The saltwater scene is about as slow as it gets right now. Persistently windy weather has kept boats at the dock most days. When boats could get out, the lack of striped bass in the open, coastal, zone has discouraged many from heading out. There have been some nice rockfish caught by boats looking for bluefin tuna out past the Chesapeake Light Tower. The tuna have been a no-show this winter. Most of the boats that are getting out are targeting tautog on the coastal wrecks. Sea bass are abundant on the offshore wrecks but that fishery is closed. Flounder are a possibility around some of the wrecks like those at the Triangle Reef but the abundant spiny dogfish population makes drifting for flounder problematic. You can pick up the occasional flounder on your tautog rig. Further offshore, fishing for blueline tilefish is pretty good around the 50 fathom curve. Speckled trout are still being caught in the Elizabeth River. The action is slow but occasional gator trout keeps anglers going back. When boats get out of Hatteras, jigging for blackfin tuna is very good. They expect that bluefin tuna are out there somewhere but there have not been enough boats getting out to find them.
While we were fishing for tautog on Super Bowl Sunday, Johnny Boyd caught a hake. There are numerous species of hake and I cannot tell them apart. Typically, we clean the fish at the dock when we get in. Being in a hurry to get home for the Super Bowl, we just took the fish home to clean later. Doug Olander, Sport Fishing Magazine, saw a photo of the hake and said that he thought it was a Carolina hake and if so, it would be a new world record. Jason Schratwieser, IGFA, agreed that it was a Carolina hake. It was probably going to be too late but we contacted Johnny to see if he had cleaned his fish yet. It was still in the cooler and he was going to clean it after work for his dinner. Well, don't do that. We took the fish to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission where the fish was weighed by Tournament Director Lewis Gillingham and witnessed by the VMRC Commissioner, John Bull, and the Fisheries Chief, Rob O'Reilly. We then took the fish to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science where the species was confirmed as Urophycis earlii , the Carolina hake. The application has been filled out and if approved, Johnny's 5.68 pound hake will be the new, IGFA All-Tackle World Record Carolina hake and it will be the 11th All-Tackle World Record caught on the Healthy Grin. VIMS really wanted to keep the fish to add to their collection. Johnny said that he could eat something else for dinner and he donated his fish.
PSWSFA members need to mark Feb. 27 on their calendars. That is the evening of our Awards Banquet. Adult meals will be $15 while the children’s meal will be free. Look for details and menu selection in the Chum Line.
Feb. 1, Capt. Rick Wineman ran to the Triangle Wrecks where they caught 3 tautog to 23 inches long. They ran through a lot of diving birds between the light tower and the Triangle Wrecks.
Feb. 1, we ran out for tautog before the Super Bowl. We caught 16 tog, up to 23 inches long, before running in early for the Super Bowl parties. We also caught sea bass and a nice hake. We got DNA samples from each tog and placed tags in those we did not keep. I dropped my camera down...only once, after I saw what was down there:
Jan 25, Wes and I went over and did some boat work. We also went and did some tog fishing close to the beach. We ended up catching 19 togs up to 18.5 inches long. Kept a couple, tagged and released the rest, got DNA samples from each. When we dropped the camera down, we did not see much but the fish were biting.
Jan 23, we went out after tautog. We had a slow bite, catching 5 tautog. We kept 4 between 18 and 20 inches long, tagged and released the 5th. We got DNA samples from each. We also kept a nice hake and we had to release some really nice sea bass. I did drop a camera down to see what was going on down there:
Jan 20, Wes Blow fished for tautog on one of the ocean wrecks. He said that the bite was great and they caught about 25 fish keeping their 2-angler limit. The fish they kept included 4 that weighed over 9 pounds with the largest weighing in at 16 pounds.
Jan 17, we went out in rather blustery conditions for tautog. We stayed close to the beach because it was just too rough to run anywhere else. We managed to catch 15 tautog up to 23.25 inches long. That fish was tagged and released after a DNA sample was taken. We tagged and released all but 3 fish and got DNA samples from each for VIMS. The carcasses of the kept fish were donated to VMRC. We caught one fish that had been tagged previously.
Jan 16, Jody Linthicum fished the Elizabeth River with Wally Veal. They caught 15 speckled trout over 19 inches long. Their catch included fish of 25 inches, 27.5 inches and Jody caught a huge gator, 32 inches long! Hunter Southall was also on the river catching trout. Hunter said that he caught a dozen or so specks including one over 25 inches long. He also caught a nice puppy drum. Hunter's specks averaged in the 20-23 inch range. Both Jody and Hunter caught their fish casting jigs and those fish are still there as they released their fish...even that 32-inch monster!
Jan 11, Wes Blow fished for tautog on one of the ocean wrecks. They kept a 3-man limit of tog, all over 20 inches long, with the largest at 9 pounds. They caught a total of 25 tautog and they also caught some sea bass that were released.
Jan 11, Capt Rick Wineman fished the Norfolk Canyon area. They caught 15 blueline tilefish, with 7 weighing over 10 pounds, and a golden tilefish. They caught a few large sea bass while jigging for bluefish. They caught several bluefish and hooked up with a mako shark on a jig that they eventually broke off.
Jan 2, we started late, to let the wind calm, and quit about 2 in the afternoon so I could make a family party. Despite the short day, we caught 19 tog to about 24 inches long at the Triangle Wrecks. We got fin clips from all of the fish, caught one with a tag, tagged and released others. The carcasses of the ones we kept were donated to VMRC. On the way out, we did see some bird activity and slicks about 6 miles east of the Chesapeake Light Tower.
Jan 2, Capt. Rick Wineman did some catch-and-release fishing inside of the bay. Drifting eels, they had 6 bites and caught 2 big rockfish, 47 and 49 inches long.
Jan 1, Wes and Amy Blow fished the Elizabeth River. The bite was slow but they did manage to catch a couple of nice speckled trout.
Dec 31, Capt. Rick Wineman eeled for rockfish. They caught a nice 46.5 inch fish early in the morning that turned out to be their only fish of the day.
Dec 31, Hamish Small fished a wreck inside of the bay. They caught a few tautog and some schoolie stripers.
Dec 27, Richie and Dylan Moore went after rockfish and caught a pair of big ones. Their fish weighed in at 40 and 42 pounds.
Dec 27, Capt. Rick Wineman eeled for rockfish. Right at the end of the day, Wally Veal caught their on fish of the day and it was a nice one. The 48-inch striper weighed in at 48.1 pounds.
Dec 27, Stan Simmerman went striper fishing, caught one, and then had to come in with engine trouble.
Dec 27, Martin Freed and Ruta Vaskys fished a coastal wreck. They stopped counting at 50 tautog. They said that the wreck was loaded with small tog.