Recreational striped bass regulations will be decided at the March VMRC meeting. The regulations for the bay are pretty set. The minimum size will rise from 18 to 20 inches. Everything else will stay the same except for the spring trophy season. That minimum will rise from 32 to 36 inches and there will be a special permit required (free). What we do have some options for is the coastal fishery. Right now, it is at one fish per angler with a minimum of 28 inches long. These are the options that are being looked at for the rest of this year and on into 2016:
1. Maintain the current one fish possession limit with a 28 inch size limit;
2. Establish a two fish possession limit with a 33 inch minimum size limit;
3. Establish a two fish possession limit, with 1 fish allowed with a minimum size limit of 28 inches and a maximum size limit of 34 inches and 1 fish allowed with a 36 inch minimum size limit; or,
4. Establish a two fish possession limit, with 1 fish allowed with a minimum size limit of 28 inches and a maximum size limit of 36 inches, and 1 fish allowed with a 38 inch minimum size - limit.
If you have a preference, let the VMRC know before the March 24 meeting.
Now that we seem to have escaped from the permafrost, anglers are anxious to get back out on the water. There are several local events this month to help get you started. The GBFA will be holding their Fishing Flea Market on March 14 at the Hickory Ruritan Club. The Poquoson Kiwanis Club will hold a Boating and Fishing Flea Market on March 21 at Poquoson High School. The Hampton Boat Show will be at the Hampton Roads Convention Center March 27-29.
On the water, it is still cold. Bluefin tuna are being caught by boats running out of the Outer Banks. A few boats have made the long run from Virginia Beach to get in on the action. In addition to the bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna are a possibility and blackfin tuna could be jigged up out of Hatteras but it is the bluefin that have everyone’s attention. The offshore waters off of Virginia are still rather quiet. Tilefish are there for bottom bouncers who want to make the run. Sea bass remains closed though they are plentiful on the offshore wrecks. Tautog can be caught on the coastal wrecks with the Triangle Reef area being the center of that fishery. Inside the bay, it is still too cold for much of a tautog bite or anything else. Striped bass are moving towards their spawning grounds in spite the cold water temperatures. The only reports on the speckled trout front are large numbers of dead trout in both the Elizabeth River and Rudee Inlet.
The PSWSFA’s first monthly meeting of the year will be on March 17. Our speakers will be Mark Terwilliger and Wes Sprinkle, the owners of Reel Fast Tackle and the new owners of Grafton Fishing Supply and Seafood. They will talk to us about what they are doing with the tackle shop and about their line of lures and how to get the best results when fishing with them. They will have a selection of their lures and some custom rods available for purchase at the meeting: www.pswsfa.com/meetings.htm
The Flounder Bowl will be held on June 27. Again, it will be limited to 120 boats. This event is made possible through tremendous business support. Participants are encouraged to patronize these businesses that support recreational fishing. Anglers and sponsors can register for this year’s Flounder Bowl at www.flounderbowl.com .
March 9, Capt. Rick Wineman fished the Get Anet out of Oregon Inlet. The Wicked Tuna boats were fishing around them and they saw a few fish caught. The Get Anet did not get a bite.
March 9, Wes Blow tried for tautog and tilefish. He caught (and released) big sea bass and a lot of dogfish.
March 1, when I got to the boat, Hunter Southall was using a snow shovel. The rest of the guys were beating on the deck with 5 gallon buckets, trying to break up the ice. We left Rudee Inlet in the direction of the Triangle Wrecks. It was too rough running in that direction so we turned south to an inshore wreck. We got anchored up, in the sleet, and proceeded to catch nothing until the anchor broke free. We re-anchored and did more of the same. By the third time the anchor came loose, the seas were settling down. Since we were not catching anything where we were, we headed to a wreck further offshore and re-found the rough seas. It was too rough to try and anchor so we made a few drops while I tried to hold the boat over the wreck with the engines. The guys did catch and release some nice sea bass but no tautog. We gave up on that and were going to head further out to catch some tilefish but the rain picked up and the water-in-the-fuel alarm went off. Enough was enough; we pointed the boat down sea, drained the water from the filters and headed home.
Feb 22, it thawed out enough to allow us to shovel out the remaining snow in the boat, break through the ice, and go fishing. We ran out in thick fog, big swells and when we anchored on the wreck, the current was ripping. We had to break out the heavy sinkers but even 20 ounces was not enough to hold bottom. We did not catch a single tautog. We did catch a few really nice sea bass that we had to let go. Stan Simmerman caught a big striped bass on a jig…also released.
Feb 8, it was too rough. We went fishing anyway. Tagged and released 6 tautog, getting DNA samples from each. Then we decided that we had had enough and went in for lunch.
Feb 7, Hunter Southall and myself went out for a short tog trip. We only caught 7 tautog up to 19 inches long. We collected DNA from each for VIMS.
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!