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The Saltwater Review - 8 June 1999

Vol. 13, No. 8
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

OVERVIEW

The first segment of the Virginia's Trophy Striped Bass season came to an end 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 http://www.state.va.us/mrc/recreational.htm, the e-mail address is lgillingha@mrc.state.va.us , the FAX number is (757) 247-2264.

I'm not sure the reporting stations contacted accurately reflect how good the red drum fishing has been on the lower Bay (primarily the Inner Middle Ground Shoals) as the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament has already received 462 registered releases. Of that total, 87 came during the Memorial Day week and 305 the past week! Remember, those fish only represent drum 44 inches or longer that were released.

Cobia top the list of recent arrivals into Virginia waters and fish to nearly 90 pounds have already been claimed. Latimer Shoals and the nearshore waters off Grandview and Buckroe beaches have been the favored spots.

Spadefish have arrived inside the Bay and top locations for these gamesters include the northern-most sections of the CBBT and the Cell.

Chincoteague-

Donna from Capt. Bob's weighed a pair of citation-sized flounder the past week. Jerome Meehan boated a 6 3/4 pounder at Four Mouths and 86-year-old Alnda Freeman had a 6 1/4 pounder at Queen's Sound. Weakfish remain in good supply and Donna described the current run as "the best I've ever seen." Many of the better hauls have come from Four Mouths, between markers 3 and 5. Offshore, the season's second mako shark was boated by the crew aboard REEL LOVE. The fish weighed 154 pounds.

R & R Boat Rental said flounder were being caught "right out front in the main channel," with best action coming just after low slack water.

Ruby from Barnacle Bill's said patrons fishing aboard the BUCKTAIL have been catching keeper flounder in the main channel. Offshore, the crew aboard TOOLS-OF-THE -TRADE boated a 168-pound mako. THE ENFORCER caught several mako up to 160 pounds and plenty of chopper blues at the Fingers.

Daisey's Dockside weighed an impressive 10-3 flounder for Donna Waloski. The huge flatfish was boated at Gargathy Inlet. The charter boat docked at the shop had consistent catches of keeper flounder at Queen's Sound the past week. Some of the local anglers were catching good-sized around the pilings of the Assateague Island Bridge--especially after dusk. Offshore, the shop mentioned big bluefish were caught but had no other reports.

Wachapreague-

Wachapreague Marina indicated bluefin tuna had arrived at the 26 Mile Hill, as the charter boat WHITE HOT released a pair over the weekend. Also from the offshore grounds, Arlene Bush and Tabatha Doorman each earned shark awards for catching and releasing big blue sharks aboard the HOOK-EM. The group was fishing out in 20 fathoms. On the inshore grounds, 8-year-old Victoria Savage released a 47 1/2 inch red drum at Pungoteague Creek while Pat Lattanzi earned a black drum release for a 46-inch fish off Kiptopeke.

Capt. Zed's said flounder fishing was quite good but many of the fish are under the 16-inch size limit and must be released. Still, some anglers are returning with an 8-fish limit of good-sized flounder. Ennis Shiflett, Jr. boated a citation-winning 6 1/4 pound flounder Mill Stone Creek. The same catch included other flatfish of over 5 pounds. Anglers bottom fishing with clams at the mouth of the inlet are still catching black drum and a few trophy-sized striped bass.

Cape Charles-

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported the buoy 13 area was the black drum hotspot over the weekend, as over a dozen-and-a-half release awards were claimed from this area. The shop also wrote several red drum release citations for red drum, with Jon Moore, Jr.'s 51-incher the longest. Harry Wessells, III released a 48-inch red after he pulled it through the Smith Island surf. Charles Fillmen boated a 12-13 sheepshead near buoy 16 on apiece of sea clam. The shop weighed several cobia up to 43 pounds. Bottom fishermen found vast schools of croaker at the Cabbage Patch while seaside anglers found flounder near the "old" buoy 224 site.

Onancock-

Captain Wil Laaksonen at Fish and Finn Charters reported excellent numbers of pan trout ranging in size from 17 to 24 inches. Some hand-sized spot are mixed in with the croaker. Croaker remain in good supply and most run 14 to 18 inches. Squid, cut bait and peeler crab are the top baits. Schools of taylor blues are working surface pods of baitfish early and late in the day.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel-

Ruth Cobb from Cobbs Marina reported decent catches of flounder from the CBBT complex with the best hauls coming from the northern-most sections of the crossing. Red drum and cobia are being caught on the shoals east of the Fourth Island while croaker are "all over the place."

Bubba's Marina said cobia made a strong weekend showing at the Inner Middle Ground and Bluefish Rock area. Spadefish have arrived in dependable numbers at the Tower Reef and Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT. Decent catches of weakfish in the 5 to 7-pound range (plus a few even larger trout) were made around the Second and Third islands with the best hauls recorded along the bayside of the Third Island. Anglers drifting expressly for flounder are catching fair numbers of "keepers" (flatfish over 16 inches) but loads of throwbacks.

Wallace's Bait and Tackle said cobia have taken center stage, as the shop weighed 56 cobia up to 87 pounds the past 10 days. Aryl Moody was the lucky angler with the 87-pounder, which was caught in shallow water just off Grandview Beach. Donnie added that flounder of nearly 6 pounds and weakfish to 8 3/4 pounds were caught at the CBBT complex but added "most of my crew are fishing for cobia." Roy and David Young trolled the 26 Mile Hill on Sunday, hooked one tuna but lost it at boat side and landed false albacore, a king mackerel and a Spanish mackerel.

Johnny at Sunset Marina said the shop had a surprisingly quiet weekend for big fish. A boat returning late Sunday evening had three cobia aboard--36, 40 and 56 pounds but they were the only cobia weighed by the shop. Those cobia were caught off Buckroe. Johnny added that bottom fishermen were catching plenty of nice-sized croaker, "just no citations this week." Likewise, good numbers of flounder were caught at Hampton Bar but the largest over the weekend stretched about 20 inches and "plenty were throwbacks," (fish under 16 inches).

A.D. from Vanasse Bait and Tackle heard of cobia caught from "Grandview to the mouth of Back River," which includes the Bluefish Rock area. The same waters were producing decent numbers of flounder for those drifting with cut bait or live minnows. Both spadefish and large weakfish were boated at the Fourth Island while croaker were "all over," according to A.D.

Andy Watkins from Back River Market weighed cobia to 69 pounds over the weekend. The 69 pounder was boated by Neil Insley. Some large speckled trout still linger on the grassy flats off Poquoson, as Gene Insley and James Insley each boated 5 3/4 pounders. Andy said flounder catches have tapered off but flatfish to 5 pounds were weighed the past week.

Mark from Salt Ponds Marina told of good pan trout action along the CBBT and decent numbers of cobia off Buckroe Beach.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said big speckled trout action was "about as good as it gets" just prior to the onset of hot weather, as the shop weighed "a dozen or more" citation-winning or near-misses early in the week. The best trout action came from inside Mobjack Bay, usually the mouths of either the Ware, North or Severn rivers. In the York River, croaker are being caught "everywhere" while good catches of flounder are made in the waters around the Coleman Bridge. The charter boat THREE DAUGHTERS culled a nice catch of spot while bottom fishing off Tue Marsh. Pods of pan trout are scattered throughout the York.

Virginia Middle Bay -

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported good numbers of 4 to 6-pound weakfish have arrived at Smith Point Light, the Northern Neck Reef and the Target Ships. Best catches have come after dusk on bait but daytime jigging can also be productive. Roger said striped bass catches were sluggish over the weekend but a 5-foot long sturgeon was caught and released in a chum line meant to lure striped bass near buoy 62, as were several Spanish mackerel. A scattering of bluefish in the 2 to 5-pound range were also reported, but as Roger dryly noted, with the Reedville Bluefish Derby starting mid-week, "fishermen tend to be very tight-lipped until after the tournament."

Smith Point Marina said the charter fleet caught striped bass to 34 inches at buoy 68 over the weekend. But the big news (especially to those fishing in the Reedville Bluefish Derby) was an 18-10 bluefish caught last week near buoy 62 by David Hebner. Capt. Ferrell McLain said weekend chummers working the buoy 62 area experienced a "slow pick" of school stripers but the action was better north of Smith Point. A few blues were taken in the chum lines but many more simply "bit-off" the light mono leader. Pan trout to 20 inches can often be caught on jigs worked deep the chum line.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service said both spadefish and weakfish had arrived at the Cell. Several of the larger spadefish exceeded the 8-pound minimum citation weight and the trout ran 3 to 8 pounds. The buoy 42 area holds loads of croaker but the flounder catches have been off recently. Jerry described the striper action as only "so-so," saying several of the participants in the upcoming Reedville Bluefish Derby planned to troll for stripers because chumming had been un-productive recently.

Jim Thompson from Locklies Marina said bottom fishing on the lower Rappahannock River was excellent for spot and croaker plus a decent showing by pan trout. Jim rated the waters off Parrots Island and the Silos as the best locations.

Virginia Beach-

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the headboats are returning with good catches of sea bass, croaker, trout and bluefish while the offshore fleet enjoyed excellent weekend catches of yellowfin tuna and dolphin. Bluefin tuna have arrived at some of the inshore grounds. Jennifer Faulk boated a citation-winning Spanish mackerel aboard the FOUR T''S off Sandbridge while Roderick Ryan released a sailfish aboard the CHAOS.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said their charter fleet enjoyed excellent catches of yellowfin tuna and dolphin over the weekend. Best action occurred between the Cigar and Triple 0's in about 30 fathoms of water.

Virginia Piers-

Grandview

A 33-pound cobia was landed this morning (Tuesday) and another about the same size the day before. The largest cobia to date was a 46 pounder. Bottom fishermen are "tearing-up" the croaker and pan trout after dark. A few Keeper flounder, spot and sea mullet were also reported.

Buckroe Beach

A huge 62 1/2-inch , 82-pound cobia was decked by Country Jones last Thursday. Several other lesser cobia have been landed since. Casters are catching Spanish mackerel during the day and pan trout after dusk. Bottom fishermen report plenty of croaker plus some flounder.

Harrison

Daytime catches have been limited to small croaker and flounder but around dusk big croaker start to feed and once the pier lights come on schools of pan trout swarm in the shadow edges. Several cobia have been landed in the past week but many more were hooked and lost.

Lynnhaven

Sea mullet have dominated the catches in recent days, as some anglers have been able to fill a cooler full of these tasty bottom feeders. Flounder are caught sporadically but most of those have been "keepers." A scattering of Spanish mackerel were caught recently. Early in the week the pier enjoyed steady runs of bluefish to five pounds. Pan trout are biting consistently from dusk to dawn with the fiercest action coming after dark on the incoming tide.

Virginia Beach

Spot and sea mullet provided the bulk of the weekend action for bottom fishermen while casters scored on Spanish mackerel--primarily in the late evenings. The ocean water at pierside was a seasonal 71 degrees on Tuesday.

Sandbridge

Overall action has been limited to only scattered catches of taylor blues and trout and the occasional Spanish mackerel. A cobia was decked early in the week.

Outer Banks, NC-

Surf and pier anglers enjoyed good weather and a variety of fish species, as waters warmed to near 70 degrees. Spanish mackerel were taken from the ends of several Nags Head area piers and cobia were often spotted swimming nearby. Beach and pier anglers shared in fair to good catches of grey trout, snapper blues, sea mullet, spot, croaker and even a few flounder. Surfcasters working the outside portion of Oregon Inlet caught both Spanish mackerel and snapper blues while waters inside the sound produced good hauls of speckled trout plus a few puppy drum.

The bluewater fleet sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center enjoyed some excellent tuna and dolphin action the past four days. On Saturday, yellowfin tuna and dolphin catches were rated "very good" plus a blue marlin was released aboard the SEA NOTE. On Sunday, a pair of citation winning 50-pound wahoo were caught. Yellowfin catches were "good" plus solid numbers of gaffer dolphin to 40 pounds were boated. Monday saw at least a dozen bigeye tuna return with the fleet, as well as limit catches of yellowfin and dolphin. The bigeye bite failed to repeat on Tuesday but some boats reported limit catches of yellowfin and dolphin. Inshore boats reported limits of Spanish mackerel, fair numbers of snapper blues and cobia to 54 pounds during the same time period. The headboat recorded excellent catches of croaker and pigfish plus some sea bass and triggerfish.

The Hatteras fleet saw more billfish during the four-day period of Saturday through Tuesday, more dolphin limits but fewer yellowfin tuna than their Oregon Inlet counterparts. The TUNA DUCK released a pair of blue marlin and a sailfish on Tuesday, the WAHOO two white marlin and the NATIVE SON a blue marlin. The heaviest dolphin of the day was a 49 pounder decked aboard the GOOD TIMES. Most of the Hatteras based boats worked from the Rockpile south, to below Triple 0's.

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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