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 http://www.state.va.us/mrc/recreational.htm, the e-mail address is email@example.com , the FAX number is (757) 247-2264.
Cobia have arrived in the Bay with the Bluefish Rock area, located off Grandview, the early season hot spot. Several fish in excess of 70 pounds were boated in the past week with the largest scaling 89 1/2 pounds!
Likewise, spadefish have burst on the scene. The top early season spots have been the CBBT islands, the Cell, buoy 36A and the Tower Reef. Unquestionably, the Tower Reef area holds the greatest concentration of fish at present but most of the citation-winning fish boated thus far were caught inside the Chesapeake Bay.
Donna from Capt. Bob's reported the season's first mako shark, a 109 pounder, was boated by the crew aboard the MISS LINDA. The submarine wreck site produced an impressive haul of tautog for Melvin Keith and his partner with Melvin boating the heaviest at 17 pounds. Inside the inlet, the flounder and trout bite slowed with the unsettled weather but some catches were still being made by the persistent, as Bill Lubking boated a 7 pound flatfish at Queens Sound.
Bill Robbins at R & R Boat Rentals said flounder were biting at Queens Sound and Black Narrows flats with "some catching their limit when the wind is howling." In addition, blowfish, trout and sea bass are part of a typical day's catch.
Barnacle Bill's suggested Queens Sound flats for flounder, "that's where our charter fleet has been fishing the past several days." Some pan to medium-sized trout are caught in the same waters. Dave Truax was drifting the inlet on Sunday when he nailed an 8 1/2 pound trout. But the most impressive catch of the week, a 365-pound thresher shark, was made by Vickie Guditus of Falls Church aboard the SHAMMY. The catch was made in 30 fathoms and the big shark took over 4 hours to bring to the boat.
Wachapreague Marina reported black drum, striped bass and weakfish are biting at the inlet while flounder are still available at Green and Drawing channels. The crew aboard the HOOK'M boated a small mako and released several blue sharks on an offshore trip.
Capt. Zed's also told of good catches of trout, drum and flounder at the inlet, adding that flounder were also hitting over the flats located on the backside of Cedar Island. Some reports indicated that tuna had been caught offshore but these could not be verified.
Cape Charles -
Chris' Bait and Tackle reported a run of big spadefish the past week, as the shop checked-in half-a-dozen citation-winning fish. Rob Headley boated the heaviest, a 9-13 specimen, at the Third Island. Other citation spadefish were caught around buoy 36A. Several large red drum were registered for release citations, including a 50 incher by Richard Rose. His fish was caught off Fisherman's Island but others were captured at 9-Foot Shoal. The black drum bite tapered off the past week--possibly a result of all the suspended grass and cooler weather. Steve Bell registered the lone release black drum citation of the week, a 48-inch fish which was caught at Latimer Shoals. Gary Seay boated a nice 9-2 grey trout at the Cell. Croaker continue to provide steady action for bottom fishermen off Cape Charles but these fish have yet to appear in numbers on the seaside.
Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported the weekend blow "spread the fish out" from their usual haunts off Onancock. Still catches include croaker to over 3 pounds and weakfish of over 9 pounds. Some jumbo spot are mixed in with the croaker. One member of Capt. Wil's party on Monday decked a spot which measured 12 inches! Unfortunately, the fish was never weighed but likely it was over a pound. A few flounder are showing, mainly along the channel edges. The spring red drum bite has slowed considerably but speckled trout still linger along the grassy shorelines.
Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -
Cobbs Marina reported anglers are catching grey trout, flounder, school stripers and tautog around the CBBT islands.
John from Bubba's Marina said flounder catches were off over the weekend due to the weather but expected the flatfish to rebound as the weather improved. Spadefish have exploded and are "all over," according to John. One of the best concentrations has been the Tower Reef area, where one party had 40 on Sunday, despite less than ideal sea conditions. John added that large weakfish are still hitting at the Third and Fourth islands while several cobia were caught over the weekend off Buckroe Beach.
Dr. Jim Wright said there were literally "thousands of spadefish" at the Chesapeake Light Tower, where the season's first amberjack have also appeared. On a recent outing aboard the THERAPY, Wayne Seymour weighed the biggest spadefish at 8 3/4 pounds but several other fish were "nearly as big," according to Wright. At the CBBT, the crew had big croaker jumping on wire-lined bucktails meant for striped bass and trout at the Third Island.
Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Marina said Sam Llewellyn of Hartfield, VA weighed the biggest cobia of the week, a mammoth 89 1/2 pounder! The award winning catch was made off Grandview Beach. Several other citation cobia were checked-in over the weekend, most notably Bruce Goble's 82 1/2 pounder, which was also boated off Grandview Beach. Donnie also told of excellent catches of spadefish at the Tower Reef, good catches of grey trout to 6 pounds at both the HRBT and CBBT and fair to good hauls of flounder at the mouth of Back River, Back River Reef and the CBBT. Donnie said that speckled trout still linger in the grass beds on Poquoson Flats.
Johnny from Sunset Marina said customers caught large trout to 8 pounds and jumbo croaker at the Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT. Closer to port, anglers working the Hampton Bar and just off the Newport News Shipyard piers registered good hauls of flounder.
Vanasse Bait and Tackle said many of their regular customers were stricken with "cobia fever," as several fish in excess of 70 pounds and up to nearly 90 pounds were boated the past week. Bottom fishing for flounder, trout and croaker was described as "very good" with the waters off Factory Point and out to the #5 buoy one of the more consistent spots.
Salt Ponds Marina said the weekend was slow overall, due to the weather but the few who fished managed a mixture of croaker, flounder and trout.
Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said bottom fishing for croaker remains very good in both the York River system and Mobjack Bay. Some speckled trout are still being caught inside Mobjack Bay but the bite has slowed considerably in the past 10 days. Back on the York, pan trout to 16 inches are hitting chunks of peeler crab at the lump and flounder are caught in the Yorktown area, where school-sized striped bass are available along the shoreline.
Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club caught and released red drum while trolling spoons along the oceanside of Fisherman's Island (Richard Bartlett, 45 inches) and anchoring and live-baiting at 9-Foot Shoal (Chris Byrns, 47 inches). Robert Allen and his crew continue to fervently wireline the CBBT and report plenty of striped bass to 31 inches. Other reports indicate yellowfin tuna have moved off the Virginia coast and were caught just SE of the Cigar in 500 to 1000 fathoms of water on Sunday.
Virginia Middle Bay -
Heidi Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported a 37-pound red drum was boated at one of the Target Ships Sunday while the group was busily catching grey trout to 6 pounds. Croaker continue to be the dominate catch with fish biting "all over," according to Heidi, though some of the best hauls are coming from Blackberry Hang and from around the Great Wicomico Light. School stripers are holding at buoy 62 and around the green can buoy located off Smith Point.
Dan from Smith Point Marina said the charter fleet was chumming for school stripers in the vicinity of buoy 62 and were catching limits of rockfish in just a few hours (or less). From there, most of the fleet choose to bottom fish for croaker at Smith Point Light, where the bottom feeders were both abundant and large. Many of the croaker top two pounds and the heaviest of the week weighed nearly 3 1/2 pounds! Some large flounder have moved into the middle Bay, as Fred Jett boated a 6-10 flounder near Tangier Island. Bluefish remain unseasonably scarce.
Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service told of good catches of 4 to 6-pound weakfish at the Cell, as well as a sprinkling of small to medium-sized spadefish.
Locklies Marina reported big hauls of croaker to 17 inches plus a smattering of large spot to 13 inches. Best catches have come from the backside of Parrots Island and the White Stone side of the Route 3 bridge.
Garretts Marina described bottom fishing as "great" with 12 to 16-inch croaker by the cooler full plus some pan trout and school stripers at buoys 6 and 12.
Capt. Jim Thompson , sailing from Windmill Point Marina said the range light off Tangier Island and buoy 42A were holding loads of big croaker plus some large pan trout. Inside the Rappahannock River, Butlers Hole and waters off the Silos held the best concentrations of medium to large croaker.
Virginia Beach -
Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported excellent catches of large black sea bass were recorded by their headboat fleet on Sunday (Saturday was a "no-sail" day due to the weather). On Monday, one of their charter boats fished the CBBT for striped bass and trout and returned with a limit of stripers plus some trout and taylor blues.
Paula Owens from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said their charter fleet has been able to fish "straight out from the inlet" (about 60 miles) and catch decent numbers of yellowfin tuna and several mako shark. One boat that searched inshore for bluefin tuna had no luck at locating any fish.
Virginia Piers -
James River - Bob Wharton said good numbers of spot moved into range of pier goers on Monday but croaker still dominate the action. Striped bass are being caught in the evenings and after dark around the pilings while pan trout hold along the light-lines. Flounder are caught during the daylight hours but most are under the 15 1/2-inch minimum size limit.
Grandview - Flounder fishing was very good the past week with most flatfish in the 16 to 20-inch range. School stripers and pan trout make a fair showing after dusk, when big croaker , some topping 2 pounds, become active. Heaviest croaker of the week weighed 2-11.
Buckroe Beach - Spanish mackerel made a surprisingly strong showing during the daylight hours last week, when several small cobia were decked. Daytime hours also saw decent catches of flounder. After dusk, pan trout crowd around the pier light shadows and croaker go on a feeding spree. Jerry Jones caught and released a 46-inch red drum.
Harrison - Charlie told of good catches of croaker and sea mullet with school stripers to 5 pounds making a good showing the past three days. Bottom fishermen are also seeing a few more small to medium spot in their catches. Three small cobia were caught the past week--all three were released. After dark, good numbers of pan trout are showing around the pier light shadows.
Lynnhaven - Taylor blues have dominated recent catches. A few sea mullet and flounder are caught during the daytime while a scattering of school stripers and pan trout are caught after dark.
Virginia Beach - Anglers recorded sporadic catches of spot, flounder, Spanish mackerel and trout on Sunday. Monday saw only a scattering of spot, small croaker, pan trout and "a lot of stingrays." A 22-pound cobia was decked earlier in the week.
Sandbridge - Sunday produced fair to good action on Spanish mackerel plus a few spot and snapper blues. Action slowed on Monday and only a handful of Spanish mackerel were decked by mid-day.
Outer Banks, NC -
The weekend weather was far less than ideal, as strong NE winds prevailed for most of Saturday. Surf and pier anglers along the Outer Banks were limited to a scattering of croaker, sea mullet, black drum, puppy drum and the ever present skate. By Monday, piers featuring clean water had Spanish mackerel and blues showing around the ends of the pier, plus a few trout. At Oregon Inlet, trout action was described as "good," by Whalebone Tackle, with fish to 6 pounds. The shop also indicated several good hauls of flounder were recorded since Saturday at the inlet and speckled trout were biting over the grass beds located at the south end of Wanchese. South of the inlet, snapper blues, flounder, puppy drum and grey trout were reported.
The fleet sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center enjoyed good catches of both yellowfin tuna and dolphin on Sunday. Monday, catches were "about as good as they get," as boats had limits of yellowfin and dolphin before noon.
Out of Hatteras, Saturday saw a dozen billfish releases, including three whites for a Richmond, VA party aboard the CITATION. Dolphin fishing was very good but only scattered catches of yellowfin and wahoo were reported. Eddie Marsh and a group from Hampton fished out of Hatteras on Saturday, despite the strong NE winds, and boated a big catch of gaffer dolphin with seven fish over 20 pounds and their largest scaling 28 pounds. They lost the only tuna at boatside but then weather conditions limited where they could safely fish. On Sunday, the crew aboard the SEA CREATURE released a pair of blue marlin. The dolphin bite continued to be strong with fair numbers of yellowfin, wahoo and king mackerel reported.
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