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The Saltwater Review - 18 May 1999

Vol. 13, No. 6
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



The first segment of the Virginia's Trophy Striped Bass season came to an end this Saturday, May 15. Beginning Sunday, May 16 and running through June 15, anglers may keep two striped bass within an 18 to 28-inch slot limit. New this season, one of the two-fish possession limit may include a striped bass of 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 Citation Weigh Stations, many other tackle shops and marinas and from our homepage web site (see address above). A reporting form is also enclosed in this report.

There are four ways to report 1999 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.

Prior to the weekend, black drum staged a strong showing at several Eastern Shore seaside inlets. Many of the best hauls were made out of the seaside port of Oyster.

Several locations on the lower Bay reported impressive catches of large grey trout with the biggest fish and most consistent action coming from the northern-most sections of the CBBT complex. Anglers are reminded that there is a four-possession limit and 12-inch minimum size limit for grey trout through August 15. From August 16, 1999 through April 30, 2000, the possession is 14-fish with a 14-inch size limit.

Croaker are abundant at most locations with the biggest and best hauls coming from up, inside the tributaries of the Bay. One of the few places these bottom fish are not caught in great abundance is the Eastern Shore seaside, where they are due to arrive next month.

Chincoteague -

Donna from Capt. Bob's reported good flounder action before the weekend storm but "only about one in three is big enough to keep" (16-inch minimum size limit in place for 1999). The Four Mouths area remains the most productive for flatfish. Weakfish numbers, with some individuals topping 8 pounds, are on the rise--at least they were prior to the most recent northeaster. Donna added that the inshore ocean wrecks are producing nice hauls of medium to large sea bass plus a few tautog.

Tommy Daisey from Daisey's Dockside said flounder fishing was good inside Queen's Sound before the northeaster but fishermen have been "out-of-business since."

Barnacle Bill's had no catches to report--"the whole week was slow and then the winds came on the weekend."


Wachapreague Marina reported excellent fishing during the week for trout and flounder, which came to an abrupt end Friday, as winds gusted to near 40 miles per hour during the weekend. Mid-week saw nice hauls of weakfish to nearly 7 pounds at the inlet and decent hauls of flounder at Bullshead. Val Morgan fished out of Oyster but stopped-in the marina to register a 55-inch black drum release. The huge bottom feeder was caught on a wad of sea clam. Over on the bayside, Tommy Savage nailed a 6-9 speckled trout at Pungoteague Creek. His trophy-sized fish hit a chunk of fresh peeler crab.

Capt. Zed's said in addition to good catches of flounder, several boats wreckfished in the ocean and returned with good hauls of sea bass plus some tautog. New York angler John Gavrity boated the heavyweight sea bass at 5-7 while Fred Newman decked the biggest tautog at 25 inches and 9 pounds.

Cape Charles-

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported a good bite of black drum on the seaside out of Oyster. Robert Ferris (49 3/4 inches), Scott Rittenhouse (48 inches), Chris Seay (47 inches), Dan Bell (46 1/2 inches) and Sarah Morgan (46 1/2 inches) all registered releases for trophy-sized black drum. The lone red drum of the week also came from the seaside, as David Moore beached and released a 45-inch red at Cobb Island. David Moore was drifting for flounder near the "old" 224 buoy site (out of Oyster) when he boated a 6-6 flatfish. Weekend angling was limited due to high winds both Saturday and Sunday but persistent anglers fishing the Kiptopeke Pier caught grey trout to 4 pounds on peeler crab.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel-

Cobbs Marina had only one fish to report but it was an impressive one, as Dick Smaling boated a 28 3/4-inch and 8-pound speckled trout. The citation catch was made just prior to the weekend at the CBBT on a Mr. Wiffle.

Bubba's Marina said weekend anglers were limited to the protected waters inside Lynnhaven Inlet, where some caught flounder, speckled trout and croaker. Prior to the weekend, big grey trout were hitting at the Second and Third islands.

Dr. Jim Wright was unable to fish most of the week, noting that grey trout and taylor blues were hitting around the rock islands of the CBBT but flounder action remained slow.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina described the fishing as "great up until Thursday evening," as strong winds and extra high tides combined to make fishing all but impossible. Prior to then, flounder were biting at the mouth of Back River, the Hump and the CBBT complex. Grey trout to 4 pounds were boated at the mouth of Back River while croaker "must be knee-deep" inside the river. Speckled trout are available at Poquoson Flats and the rare time conditions were "right," specks were caught, according to Donnie.

Johnny from Sunset Marina weighed weakfish to 8 3/4 pounds that were caught on live croaker at the CBBT and trout of nearly 8 pounds caught on peeler crab at the HRBT--but that was all prior to the weekend. Mid-week trips to the Bluefish Rock area produced solid catches of flounder to 23 inches. Nice hauls of croaker continue to be made at Hampton Bar.

Allen Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle said weakfish action was decent early in the week when he saw trout to 6 pounds that were boated off Factory Point. For the weekend, his only reports came from the Fort Monroe Pier, where anglers managed some croaker and flounder.

Andy Watkins from Back River Market weighed grey trout to 9-10 just prior to the weekend. Andy heard of a 17-pound speckled trout that was caught locally in a haul seine.

A spokesman from Salt Ponds Marina said a group fishing with Dr. Bob Allen on Wednesday returned with several trophy-sized stripers.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said speckled trout are "really hitting in the Mobjack," as the shop weighed several "just under" citation hopefuls in recent days. Some of the best action has been around the mouths of the Severn and Ware rivers, where anglers prefer to cast artificials rather than soak chunks of fresh peeler crab. "That's because of all the croaker," according to Chuck. These same waters are yielding some puppy drum, striped bass and croaker. As for croaker, "the York River is still loaded with them," and more pan trout are showing in the catches.

Virginia Middle Bay-

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported the hardy souls who fished over the weekend boated a quick limit of stripers and returned to the dock. Most who fished trolled the channel just west of Smith Point Light. Earlier in the week, trollers working between the Northern Neck Artificial Reef site and buoy 62 caught loads of 25 to 30-inch stripers but only a handful of 32-inch plus fish. Roger added that 1-pound plus croaker are still "everywhere" while pan trout are starting to show at the Target Ships.

Dan from Smith Point Marina said the charter fleet fished both Saturday and Sunday despite steady 25 to 35 knot winds out of the northeast, and "all who ventured out returned with limits of 32 to 40-inch stripers. Due to the wind, the boats fished close and came back as soon as they caught their fish, as most fished near Smith Point Light, trolling the waters over the channel edge. Captain Ferrell McLain said the waters around buoy 62 were productive for trophy-sized stripers before the adverse weather set in. The crew aboard the CHALLENGER enjoyed good action on stripers while chumming on Sunday. Bottom fishermen working the channel edges report loads of croaker and pan trout to 3 pounds while flounder are reported at the jetty.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service indicated flounder have begun to move into the waters surrounding the Cell and buoy 42, where good hauls of flatfish were registered on Tuesday and Wednesday. The local creeks and Piankatank River offer plenty of school stripers and croaker while decent catches of speckled trout, croaker and flounder were made mid-week at Hole-in-the-Wall. In closing, Jerry said he expects spadefish to show at the Cell sometime within the next week or 10 days, "that's when we've seen the largest fish the past two years."

Captain Jim Thompson from Locklies Marina described the croaker fishing as "fantastic" with fish running between 1 1/2 and 2 1/4 ounces. These bottom feeders are caught throughout the river but some of the best recent hauls were pulled from deep water along the western side the Rt. #3 Bridge. Mixed in with the croaker are some medium spot, pan trout and a few flounder.

Valerie Prince from Garretts Marina said bottom fishermen are coming in with coolers full of one-pound plus croaker, "even exceeding last year." The croaker are being caught "anywhere you drop a line." A few spot are included in the take but "it's mainly just croaker," according to Valerie.

Virginia Beach-

Troy at the Virginia Beach Fishing Center said the headboat fleet last fished on Friday and were out today (Tuesday). The headboats are working the inshore ocean wrecks, where sea bass commandingly dominate the catches, though a few tautog and medium-sized bluefish were decked last week.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said none of the marina's fleet fished in the past week. One boat was out today (Tuesday), fishing at the CBBT for striped bass and large weakfish. Inside the inlet, some puppy drum were caught in the past week but the action has slowed since Mother's Day weekend.

Virginia Piers-

James River-

Bottom fishermen continue to haul off heavy coolers of croaker. These tasty bottom feeders are running 1 to 3 pounds. A few spot, flounder, bluefish and trout are also being caught.


Croaker up to 2 pounds were caught even over the weekend. Prior to the weekend, flounder to 4 pounds, trout to 5 pounds and puppy drum measuring over 2-feet long were decked.

Buckroe Beach-

The pier closed Friday and Saturday due to the northeaster but reported good catches of croaker plus some grey trout and flounder before Friday.

Harrison- Flounder are biting during the daylight hours while croaker dominate the action after dusk. A few spot and slot stripers are also being caught and a 9 1/4 pound bluefish was decked on Sunday.


Sea mullet bit "all day" on Saturday, despite the strong northeast winds. Sunday and Monday saw a mixture of sea mullet and spot plus a flounder or two.

Virginia Beach- Prior to the blow, snapper blues, pan trout and medium spot provided steady, though not spectacular action. Since the weekend, a scattering of striped bass, puppy drum, sea mullet and spot was reported, "but not a lot of anything," according to the pier spokesman. The ocean water temperature at pierside was a cool 59 degrees on Tuesday.

Sandbridge- Since Sunday, anglers have decked a smattering of spot, bluefish, trout and sea mullet.

Outer Banks, NC-

It was another "blown-out" weekend along the Outer Banks though conditions were starting to improve by late Monday. Prior to the winds, Whalebone Tackle reported catches of snapper blues plus a scattering of speckled trout, spot, sea mullet and even an occasional flounder in the Nags Head area, as ocean waters had warmed to slightly above 60 degrees. Back in the sound, speckled trout and puppy drum provided good action. Davis Slough was one of the better spots for puppy drum while speckled trout were found in the deeper holes and over oyster rocks near Oregon Inlet. Snapper blues and speckled trout were reported along the Causeway to Manteo.

Moving south, anglers soaking chunks of cut bait claimed a smattering of the chopper blues at Cape Point plus some snapper blues and puppy drum. The beach from Ramp 55 down to Hatteras Inlet produced decent catches of sea mullet, snapper blues and puppy drum.

The bluewater fleet sailing the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center remained in port from Friday through Tuesday (May 14 -18) due to weather considerations. Trips on Thursday produced fair to limit catches of yellowfin tuna, good hauls of dolphin plus a few wahoo and king mackerel. The FIGHTING LADY decked a 434-pound bluefin tuna. Wednesday's catch was similar (good yellowfin and dolphin) plus several bigeye tuna to 212 pounds were boated.

Out of Hatteras, the bluewater fleet remained in port Saturday and Sunday but boats did fish Friday before and the Monday after the weekend. Friday, both the CAP'N B and the BIG EYE released blue marlin. Yellowfin, wahoo, gaffer dolphin and a few kings were caught around the 300-line, north of Diamond Shoals. On Monday, the BIG EASY and CONTENDER fished near the 230 Rocks and had a good mixed catch of gaffer dolphin and yellowfin tuna. The BIG EASY also released a blue marlin.

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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