Waterway and Maritime Transportation Fishing
By Ken Neill
It was a long and cold winter. Spring is finally here and along with it, the weekly Fishing Spot. With the arrival of mild weather, anglers are anxious to get back out on the water. These are two events that will help you get your season started: The Poquoson Kiwanis Club will hold a boating and fishing flea market 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at Poquoson High School. The Hampton Boat Show will be at Hampton Roads Convention Center March 27-29.
There are several things going on at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission that are of direct interest to recreational anglers. VMRC has updated their mobile site. Visit mrc.virginia.gov/mobile for instructions on how to place VMRC Mobile on the homepage of your mobile device. You will find all of the current regulations, citation qualifying minimums and the state record for each fish species.
If you have not purchased your saltwater fishing license for this year, you may want to wait to do so. License fees were increased for 2015 but changes to the state budget will allow VMRC to return license fees to 2014 levels. This may be done as early as April 1 or as late as July 1. The details will be decided at the March 24 VMRC meeting. You may be able to save yourself $5 by waiting until April to purchase your license.
Striped bass regulations will be set at next week’s VMRC meeting. Despite the cold water, striped bass are in the bay and up in the rivers. Currently, recreational anglers are allowed one fish at least 28 inches long in the coastal waters and only catch-and-release fishing is allowed inside the bay. There have not been any recent reports of recreational catches, but there have been some impressive commercial catches of striped bass in the bay with fish more than 60 pounds being caught in the nets.
With the cold winter we had, it is going to take some more time to get our saltwater fisheries going. The freshwater scene took off as soon as the ice melted enough to get boats back on the water.
A look at what is happening at some of our local fishing spots:
Little Creek Reservoir: Bass are moving up into the shallows to feed. Fish up to 5 pounds are being caught. Crappie and bluegill are both providing good action but not many large ones are being caught. The yellow perch bite is on with good numbers of trophy-sized fish being caught.
Chickahominy River: Bass and pickerel are active and being caught on live minnows and artificial baits. Catfish are biting well both above and below the dam. Yellow perch are fat and active. Crappie are congregated up in the creeks.
Buckroe Fishing Pier: The pier is closed. It is scheduled to open April 1 to coincide with the anticipated arrival of croaker.
James River: Wilcox Bait and Tackle reports catfish are being caught from the upper James down to Newport News. Don’t be surprised if you hook into a big rockfish while you are fishing for cats.
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel: Striped bass are a possibility for catch-and-release action. Tautog will become more active as the water temperature increases a few more degrees. Flounder should arrive sometime in April.
Eastern Shore: It is quiet right now but activity will pick up soon as the shallows of the seaside inlets start to warm. This is where the best early season flounder action will start. In about a month, we will see the arrival of big drum on the seaside of the Eastern Shore.
Beaverdam Reservoir: Some bass are being caught in deeper water. They will move into the shallows soon. Pickerel are actively chasing bait in the shallows now. Crappie activity has been slow but should be picking up. The park will be holding a Big Bash Open Bass Tournament on March 21.
Offshore: Tuna is being caught out of the Outer Banks. Some boats have made the long run south out of Virginia to get in on the action. Bluefin and yellowfin tuna are being caught. The main action off of Virginia has been bottom fishing for blueline and golden tilefish in the area of Norfolk Canyon.
This item was posted by a community contributor.
By Posted by Lynn Burke, Community Contributor Fishing
Anglers registered 5,040 trophy-size fish for Citation awards during the 57th Annual Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament that ran from January 1st through December 31st 2014. This was slightly below the 10-year average (2004-2013) of 5,219 Citations and represents an 18% reduction in Citation number from 2013.
As they did in the record setting year of 2013, speckled trout accounted for the greatest number of Citations among the 35 eligible species in 2014 with a total of 1,476 awards with 1,034 (70%) releases and 441 (30%) kills. While the majority of speckled trout registered were released, of those that were killed, 11 fish topped the magic 10-pound mark and 56 fish weighed 8 pounds or more. Trophy specks represented 30% of the year’s awards. Although the 2013 total was easily the highest in Tournament history at 1,874 Citation specks 2014 was the Tournament’s second highest total. This continues the trend for well above average numbers of these beautiful spotted trophy fish that began in 2008. One reason for the drop in Citation numbers was the Virginia Marine Resources Commission closed the recreational speckled trout fishery from March 1 through July 31 following concerns raised by recreational anglers as a result of a winter cold stun event of large speckled trout in late January and early February 2013.
It was another spectacular year off the Virginia coast for white marlin as offshore anglers registered 928 white marlin releases in 2014 and this was the fourth highest total in Tournament history. However, following the record-setting year in 2013, when 1,339 white marlin releases registered, 2014 represented a reduction of 21%. Overall in 2014, white marlin accounted for the second most Citations and just over 18% of all Citations registered for the year. This continued a trend of well above average numbers of white marlin that began in 2008. White marlin are only eligible for release so all of these beautiful billfish were released.
Red drum accounted for the third highest number of Citations in 2014 and represented 18% of the year’s total number. The 925 red drum Citations in 2014 was a moderate reduction from the record setting year of 2013, when 995 trophy reds were registered, but still ranks as the second most productive year in the Program’s history. Red drum Citations became “release only” in 2000, and coincidently, that was the first time in Tournament history more than 500 Citation red drum were registered in a year. Since 2000, anglers have failed to register less than 500 reds in only two years, as management measures for the sought after red fish preclude the keeping of the large adult fish all along the Atlantic. The season for trophy-sized red drum is a long one in Virginia. The season’s first red drum was caught near the baymouth on the Shoals off Fishermen’s Island on May 2 and within a few days the popular pastime blossomed into a consistent fishery that lasted well into October. The year’s last trophy red drum was pulled from around the CBBT on November 11.
Several species deserve honorable mention in the 2014 review. Shark Citation numbers topped 100 for the first time since 1989, even though only releases are offered. Cobia Citation numbers were up again in 2014, as anglers report fish in the 30 to 45-pound range were reasonably abundant and this bodes well for cobia hunters 2015.
As good of a year as it was for some species the opposite was true for several popular inshore species. Perhaps the biggest disappointment for anglers in 2014 was lack of striped bass available in Virginia’s coastal waters in the months of December, January and February. Flounder Citation numbers remain at a historically low level although anglers did report more “keepers” were available in 2014. Spot meeting the minimum qualifying weight of 16 ounces have been very rare since 2006 and this trend continued in 2014. Only one gray trout Citation was registered in 2014, as a depressed trend in trophy-sized trout has been evident since 2007. Spadefish and croaker meeting the Tournament’s minimum qualifying criteria were again very scarce in 2014.
The Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament is operated by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission with funding provided by the Virginia Saltwater Recreational Fishing License Fund. Awards are made to anglers catching fish meeting established weight criteria in 26 species while an additional 10 species meeting established length criteria are only available for release awards for a total of 36 species eligible for Citation recognition. As a reminder, golden tilefish were added to the list of species eligible for Citation awards. The minimum weight was set at 30 pounds but no release award is offered due to the extreme depths these bottom fish are pulled-up from and the associated high mortality rate due to barotrauma for released fish.
Citation awards are full color certificates delivered at the recipient’s choice as a plaque or in a plastic album page. Special awards are presented to anglers meeting the eligibility requirements of the Master Angler and Expert Angler programs. The Program also administers the very popular Virginia Junior Angler award program, where any angler 15 years of age and younger can earn a special Virginia Junior Angler Award certificate by catching and releasing 6 different species of saltwater fish in Virginia during a calendar year.
For more information, contact Lewis S. Gillingham, Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, 2600 Washington Ave.; Third Floor, Newport News, VA 23607, (757) 491-5160, firstname.lastname@example.org
The 30th Annual Palm Beach International Boat Show gets underway next week, March 26, 2015 for a four day run along the waterfront at Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach, Florida. While boats from 8-foot inflatable dinghies to yachts exceeding 150 feet will be on display, the new Viking 52 Sport Tower is sure to garner plenty of attention. Introduced at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat this past October, the 52 Sport Tower is a new model for 2015 and demonstrates Viking’s relentless commitment to excellence.
The boat runs strong on the popular resin infused Viking 52 Convertible hull, while incorporating a stylish three-sided fiberglass deckhouse, featuring a command bridge deck with helm and companion seating, plus U-shape lounge seating aft with a teak table. A molded fiberglass console to port includes a refrigerator with an ice maker. Overhead rod lockers are built into the fiberglass hardtop. A Palm Beach Towers‘ custom designed aluminum tuna tower adds the finishing touch.
The 142 square-foot cockpit is a versatile work space for fishing and other water sport activities with a walk-through transom door and lift gate, recessed in deck fish box and stowage bins, a transom fish box, insulated coolers and twin mezzanine seating.
The air-conditioned salon and galley is inviting for overnight trips, as well as longer range cruising with a spacious master stateroom with a private head forward, and a layout featuring a second head plus one or two additional staterooms, and a laundry center. Twin MAN V12 1400 CRM diesels deliver upper 30 knot cruise speeds with a top end of more than 40 knots. Come aboard for a Viking 52 ST virtual tour.
Posted on March 13th, 2015Written by