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The Saltwater Review - 15 June 1999

Vol. 13, No. 9
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

Virginia's Trophy Striped Bass season came to an end Tuesday, June 15. It is most important that anglers 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.

Many anglers have turned their attention to cobia and for good reason, as the season's heaviest fish are generally caught from mid-June to early July (which also corresponds to their spawning period). Bluefish Rock and its surrounding waters produced a major portion of the week's citation-winning fish (up to 87 pounds) but this area also attracts the lion's share of the cobia anglers. Latimer Shoals and the northern-most sections of the CBBT also hold cobia at this time.

Red drum remain available at several locations including Latimer Shoals but the bite has slowed from its earlier, record-setting pace.

Large weakfish remain available along the CBBT complex, especially the northern islands but are also reported at the Cell and Target Ships.

Amberjack have debuted at the Tower Reef, where spadefish were found "from top to bottom," in recent days. Further offshore, big blues are available at the SE Lumps as well as a few bluefin tuna. In yet deeper blue waters, yellowfin and dolphin are found from the Cigar and south to Triple 0's.

Chincoteague-

Donna from Capt. Bob's saw some "real pretty flounder" in recent days but keeper-sized flatfish remain a "hard catch." Conversely, the season continues to be one of the best in memory for large weakfish. Many of the best hauls are made at Inlet View and Queens Sound--usually after dusk. Shawn Giacobble was fishing for trout with a strip of squid soaked in crab scent at the draw bridge when he boated a 24-inch and 11.7 pound sheepshead!

Harry at R & R Boat Rental said flounder fishing was decent in the main channel "whenever the wind's not blowing." Unfortunately those hoping to fish last weekend, gusty NE winds prevailed Friday and Saturday.

Barnacle Bill's said 11-year-old Amanda Mosmiller and her uncle Richard managed a nice catch of keeper flounder mid-week while drifting the main channel. A party fishing with Bucktail Charters boated a near limit of flatfish at Queens Sound. Crabbing was "suddenly good" as hungry jimmy crabs became easy marks for a well placed chicken neck or other foul bait. Outside the inlet, the charter boat MY GIRLS registered a big catch of black sea bass and several nice tautog.

Daisey's Dockside said Black Narrows held the best concentration of flounder but "most are throwbacks." The shop is expecting croaker to move in within the next several weeks.

Wachapreague-

Wachapreague Marina reported flounder to 5 pounds on Friday despite strong winds but described the remainder of the weekend as "a total blow-out." Gary Harmon stopped in to weigh a 9-3 spadefish from the Cell. Offshore, bluefin tuna have arrived at the 26 Mile Hill but "no one is going for just one fish," which is the current limit per vessel until June 25, 1999 (see enclosure).

Capt. Zed's also heard of a scattering of bluefin caught and released near the 26 Mile Hill. Flounder fishing was decent through the week (until the weekend) plus bottom fishermen were catching trout, mullet and a few snapper blues. Black drum and striped bass still lingered around the mouth of the inlet. The inshore ocean wrecks hold plenty of sea bass and catches "have been excellent when they can get out."

Cape Charles-

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported Mark Spencer was fishing for black drum at buoy 13 when he caught and released a 44-inch striper. Scott Rittenhouse released a 49-inch cobia at Latimer Shoals and William Edmunson released a 59-inch cobia at buoy 13. D. Morgan released a 48-inch red drum on the seaside while fishing out of Oyster. Overall, catches were well off the expected pace due to the weather. One spot that remained "fishable" was the pier at Kiptopeke State Park, where pan trout action "was excellent" after dusk.

Onancock-

Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported excellent bottom fishing off Onancock with croaker to nearly 3 pounds dominating the action. The biggest croaker are generally found around the mouths of the creeks in the late evening. Pan trout in the 12 to 20-inch range are abundant during the daylight hours with even bigger trout caught after dusk. Spot are becoming more abundant and range in size from small to nearly 12 inches. A few red drum and some speckled trout are still being caught in the grassy shallows around various islands.

LOWER BAY/BRIDGE TUNNEL-

Cobbs Marina reported good-sized weakfish were being caught at the Third and Fourth islands while striped bass were available at all four rock islands. An 18-pound bass was weighed in on Monday. The shop also had a stack of red drum releases--nearly all were captured east of the Fourth Island.

John from Bubba's Marina said spadefish were stacked-up around the pilings of the Tower Reef and readily gulped bits of fresh clam. John also felt flounder action had improved somewhat over the prior week. Needless to say, most weekend fishing plans were scrubbed all together or altered to remain in protected waters.

Dr. Jim Wright caught and released a 60-inch cobia while trolling a Hopkins Spoon at Smith Island Flats. Dr. Jim also told of excellent spadefish action at the Tower Reef plus several near citation-sized tautog at the Anglo-African wreck. Trout, striped bass and bluefish remain available around the CBBT rock islands while a few Spanish mackerel are mixed amongst schools of snapper blues in the rips off Cape Henry.

Donnie Wallace from Wallace's Bait and Tackle said weekend fishing action was "a bust" but cobia were caught leading up to the weekend and several were weighed Monday, including a 72 pounder. The heavyweight for the week was a 63-inch and 87 pounder wrestled aboard by Doug Deese of Hampton off Grandview Beach. To date, the shop has weighed 68 cobia and 28 of the fish were 50 pounds or more. Most of the cobia are caught from the waters stretching from Grandview to Buckroe and out to Bluefish Rock. Waters just bayside of the Fourth Island are producing some of the better recent hauls of flounder plus grey trout to 8 pounds.

Johnny at Sunset Marina weighed citation-winning cobia for Jay Harmon (81 pounds), Joe Wise (79 Pounds), Luke Lenix (66 pounds), John Bimler (64 pounds), Forrest Bryon (53 pounds) and Dennis Nicley (52 pounds). Additionally, Luke Lenix also earned a release award for a 51-inch black drum, Doug Chapman released a 46 1/2-inch cobia and Karen Makowiec boated a 41 1/2 pound cobia. Most of the cobia were caught in the vicinity of Bluefish Rock and often on a live eel. William Robbins was fishing at the M & M crossing for "anything I could catch" with a chunk of peeler crab, when he boated a 6-1 sheepshead. Johnny added that bottom fishermen were catching plenty of nice croaker at Hampton Bar.

Alan Vanasse from Vanasse Bait and Tackle also told of good cobia action at Bluefish Rock, adding that decent catches of flounder were recorded during the week off Fort Monroe and trout provided excellent action at the CBBT, near the 12 MP.

Andy Watkins from Back River Market weighed several cobia the past week including an 82 pounder for Bubba Moore and a 50 pounder for fishing partner Skid Joyner on Sunday. The pair caught their Citation fish inshore of Bluefish Rock. The shop registered several red drum releases from the Fourth Island area.

Mark at Salt Ponds Marina described the weekend as "real slow" due to the weather and had no catches to report.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said the York River was still loaded with croaker with some of the best hauls of bigger fish coming from deep channel located off Cheatham Annex, where fair to good numbers of pan trout are schooled along the channel edge. Several decent catches of spot have been made recently at the mouth of the York and the waters surrounding York Spit Light are producing cobia. Sporadic catches of flounder are made throughout the lower sections of the river with some of the best catches made at Gloucester Point, near the bridge. With the onset of hot weather, speckled trout inside Mobjack Bay has "slowed down to nothing," according to Jimmy.

Reports from various Peninsula Anglers Club members indicate amberjack have arrived at the Tower Reef, where spadefish are stacked-up around the tower legs and at least a few chopper blues reside. Further offshore, yellowfin tuna, dolphin and billfish are available from the Cigar to Triple 0's while bluefin tuna have moved onto the 26 Mile Hill. Large grey trout remain an easy touch at the CBBT rocks islands but flounder remain inconsistent. Ship Shoal Inlet produced a good catch of flatfish to 5 pounds for several Club members.

Virginia Middle Bay-

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported 339 boats participated in the 16th annual Reedville Bluefish Derby. David Rowe claimed the first place bluefish at 14.43 pounds. Daniel Keys finished second at 13.33 pounds and James Childers third, at 13.21 pounds. In the Rockfish division, Andy Davis decked the first place bass at 24.02 pounds. Glenn Lester finished second at 23.27 pounds and Frank Ford third at 21.36 pounds. Kenneth Kuykendall was awarded the Max Ailor Fellowship Award. Anglers remained tight-lipped about the locations of their prize winning catches but Roger suspected many of the larger blues were caught around the mouth of the Potomac River while Hooper Straights and the buoy 62 area were the preferred striper spots. Nearly all the participants choose to chum with ground menhaden. Noted marine biologist Dr. Herb Austin (from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science), who was on hand to examine the fish, when asked what the fish were eating simply stated "chum." In addition to the bluefish and striped bass many anglers encountered good-sized trout. Roger said the best catches of trout were made at the Target Ships and around Smith Point Light in the late evenings.

Dan from Smith Point Marina weighed several weakfish of over 8 pounds but "not quite citation weight," and saw many others in the 5 to 6 pound range last week. Dan said it was still "croakers galore" in the river but flounder had become scarce. The weekend weather was such that very few folks fished.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Reel and Downrigger Service said windy and rainy conditions over the weekend kept the few anglers that did fish up in the creeks, where croaker continue to dominate the action. Mid-week, decent hauls of spot were recorded at the mouth of the Piankatank River and in the Mud Hole. Croaker were also in abundance at both locations. At the Cell, flounder action was inconsistent at best but with all the hungry croaker "it was hard to get a bait to the bottom without a croaker grabbing the rig."

Jim Thompson from Locklies Marina described bottom fishing as "great" for pan trout, nice-sized spot and 12 to 19-inch croaker. The waters off Parrots Island, the #7 buoy, the Spike buoy and Sturgeons Bar all hold plenty of fish, according to Jim. Out at the Cell "it's tons of croaker" plus some large weakfish to 6 pounds.

Garretts Marina said bottom fishermen were still loading up on croaker "right straight out from the marina." Squid, bloodworm and peeler crab were the preferred baits.

Virginia Beach-

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported good catches of yellowfin tuna and dolphin south of the Cigar. Lynn Martynowicz boated a Citation 24-pound dolphin near Triple 0's aboard the WAVE RUNNER. Inshore charters are catching everything from amberjack and Spanish mackerel to striper, trout and bluefish depending on where they fish. Most of the recent headboat trips have focused schools of croaker and pan trout located just inside the mouth of the Bay.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said charter boats fishing the CBBT for striped bass in recent days have noted an influx of 32-inch plus stripers. Several boats recorded limit catches over the weekend despite the weather conditions. Offshore, 20 to 30-pound yellowfin were located from just south of the Cigar and down to Triple 0's. Fair to good numbers of gaffer-sized dolphin were mixed in the catches. The blues and a few small bluefin tuna are reportedly on the SE Lumps and Hot Dog.

Virginia Piers-

Grandview-

Weekend catches were limited to croaker, some keeper flounder and a few striped bass. The last cobia was decked Wednesday, June 9. This Monday, a 22-inch black drum was caught, some Spanish mackerel and several striped bass.

Buckroe Beach

The past week croaker, spot, trout, Spanish mackerel and "some real nice flounder" were caught. A cobia was decked Monday, June 14.

Harrison

Cobia "fever" has hit this pier as well--there were 5 cobia weighing up to 48 pounds decked Wednesday evening! After dusk, schools of pan trout swarm around the shadows of the pier lights and pound-sized croaker grab baits nearly as soon as it touches bottom. Flounder provide fair daytime action. A 5 1/4 pound sheepshead was decked Sunday.

Lynnhaven

Pan trout provide steady action after dusk, beneath the pier lights. Spot staged a decent run Sunday morning. On Monday, bottom fishermen recorded scattered catches of sea mullet, spot, and flounder.

Virginia Beach

Strong NE winds Saturday created rough surf conditions over the weekend but taylor blues were caught at the end of the pier and a surprising number of striped bass along the length of the pier. Most of the stripers were under the 28-inch minimum size limit (ocean fishery) but a handful of "keepers" were decked. Spot and sea mullet also responded to the rough conditions and "bit real good," according to the pier spokesman. Water temperature around the pier pilings was 71.5 degrees on Tuesday morning.

Sandbridge-

Overall action was described as "slow" by the pier spokesman, though scattered catches of taylor blues, "barely legal" pan trout, Spanish mackerel and some nice-sized sea mullet were reported.

Outer Banks, NC-

Weather conditions along the Nags Head area beaches were far from ideal but anglers positioned at the ends of the ocean piers enjoyed a lucrative weekend for snapper blues and Spanish mackerel, according to Bill MaCaskill at Whalebone Tackle. On Monday, pier and beach fishermen shared in a strong run of spot plus a few "pinhead" croaker. The big news Monday was a new potential state record sheepshead. The potential record-setter was pulled from the amongst the pilings of the Oregon Inlet crossing and weighed a whopping 19 1/4 pounds! Looking back on the week, big cobia, king mackerel and chopper blues were taken on live baits, fished from the ends of several of the piers, flounder action improved around the inlet, weakfish made several strong showings at the Catwalk over Oregon Inlet while speckled trout continued to provide steady action in the sound. The Manns Harbor Bridge and waters near Bodie Island Light provided some of the better hauls of specks. Some puppy drum and a few big drum were also reported from the sound. Snapper blues and Spanish mackerel provided flurries of action for beach fishermen at Cape Point and Hatteras Inlet, where pompano have appeared. Jimmy Williams of Williamsburg beached one of the heaviest, a 6-pound monster. The best of the spring "drum" season is over but an occasional fish is still being caught at Cape Point and False Point.

Mid-week, charter craft sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center found good numbers of yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin, NE of the inlet near Triple 0's. Wind hampered the fleet later in the week. Inshore, sight-casting for cobia was a hot ticket and some boats registered double-digit catches of fish to 80 pounds. Around the mouth of the inlet, trollers reported good hauls of Spanish mackerel and taylor blues.

The bluewater fleet out of Hatteras did fish on Sunday and recorded a banner day for white and blue marlin. Gaffer-sized dolphin dominated the coolers but a few yellowfin were also boated. On Monday, the ATLANTIC BLUE, GAMBLER, GOOD TIMES, RELEASE AND SUNDOWN all registered blue marlin releases while the LUCKY CHIP (2), CAP'N B, NATIVE SON, NO SLACK and SEA CREATURE released white 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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