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The Saltwater Review - May 16, 2000

Vol. 14, No. 5
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.

Big black and red drum are reaching their seasonal spring peaks in 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).

Chincoteague -

Donna from Capt. Bob's reported excellent catches of weakfish to 28 inches, taylor blues and flounder at Four Mouths, Queens Sound and Black Narrows. Tautog still linger on the inshore ocean wrecks, though sea bass are more plentiful. Joe McCowski checked-in a 12-6 citation-winning tog early in the week.

R & R Boat Rental told of good flounder action at Queens Sound flats and in the shallows at Black Narrows. Taylor blues are becoming a dependable part of a day's catch.

Barnacle Bill's said flounder, trout and taylor blues were biting at Queen's Sound and Four Mouths.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported flounder continue to bite but many anglers are focusing on the seaside run of black drum and bayside run of red drum. Kate Evans (51 inches), Derrick Morgan (48 inches), Winter Cullen (45 inches) and Brett Lewis (45 inches) all earned red drum release awards the past week.

Capt. Zed's told of keeper flounder at Green and Drawing channels while black drum, weakfish and even a few keeper stripers were boated on the shoals around the mouth of the inlet. Outside the inlet, both tautog and sea bass are available over the ocean wrecks.

Cape Charles -

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported a fantastic bite of black drum the past several evenings just off Kiptopeke Beach, as the shop wrote dozens of release Citations for black drum over 44 inches. Buoys 13 and 16 have been the favored locations with fresh sea clam the preferred bait. For red drum, 9-Foot Shoals was the suggested hotspot with the after dark hours considered the prime time. Peeler crab or fresh cut fish are the preferred baits. Other action off Cape Charles include a steady bite of medium to large croaker and "easy limits" of pan trout. Steve Dunn was fishing an ocean wreck off Oyster when he landed Citation togs of 9 1/2 and 10 pounds.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported excellent catches of croaker and weakfish plus a scattering of spot off Onancock. Some of the croaker weigh nearly 3 pounds while the trout run up to 6 pounds. The spring run of speckled trout and red drum is well underway with speckled trout to over 7 pounds weighed and red drum estimated to 60 pounds released. Black drum in excess of 80 pounds have been reported and a few "trophy" stripers to 30 pounds have been caught.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Ruth Cobb from Cobbs Marina reported some nice catches of flounder and trout at the CBBT complex but "no citations" the past several days. Bottom fishermen are also catching pan-sized croaker just outside the Little Creek jetties.

Bubba's Marina also told of good catches of both flounder and trout at the CBBT, adding that tautog were still active around the rock islands and at Cape Henry Wreck. The most recent "hot ticket," however, has been the black drum bite at the Cabbage Patch.

Dr. Jim Wright traveled to the Outer Banks and fished with Captain Norman Miller out of Ocracoke Inlet for red drum. The party fished "right in the suds" and quickly caught nearly a dozen drum ranging in size from 25 to 40 inches. Motoring to slightly deeper water and "sight-casting" custom jigs to pods of moving drum, the crew caught and released a 44 1/2 and 45-inch drum. Closer to home, Dr. Jim said the trout bite at the CBBT's 12 MP and HRBT was excellent.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina told of red drum around Fisherman and Smith islands, black drum at the Cabbage Patch and around the Second and Third islands and loads of grey trout "all along the CBBT and HRBT. Good-sized croaker were biting "in all the rivers" and off Grandview and Buckroe beaches. Flounder remain available at the mouth of Back River and off Fort Monroe.

Sunset Marina reported decent catches of flounder and loads of pan trout at buoy 14.

Allen Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle told of good catches of large trout to 7 pounds at the CBBT islands and off Grandview Beach. Large pan trout were also caught at the 12 MP while striped bass and taylor blues were hitting at the Third and Fourth islands. Allen rated flounder action as just "so-so" but said the croaker bite was strong around Fort Monroe.

Mark at Salt Ponds Marina said a mixture of trout and flounder were caught at Thimble Shoals and the CBBT.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply told of "real good catches of croaker all over the York" with the mouth of the river, the Lump and off Cheatham producing the best hauls. Pan trout were mixed in with the croaker in the deep hole off Cheatham while the spring run of the speckled trout was still underway in Mobjack Bay. Wayne Smith (6 1/4 pounds) and Donnie Smith (5 pounds) each boated citation-winning specks near the East River while Gordon West had a pair (6-6 and 5-11) at Ware Point.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club reported a mixture of speckled trout, striped bass, taylor bluefish and puppy drum on Poquoson Flats while good-sized grey trout were available at the Back River Reef site, the CBBT and HRBT. Across the Bay, black drum are biting near buoys 13 and 16 (off Kiptopeke) while red drum are caught at 9-Foot Shoals.

Virginia Middle Bay -

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware said "the croaker just keep on coming," as waters just south of buoy 62 and the N2 buoy hold the best concentrations of fish. A few pan trout are mixed in with the croaker. Anglers chumming with ground menhaden are taking some striped bass at the Northern Neck Reef site. Snapper blues are holding around Smith Point Light and a few keeper flounder were taken around the jetty.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said most of the charter fleet returned with limit catches of striped bass over the weekend. Buoys 62, 72 and 75 were the top locations. The Little Wicomico was loaded with good-sized croaker, according to Dan, while pan trout to 20 inches have arrived at Blackberry Hang.

Locklies Marina said schools of 14 to 17-inch croaker were holding at the Silos and off the old Pickle Factory, where catches include pan trout to 20 inches. Spot are showing increasingly while the season's first keeper flounder were boated over the weekend.

Garretts Marina had plenty of croaker with most in the 10 to 16-inch range but a few measured 20 inches. Spot and white perch remain scarce. Best catches of croaker have come from the waters between the power lines and Morratico Bar.

Capt. Jim Thompson reported excellent catches of croaker at Butlers Hole and buoy 7, located at Sturgeons Bar. Captain Jim said waters from Towles Point to Weak's flats produced a good croaker bite on the change of tide. The croaker range from pan-sized to nearly 3 pounds. A few keeper flounder and some #2 spot were mixed in with the daily catches last week.

Virginia Beach -

Virginia Beach Fishing Center said their headboats are wreckfishing and catching sea bass while most 6-pack charters are running to the CBBT for striped bass. A few chopper blues were reportedly taken offshore.

Paula Owens from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said ocean waters off VA Beach remain cool which means anyone searching for tuna needs to a make long run well south of the Cigar. One charter boat ran down to the Triple 0's but managed just a single yellowfin and that was boated "well overboard." Most of the charter fleet is concentrating on the spring striped bass season and fishing the CBBT complex with excellent results. Paula added that the Cape Henry wreck site produced several citation-winning tog to 12 pounds last week.

Virginia Piers -

James River -Croaker continue to dominate the catches, with best action coming near or after dusk. School stripers and pan trout are holding around the pilings and beneath the pier lights after dark. Taylor bluefish have arrived and provide brief periods of action.

Grandview - A decent run of flounder highlighted the action, as large croaker became scarce while small and medium-sized fish remained fairly abundant. Other catches included sea mullet and silver perch with a fair showing of speckled and pan trout in the evenings.

Buckroe Beach - Flounder made a reasonably strong showing, as did snapper bluefish. Several Spanish mackerel were decked, along with some croaker and good-sized sea mullet. Pan trout are holding beneath the pier lights after dusk

Harrison - The croaker bite has been "off and on" recently, according to the pier spokesman but is usually "on" in the late evenings and after dusk. Other catches include a few keeper school stripers, sea mullet and pan trout.

Lynnhaven - Good-sized sea mullet, pan trout and a few flounder were caught over the weekend. Since Monday, several keeper stripers have been decked.

Virginia Beach - The pier spokesman rated the action as only "fair," saying "the water has to warm up before the fishing will get better." Catches included snapper bluefish, sea mullet and pan trout. Water temperature around the pier pilings was a cool 62 degrees.

Sandbridge - Anglers enjoyed mixed catches of taylor bluefish, sea mullet and spot the past several days.

Outer Banks, NC -

Snapper bluefish dominated the action along the Nags Head area beaches and piers, where catches included both species of trout, sea mullet and small croaker. The north and south sides of Oregon Inlet have been the bluefish hotspots, where few Spanish mackerel and puppy drum were also beached by shorebound anglers. Puppy drum and a few speckled trout were caught back inside the sound. Boaters working the shoals just outside the inlet are catching good numbers of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues. Several cobia were reportedly boated just south of Oregon Inlet and many sightings were reported.

The fleet sailing from Oregon Inlet registered good catches of yellowfin tuna the past several days. Most of the tuna ranged from 15 to 35 pounds but a few tipped the scales at nearly 70 pounds. Daily catches also include scattered dolphin and wahoo. Most of the fleet has been fishing near the Point and south, towards Diamond Shoals.

Out of Hatteras Inlet, Friday witnessed over a dozen billfish caught and released by the fleet while gaffer dolphin dominated the coolers back at the docks. Yellowfin tuna and wahoo were "scattered." On Saturday, the RELEASE returned with a 501-pound blue marlin. Again, gaffer dolphin dominated the "meatfish" catch. Sunday's seas were very rough and the fleet remained tied to the dock. On Monday, boats that fished offshore returned with dolphin, yellowfin and wahoo while the inshore fleet found good numbers of taylor bluefish 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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