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The Saltwater Review - June 20, 2000

Vol. 14, No. 9
by Lewis S. Gillingham

OVERVIEW

Virginia's Trophy Striped Bass season opened May 1 and closed June 15. Now that this season is over, it is most important anglers 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. 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. 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.

Cobia were the focus for many weekend anglers, as several fishing clubs staged their annual tournaments. Even without the tournaments, cobia "fever" is near its annual peak, as catches of big fish were recorded in the Bluefish Rock "area," several of the area piers and off Cape Charles to the High Level Bridge.

If it was not for the interest in cobia, big chowder clams (the favored bait for spadefish) would be at an even higher premium. It is hard to pick which fish drew the bigger crowd--cobia or spadefish. For spadefish, anglers congregated around the Tower Reef, the Second, Third and Fourth islands and several inshore wrecks and most had their hands full battling these hard pulling fish. As a reminder, there is a 6-fish possession limit for spadefish plus if an angler catches a fish 8 pounds or over, the angler is eligible for a Citation award.

Chincoteague -

Donna from Capt. Bob's reported flounder were biting in the main channel "right in front of Capt. Bob's." The heaviest flatfish of the week was boated by Maryland angler Ken O'Connor and weighed 6-2. Weakfish remain available with some of the most consistent action found amongst bridge pilings and at Chincoteague Point. Schools of hungry croaker have arrived with the best hauls coming from the Four Mouths area.

R & R Boat Rental told of decent catches of flounder at Black Narrows and pods of croaker at the inlet and along the main channel.

Barnacle Bill's annual shark fishing tournament produced "lots of mako but all of them were small." The heaviest mako to reach the dock weighed 106-pounds and was caught by the crew on board the RETRIEVER. The heaviest shark of the tournament, also boated by the RETRIEVER, was a 117 1/2 pound dusky. On Sunday, a pair of charter boats found yellowfin tuna near the 30 fathom line. Inside the inlet, flounder were caught just inside the inlet and in Chincoteague Bay, while croaker have scattered throughout these protected waters.

Wachapreague -

The big news from Wachapreague Marina was the season's first catches of yellowfin tuna were made on Saturday, as the charter boats HEAT WAVE, JANIE MAC and WHITE HOT all returned to port with yellowfin. The catches were made at the Norfolk Canyon. Inside the inlet, scattered catches of flounder and trout were recorded.

Capt. Zed's said the best weekend catches of flounder and trout were made at the inlet and nearby channels but described overall action as only "fair." Offshore, chopper blues and big sea bass are available over the wrecks but the shop had no reports of any bluefin tuna.

Cape Charles -

Chris' Bait and Tackle checked-in a pair of citation-winning flounder from the seaside, as Grace Hurley boated a 6 pounder at the S8 buoy and Robert Stainback decked a 6-11 flatfish at Ship Shoal Inlet. Also from the seaside, fishing partners Larry Holmes (102 inches) and Frank Drummond (78 inches) each scored shark releases. On the bayside, spadefish are holding in the vicinity of buoy 36A, where Dave Barbee caught an 8-11 award winner. Big croaker are abundant in the waters surrounding buoy 38A, where Carmen Dunton decked a 3 pounder. The shop also indicated cobia had begun to show on Latimer Shoals, though no citations were registered over the weekend.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters described bottom fishing as "real good" off Onancock with plenty of 2-pound croaker and large spot to 12 inches. Pan trout were not as abundant last week but nearly all run from 14 inches to 3 pounds, though Tangier Light holds bigger trout. A few black drum still linger in this area but cobia have yet to appear.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina weighed-in citation-sized flounder of 7-2 and 6-1 from the CBBT and a 64-pound cobia that was caught off Ocean View over the weekend. Earlier in the week, Lewis Bellavance registered a 72-pound cobia that was boated off Grandview Beach. The shop also indicated spadefish to over 8 pounds were hitting along the northern sections of the CBBT.

John from Bubba's Marina also spoke highly of recent spadefish catches, saying the Tower Reef and Second and Third islands were the top locations for the hard fighting fish. John added that cobia were showing at Latimer Shoals while red drum still linger on the Inner Middle Grounds. Inside Lynnhaven, spot are biting on the flats. The only negative note was the flounder bite, which was described as "slow" the past week.

Dr. Jim Wright said the evening tide produced a decent bite of red drum and cobia at the 13 1/2 MP of the CBBT. Outside the inlet, Jimmy Kolb pulled a nice catch of tautog from one of the wrecks near the Chesapeake Light Tower. Further offshore, amberjack, jumbo sea bass and chopper blues are available around the legs of the southern towers, located some 50 miles south of Rudee inlet. As for bluefin tuna, Dr. Jim had a report that at least one bluefin had been boated at the Parking Lot (off Chincoteague) over the weekend.

Wallace's Marina saw plenty of cobia the past several days. The heaviest recent catch was made by Butch Shellmaker and weighed 71 pounds. The best cobia action has been centered off Grandview Beach. Flounder action was on the upswing the past week--especially at the Third and Fourth islands, according to the shop. Largest flatfish of the week was an 8 1/4 pounder boated by Curtis Hall. The shop also indicated that spot and croaker were biting at the mouth of Back River.

Johnny at Sunset Marina said a weekend cobia tournament headquartered at the marina produced a winning fish of 61 pounds for Richard Sealey and Tommy Gilbert finished second with a 55 pounder. Both fish were caught near Bluefish Rock on live bait. But the week's biggest cobia was captured by Timothy Cook off Buckroe Beach. It weighed 75 pounds. Keith Blackburn earned a release award for cobia at Bluefish Rock with a 50-inch fish. On other fronts, flounder to 21 inches were caught off Fort Monroe, plenty of big croaker were hooked at the HRBT and limit catches of spadefish were recorded at the Tower Reef.

Vanasse Bait and Tackle told of good weekend catches of cobia off Grandview and nice hauls of croaker, flounder and pan trout off Factory Point.

Salt Ponds Marina reported several good-sized cobia and fair numbers of croaker and flounder were caught over the weekend.

Chuck Ash from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said the York River continues to produce good hauls of croaker plus some spot and pan trout. The water around the pilings of the Gloucester Bridge is holding some keeper flounder while the nearby public pier is a hotspot for croaker. Several small cobia were boated at York Spit the past week.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club recorded good catches of flounder to 6 1/2 pounds just outside the mouth of Back River and near the Back River Reef site. Spanish mackerel are also holding near the Back River Reef site. Limit catches of spadefish remain the norm at the Chesapeake Light Tower while nice-sized sea bass are found on nearby structure. Nolan Agner and his buddies boated cobia to 82 1/2 pounds on the shoals between the High Rise and Fourth Island while Michael Hudgins nailed a 52-pound cobia off Grandview. Grey trout remain available along the CBBT complex with some of the biggest trout holding near the Fourth Island. David Foreman boated a 68 1/2 pound cobia to win the Club's weekend Cobia Tournament.

Virginia Middle Bay -

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported bottom fishermen working nearby waters are loading-up on croaker plus some pan trout. Roger rated Smith Point Light as the top location, adding that spot are beginning to show. Trollers working the same area are catching plenty of taylor blues plus some Spanish mackerel. Boats willing to travel across the Bay, find large trout at the Target Ships. "The fishing (for trout) is good during the day but even better after dark," noted Roger.

Dan at Smith Point Marina said area waters remain paved with croaker to 19 inches. Charter boats running to the Triangle (Maryland waters) are catching limits of striped bass plus some pan trout. A few larger trout are being coerced from around Smith Point Light on live spot. Trollers are catching decent numbers of taylor blues plus a few Spanish mackerel while anglers drifting along the jetty caught some "keeper" flounder.

Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service checked-in a 5 1/2 pound speckled trout for Rob Rowe. The citation-winning catch was made at Ware Neck Point. The Narrows, located off Gwynn Island, and the waters near Hole-in-the-Wall are producing a mixture of large croaker, spot and flounder.

Locklies Marina said jumbo croaker were caught just outside Locklies Creek with many of the fish in the 2 to 3 pound range. Heaviest of the weekend measured 19 inches and weighed 3-2. Flounder have moved into the river, as flatfish to 24 inches and 5 pounds were boated between Parrots Island and the mouth of the river recently. Pan trout to 18 inches are holding just off Parrots Island.

Garretts Marina told of decent catches of croaker plus some spot off Morrattico.

Capt. Jim Thompson at Windmill Point Marina reported good catches of large croaker on the Eastern Shore side of the Bay from the range light down to the Cell, where cobia and spadefish are also showing but only a few flounder. Moving schools of snapper blues and Spanish mackerel are in this same area. Windmill Point is holding both croaker and good-sized spot with grey trout to 22 inches caught on Windmill Bar.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported charter boats traveling "way south" are managing a few yellowfin tuna down near the 700-line. Inshore, hordes of spadefish are holding around the Tower Reef while decent catches of sea bass are made on nearby wrecks and other structure. Headboats are also reporting good catches of croaker and pan trout on the lower Bay and near the CBBT complex.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina said a warm finger of water had moved into the Norfolk Canyon area and it held yellowfin tuna and a few dolphin. Scattered chopper blues were on the inshore lumps and around the legs of the south towers, where schools of amberjack reside.

Virginia Piers -

James River - Croaker still dominate the catches but more spot are arriving daily. Bottom fishermen are catching lots of flounder but very few keepers (15 1/2-inch minimum size). Pods of snapper blues appear during first light but disappear once the sun is up. Pan trout are hitting chunks of peeler crab after dusk.

Grandview - Good catches of flounder to 21 inches and Spanish mackerel to 4 1/2 pounds were made last week plus several cobia to 47 pounds were decked. Anglers are also catching a mixture of croaker, spot, snapper bluefish and small shark.

Buckroe Beach - The heaviest cobia of the week was a 78 1/2 pound bruiser decked by Stan Roberts. Several other cobia in the 50-pound range were also caught. Pier anglers are also catching large flounder, Spanish mackerel to over 3 pounds and "lots of pan trout after dark." Spot are becoming a dependable part of the catch.

Harrison - Charlie described overall action as slow but croaker and trout are biting after dark and a good run of Spanish mackerel developed both Friday and Saturday afternoon. Bottom fishermen are seeing good numbers of flounder but very few keepers.

Lynnhaven - Sea mullet dominate the daytime action, with only a scattering of Spanish mackerel and flounder adding to the take. After dusk, schools of pan trout swarm in the glare of the pier lights.

Virginia Beach - Spanish mackerel and snapper blues were biting "real good" on Tuesday but weekend catches were limited to a few small spot and sea mullet. Water temperature at pier side was a comfortable 73 degrees.

Sandbridge - Spanish mackerel were scarce over the weekend, as hard SW winds made for murky water along the surf line. Bottom fishermen caught a mixture of sea mullet, spot, pan trout "and a lot of skates."

Outer Banks, NC -

The weekend was dominated by strong SW winds, which nearly brought a halt on action for beach and pier fishermen, who had to be satisfied with a handful of croaker, sea mullet and spot for their efforts. Some small black and red drum were caught at Oregon Inlet and croaker and spot bit at Manns Harbor, according to Bill MaCaskill at Whalebone Tackle. Inshore boats fishing the tide lines just outside Oregon Inlet fared much better--recording good hauls of Spanish mackerel, snapper blues and a few cobia. Offshore, the fleet leaving the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center continues to limit-out on both yellowfin and dolphin and often return early.

For the Hatteras fleet, dolphin dominated the offshore catches last weekend but catches also included some 30 to 40-pound class yellowfin tuna, snake king mackerel and wahoo. One of the biggest dolphin was a 66 pounder caught by Timothy Manning of Roanoke, VA aboard the BIG EYE.

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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