Anglers took advantage of some fishable weather this past
weekend. Boats sailing out of the Outer Banks experienced some terrific bluefin
tuna action with most boats releasing multiple fish while managing to catch
their one daily under 73” fish to keep. These kept fish are in the 200 pound
class. Currently, recreational vessels are allowed to keep one giant bluefin
tuna for the year. This has resulted in some impressive tuna to over 600 pounds
being brought in. If you want to do battle with some giant fish, get out there
soon as they will not hang around for too long and regulations could change at
any time. Out of Virginia, tautog are the main target. Boats fishing ocean
structures had good catches while those trying inside the bay did not. The bay
waters need to warm up a bit before that bite takes off. It should be in full
swing by April. Flounder are another fish on anglers’ radar. Flatfish
enthusiasts will start giving them a try soon but it will probably be a couple
more weeks before any have much success. Speckled trout and some puppy drum
continue to provide some action in the Elizabeth River. Offshore bottom fishing
will become a better prospect as the spiny dogfish begin to thin out over the
next few weeks.
March 17, Bernie Sparrer fished out of Oregon Inlet. They
hooked 8 bluefin tuna, catching 4. They released 3. The one that they kept was
72 inches and weighed 197 pounds.
March 15, we ran out and fished several wrecks for tautog.
The bite was a lot better than last week but still not as good as in the weeks
prior. We caught 23 tautog and I caught my second lobster of the year. Never
caught one in all the years of tog fishing, now I've caught 2. It was pretty
out there in the morning, a bit breezy in the afternoon.
March 10, our only excitement of the day was getting out of
the inlet in the pre-dawn hours. Surfers had a good morning. We could hear the
surf crashing from the slip. Wes and Charles drove to the inlet to see how bad
it was. They said it was big. Charles said that it probably would not kill us.
It was impressive with the waves rolling over the jetties but once we got out
there, it was fine. We fished the Morgan, Doxie Girl, and Birch Lake. Big
swells, dirty water, about 4 degrees colder than water temps. last week. Not a
March 2, Bernie Sparrer ran out of Oregon Inlet to try and
catch the big bluefin tuna that are roaming around out there. They did not have
a bite all day.
March 2, we ran back out after tautog. It was cold and the a
bit rough. The fishing seemed slower than our last few trips but at the end of
the day, we had caught 29 tautog. We caught 8 tautog with tags in them,
multiple different series of tags. 7 of the fish were released with their tags.
We killed one, tag number: 133411. It turns out that I had tagged this fish
April 2008. It was 17 inches then. It had grown to 25 inches, 11 pounds 8
ounces. The fish was on the same wreck. That was our largest fish of the day.
It was caught on blue crab. We caught three tog large enough to qualify for
citations. Wes Blow caught a 25-inch tautog that weighed 10 pounds on the boat
scale. To the chagrin of some of the hungrier crew, Wes decided to tag and
release that fish. He said that he had already weighed in a larger tog this
year and that he had eaten tautog for lunch four times this past week. Wes had
an unusual catch when he managed to catch a nice tautog and a sea bass at the
same time, on a single-hook rig. Somehow, he managed to hook both fish with the
same hook. Hunter Southall caught a lost rockfish that thought it was a tautog.
He caught it on a piece of clam. The fish was released along with the other
by-catch of sea bass, dogfish and cunner. A hake was not as lucky and joined
the tautog in the cooler.
Feb. 27, Mac McCormick and Bill Bradley fished the Elizabeth
River. They caught and released speckled trout up to 24 inches long.
Feb. 24, we ran out after tautog. The ride out was fine but
by the time we reached the wreck, it was not pleasant out there. We started out
anchoring off the stern but by the time the second wave broke over the back of
the boat, none of us could feel our fingers much less a tog bite. We
transferred the anchor to the bow, making it at least fishable. We were no
longer over the right spot but there was no way we were going to try and
re-anchor. We had some clams and shrimp for bait. The tautog seemed to like
both. We caught 23 tog up to 13 pounds before we ran out of bait. We also
caught numerous small sea bass, some cunner, and a number of dogfish. Two of
the tog we caught had tags in them. One was from the same series of tags that I
am using now so that is one we had tagged over the past two weeks. The other
fish had an older tag. It started out miserable but it turned out to be a
Feb. 17, Wes Blow’s cold and windy speckled trout report: I
had Amy along with Beth and Kevin fishing with me today. It started out with it
taking me an hour to get the ice off the boat so we could go. I ended up having
to break out my power washer to get the ice off the deck. With the temps and
wind I planned a short day during the time I thought it would be best after
fishing this past Wednesday all day and only having a short window of catching
more than a couple dozen fish. It did not work out like I had hoped. Anchor lines
were frozen, we had ice on the deck and the wind pulled the anchor several
times until I used my normal anchor with 18 feet of heavy chain. We only caught
2 fish up to 22 inches in the 3 hours we were out with Beth and Kevin catching
both of the fish. We did see an Osprey several times so hopefully spring is
close, with all the many fishing opportunities it brings.
Feb. 15, we went back out after tautog. It was gorgeous out
there. We fished four different wrecks and caught some fish on each of them. On
the first wreck of the morning, I was bringing up what I thought was a piece of
the wreck. It turned out to be a lobster hanging onto my hook with its big
claw. It had no intention of letting that food get away and held on until I
swung it into the boat. It was about 4 pounds. We caught a total of 25 tautog
up to 10 pounds. We also caught a lot of small sea bass to about 15 inches
Feb. 13, Wes Blow fished the Elizabeth River. They caught 28
speckled trout up to 25.25 inches long.
Feb. 10, we ran out to the Triangle Wrecks to try for
tautog. The bite was pretty good in the morning, when it was rough and cold. It
was really slow in the afternoon, when it was calm and the sun was out. We
caught 18 tautog with most being in the 18-20 inch range. The largest was a
24-inch fish caught by Chris Boyce. We caught two 19-inch fish that already had
tags in them. The one caught by Wes Blow was blind in its left eye. Other than
that, it seemed fat and healthy. Both of the tagged fish appear to have been
tagged close together by their tag numbers being close in the same series of
tags: 227024 and 227033. Both of these fish were re-released with their tags in
place. It turns out that we tagged both of these fish in Jan/Feb 2010 on the
same wreck. They were 14-inch fish then.
Feb. 2, Capt. Rick Wineman ran out to the canyon in the cold.
They caught a limit of blueline tilefish to 11 pounds 4 ounces. Everyone got at
least one over 10 pounds and they each got at least on sea bass over 5 pounds
with the largest at 5 pounds 15 ounces. They also ran into working birds,
outside the light tower, on their way out. They stopped and jigged for tuna but
only caught and released a few 30-40 pound rockfish.
Feb. 2, we met at the boat at 4 AM. It was cold. Seas were
still rather bumpy from the gale the day before. The spray was freezing on
contact and shortly there was a sheet of ice on the front of the boat and the
ice covering the windshield greatly reduced visibility. When we approached the
wreck we intended to fish, RADAR showed there were already a couple of other
boats there. We turned the boat so we could see the two head boats that were
there, bright and early. Those boys left the dock early; I bet they had a good
catch. We moved onto some other wrecks. We found a couple loaded with big sea
bass. We caught our 75-fish limit. Back at the dock, we put 6 fish on the
scale. All weighed over 5 pounds. There were probably a handful more that would
have reached that mark if we had weighed them. We had a couple of 6-pounders.
The largest fish weighed a bit over 7 pounds. Keith Blackburn caught that fish.
It is his second 7-plus pound sea bass that he has caught in as many trips this
year. We had squid and clam but most of the bass were caught on jigs.