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The Saltwater Review - May 9, 2000

Vol. 14, No. 4
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.

There are four ways to report 2000 Striped Bass Recreational Trophy fish. You can opt to pick up a report form from any weigh station and mail it in. Or you may choose to print or download a reporting form from the VMRC web site and mail or FAX it in. Or, download a form from the VMRC web site and e-mail it as an attachment. Or lastly, you can now choose an on-line form to send in the information. The on-line form does not work with all browser e-mail systems (such as AOL), so please keep a copy of your information in case the information does not reach the VMRC. Reports received via e-mail or on-line form will receive a reply. The web address is, the e-mail address is , the FAX number is (757) 247-2264.

Waves of big black and red drum have moved into the Bay with consistent catches reported all the way up the eastern shoreline to Saxis. As a reminder, Citation awards for either of these sought after trophy fish are available ONLY for a release (44 inches or greater).

Big grey trout continue to make a strong showing on the lower bay, particularly along the CBBT complex and HRBT. Reports indicate that some large fish have moved into the waters of the Cell. 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).

This fishing season is shaping up to be another where croaker are "everywhere," but the biggest fish fish are found up in the tributaries and often in shallow water.

Chincoteague -

Capt. Bob's reported good action at Four Mouths for flounder plus some trout. Outside the inlet, the ocean wrecks are holding good numbers of large sea bass and a few tautog.

R & R Boat Rental said flounder to over 4 pounds, taylor blues and trout were caught at Black Narrows, where some customers claimed their 8-fish limit of flounder.

Barnacle Bill's said flounder and trout were biting at Four Mouths and Queens Sound. A few smallish croaker were also boated the past week. Beach fishermen working the oceanfront of Assateague Island reported taylor blues and striped bass.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported flounder are starting to move into deeper waters and one of the more productive weekend spots was the channel in front of the Coast Guard Station. Black drum and several "keeper" striped bass were also pulled from the inlet waters the past week. From the bayside, David Hendershaw checked-in a 6-11 speckled trout, caught off Watts Island, while Barry Mears released a 48-inch red drum--also caught at Watts Island.

Capt. Zed's said Green and Drawing channels were still producing a steady bite of flounder but flatfish were also boated at Seals Creek and Bradford Bay. The ocean wrecks hold good numbers of large sea bass and a scattering of chopper bluefish.

Cape Charles -

Chris' Bait and Tackle Shop reported Ship Shoal Inlet (located on the seaside) was the weekend hot spot for flounder, as several customers recorded limit catches of flatfish. On the bayside, large black drum to nearly 90 pounds made a strong showing around buoys 13 and 16. Wendy Murphy registered one of the season's first black drum citations by releasing a 48-inch fish at buoy 13. Schools of pan trout have arrived on the lower Bay and are holding between the High Level Bridge of the CBBT complex and the Cement Ships. VA Angler Club member Dennis Cline pulled a 46-inch red drum through breakers of one of the deserted Barrier Islands and then released the fish.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen at Fish and Finn Charters reported huge schools of pan trout have moved into Pocomoke Sound. The fragile trout range in size from sublegal (less than 12 inches) up to 20 inches. Croaker provide a steady bite off Onancock, according to Capt. Wil and range in size from "pinheads' up to 3 pounds. "Plain old squid" has been the preferred bait, noted Wil. Bottom fishermen are also catching a few taylor bluefish, sea mullet and flounder. On Saturday, members of Capt. Wil's crew hooked and released a pair of large red drum. The longest measured 44 inches. "Sight-trolling" for red drum produced several impressive catches of drum, as did bait fishing the grassy shorelines between Pungoteague and Saxis. Pods of black drum have also arrived in area waters with fish to 60 pounds caught the past week.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Ruth Cobb from Cobbs Marina reported good catches of tautog, flounder and croaker. Citation catches were made by William Smith of VA Beach, who boated an 8 1/2 pound flounder at the CBBT and Joe Williams of Chesapeake, who nailed a 3-5 croaker at the Fourth Island.

John from Bubba's Marina said both black and red drum have come on strong the past week. The black drum appear to be holding around the Third and Fourth islands while the Inner Middle Grounds yielded red drum. Anglers baiting with small, live croaker are scoring on large grey trout at the CBBT islands with best action coming "early and late in the day." John added that decent catches of flounder are being made around the Lesner Bridge while sea bass are in good supply on the offshore wrecks.

Dr. Jim Wright said large grey trout were biting at the Second and Fourth islands of the CBBT and along the HRBT. Anglers soaking chunks of bait (either fresh fish or peeler crab) on the bottom after dark near the 13 MP caught some of the season's first red drum last week. Bring plenty of bait because the after dark bite of skates and rays in these same waters can be awesome. Dr. Jim added that flounder were being caught inside Lynnhaven Inlet while waters inside Rudee Inlet still hold puppy drum and a few large grey trout.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina weighed red drum from 9-Foot Shoal to 38 pounds over the weekend, as waters surrounding the northern section of the CBBT complex and the HRBT continued to produce big grey trout. Heaviest trout of the week was claimed at the CBBT by Donald Laruffa and weighed 9 1/4 pounds. Donnie added that wireliners are catching both flounder and grey trout at the CBBT. Closer to port, some speckled trout were caught on Poquoson Flats while croaker are plentiful inside Back River.

Johnny from Sunset Marina said bottom fishermen had good hauls of croaker in the 2-pound range at the HRBT while Hampton Bar held flounder and taylor blues. Grey trout catches were reported off Grandview, at Bluefish Rock, around the HRBT and along the CBBT complex.

Allen Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle also heard of red drum caught along the northern portion of the CBBT complex and "lots of croaker, from pinheads to jumbos," most of the larger croaker were caught in the James River. Allen added that several customers recorded fair catches of flounder to 20 inches off Fort Wool.

Mark from Salt Ponds Marina told of trout and flounder at the CBBT complex and around Thimble Shoals Light and tautog at Back River Reef. Bottom fishermen working around the reef site caught a mixture of croaker, trout, sea mullet and a few flounder.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply told of very good catches of large croaker plus a few pan trout on the York River in the Gloucester area, flounder around the mouth of Back River and speckled trout inside Mobjack Bay.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club gave good reports of red and black drum at 9-Foot Shoals and the Inner Middle Ground area but individual anglers found these areas populated with skate, rays, pan trout and croaker. Philip Neill caught and released a 51-inch red drum aboard his brother's boat HEALTHY GRIN. The citation catch was made on the Smith Point Flats, where the fish hit a slow trolled spoon.

Virginia Middle Bay -

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported huge schools of croaker have moved into the waters surrounding the N2 buoy and Smith Point Light, where catches include a few pan trout. Several Trophy-sized stripers (greater than 32 inches) were caught by chummers anchored near the Northern Neck Reef site but Roger indicated anglers working in Maryland waters had better success. Spot are showing in the local pound nets but no rod and reel reports have been reported.

Don from Smith Point Marina said croaker to 3 pounds were caught around Smith Point Light while a mixture of croaker and pan trout were available at Black Berry Hang. Striped bass to 32 pounds were caught over the weekend. "Nearly everybody is trolling" for the bass, according to Don. Best action has been near buoys 62, 65 and 72, around the SP buoy and at Smith Point Light.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service said croaker were "everywhere" at Gwynn Island, as bottom fishermen also decked a few flounder and trout. Jerry also received reports indicating pods of large grey trout had moved into the Cell and adjacent waters.

Locklies Marina said striped bass to 31 inches (just one-inch shy) were caught and released at the Silos, where croaker dominate the bottom fishing action. Croaker to 17 inches and pan trout to 20 inches were caught around the pilings of the Route 3 Bridge.

Garretts Marina said weekend anglers caught plenty of croaker "right out from the marina," near buoy 19. Cut squid, peeler crab and bloodworm were all productive baits.

Capt. Jim Thompson reported good weekend hauls of croaker near the #9 buoy off Waterview, Towles Point and Balls Point. Most of the croaker are running from 3/4 of a pound up to 2 pounds. Some pan trout and a few spot are also showing in the catches.

Virginia Beach -

Headboats sailing from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center found plenty of sea bass on the ocean wrecks but the action was not as torrid as the prior week, as the fish continue to move inshore and disperse. Big bluefish and even some false albacore have moved inshore but rod and reel interest remains low. Inside Rudee Inlet, speckled trout and flounder are providing decent angling opportunities as the puppy drum bite has tailed-off.

Paula Owens from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said several boats "explored" offshore but found nothing but cold water. Paula said a recent satellite shot suggested warmer water (and fish) might move into the Cigar area by the coming weekend. The marina has their first bluewater trolling trip of the season this coming Saturday.

Virginia Piers -

James River - Croaker dominate the action with an occasional "keeper" trout and flounder showing. Croaker range in size from pinhead to over 2 pounds with the best action and biggest fish taken during the late evening hours.

Grandview - Flounder are biting during the daytime with croaker and pan trout making an appearance after dusk.

Buckroe Beach - Flounder, taylor blues and a few croaker provide decent daytime action. Pan trout and taylor blues were in good supply Saturday and Sunday nights while puppy drum to nearly 7 pounds were decked Monday morning.

Harrison - Medium to large croaker and pan trout provide steady action during the evenings and after dark hours while a scattering of flounder and smallish croaker are caught during the day.

Lynnhaven - Except for several flurries of action by taylor bluefish and pan trout after dark, beneath the pier lights, overall weekend action was described as "slow." Tuesday, sea mullet moved within casting distance of the pier and provided steady action for much of the day.

Virginia Beach - Spot, sea mullet, taylor blues and pan trout provided fair weekend action. Pierside waters have warmed to 62 degrees.

Sandbridge - Taylor blues have arrived in good numbers and dominated catches the past several days with skates and a few sea mullet the only other reported catches.

Outer Banks, NC -

Pier and surf catches were dominated by taylor bluefish during last weekend, according to Whalebone Tackle. Catches also included a few speckled trout, puppy drum and sea mullet. Spanish mackerel have just arrived at Oregon Inlet and could be available in the Nags Head area by the time this report is printed.

A spokesman for the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center said the offshore action was "real good, when the boats can get out." Limits or near limits of 20 to 40-pound yellowfin have been common plus many boats are returning with 20 to 40 dolphin and a few king mackerel. Inshore, the big news was Spanish mackerel had just arrived and good catches were made Monday. Boats trolling near the inlet also caught loads of taylor blues. Cobia are due but none have been reported as yet.

Boats fishing out of Hatteras Inlet enjoyed excellent catches of 35 to 90-pound yellowfin tuna on Saturday, as many returned with limit catches. Some gaffer dolphin and wahoo were also boated. The TUNA DUCK released a blue marlin and a sailfish while the crew aboard the GECKO released a blue marlin. Inshore, big red drum were caught on the shoals around the inlet. On Sunday, catches of yellowfin were rated as good--again some gaffer dolphin and wahoo reported. The BIG EASY scored a sailfish release and the NO SLACK released a blue marlin. On Monday, the "breeze" picked-up but the "meat fishing" remained good with yellowfin dominating the catches. The crew aboard the CHAPIN nailed an 87-pound wahoo while a huge, 53-pound bull dolphin was boated on the RELIANCE. By Tuesday, the wind was taking a toll and the yellowfin bite slowed, as dolphin dominated what was brought to the dock. Inshore waters are holding a mixture of grey trout, flounder, snapper blues and Spanish mackerel.

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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