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The Saltwater Review - 30 June 2005

Vol. 19, No. 8
by Lewis S. Gillingham

Chincoteague | Wachapreague | Cape Charles | Onancock | Lower Bay/CBBT | Middle Bay | Virginia Beach Virginia Piers | Outer Banks, NC


Due to the observance of the Fourth of July holiday, the Virginia Saltwater Review will not be published the week of July 4- 8.

Virginia's Trophy Striped Bass season closed June 15. This special season carried a 32-inch minimum size limit coupled with a one-fish bag limit. From May 1 through May 16, anglers were able to possess one-fish, 32 inches or greater. From May 16 through June 15, anglers were 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 could 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). The reports are due by July 1.

Since the end of last year, regulations for black sea bass and summer flounder have been modified.

For black sea bass, the minimum size limit remains 12 inches while the possession limit remains 25 fish but the closed season has been eliminated.

For Summer Flounder, the minimum size limit has been reduced and the winter-closed period has been eliminated. The minimum size limit decreased from 17 inches (2004) to 16-1/2 inches for 2005. The winter-closed period from 1 January through 28 March has been eliminated for 2005/2006.

Small school bluefin tuna continue to make one of their better showings in recent years off Virginia Beach, Wachapreague and Chincoteague. Check the bluefin tuna regulations (and identification chart) to make certain you know what is legal to keep before it goes into the cooler.

Spadefish have finally started to bite consistently at the Tower Reef and to a lesser degree at the CBBT, Cell, Wolftrap Light and the range light off the Eastern Shore.

Chincoteague -

Top story from Captain Bob's was the arrival of bluefin and yellowfin tuna offshore. The inshore lumps still hold loads of chopper bluefish but enough school-sized bluefin tuna are mixed in to keep trollers interested. Trolling at speeds above 7 knots also limits the number of bluefish bites but doesn't prevent bluefish from piling on once a fish is hooked and the boats slows. Several mako shark were hooked in these same waters. Yellowfin tuna were caught from 20 fathoms and out around the Washington Canyon. Inside the inlet, the flounder bite remains above average for late June. Hot spots include the Queen Sound Bridge, Chincoteague Channel and Black Narrows. Sea mullet and pan trout are available near the inlet and croaker numbers are increasing.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported plenty of school-sized bluefin tuna on the inshore hills and out to 20 fathoms. Schools of chopper bluefish are in the same area. Heaviest bluefin of the weekend was an 88-pounder caught by Jeff Jarvas. The waters just inside the Washington Canyon produced yellowfin tuna and the occasional dolphin. Keith Neil and his crewmates aboard the TEASER recorded one of the better yellowfin hauls. Bill Huth landed a 23.8-pound citation dolphin. Waters inside the inlet continue to produce decent catches of keeper flounder to nearly 6 pounds.

Randy Lewis from Captain Zed's described offshore fishing as "very good" with yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin biting at the Washington Canyon and Bob's Canyon and a mixture of school-sized bluefin tuna, chopper bluefish and dolphin on the inshore hills. Inshore croaker have arrived and "they're about three weeks early," according to Randy. Sea mullet and flounder are also in fair supply.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported good catches of keeper flounder over the weekend with buoy 36A, the CBBT complex and the seaside waters off Oyster yielding some of the better catches. Larry Howell, Jr. boated the weekend's only citation flounder, a 7-pound, 6-ouncer, off Kiptopeke. Frank Middleton released a 48-inch red drum at buoy 36A and Charles White (48-3/4 inches) and wife Gail (50-1/4 inches) each released trophy drum at the Inner Middle Grounds. The weekend cobia bite was rated "pretty good" by the shop, some boats landed as many as four fish. Linda Sweet released a 59-inch cobia at the Middle Grounds, Frankie Brady released a 52-incher at buoy 13 and Robert Savage Jr. released a 51-inch cobia at the Inner Middle grounds, where Roland Daily boated a 60-pounder. William Mariner caught and released a 90-inch shark at the Inner Middle Grounds. Spadefish were caught at Plantation Light and the Cell but the best weekend action was outside the Bay around the Tower Reef. Croaker continued to provide steady action around buoy 38 and off Morley's Wharf but are just beginning to show over on the seaside out of Oyster.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen at Fish and Finn Charters reported excellent bottom fishing the past week with chunky croaker providing most of the action. Best concentrations of the larger croaker "moved a little south," according to Captain Wil, but "you can catch all you want within 5 miles of the #1 buoy," located at the mouth of the harbor. Many of the better hauls have been in 35 to 40 feet of water. Mixed in with the croaker are keeper-sized flounder, "we probably averaged a dozen (flounder) a trip last week," and a scattering of spot, porgy, perch and pan trout. Anyone looking for taylor bluefish should have no problem catching plenty, "they're all over the place and we're not even fishing for them."

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina saw a number of cobia cross the docks the past week but none weighed over 50 pounds. Most of the cobia were caught near the Second Island. The shop also had good reports on flounder from the small boat channel and First Island of the CBBT and from the nearby ODU Reef site. No citation flounder were registered but several anglers did catch their limit of good-sized flatfish. Croaker likewise provided very good action along the CBBT complex, where many of the fish topped 2 pounds. Patrick O'Toole boated a 22-1/2-inch sheepshead on crab at the Third Island.

Lou at Bubba's Marina told of a good weekend spadefish bite at the Tower Reef, cobia near the CBBT from the High Rise to the 12 MP, red drum on the nearby shoals and black drum around the First and Second islands. Flounder were scattered all along the CBBT complex with "no real hot spot" but the shop did weigh several citation flatfish. Big croaker are around all four of the rock islands but the Third Island seems to harbor the biggest.

Dr. Jim Wright said school bluefin tuna and chopper bluefish were abundant on the inshore lumps off Virginia Beach and a few school-sized king mackerel are mixed in with these fish. A mid-week trip to the Hot Dog produced half-a-dozen king mackerel in the 8 to 10-pound range and limit of school bluefin tuna and all the chopper bluefish the party cared to pull on. On the way in, the group stopped by the Tower Reef, baited up with clam "and just drifted." Each short drift produced several large spadefish and the biggest went 23 inches.

Sunset Boating Center registered a pair of citation spadefish over the weekend and both were caught at the Tower Reef. Jerome Bethel decked an 11-pound spadefish aboard the MISS B'HAVEN and Stan Page landed a 10-pound, 2-ounce fish aboard the TIME OUT. The shop also indicated flounder were caught at Hampton Bar, Thimble Shoals, the Hump and around all four islands of the CBBT. Croaker were "really thick" on the Hampton Bar on Sunday and cobia were caught at Bluefish Rock, off Grandview and at 9-Foot Shoal.

Salt Ponds Marina described the weekend's fishing action as "very good." Keeper flounder were caught "a little all over" and John Perry nailed an 8-pound, 6-ounce citation winner at Back River Reef. Bernie Blum boated a 57-pound cobia in the vicinity of Bluefish Rock and John Coble caught and released a 48-inch red drum at the Middle Grounds. The marina also had good reports of spadefish of nearly 9 pounds from the Tower Reef.

Chuck at A & S Feed and Bait Supply thought the flounder bite "slowed a little" the past week but were still being caught around the Coleman Bridge and off Cape Charles. Croaker remain abundant in the York River and the shop had good reports from the public pier at Gloucester Point, where an occasional keeper flounder was decked. Other reports indicated several cobia were caught near York Spit Light over the weekend.

Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said the offshore action out of Virginia is very good right now "if you are a meat fisherman," as nice catches of tuna and dolphin are being made. Billfish action is still anemic but it is getting better every day. Small bluefin seem to be everywhere, including the SE Lumps, Hotdog, Fingers, Fish Hook and 26 Mile Hill. Most of these are pups, some not making the 27-inch minimum, but there are some 100 pounders out there also. Out past 20 fathoms, yellowfin become more common. This past week, the hot spot was around the 41100 line, between 20 and 100 fathoms, depending on the day. Good catches of gaffer dolphin are also being made offshore. Amberjacks are stacked up around the south towers. Take plenty of bait because they are running large and so are the bluefish that are also at the towers. The Chesapeake Light Tower also holds jacks but you can forget fishing for them there until the spadefish bite dies down--which it shows no sign of doing in the near future. Spadefish can be found over most of the wrecks along the coast and in the bay plus the CBBT. Sheepshead are stacked up on the pilings of the CBBT. Cobia action is good throughout the lower bay but it is cobia fishing. You don't catch them every time out. Red drum are still biting on the shoals and black drum can be found at the islands of the CBBT.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported the local creeks are loaded with small spot but "none of them are big enough to eat." Anglers chumming the Northern Neck Reef site are catching taylor bluefish up to 3 pounds and releasing some school stripers (season closed in the Bay until October). Bottom fishermen working the eastside of the channel south of buoy 62 are catching plenty of croaker and a few pan trout while anglers drifting near the jetty are catching some keeper flounder. As for Spanish mackerel, "there's been no sign of mackerel and they're not even catching any in the fish traps," according to Roger.

Smith Point Marina said boats traveling into Maryland waters for striped bass (where the season remains open) found fishing for these gamefish had slowed considerably since earlier in the month. Nearby, bottom fishermen working around Smith Point Light caught plenty of the croaker but pan trout and spot remain scarce.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said the spadefish bite at the Cell and Wolftrap Light improved the past week, as water temperatures continue to rise. The shop failed to register any citations but "there were several near misses." Barry Rogers of Chesterfield pulled a 12-pound, 7-ounce sheepshead from a rumble pile located off Gwynn Island and Chris Hurst of Gloucester nailed a 10-1/4-pound grey trout at the Cell. Anthony Glasco of Topping (7 pounds, 2 ounces) and Mike Newhouse of Dutton (7 pounds, 2 ounces) were drifting near the Cell and boated citation flounder. Eleven-year-old Travis Zinn of Mineral was fishing with his dad at York Spit and boated a hefty 55-pound cobia. Brian Hammond of West Point was fishing the same area and released a 55-inch cobia and Katherine Hammond, visiting form NY, released a 52-inch cobia. The pair were fishing aboard the CINBAD.

Locklies Marina told of good mixed catches of spot and croaker around buoy 8. Spot were also caught at Mosquito Point while some of the biggest croaker were holding around R2. A few keeper sized flounder were boated off Cherry Point and at Butlers Hole.

Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I said decent numbers of croaker have moved into the mid-Bay area on the western side of the Chesapeake. Many of these fish are in the 14 to 15-inch range but some measure as much as 18 inches. Bottom fishermen are also catching some pan trout but nearly all measure less than the 12-inch minimum size limit. Fair numbers of flounder are available around the Cell but this fishery has yet to see its peak. Spadefish are holding around the Cell, Wolftrap Light and the range light.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported the half-day inshore boats are trolling near the beach and catching loads of taylor bluefish and some Spanish mackerel. Further offshore, full-day charters are stopping on the inshore lumps, catching a quick limit of school bluefin tuna (and often more chopper blues than desired) and then heading east for a mixture of gaffer dolphin and yellowfin tuna. The fleet registered its first billfish of the season (a white marlin release) over the weekend.

Fisherman's Wharf Marina said yellowfin tuna were biting just east of the Cigar in about 30 fathoms of water while the inshore lumps and hills held school bluefin tuna, plenty of chopper bluefish and a few king mackerel.

Virginia Piers -

Harrison -The pier is presently closed but is in the process being rebuilt. Plans call for a portion of the pier to open this season, perhaps as soon as the end of July.

Lynnhaven - Bottom fishermen caught good numbers of small flounder but few met the 16-1/2-inch minimum size limit. Other catches included sea mullet, taylor bluefish and a few spot.

Virginia Beach - Big news here was a strong run of good-sized spot began Friday and the bite was on and off through the weekend.

Sandbridge - The weekend produced mixed catches of spadefish, spot, taylor bluefish, small flounder, croaker and sea mullet. Several bluefish in the 5-pound range were also decked.

Outer Banks, NC -

Along the Nags Head area beaches and piers fishing was generally slow the past week. Catches included taylor bluefish, sea mullet, small flounder, croaker, spot and a few trout. A 33-inch striped bass was decked at Avalon Pier on Saturday. Water temperatures were in the mid-70's.

South of Cape Hatteras, five or more cobia were beached at Cape Point at Buxton on Friday. Taylor bluefish and Spanish mackerel were biting metal just before sunset. Cobia up to 77 pounds were beached at Cape Point Saturday morning and taylor blues made a strong showing just before dark. Sunday was marred by heavy rain and wind but a 43-pound cobia was beached along with a scattering of taylor blues. A 45-pound cobia was landed Monday morning and several good-sized pompano, up to 3-1/2 pounds, were pulled from the North Beach. Taylor blues moved within casting distance in the evening.

The boats sailing from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center enjoyed good catches of yellowfin tuna and dolphin on Friday. A pair of bigeye tuna, 142 and 151 pounds, were also landed. Inshore, trolled caught plenty of taylor bluefish and some Spanish mackerel. Several cobia, the heaviest weighed 82 pounds, were also caught. On Saturday, the yellowfin numbers were down but dolphin filled most coolers. The heaviest dolphin went an even 50 pounds! One bigeye tuna and a scattering of king mackerel were reported. The headboat had decent numbers of pigfish and a few flounder. On Sunday only a handful of boats fished due to wind and rain and catches were "so-so." Monday saw super catches of dolphin, yellowfin tuna up to 103 pounds, king mackerel and a wahoo. Bottom fishing on the headboat improved as anglers reeled-up a mixture of spot, mullet, croaker and flounder.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet recorded excellent catches of dolphin plus some king mackerel and yellowfin tuna on Friday. The day also saw fourteen white marlin and three blue marlin released. Saturday was another good day for catching dolphin plus yellowfin tuna were more abundant. Daniel and Jenny Little from Ivor each released a white marlin aboard the HATTERAS FEVER. Sunday was a weather day and the fleet remained in port. Monday was another banner day for dolphin and several parties returned with limit catches. Yellowfin tuna and king mackerel were also in reasonable supply.

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.   Project is funded by NOAA and VMRC.

Click on Newsletter link to get to the index of previous Saltwater Reviews

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