James White. The award-winning catch was made near the Third Island. Allen said other customers recorded good catches of flounder in the same area while nice hauls of grey trout were made at various locations along the CBBT crossing and off Factory Point.

Andy Watkins from Back River Market described speckled trout action as "hit or miss" at Poquoson Flats leading up to the storm. One angler who scored a "hit" was Collin Forehead, who boated a handsome 7-6 speckled trout. Andy also told of a decent weekend bite of flounder at the mouth of the Bay.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said speckled trout were reaching their seasonal fall peak inside Mobjack Bay--but that was before Irene. In the York River, grey trout were hitting at the Gloucester Point Bridge and up river, off Cheatham Annex but catches of spot and croaker were nearly non-existent. Chuck described the school striper action as "fair," noting that the bite will improve as the water temperatures drop.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club reported a resurgence of flounder at the mouth of the Bay and plenty of grey trout to 7 pounds around the northern sections of the CBBT complex. Richard Madison boated a pair of Citation flatfish, at 7-12 and 6-3, just east of the Third island, where other members recorded good hauls of flounder to 23 inches. Because of the holiday the prior week, this report was not published last week but one catch certainly deserves mention. On October 10, Ken Neil and party was trolling rigged ballyhoo south of the Cigar in 25 to 35 fathoms of water. The crew had already boated a large wahoo, several yellowfin tuna and a king mackerel, when a line came tight again. Neil fought fish to the boat and was astonished when the billed-fish turned out to be a small swordfish. The rare catch was quickly tagged, photographed and released.

Virginia Middle Bay-

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported chummers recorded limit catches of school stripers at buoy 62 and near the #1 buoy at the mouth of the Rappahannock River. A few larger bass, up to 30 inches, have begun to show in the chum slicks. Trollers are also catching striped bass--especially when they locate a surface feeding school. On the downside, nearly all the larger spot and croaker appear to have departed area waters.

Don from Smith Point Marina said a pair of citation-winning speckled trout were weighed at the marina the past week. Both fish were boated at the Tangier Target Ships on a bucktail. Even more impressive, was a 7-pound Spanish mackerel that was trolled-up near Smith Point Light. The mackerel is the heaviest registered this season by the VSWFT. Boats chumming on the Middle Grounds enjoyed steady action on stripers to 30 inches plus some bluefish of nearly 5 pounds. For anglers fishing the "jetties" or the rocks around Smith Point Light, a live spot was a sure ticket to a 20 to 24-inch bass, though several puppy drum were also caught.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service said stripers in the 18 to 22-inch range became a predictable catch early and late in the day at Smith Point Bar and Hole-in-the-Wall at buoy #3. Jerry added that a few larger bass were hooked on the northside of Smith Point Bar. Anglers working over the Cell or around the rocks at Wolftrap Light enjoyed nice catches of grey trout to 5 pounds. Speckled trout provided good sport just south of Hole-in-the-Wall, Ware Point, north of Horn Harbor and around the artificial oyster reef in the Piankatank River.

Beth Thompson from Locklies Marina said a few jumbo spot still linger in local waters prior to the passage of hurricane Irene, as Frizgerald Johnson (17 ounces) and James Johnson (18 ounces) each boated citation-winning spot last week. Both fish were caught near the Rt. #3 bridge, off White Stone but on separate trips. Some pan trout up to 18 inches linger in the same area.

Virginia Beach-

The headboat fleet sailing from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center recorded excellent catches of large sea bass plus a scattering of flounder over the inshore ocean wrecks. Bluewater action was rated as "excellent" leading into the weekend and the arrival of hurricane Irene.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina reported several of their boats have been making the 70-plus mile trip to below Triple 0's for "buffalo-sized" yellowfin tuna. The boats are chunking with frozen butterfish and catching a limit of 40 to 60-pound fish in less than two hours! Boats that have for-gone the long trip found good numbers but smaller yellowfin, wahoo and a few scattered dolphin near the Norfolk Canyon.

Virginia Piers-


A strong run of spot developed Friday night but it has been a steady diet of school stripers and puppy drum for anglers since Friday.


Half-pound spot, school stripers and puppy drum to 27 inches have been hitting on the late afternoon tide. An occasional jumbo croaker has been decked.

Virginia Beach-

Striped bass and puppy drum provide the bulk of the action with spot, flounder and trout occasional catches.


A recording indicated the pier hours were 5:30 AM to 10:30 PM but no fish were included in the report.

Outer Banks, NC-

A mixed bag of flounder, pompano, spot, snapper blues, Spanish mackerel, puppy drum, sea mullet and speckled trout was available along the Nags Head area beaches coming into the weekend but the approach of hurricane Irene halted the bite in most cases. Joe Monroe beached a huge 6-14 speck just north of Kitty Hawk Pier while puppy drum were consistent performers from Kitty Hawk down to Hatteras. Victor Gurganious decked a 29-pound king mackerel on the Avalon on Tuesday and on Wednesday the Kitty Hawk saw a strong run of spot. Speckled trout and puppy drum were biting in the sound, west of the Oregon Inlet Bridge and just inside Hatteras Inlet. Again, all this was prior to Irene.

The bluewater fleet sailing from Oregon Inlet continued to enjoy some of the best yellowfin tuna action of the season--the fish were large, aggressive and relatively close to shore. Most of the tuna weighed from 30 to 60 pounds and limits were often boated in under 90 minutes of fishing. Best action was often a mere 30 miles east of the inlet, where most of the fleet chose to chunk with frozen butterfish.

Out of Hatteras Inlet, the fleet concentrated on a decent early fall run of king mackerel. Some blackfin tuna and wahoo were also part of a typical day's catch, as well as a scattering of dolphin and sailfish. On Saturday, Tim Sterling of Richmond decked a 34-pound king aboard the RELEASE.

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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