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The Saltwater Review - 26 October 1999

Vol. 13, No. 25
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

OVERVIEW

This will be the last weekly version of the Virginia Saltwater Review for 1999, however, a monthly overview will be posted on the Virginia Marine Resources Commission's homepage site in mid to late November and another in mid-December.

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.

A public hearing will be held at 12 noon on Tuesday, November 16, 1999, at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to set the striped bass season for 2000. (See enclosure for details)

Striped bass are hitting at too many locations to even begin to list. Nearly all range from sub-legal (less than 18 inches for the Bay) to about 26 inches but larger fish should be arriving next month.

The fall run of speckled trout remains underway but more and more of the largest fish are showing in the main stem of the Bay. The spotted beauties could linger well into November, possibly even December if the weather remains mild.

Chincoteague-

Fishing activity is minimal in this area and it appears most shops have adopted "weekend only" hours. Typically, mixed schools of croaker and pan trout are available in the ocean within a few miles of the coast at this time of the season. Striped bass should be available along the oceanfront while the ocean wrecks can continue to produce good hauls of sea bass and tautog well into December.

Wachapreague-

Capt. Zed's reported several boats from the charter fleet fished the inshore ocean wrecks recently and recorded good catches of sea bass plus some tautog.

Cape Charles-

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported good catches of speckled trout around the mouths of several of the bayside creeks, as William Reynolds nailed a 5-pound speck at the mouth of Old Plantation Creek while other parties found the spotted fish at Hungar Creek. Flounder action was rated as fair around the CBBT, where striped bass numbers are on the rise. Tautog are biting over the mussel beds off Cape Charles, the Cement Ships and the CBBT rock piles.

Onancock-

Captain Wil Laaksonen reported "fat" school stripers are hitting chunks of peeler crab or cut hard crab. Off Onancock, mixed schools of pan rock, snapper blues and weakfish are moving through the area. Some of the best action has been along the channel edges in 35 to 50 feet of water.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel-

Bubba's Marina told of good striper action at the First and Second islands of the CBBT. Though most of the bass are schoolies, a 32 pounder and several 20 pounders were weighed the past week. A few weakfish still linger around the CBBT but better catches were reported from the HRBT, according to the shop's spokesman. The flounder bite is finally on the upswing following Irene with best action found at Latimer Shoals and east of the CBBT along the Baltimore Channel, as some anglers returned with limit catches of flatfish to nearly 6 pounds. Inside Lynnhaven, speckled trout and the occasional puppy drum provide decent action.

Dr. Jim Wright caught snapper blues, speckled trout and puppy drum inside Lynnhaven Inlet, on a mid-week outing. Moving out to the CBBT, limit catches of school-sized stripers were common plus some flounder are being caught. Offshore, king mackerel, dolphin and wahoo still linger off the Virginia Capes.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina said Harry Johnson, Jr. nailed a 7-pound speckled trout at Poquoson Flats one morning last week just before work. Other reports indicate school stripers are holding at the mouth of Back River while larger bass, up to 30 inches, are being caught at the CBBT. Some large weakfish still linger at the CBBT while the best concentrations of flounder are found east of the crossing.

Johnny from Sunset Marina said Sandra and Frank Spencer, Jr. returned from the Fourth island with a good catch of 5 1/2 to 7 1/2 pound grey trout. At the HRBT, school stripers to 26 inches are abundant but the grey trout numbers appear to be dwindling. A few jumbo croaker still linger in the area while tautog and the occasional sheepshead are pulled from the rocks at Fort Wool.

Vanasse Bait and Tackle told of steady action for school stripers, taylor blues and grey trout at the Fourth Island tube. Some of the blues weighed nearly 6 pounds. The shop also indicated that tautog and a few sheepshead were available around the CBBT rock islands.

Andy Watkins from Back River Market said speckled trout still linger on the Poquoson Flats, where school stripers are becoming more abundant each passing day.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply told of excellent nighttime action around the pilings of the Gloucester Point Bridge for school stripers and pan trout. Bigger striped bass are being caught in shallow water, along the shoreline off Timberneck Creek, on frozen peeler and fresh cut hard crab.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club found speckled trout to nearly 5 pounds at Poquoson Flats, mixed schools of weakfish, school stripers and snapper blues under birds in the vicinity of the Fourth Island and stripers to 38 inches "over the tubes." Other reports indicate the flounder bite remains subpar in the lower portion of the Bay.

Virginia Middle Bay-

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported excellent striper action in the vicinity of the Northern Neck Reef site with some of the bass measuring over 30 inches. Weakfish remain active in local waters with some of the best concentrations found just south of Wicomico Light, at buoy #1.

Don from Smith Point Marina said the charter fleet from the marina returned with limit catches of 22 to 28-inch striped bass over the weekend. Most of the boats are chumming the Target Ships or Middle Grounds, where decent numbers of taylor blues still linger. Closer to the dock, private boats using live spot are catching quick limits of school stripers around the jetties.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service said larger stripers are beginning to show with a 37-inch fish caught at Dividing Creek the largest recent catch. School-sized stripers continue to dominate the action and fair numbers of snapper blues still linger in area waters. At Hole-in-the-Wall, mixed schools of blues and rockfish are found at buoy #3 while Windmill Point Bar features schools of hungry bass. Pan trout still linger on the lower Rappahannock with some of the better recent hauls made between Butlers Hole and Stingray Point.

Beth Thompson from Locklies Marina also spoke highly of the grey trout action, saying trout to 28 inches were caught "first of the week." Except for a "lost" croaker or two, bottom fishing in area waters is "about over for the season," according to Beth.

Capt. Jim Thompson from Windmill Point Marina described the striper action as "real good" with buoy #64, Windmill Point Bar and the waters at the mouth of the Rappahannock from Windmill Point to Stingray Point holding the best concentrations of fish. Captain Jim added that anglers drifting live spot amongst the pilings of the Rt. # 3 are also taking their share of striped bass.

Virginia Beach-

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported their headboat fleet fished the inshore ocean reefs and wrecks in recent days and returned with nice catches of sea bass plus a few flounder. Offshore action was speculative, as no boats have been near the gulf stream recently due to rough sea conditions, "but we have several going tomorrow," hoping for yellowfin tuna. Boats running to the CBBT have encountered "great striper action," according to the spokesperson while waters inside Rudee Inlet still hold some speckled trout and a few spot.

A spokesman from Fisherman's Wharf Marina described offshore action as "real slow" but said boats fishing the CBBT are catching loads of school stripers.

Virginia Piers-

Harrison-

Striped bass are hitting after dark with "most folks catching their limit," according to the pier spokesman. A few pan trout are also caught beneath the pier lights. During daytime hours, puppy drum have been hitting on high tide while snapper blues are caught throughout the day.

Lynnhaven-

Pier goers enjoyed mixed catches of bluefish, striped bass and puppy drum with the best action coming after dark. The pier will go to "weekend only" hours starting November 1.

Virginia Beach-

Puppy drum to 7 pounds, taylor blues and a sprinkling of spot were caught the past week. The pierside water temperature has dropped to 62 degrees. The pier closes for the season November 1.

Sandbridge-

Puppy drum and bluefish was the call at this oceanfront pier. A recording indicates the pier will remain open at least through November and into December.

Outer Banks, NC-

Bluefish, small black and red drum, spot, speckled trout and even a few striped bass were reported from the Nags Head area surf and piers. Some of the better catches of speckled trout have come from the surf just north of the Kitty Hawk Pier while pier jockeys at Jennette's and Outer Banks pier enjoyed some of the best spot action. The north side of Oregon Inlet produced the lion's share of keeper stripers (28 inch minimum), where fair numbers of puppy drum were also beached.

On Hatteras Island, big drum hit the beach at Cape Point several nights the past week but the best of this fishery is yet to come, as waters still remain near 70 degrees. Small pompano, bluefish, sea mullet and speckled trout are also in the Hatteras Island surf.

Offshore, rough seas tempered the catches out of Oregon Inlet, as yellowfin tuna, dolphin and wahoo catches were described as "scattered."

Boats leaving Hatteras Inlet found yellowfin tuna, dolphin, wahoo and a few dolphin east of the 400-line but the hottest action was inshore, as excellent catches of king mackerel to over 40 pounds were recorded. A few sailfish still linger on the inshore grounds.

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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