Virginia Fishing Report –June 2006
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More good news for bay anglers, black drum and red drum action off Cape Charles has been very good. Many of the black drum thus far this season have been 20-pound class fish and only one citation black drum (80 pounds or more) has been registered but some trips have seen a dozen or more fish landed. On the other hand, many of the red drum have been long enough to qualify for a release award (46 inches or longer), as 23 reds were registered the past week, bringing the early season total to 59 for 2006. A reminder, no red drum over 26 inches or less than 18 inches may be kept.
Flounder fishermen had their good days and not so good days, as weather could usually be blamed for the not so good days. Some of the biggest flatfish continue to come from the edges of the deepwater shipping channels off Cape Charles.
Offshore, good numbers of chopper bluefish have moved into the lumps and seamounts located off Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore.
Tautog are still active on the inshore ocean wrecks, where more black sea bass are arriving with each passing day.
Wachapreague Marina reported the season's first tuna were caught aboard the TEASER the second weekend of May. The crew fished east and north of the inlet and caught two tuna. Closer to the inlet, black sea bass numbers are improving on the inshore ocean wrecks, where chopper bluefish are beginning to arrive. Black and red drum are available on the shoals surrounding the inlet while flounder are still active inside the inlet.
Captain Zed's reported decent catches of flounder at Green and Drawing channels, the nearby flats and at the Hummocks. Several red drum were caught on the shoals surrounding the mouth of the inlet, and farther offshore, black sea bass and tautog were caught on the inshore wrecks.
Cape Charles -
Chris' Bait and Tackle reported black drum staged a "real good" showing off Cape Charles between buoy 13 and 16 the second week of May. Chris described the bayside croaker bite as "only fair, unless you are drum fishing and then it's nearly non-stop." Flounder up to 7 pounds were caught off Kiptopeke from buoy 36 to the Cell with most of the action in 30 to 60 feet of water. Just how good was the flounder bite "depends on who you talk to," noted Chris, as some bottom fishermen worked hard for very few keepers while others limited-out on quality fish. A few pan trout are starting to show in the catches and tautog remain available around the Concrete Ships and around the High Rise section of the CBBT. Word from the seaside was plenty of small black drum (ranging from 10 to 20 pounds) were holding around the inlets while a few speckled trout from unmentioned seaside locations were reportedly caught. Anglers fishing from the Barrier Island beaches are scoring on large red drum, skate, rays and shark.
Captain Wil Laaksonen from Fish and Finn Charters reported very good bottom fishing for croaker but "it was rough," referring to the sea conditions. The croaker are running good size and "fat and getting fatter," with a few pan trout mixed in. Flounder have arrived off Onancock, where best action has been along the channel edges in 20 to 40 feet of water. Captain Wil heard of a few black and red drum caught by local anglers plus a 46-inch striped bass was released aboard the Fish and Finn early in the month.
Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -
Cobbs Marina reported the spring black drum is underway off Cape Charles and the shop had it's best reports from the Cabbage Patch area, where a customer released a fish in excess of 46 inches Tuesday night (May 16). The marina also had reports of decent catches of croaker and flounder but "nothing big enough for a citation."
Bubba's Marina said the Lesner Bridge pilings are holding snapper bluefish, some school stripers and a few keeper-sized flounder. Most bottom fishermen are running out to the CBBT and catching flounder and nice-sized croaker in the 1-1/2 to 2-pound range.
Sunset Boating Center had good early May flounder reports from Hampton Bar, the Hump and the HRBT. Michael Voight decked a 7-pound, 2-ounce flounder at the Hump. The shop also had good reports of croaker at Hampton Bar.
Cindy from Salt Ponds Marina said a few boats were out last week in search of flounder and croaker and most indicated their best results came "right around the inlet" to Salt Ponds.
Jimmy at A & S Feed and Bait Supply described the croaker bite as "real good" for boaters working the York River and for shorebound anglers fishing the Gloucester Point public pier. Charles Belvin weighed-in the shop's first citation croaker of the season, a 3-pound, 1-ouncer, caught at the lumps located off Cheatham Annex. In addition to the croaker, some keeper flounder were caught around the Coleman Bridge and from the public pier while school stripers were active along the shorelines early and late in the day. The spring run of speckled trout is underway inside Mobjack Bay with some of the best catches (fish of over 5 pounds) coming from the Ware Point area. Boaters making the journey across the Bay to the Cape Charles area reported good success on flounder near buoy 38 and 40.
Ken Neill, reporting Secretary for the Peninsula Anglers Club, said the drum bite, both red and black, "is going full force." Red drum are showing up all over to the surprise of some flounder fishermen, according to Neill but those targeting reds are having their best luck on 9-Foot-Shoal and along the beaches of Fisherman's and Smith islands. The best black drum bite has been in the area of buoy 13, where Tricia Neill caught and released a 46-incher, along with numerous skate. Flounder fishermen are finding a lot of short fish and are having to work for a limit of keepers. Decent-sized black sea bass have moved into the near shore wrecks and places like the Triangle Wrecks, Ricks, and Hanks have been producing limit catches of bass. Boats running farther offshore are finding big sea bass along with tilefish. Docked inside Rudee Inlet, Bill Fisher made a trip to the 50-fathom line and came back with tilefish to 14 pounds and sea bass to 5 pounds. Boats looking for bluefin tuna off of Virginia have been finding plenty of chopper bluefish instead. Rumors are plentiful about cobia, spadefish, and sheepshead, according to Neill, who noted the bay water temperature is warm enough for all three.
Virginia Middle Bay -
Dan from Smith Point Marina said the bigger striped bass are moving out of the area and many anglers are switching over to anchoring and chumming for school stripers around buoys 65 and 72. Now that Virginia's spring striper season slot season is open, Dan suggested the Northern Neck Reef site would be productive for 18 to 28-inch striped bass. Bottom fishermen are catching a few keeper flounder around the mouth of the river but croaker remain "hit or miss."
Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters registered three citation fish early May, a flounder, speckled trout and a black drum release. The flounder weighed 8 pounds, 5 ounces, was 28 inches long and was caught by James Stewart of Mathews at buoy 38. Wayne Smith weighed the citation speckled trout. The trout was caught in the North River on an artificial lure and weighed 6-1/4 pounds. William Whitley of Gloucester registered the black drum release. The citation drum was caught off Cape Charles, measured 51 inches and was caught on clam. Jerry indicated big grey trout have arrived at the Cell and are being caught on jigs, either tipped with fresh peeler crab or fished "naked." Bottom fishermen say croaker are biting in the rivers and creeks plus a few hand-sized spot are mixed in with the croaker.
Locklies Marina said bottom fishermen have enjoyed a productive month of catching croaker with many of the fish running between 16 and 19 inches. The marina suggested fishing just above buoy 7 or on Butler's Hole in about 30 feet of water. Fair numbers of medium spot are mixed in with the croaker and a handful of keeper-sized flounder were landed off Cherry Point.
Tommy Lewis from Garretts Marina said croaker were biting "real good," most were running between 14 and 17 inches and decent numbers of catfish were mixed in with the croaker. Tommy suggested bottom fishermen seeking croaker work the channel between buoy 19 and White Stone while better hauls of catfish were made above buoy 19.
Fishing out of Deltaville, Captain Jim Thompson aboard the JIM-AN-I described the bottom fishing early May as "fair" with the best catches coming across the Bay off the Eastern Shore. The croaker were running 2 to 3 pounds with a fair number of grey trout in the 16 to 20-inch range mixed in. Captain Thompson also heard of good-sized flounder measuring up to 28 inches. Bottom fishing in the Rappahannock, at least for the larger boats, remains slow. Croaker are feeding in the river but mainly in the early morning and evening, and then in shallow water.
Virginia Beach -
The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported headboats had nice catches of medium to large black sea bass on the inshore ocean wrecks while several six-pack charters trolled-up dozens of chopper bluefish..
Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina said offshore fishing activity remains slow, although chopper bluefish were available on the inshore ocean lumps and several boats had fished for and caught striped bass around the CBBT complex.
Fishing reports courtesy of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission's THE SALTWATER REVIEW, a project funded by NOAA and VMRC.