Where are places to fish in Virginia?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 20, 2003

Special to the News-Herald


Come to think of it, the offshore fishing season in Virginia is short. With luck, we get some bluefin tuna action in early June. Yellowfin tuna move in a little later along with some billfish, wahoo, dolphin and other meat fish. In July the billfish action picks up, ending with a rush in August when the white marlin are &uot;balling&uot; bait and often offer some of the most exciting billfish action found anywhere. By the time September is off the calendar the offshore fishing is history for that year. This year a lot of this stuff just isn’t happening. Claude Bain advises me that it would be a stretch to call the offshore fishing &uot;fair.&uot; I guess we can safely rate it a good, solid &uot;poor.&uot;


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There are a few bluefin tuna being found around the 26 Mile Hill and the 21 Mile Hill. For yellowfin tuna Virginia-based boats must run a good ways south. And this is curious because in Maryland it was reported that they caught many bluefin and yellowfin tuna along with a few bigeye tuna. Most of the yellowfins were caught between Washington Canyon and Poorman’s Canyon in 35 to 40 fathoms.. Bluefins were found in 20 fathoms inside Norfolk Canyon closer to Virginia. Some are found in Virginia waters around The Fingers. A blue marlin and a white were caught inside Poorman’s Canyon A sailfish was caught and released closer inshore and a 76 pound wahoo was landed in Poorman’s Canyon.

To the south good catches of yellowfin tuna, limit catches of dolphin, including a 58 pounder, a wahoo, four bigeye tuna and a billfish were reported taken by boats running out of Oregon Inlet.

The most consistent fish in Virginia’s offshore waters appears to be chopper bluefish. Do you remember when the big choppers used to summer in the bay? Big blues appear to be doing well all along the coast. Up in Jersey night chumming trips on party boats is very productive.

There are plenty of amberjacks around the Southern Tower right now and there are very good numbers of Spanish mackerel inshore not far beyond the breakers.

The big news locally is the revival of the flounder fishing. They have come on strong – more of them and bigger ones, too. Big flounders are being caught along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, off of Cape Charles, around buoys 36A and 42, in fact, all of the traditional good flounder spots are producing right now

Cobia fishing is good. The big fish are not exactly tearing things up, but plenty are being caught and some big ones are in the mix. A 97 pounder was caught last week. There are lots of sandbar sharks around, making cobia fishing more difficult. Red drum fishing isn’t what it has been, but some are being caught at night.

Claude Bain said that either more people are learning to catch sheepshead or there are more of them this year. Some guys are weighing in two to four citation sheepshead in a day.

Pompano are also showing up. A citation pompano was caught at Sandbridge but there are reports of them as far up as Maryland. Pompano fishing in the surf at Cape Point and along the Outer Banks has been exciting. Quite a few of these wonderful table fish weigh two pounds or better. Quite a few pompano are showing up in pound nets.

Gray trout fishing is disappointing. Most are under the 12-inch minimum size and the big tiderunners have become scarce.

Spadefish numbers are good, but the big ones are not as plentiful. This seems to be the annual pattern. The big ones come first and then it seems there are only smaller ones, leaving us wondering where the big ones went?

Croakers are just now apparently starting their down-bay movement in preparation for their annual spawning.

More citation croakers are now appearing in the lower bay and we can look for these numbers to pick up. Some nice spot are continuing to appear with some big ones appearing in the Rappahannock.

As we move into late July many bloodworm diggers in Maine quit digging in favor of picking blueberries. . This leads to an annual late summer shortage of these popular bait worms. I see where the Red Drum Tackle Shop in Buxton is offering their customers rag worms in addition to bloodworms. Rag worms are large marine worms, larger than bloodworms and they are good bait. Anglers say with rag worms they actually get more baits for the dollar.

Massachusetts Madness

If you want to carry mace, firearm ammunition or rifles or shotguns in Massachusetts you must shell out $100 for a Firearms I.D. Card. The cost of this permit was recently hiked from $25 to $100 as the Kennedy State considers firearms owners fair game. All predators don’t wear fur, scales or feathers.

Nature Conservancy Charities Under Review

The Nature Conservancy, the owners of most of Virginia’s barrier islands along the Eastern Shore is being investigated by a U.S. Senate Finance Committee. The committee, in a letter to TNC, expressed serious questions about TNC’s practices regarding land sales, purchases and donations, executive compensation and corporate governance. It was requested that TNC respond to the letter, answering the many questions the committee posed dealing with financial dealings of TNC over the past decade. According to the Washington Post TNC had, on its own initiative, made several changes to its practices Over the years TNC has purchased thousands of acres of unspoiled lands to protect them from development.

Bear Attacks

There have been quite a few attacks on humans by bears across the United States and Alaska this year. None, fortunately, have occurred in Virginia, but one thing the great majority of them have in common is the attacking bear, whether it be a black bear or a grizzly, almost always goes for the head.

One sure way to get a bear in trouble or to put a person at risk is to feed the bear. Virginia has recently passed a law prohibiting feeding bears. It went into effect July 1. When a bear is treated to a free feed, it will return looking for another handout. When it doesn’t get treated again the animal doesn’t understand and it starts looking for food. In the process it may hurt someone, damage a building or just become a nuisance. At this point the animal becomes a &uot;problem bear&uot;. A lucky one may be tranquilized and relocated and stays put. Unlucky bears won’t stay put. They keep looking for handouts and are destroyed as nuisances.

In Montana a little cub black bear has been found &uot;picnicking&uot; with children. It’s a friendly little bear, but it is doomed because it already associates people with food. Local residents are trying to find an alternate destiny for the animal because people in bear country know that a fed bear is a dead bear.

Michigan is having a growing problem with black bears. The population has expanded from an estimated 12,000 in the late 80’s to near 19,000 now and the bears are moving south towards areas more heavily populated with people. Michigan wildlifers say this has been their busiest year in dealing with bear problems in southern Michigan

Finally, a Congressional bill to prohibit the use of bait to hunt bears on federal lands has been withdrawn. Many sportsman’s organizations consider this to be a victory for hunters because, in certain areas, baiting is considered to be the only effective way to hunt the animals.

The salmon run is in full swing on the Russian River in Alaska right now and bears and people are having their problems. One fishermen got crossways between a brown bear sow and her cubs . He is in critical condition in a local hospital. Another sow with cubs was shot when she attacked an angler. Her three cubs were also destroyed by a veterinarian when it was found that no zoos could accommodate them. Night fishing has recently been prohibited in this area because of the bear problems.