Virginia Fishing Reports
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has established new regulatory management measures for the Chesapeake Bay area fall 2005 recreational striped bass fishery. The fall recreational season began October 4, 2005 and extends through December 31, 2005. The recreational possession limit will continue as two striped bass per person. The minimum size limit remains as 18 inches. Anglers will be allowed to possess two striped bass 18 inches to 28 inches total length or one striped bass 18 inches to 28 inches total length and one striped bass 34 inches or greater in total length. The major change in the 2005 fishery concerns this protected slot limit, whereby it shall be unlawful for any person to possess any striped bass between 28 inches and 34 inches in total length.
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.
Red drum (46 inches; release only) easily topped the inshore list for citations last week, as the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament (VSWFT) registered 88 drum meeting the minimum criteria. The impressive list of red drum was fueled mainly by the tremendous run of fish in the Sandbridge area of Virginia Beach. Most of the reds were caught from the Sandbridge Fishing Pier but numerous big reds were also pulled through the breakers by anglers standing in the sand. Cobia made a strong showing last week, considering it was the end of September and early October, as nine big fish made weight (55 pounds qualifying weight) and five anglers earned release (50-inch qualifying weight). Offshore, dolphin were numerous but none qualifying for citation (25 pounds or 48-inch release) were registered.
A mixture of dolphin, yellowfin, bluefin and even bigeye tuna remain available out at the Washington Canyon. Chunkers working the Parking Lot are picking up some yellowfin tuna plus an occasional bluefin tuna. Black sea bass are becoming more active on the ocean wrecks as water temperatures start to decline. Taylor bluefish dominate the action along the Assateague Island Beach but some sea mullet, spot and puppy drum were also caught last week. Inside the inlet, flounder are available along the channel edges near the inlet while schools of snapper blues are actively chasing silversides.
Wachapreague Marina reported the LUCKY DAWG, NITA DREAM and TEASER all had good catches of yellowfin tuna over the weekend. Best action was in the vicinity of the Washington Canyon. Anglers also recorded a scattering of bailer dolphin and wahoo. Decent numbers of croaker still linger near the inlet and bottom fishermen are also catching a few keeper flounder.
Captain Zed's said the yellowfin tuna bite remains good from 30 fathoms and out to the Washington Canyon while black sea bass are available on the inshore ocean wrecks.
Chris' Bait and Tackle reported the weather continued to play havoc with anglers but several impressive catches were made despite the less than ideal weather conditions. Citation-winning flounder were registered by Robert Hunt (9 pounds, 3 ounces; High Rise), Gary Stone (26-1/2-inch release; High Rise), Neil Lassard (8-1/4 pounds; 36A) and Ian Smith (7-1/4 pounds; Baltimore Channel). Flounder measuring up to 25 inches were decked at the Kiptopeke State Park Pier plus an assortment of spot, bluefish and trout. Red drum releases were recorded by Glen Anderson (50 inches; off Cape Charles), J.C. Short (48 inches; off Cape Charles) and Gary Stone (46 inches; off Fishermen's Island). Robert Savage Jr. released a 24-1/4-inch speckled trout at Hungars Creek, where Thomas Woodward boated a 6-pound, 9-ounce speckled trout. Bottom fishermen reported a scattering of croaker, spot, trout and flounder but nothing in great numbers out of the seaside port of Oyster. The shop did receive several encouraging reports on red drum from anglers working the Barrier Island beaches.
Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported mixed catches of croaker, spot, porgy, blowfish and sea mullet. What about the big fall run of spot? Right now, we're actually catching more croaker than spot, noted Captain Wil. Flounder continue to be dependable targets with the best catches coming around the high tide change, along the edges of the shipping channels. Anglers looking for striped bass do best up in the creeks, which are still loaded with bait. We won't see any big fish (striped bass) until later this month or early November, explained Captain Wil.
Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel
Cobbs Marina reported scattered catches of flounder and spot around the CBBT complex. The shop's lone citation of the week, a 4-3/4-pound grey triggerfish caught by Mark Atkins aboard the WIDE OPEN, was taken at the HRBT.
Bubba's Marina said flounder action was good at the CBBT complex, where most customers are fishing for striped bass, now that the season has opened (October 4). Most of the stripers are running in the 18 to 24-inch range and often taylor blues are mixed in with the rockfish. Speckled trout action is improving inside Lynnhaven Inlet, where bottom fishermen are catching plenty of spot plus some croaker.
Dr. Jim Wright made a quick trip out to the Tower Reef and caught and released a 45-inch jack crevalle on a live spot. Earlier in the day, the HIGH HOPES found loads of hungry bluefish around the Third Island. Inside Rudee, good numbers of spot up to about a pound were caught at various locations. Speckled trout action is also on the rise inside the inlet, as some anglers have caught over a dozen of the spotted fish.
Sunset Boating Center told of good catches of flounder along the Baltimore Channel on Saturday in the vicinity of buoys 11 and 12 and 15 and 16. The weekend also saw keeper-sized flounder caught around the HRBT, where a few large croaker still linger. Spot weighing nearly a pound provided good action at the M & M crossing.
Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina said it was another frustrating week for the marina and boat owners. The inlet still isn't passable but the city is working on it. The inlet may be usable for smaller craft by the weekend.
Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said spot and pan trout were biting in the York River at the Lumps, around the Coleman Bridge and just off the Amoco Pier. Jimmy also had good reports of spot from Twin Stakes. Speckled trout continue to become more active inside Mobjack Bay, especially around Ware Point, but many of these spotted fish are less than 14-inch minimum size limit. Brad Oliver nailed an 11-pound, 10-ounce sheepshead inside Mobjack Bay and Mike Sweeley decked a pair (10-1/4 pounds and 10 pounds, 6 ounces) of citation sheepshead at Back River Reef.
Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, noted striped bass are in season and available in good numbers, although most of the early season fish will be schoolies in the 18 to 28-inch range. All of the area bridges are good spots to catch stripers this time of year, according to Neill. Chunking the HRBT, MMBT, and the CBBT will catch some of the larger early season fish. Wire-lining the tubes of the CBBT will also produce quality fish. The speckled trout bite is on in Back River, on the Poquoson Flats and around Goodwin Island. Spot are everywhere with most fish running half-pound to a pound. Finding spot heavy enough to qualify the new citation requirement of 1 pound, 2 ounces is proving difficult and Neill suggested the best chance for a paper spot is over the tubes of the HRBT and the MMBT. Cobia just do not want to leave but this fishery cannot last much longer. Flounder fishing has picked back up with the Baltimore Channel near the CBBT and the waters near buoy 36A two of the top locations. Several flounder fishermen have been surprised by hooking big red drum at these two sites. Plus, big red drum are still available along the Fishermen's Island shoals, where they have been since May. Spanish mackerel should be leaving soon but there are still plenty just off Virginia Beach, at the Chesapeake Light Tower and over the nearby wrecks. Further offshore, fishing is nothing short of fantastic right now. Grass lines are thick and abundant and hold plenty of dolphin. Wahoo fishing remains very good out of Virginia and North Carolina and tuna are biting all along the mid-Atlantic.
Virginia Middle Bay
Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported chummers were catching good numbers of school-sized stripers at the Northern Neck Reef site. Flounder still linger around the jetty and trollers working Smith Point Bar are catching loads of taylor bluefish up to 5 pounds plus some Spanish mackerel. Bottom fishermen reported their best weekend hauls of spot, plus a few pan trout, came from the Mud Leads.
Dan from Smith Point Marina said trollers caught lots of Spanish mackerel plus taylor bluefish over the weekend. Best mackerel action was the along the shipping channel edges north and south of Smith Point Light. Dan saw school stripers up to about 7 pounds the past week. Some charters are running up to the Middle Grounds and chumming while others are fishing near Smith Point Light. In addition to the rockfish, chummers are catching plenty of taylor bluefish up to 4 pounds. Spot and some croaker still linger around Smith Point Light and at Blackberry Hang.
Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said bottom fishermen are catching plenty of spot of mixed sizes but a few weigh 16 ounces or more. Some white perch and pan trout up to 16 inches are mixed in with the spot. Best locations include the Piankatank River, the mouth of the Rappahannock River and off Gwynn Island. Light tackle and fly fishermen are finding school stripers, puppy drum and speckled trout in the shallows of the Rappahannock, around Gwynn Island, in the Piankatank and the Ware Neck area of Mobjack Bay. Doug Purcell of Gloucester caught a 25-inch, 6-pound, 2-ounce speckled trout at Cherry Point on Friday.
Locklies Marina described bottom fishing as great with good numbers of spot plus a mixture of sea mullet, pan trout and even flounder. Top locations last week included Carters Creek and the Spike.
Tommy Lewis from Garretts Marina said the river was loaded with bait and striped bass and bluefish were concentrated about 3 or 4 miles downriver. Water temperatures are still in the mid-70's and not a lot of trolling is going on. Instead, most anglers are casting and working the shallows, where the bait is most abundant.
Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I said bottom fishermen loaded their coolers with spot Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Top locations for the tasty bottom feeders were the spike buoy off Deltaville and Sturgeon Bar. Spot were caught to a lesser degree off Gwynn Island. Pan trout still linger in area waters but their numbers were down last week. Trollers are catching plenty of bluefish plus some Spanish mackerel.
The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported good catches of dolphin plus some yellowfin tuna and false albacore on Saturday. One charter wreckfished and returned with a cooler full of large black sea bass plus several dolphin. On Sunday the BACKLASH and EMPTY WALLET had good catches of dolphin, yellowfin tuna and some false albacore. On Monday Thomas Evaldi and Peter Stine each released a white marlin aboard the BACKLASH and the party returned with a nice catch of dolphin, yellowfin tuna and false albacore. Steve Smith weighed-in a 75-pound cobia on Monday. Inside the inlet, fishermen caught flounder, speckled trout and spot.
Fisherman's Wharf Marina said trollers are catching some dolphin when they can get offshore but the winds were not very kind the past week. Closer to the beach, taylor bluefish are plentiful just outside the breakers along the Virginia Beach resort strip, where false albacore and Spanish mackerel are a possibility.
Harrison - The pier is presently closed but is in the process being rebuilt. Significant progress has been made this summer and the latest plans call for a portion of the pier to open sometime in October.
Lynnhaven - Spot and snapper bluefish provided most of the action. Now that striper season is open, nighttime anglers can expect some keepers to show around the lights.
Virginia Beach - Big red drum from the end of the pier remain an outside possibility while spot and bluefish provide the most dependable action. Other catches include sea mullet and a few small grey and speckled trout.
Sandbridge - Over 40 big red drum were decked at the pier Friday and the spot bite was on all day and night. Saturday was nearly as good with an even bigger crowd of folks on the pier. The red drum bite slowed Sunday but three red drum release citations were registered and weight citations for a 2-1/2-pound pompano and a 2-pound mullet were written.
Outer Banks, NC
Beach fishermen in the Nags Head area were plagued with large amounts of grass, mainly Sargasso, the past week. Conditions were most severe on a east wind and incoming tide. Persistent anglers did manage some spot and bluefish. Conditions at Avalon Pier were fishable, though winds were steady northeast Friday and Saturday, finally subsiding on Sunday. Friday saw a good run of nice spot and small speckled trout-some of the spot were actually bigger than the trout. Other catches included pompano and pan trout plus a 45-inch red drum was released at the end of the pier. Saturday produced good action and a wide variety of fish, including bluefish, speckled trout, spot, sea mullet, puppy drum and Spanish mackerel. On Sunday, bluefish and speckled trout provided most of the action. Anglers working the Manteo Causeway caught some speckled trout around first light and spot and croaker during the day.
South of Oregon Inlet, beach fishermen at Cape Point on Buxton caught bluefish early Friday morning and mixed sizes of red drum in the afternoon and evening. Saturday and Sunday produced plenty of taylor bluefish plus a scattering of pompano and Spanish mackerel. Several large drum were beached each day.
The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported a good mixture of yellowfin, blackfin and bigeye tuna, dolphin and king mackerel on Saturday. In all, five bigeye tuna were landed, and the heaviest weighed 173 pounds. The striped bass season opened October 1 in the Albemarle Sound Management Area and half day boats recorded good catches of fish up to 15 pounds. Catches of king mackerel and dolphin improved Sunday plus boats returned with a scattering of blackfin and yellowfin tuna plus three bigeye tuna to 153 pounds. Inshore trips produced a mixture of king mackerel, false albacore and taylor bluefish.
Only two boats sailed from Hatteras Inlet on Friday due to breezy conditions but each had a decent mixed catch of king mackerel, blackfin tuna and wahoo. On Saturday, the fleet had good hauls of dolphin and wahoo plus some blackfin and yellowfin tuna. Gene Simpson of Dumfries released a sailfish aboard the HATTERAS FEVER. Sunday produced good numbers of wahoo plus some dolphin and king mackerel. Bruce Longerbeam of Midland boated a 52-pound wahoo aboard the NANCY K.