Foggy Rockfish

Charles Southall sent me a message saying that he was thinking about running across the bay for some catch and release fishing for rockfish. I met him, David Brabrand and Gabe Sava at Dare Marina this morning. It was my first time on the new Special Kate. It was foggy all day and it rained but it was calmer than predicted. I was surprised by the number of boats near Cape Charles for catch and release fishing. Back when rockfish were crazy good: birds raining out of the sky, catches limited only by how many you could stand to crank, we’d go over there in January and never see another boat. Today, we had a good amount of company trying to catch some fish to release. We had two bites and held on to one. I happened to be by the rod and got to catch the first rockfish on this Special Kate. The first one was good one and hopefully, it will just be the first of many.

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Christmas Snapper

We spent the last two days fishing the wrecks. Catching was good. We caught limits of jumbo sea bass, lots of bluefish, tautog, Almaco jack, bunches of triggerfish, and more red snapper. Snapper in Virginia at Christmas time. We did catch a single smooth dogfish but no spiny dogs.

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Virginia Snapper

It was too rough. We went anyway. I told the crew that they are crazy. First drop on the wreck, everyone is bowed up with jumbo sea bass. They’re still crazy but we were catching fish. Later, we caught sea bass pieces and proceeded to catch the choppers that were chomping our sea bass. We kept some eating-size bluefish, a limit of sea bass and a nice triggerfish. All typical Virginia wreck fishing. The snapper we caught are not typical. We caught 3 and think we lost a couple more. These are the first Virginia snapper we have caught.

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Fishing Weekend

I think we may have been the low boat out there Saturday. The bite was around the 850 line, basically offshore of the B Tower. There was 73 degree water in 40 fathoms holding wahoo and some tuna. Out at 100 fathoms, there was 76 degree water holding tuna and some wahoo. Even a few billfish were caught. There was a finger of 67 degree water between the warm water areas. Boats caught fish in the cold water also so I guess fish were all over. A few boats headed in early with limits of yellowfin. There were some weedlines and floating stuff where boats, who wanted them, caught dolphin. We targeted wahoo. We caught a nice one and managed to not catch a handful of other wahoo bites. We did catch a yellowfin. The best boat I heard of had a limit of yellowfin and 7 wahoo.

Well, this evening I went out on my dock where I knew I would be the top fish catcher. Netted some shrimp and used them to catch speckled trout and perch. When I left the dock, a great blue heron landed in his nightly fishing spot. I swear I could hear him laughing at me.

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Saturday Bottomfish

The blueline tilefish season closes at the end of October. The tuna and wahoo bite is excellent right now but the guys wanted tilefish again before it closes. It hurt my feelings a bit but bottom fishing we went. I did expect Stan to bring his two rods he had made for daytime swordfish dropping but when they showed up at the boat, they were not with them. I asked where is the swordfish stuff…they “forgot” it. Yea, I expect they knew that after about 10 minutes of tilefish I would be saying let’s go swordfishing. It was a gorgeous run out. We caught a limit of nice bluelines and then moved deeper to try for other stuff. We caught more bluelines. I had never caught bluelines that deep before but even over 100 fathoms, we were loading up with bluelines. We did use a “Seaqualizer” device to release them but even with that, I was not happy releasing these fish from the deep so after trying several spots and not being able to get away from them, we ran in shallower to a wreck and caught a nice mess of sea bass. We also had a rather good porgy bite. Back at the dock while fueling up, a boat came in and threw seven nice wahoo on the dock. I told the guys, good luck getting me to go tilefishing next weekend. They just laughed and said that it will be closed.

Very close to home, I have been fishing off of my dock in Seaford most every night this month. I go castnet some shrimp (some we eat) put them on a hook and catch speckled trout, striped bass, red drum, and perch. This is going on in all of the creeks, inlets and rivers…fun and easy fall fishing. Shrimp have become much more common over the past few years. A very small scale, experimental commercial fishery is being tried along the oceanfront. This is the second fall that it has been tried. Bycatch is being closely monitored and the area they are allowed to fish and the net size they are allowed to use are both small. So far, Virginia shrimping has been very good.

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October Dock Fishing

Most evenings this month, I walk down to the dock. Cast net shrimp and use some as bait. Perch, speckled trout, puppy drum and striped bass like shrimp. This time of year, most every dock with a light on it is likely to be holding some fish.

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Scientific Fishing

Yesterday, we had Doctors John Graves and Hamish Small from VIMS with us. This was one of our dedicated young-of-the-year bluefin tuna hunts. Basically, it is running offshore and pulling Spanish mackerel gear. We did have some marlin baits from the outriggers. It was little spoons off of the transom, small planers and inline sinkers. Sometimes we catch a bunch, sometimes just a few, sometimes none. This was the latter. Most of the time, we will catch a bunch of small blackfin tuna. Didn’t catch any of those either. What we did catch were dolphin, jacks, frigate tuna, skipjack tuna, a yellowfin tuna. The yellowfin were numerous yesterday and they like eating those little spoons. Yellowfin tuna on Spanish mackerel gear is impressive. It typically does not end well. We never got spooled but were close a few times. Typically, those little hooks just pull. We did manage to boat one of the yellowfin. I thought we were lucky but Stan Simmerman said it just requires the right angler on the rod.

The boats around us really fishing had a good day. Marlin fishing was really slow. A few were caught. Most switched over to a very good tuna bite and most everyone had a good catch of yellowfin tuna. Skipjack were numerous and both bigeyes and longfins were caught. Good numbers of nice wahoo were also caught. This was mostly in the 300s-400s on the 4 line, 50-100 fathoms. Out deeper, there were weed lines holding dolphin and some boats loaded up on them. We did this for a bit seeing if we could find some baby bluefin in the grass and caught dolphin and jacks. With the tuna and wahoo bite going on, most boats left the dolphin alone. Boats who dropped for swordfish were successful. When were back at the fuel dock, there was a steady flow of tuna, wahoo and swordfish going by. Good time to be offshore Virginia.

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Fishy Stuff

This past Saturday, we did a very short inshore trip. We caught some very nice Spanish mackerel along the oceanfront. We broke off our one king mackerel…don’t ask. We managed not to catch any of the cobia we saw…really don’t ask.

Sunday we went marlin fishing. Keeping in theme, we didn’t catch any. We did catch skipjack, dolphin and a couple of yellowfin tuna including the first ever for Taylor Simmerman.

Tonight, I had dinner with two IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame members: Dr. John Graves and, all the way from Australia, new inductee Dr. Julian Pepperell. John pointed out that we were three IGFA Conservation Award holders.

We solved striped bass, menhaden and all other ASMFC issues. We moved out into the Atlantic and fixed all ICCAT species and then moved on to the Pacific. The food was good, the world-wide fish tales were better.

After dinner, I went out on my dock and caught a bunch of speckled trout, silver perch, and shrimp.

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Inshore today

We trolled plugs along the oceanfront today trying to catch a king. We caught a nice one. Then we caught a cobia, and a pair of red drum. The sun came out and schools of rays with cobia were all over. We actually caught 3 rays. We pulled in the plugs and threw jigs to the cobia for awhile. We caught a handful, kept one. Got back on the trolled and hooked up to a really big king. Phillip got him to the boat twice, just out of gaff range, then the hooks pulled. Nice day along the oceanfront. A good number of kings were caught today. Offshore boats came in flying multiple blue and white marlin flags. We will see what this storm does to these fisheries.

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Couple Kings

Trolled plugs inshore the past two days. Caught cobia, red drum, a small amberjack, false albacore, spadefish, Spanish, 2 small kings, and a ton and a half ribbonfish. Saw a tarpon about 2 miles south of the Sandbridge pier. Some big kings were caught.

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