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The Saltwater Review - May 2, 2000

Vol. 14, No. 3
by Lewis S. Gillingham


Virginia's Trophy Striped Bass season opened May 1 and will run through June 15. This special season carries a 32-inch minimum size limit coupled with a one-fish bag limit. From May 1 through May 16, anglers may possess one-fish, 32 inches or greater. From May 16 through June 15, anglers are allowed to possess two striped bass within the 18 and 28-inch slot, but one fish of the two-fish allowed during the May 16 through June 15 slot season may be 32 inches or greater. Most important, anglers must report their Trophy catch (all 32-inch or greater fish caught and kept between 1 May and 15 June) on forms available at all Citation Weigh Stations, many other tackle shops and marinas and our homepage web site (see address above). A reporting form is also enclosed in this report.

Anglers are reminded that the regulation governing Summer Flounder has been modified to comply with the Mid-Atlantic\Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Summer Flounder Plan, which mandated all states reduce their recreational Summer Flounder catch by 40%. In Virginia for 2000, the minimum size limit for Summer Flounder will be 15.5 inches, the possession limit remains 8-fish but there is a closed season of 24 July 2000 through 1 August 2000.

Schools of croaker have moved into and up the Bay as far as the Annapolis Bay Bridges. The biggest fish and fastest action is concentrated in the Bay's tributaries and in shallow water, where water temperatures have warmed into the low 60's. Coastal ocean waters remain unseasonably cool--barely nudging 50 degrees, while lower bay waters are about 5 degrees warmer.

Early results promise a lucrative fishery for weakfish will be on tap for anglers during the 2000 season. Several Citation trout (9 pounds or better) have already been checked-in and other reports indicate fair to good numbers of 3 to 6-pound fish. Anglers are reminded that a 12-inch size limit and 4-fish possession limit is in effect from May 1 through August 15 for weakfish (grey trout).

Chincoteague -

Donna from Capt. Bob's reported Four Mouths was "still the hotspot for flounder," as flatfish to nearly 6 pounds were near buoys 5 and 6. Snapper blues and weakfish are becoming more active in the same waters.

Barnacle Bill's said flounder were biting at Four Mouths, Queens Sound and at the mouth of the inlet. The shop heard of flounder to 6 1/2 pounds that were caught over the weekend but their heaviest was a 26 1/2 inch flatfish that weighed 4 1/2 pounds. The few boats that ventured offshore wreckfished and returned with good numbers of large sea bass.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported good weekend flounder action, as the weather finally cooperated. Final weigh-in for the shop's annual 10-day Spring Flounder Tournament was Sunday and the top flatfish were boated the last three days of the event. Delaware angler Beverly Dickerson took first place with a 6-6 flounder she boated at Quinby while fellow Delaware angler Ed Morgan claimed the second place fish, a 6 1/4 pounder, at Drawing Channel. Chris Moxley's 5-14 and third place flatfish was pulled from the Burton Bay Flats. On another front, the charter boat SCORPIO wreckfished over the weekend and returned with a big catch of large tautog to just over 13 pounds.

Results from Capt. Zed's annual Spring Flounder Tournament also indicated big flounder were active. Ed Morgan took first place with a 6-3 flounder and Ernie Schiflet weighed his 5 3/4 pounder, good for second place, just in time for the final weigh-in Sunday afternoon. Charles Crouse (5-11) and Ken Steel (5-10 1/2) finished in third and fourth place, respectively. The top flounder locations were the flats at Swash Bay and the Hummocks.

Cape Charles -

Chris' Bait and Tackle described weekend flounder action out of the seaside port of Oyster as sporadic at best, noting that flounder were beginning to bite off Cape Charles. Croaker have arrived off Cape Charles and decent catches were recorded around Plantation Light and over the mussel beds located near "old" C-10. Anglers fishing from the public pier at Kiptopeke found a pleasant mixture of croaker, trout and flounder.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported croaker to nearly three pounds have "come on strong" in the Onancock area. Anglers fishing the shallow grassy shorelines and creek entrances are scoring on speckled trout and a few puppy drum while flocks of gulls mark active schools of pan trout and striped bass in Pocomoke Sound. Other reports indicate several large black drum have been captured on rod and reel.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported flounder were biting along the Baltimore Channel and at the 8 MP, while tautog were available around the rocks of the Third Island.

John from Bubba's Marina told of decent catches of flounder between the Third and Fourth islands, where schools of pan trout have arrived. The HRBT was producing good numbers of grey trout to 6 pounds, while croaker were "in thick" on the lower Bay. A solitary 32-inch striper was checked-in Monday, opening day of the Spring Trophy season and John suspected the action would improve as the fish were located.

Dr. Jim Wright said "reliable sources" indicated a red drum was boated at the 12 MP and two cobia were caught at Latimer Shoals over the weekend. Dr. Jim went on to say flounder to 5 pounds were landed inside Lynnhaven Inlet, at Long Creek, right in front of the newly completed Long Bay Point Marina. He also indicated pan trout had arrived at the CBBT complex.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina checked-in a pair of citation fish mid-week. Milton Buffis was fishing at Back River Reef when he boated a 9-10 tautog while John Helm of Hampton was anchored at the HRBT and soaking a live bait when a 9-9 grey trout inhaled the offering. On the weekend, anglers caught a mixture of flounder and croaker. One of the more notable catches was claimed by Scott Hall and crew, as they wire-lined the CBBT for flatfish.

Johnny at Sunset Marina said flounder, some jumbo croaker and a few trout were caught at Thimble Shoal Light over the weekend.

Vanasse Bait and Tackle said anglers drifting off Factory Point from the #10 buoy back to Langley were catching some flounder while tog were biting at the Back River Reef site and rock outcroppings located off Grandview. Other reports indicate speckled trout are biting at Poquoson Flats and Fort Monroe held some big croaker which are biting best in the evenings.

Salt Ponds Marina had a party of anglers come in Monday with a cooler full of trout--the heaviest reportedly scaled 12 pounds, but the gentleman did not opt for a Citation, nor would he indicate where the fish were caught.

A & S Feed and Bait Supply reported steady action for croaker in the Gloucester section of the York River. Anglers fishing from the public pier located at the base of the Gloucester Bridge are sharing croaker catch.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club reported fair catches of yellowfin tuna in the 35 to 40-pound range out of Oregon Inlet and Hatteras Inlet. Club member Michael Hudgins nailed a 6-15 speckled trout inside Mobjack Bay while other members found tog, gray trout, flounder and school stripers at the Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT. One angler even caught a red drum and a pollack while fishing the northern section of the CBBT on Monday, May 1. Other reports indicate grey trout to 6 pounds have also arrived at the HRBT.

Virginia Middle Bay -

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported weekend trollers caught striped bass "up north," in Maryland waters just above buoy 65. Roger added that croaker were still holding local waters with best catches coming from near the shorelines in shallow waters and from around the shallow bars marked by Wicomico Light. A few taylor blues are beginning to show in the local pound nets.

Don from Smith Point Marina described the first week of Maryland's Spring Striper season as "fair," but added that everyone who fished had "one or two." Most of the stripers ranged from 30 to 35 inches but a few larger fish to 44 inches were reportedly landed. Don also told of excellent bottom fishing for croaker in local waters and a strong showing of large pan trout in the vicinity of the Target Ships.

Locklies Marina reported good catches of croaker plus a scattering of trout to 22 inches and some jumbo spot-one of which reportedly weighed 1 1/2 pounds!

Garretts Marina also indicated some large spot had moved into local waters, though the focus remains on croaker, as good hauls were recorded from the marina down to Jones Point.

Captain Jim Thompson at Windmill Marina said Sunday and Monday produced a consistent bite of croaker off Urbanna. Many of the fish measured between 15 and 17 inches but fish from 1/2 to nearly 2 pounds were caught.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the headboat fleet returned with excellent catches of large sea bass from various inshore ocean wrecks in recent days, with a 5-9 citation-winner checked-in Wednesday. One of the boats fishing at one of the Triangle wrecks spotted schools of chopper blues and several were boated while the vessel lay at anchor over the wreck. Inside Rudee Inlet, flounder and puppy drum are being caught with the best action generally coming around high tide.

Paula Owens from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said the charter fleet remained at the dock the past week but she expects some of the fleet will fish this coming weekend. Other reports indicate deepwater ocean wrecks are still holding good numbers of large and jumbo sea bass.

Virginia Piers -

James River - Pier owner Bobby Wharton said bottom fishermen are making good to excellent hauls of croaker during the evening tide. The bite was particularly good Monday night, when a 3 pounder was decked. Anglers are also catching a few pan trout, flounder and puppy drum. School stripers are active but no "keepers" to date (May 1 through May 15 the minimum size limit is 32 inches).

Grandview - No answer.

Buckroe Beach - Daytime hours yield a few flounder while trout and school stripers are biting after dark.

Harrison - "We're tearing'em up every night," said Charlie, as schools of croaker move within casting range as the sun begins to set. Other catches include a few sea mullet, flounder and trout.

Lynnhaven - Evenings and after dark hours are producing an array of trout, sea mullet, bluefish, flounder, puppy drum and croaker, though no species was abundant. A handful of flounder and bluefish are caught during daytime hours.

Virginia Beach - Catches here include bluefish, sea mullet, spot, croaker and skate but overall action is slow. Water temperature at pierside remains a chilly 54 degrees.

Sandbridge - Overall action remains slow though a few spot, sea mullet and puppy drum are generally caught on the evening tide.

Outer Banks, NC -

Snapper blues swarmed into the surf in the Nags Head area, according to Whalebone Tackle, as surf waters warmed beyond the mid-50's over the weekend. Gray and speckled trout are still sporadically available along the surf, with the most consistent action between Kitty Hawk and Avalon. Puppy drum were caught from the banks of Oregon Inlet, though better concentrations of the juvenile red drum are found back in the sounds. Summer flounder made a decent showing at Oregon Inlet, as clearwater conditions dominated the weekend. Anglers fishing the "little bridge" to Manteo caught grey and speckled trout, a few flounder and puppy drum. Croaker remain surprisingly scarce in the sound.

Charter craft sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported excellent catches of yellowfin tuna, plus some wahoo and dolphin on Friday, when a pair of blue marlin releases were registered by the fleet. The tuna bite slowed on Saturday but a pair of sailfish were caught and released. Fair numbers of dolphin and wahoo were also caught. Sunday saw a better catch of yellowfin plus a scattering of wahoo and dolphin. No billfish were reported by the fleet on Sunday. Weekend "half-day" boats fished inside the sound, catching and releasing good numbers of striped bass at the Manns Harbor Bridge. The headboat reported mixed catches of snapper blues, flounder and pigfish.

Reports out of Hatteras Inlet indicate good catches of 40 to 60-pound yellowfin tuna plus reasonable numbers of gaffer dolphin and wahoo were made last Friday. The CAP'N B released a sailfish and the crew aboard the GODSPEED released a blue marlin. On Saturday, the fleet worked between Triple 0's and the 230-line and loaded-up on yellowfin plus a scattering of dolphin and wahoo. A white marlin was released aboard the GOOD TIME while the NO SLACK released a blue marlin. Rod Haili of Bristow, VA boated a 56-pound wahoo aboard the NATIVE SON while Frank Fortney of Centreville decked a 79-pound yellowfin . On Sunday, the tuna bite slowed, though some were boated between the Rockpile and 300-line. Other catches included wahoo, dolphin and king mackerel, as boats searched for tuna.

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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