By Ken Neill III
Recreational saltwater license fees likely will increase in 2015. The increase will average $5 for most licenses. The proposed fee increases are designed to offset budget reductions to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission that will be implemented over the next two years. The fee increases would allow the commission to avoid reductions in core programs such as law enforcement, the artificial reef program, the Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program and the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. A public hearing on the proposed license fee increases will be held at the October meeting of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission: mrc.virginia.gov.
There will be a safe boating class the evenings of Sept. 7 and 9 at the Poquoson Municipal Building (830 Poquoson Ave.). The class is free but seating is limited. To register, visit: register-ed.com/events/view/50183.
A look at what is happening at some of our local fishing spots:
Beaverdam Reservoir: The sudden drop in water temperatures slowed down the fishing action this week. Clarence Jenkins and Chuck Conger won first place in the September Big Bash Bass Classic this week. Their five-fish stringer weighed in at 9 pounds, 13 ounces. Crappie and bluegill fishing was . Catfish action was good, with fish up to 25 pounds weighed in. Pickerel are being caught in large numbers and large sizes.
Little Creek Reservoir: Largemouth bass to 4 pounds were caught this week, but not in great numbers. Overall, fishing was slow with bluegills being the exception. Some catfish and striped bass are being caught. The Winter Bass Open Tournament Series begins Oct. 4 with two tournaments scheduled each month through March.
Chickahominy River: Ed Allen’s Boats and Baits reports that fishing has been light. Those that have been fishing are finding good bass action on fish to 6 pounds. Pickerel are very active. Big bowfin are being caught.
Poquoson Flats: Speckled trout are biting when conditions allow. Some small striped bass and bluefish are being caught on the flats. There are still some puppy drum, but that bite has been slow.
Buckroe Fishing Pier: Spot have been the main catch. They seem to be caught in bunches. There will be a nice run then the action will shut off until another school of spot arrive. There are still some croaker being caught and there have been some keeper-sized flounder caught this week.
James River: Wilcox Bait and Tackle reports that spot is the fish right now. A few croaker are being caught and there are still some flounder but it is the spot run that is getting anglers out on the water and that bloodworm sales are good. The spot are mostly in the half-pound range with some pushing the pound mark.
Mobjack Bay: Speckled trout action is good. There seem to be a lot of smaller speckled trout around, which is a good sign after the winter fish kills that we had this past season. Puppy drum are being caught but that bite has slowed. Some striped bass are being caught. Spot are being caught in good numbers and size.
Back River Reef: Spot, pigfish and some croaker are available. There also are flounder around the structures. Now that the tautog season has opened back up, the reef is a popular fishing destination.
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel: Red drum are hanging around the structure with numerous large reds caught and released. Flounder catches can be good when the weather cooperates. Sheepshead remain available and tautog action will improve as the water cools. There are plenty of 2- to 4-pound bluefish in the area and there will be some rockfish caught when the season opens Oct. 4.
York River: Grafton Fishing Supply reports that spot fishing is very good. The fish are in the half- to 3/4-pound range. Speckled trout fishing is good. Puppy drum action has slowed down. There are some flounder being caught.
Eastern Shore: Croaker, spot and sea mullet are being caught at Kiptopeke. Speckled trout and some puppy drum are being caught in the bayside creeks. Big red drum continue to be caught in the seaside surf and on the shoals and mussel beds in the bay. Some flounder are being caught at the Concrete Ships and at 36A.
Offshore: When boats can get out, billfish action has been very good. That bite should slow down soon, the next weather window may be your last shot at them this season. Wahoo catches are good and should continue to be good through October. Overnight boats will have a shot at a swordfish. Tuna fishing has been slow but should pick up. A few big king mackerel are being caught along the oceanfront.