Nov 21 2014

Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman Weekly


By Dr. Ken Neill III, Seaford VA

Striped bass action has been pretty good on school-sized fish. Most of the fish are being caught at the area’s crossings like the CBBT, JRB, Coleman Bridge, HRBT, MMMT and at any other structure with lights on it at night. More fish are being caught in open water and there has been some bird action. There have been a few 40-plus pound fish caught at the CBBT at night and on the bayside of the Eastern Shore during the day, primarily on live eels. This fishery should get better each day. There is still a good bite up the bay in Maryland waters and up the coast off of New Jersey. Those fish are headed this way.

11/16/14 Deep Drop Trip Out Of Rudee Inlet

11/16/14 Deep Drop Trip Out Of Rudee Inlet

Speckled trout are being caught in the York and Back Rivers and inside of Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets. The best bite and where most of the trophy trout are being caught is in the Elizabeth River. This is the time of year when some big specks can be caught at the HRBT and at the CBBT. Puppy drum are being caught inside of the inlets and in the Elizabeth River.

Tautog fishing is very good at the CBBT and on other structures in the bay. The wrecks in the ocean are holding sea bass and triggerfish. The larger sea bass are being found from the Triangle Wrecks and on out deeper. Big bluefish are holding around some of the wrecks. Some good flounder catches are being made around some of the wrecks like those at the Triangle Reef.

Offshore bottom fishing is good for blueline tilefish and some other critters. As the season progresses, this fishery will get tougher due to a multitude of spiny dogfish moving in. There have been rumors of rumors of bluefin tuna sightings off of our coast. Yellowfin tuna fishing is good to our south, out of Oregon Inlet.

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Nov 21 2014

Striped Bass Regulations Are Changing

big striper

By Dr. Ken Neill III, Seaford VA – Striped bass regulations are changing. The ASMFC decided to reduce the commercial and recreational harvest of striped bass by 25% along the coast and 20.5% inside of the Chesapeake Bay. The commercial reductions are pretty straight forward as they are under a poundage quota so just reduce the allowed pounds. The coastal commercial quota will be reduced 25% in 2015. That does not mean that there will be a 25% reduction in harvest however. In fact, there could actually be an increase in commercial harvest in 2015. The quota was not caught last year. If the new, reduced commercial quota is caught in 2015, the harvest would actually increase by about 11%. So, the actual commercial catch may increase or decrease in 2015. The maximum possible catch has been reduced.

This is actually true for the recreational fishery as well. There will be regulation changes designed to reduce the catch but if there are fish inside of the 3NM line this winter, Virginia’s recreational catch will increase over the past couple of years no matter what the new regulations are. For Virginia and North Carolina, our best coastal striped bass fishery starts at the very end of December and runs through February. They don’t even collect recreational catch data during January and February so nobody has a clue what our coastal recreational catch is. Really, all we know about our recreational coastal catch is through anecdotal fishing reports and we can look at trends in the citation program. That is all they have.

Anyway, this is what is going to happen with the recreational striped bass regulations. Nothing is official yet but there really are not other options. We will fish under the current regulations through the end of the year: 2 fish at least 28 inches along the coast and 2 fish 18-28 with one of your two allowed to be over 28 inches inside of the bay. On January 1, 2015, the bay season will close (as normal) and the coastal bag limit will be reduced to 1 fish per person of at least 28 inches long. There are other options but they have to go through a re-approval process at the ASMFC. The earliest these options will come to VMRC is March so for this winter season, we will be fishing at 1 fish, 28 inch minimum. The other coastal options that could be in place by April 1 include: 2 fish per person at least 33 inches long, 2 fish per person with 1 fish 28-34 inches long and the 2nd fish at least 36 inches long, or 2 fish per person with 1 fish 28 to 36 inches long and the 2nd fish at least 38 inches long. We are going to get 1 fish of at least 28 inches for January and February 2015 so we will get to see if we want to stay at that or go to one of the other options. Currently, there is support for one of the slot-limit options from some of the charter boat operators.

In the bay, the dates of all of our seasons will remain the same with the main change being that the minimum size will increase to 20 inches. That will be pretty straight forward except that our rather complicated spring trophy fishery will be more complicated. This is technically a “coastal” fishery as it is targeting large coastal migrants. May1-15, the “trophy” regulations apply both in the coastal waters and inside of the bay. It will remain at a bag limit of 1 fish but the minimum size will increase from 32 inches to 36 inches. May 16, the “coastal” season reopens in the ocean while the “trophy” fishery will continue in the bay through June 15. These “trophy” fish always have had to be reported but starting in 2015, you will need to have a special license to participate in the spring trophy fishery. It will be free but will allow managers to know who is fishing. Holders of this license will be required to report their catches and their lack of catches. Commercial anglers are used to monthly reports whether they fished or not. It will take some time for recreational anglers to get used to this. My guess is that this very lightly participated fishery will have even less interest to anglers in 2015. The spring bay season will run from May 16 through June 15 with a 2-fish bag limit of fish 20 to 28 inches long. One of your two fish could be 36 inches or larger if you have a trophy striped bass license. This trophy striped bass permit only applies to the spring trophy season. The fall bay season will be October 4 through December 31 with a 2-fish bag limit, 20-28 inches long with one of your two fish allowed to be greater than 28 inches. There you go; what you can expect for your 2015 striped bass fishery.

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Nov 15 2014

Virginia Sport Fishing Rundown


By Dr. Julie Ball

The onslaught of frigid temperatures this week will finalize the transition into a solid winter fishing trend for the season. Bay, coastal, and tidal water temperatures are hovering in the upper fifties, but will continue to drop quickly through the week.

1Any local angler knows that dropping water temperatures ultimately means that the bigger rockfish are on their way. In the meantime, mostly school-sized fish are still keeping local anglers busy. As the striped bass action continues to gain momentum, casters working the structure and pilings of the various lower Bay bridges, and the spines of the 3rd and 4th island tubes of the CBBT, are hooking some nicer fish averaging to around 36-inches on Wind Cheaters and Storm lures, especially at sunset. Boats live-baiting and wire-lining over the tubes of the CBBT, and working the deeper water near the High Rise, are finding a larger class of fish ranging up to around 32 to 38-inches, especially at night. The outgoing tide seems to be the best this week. The HRBT is also holding plenty of schoolies, while the JRB and the MMBT are giving up fish averaging up to around 28-inches on top water lures, plastics, and trolling with Stretch 25’s this week. A few snapper bluefish are also still around in many of the same areas.

The speckled trout action is still progressing in most of the usual backwater haunts. The quality of the fish coming from the lower Bay inlets and the Eastern Shore backwater locations is looking solid lately, with many specks ranging up to around 3 to 4-pounds. Rudee Inlet is still productive, with a few fish large enough to qualify for citations from the Saltwater Fishing Tournament landed this this week. The Elizabeth River is still giving up the best numbers of big fish, with some gators hitting the 30-inch mark recently. Those trying their luck in the Hot Ditch using live bait are finding increasing numbers of keeper fish ranging from 23 to 26-inches, while anglers are also experiencing good luck trolling and casting after dark in the River area. A few puppy drum are still hitting in many of these same locations, but this bite is dwindling. Scattered smaller rockfish are also available in the shallows. Speckled trout, along with some puppy drum, are still responding for lower Bay pier anglers, as well as along lower Bay and coastal surf lines.

Very good tautog action is still happening on many lower Bay structures and coastal wrecks when boats can get out. Offerings presented along the pilings and over the tubes of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel are rewarding anglers with easy limits of fish averaging to around 4 to 6-pounds. Fiddler crabs are still the top bait if you can get them, but blue crabs and clams are also working within Bay waters. The more protected concrete ships off Kiptopeke is also a good place to try during windy conditions, but mostly small fish were reported from there this past week. A few lingering sheepshead are still adding to tog bounties within the Bay, but not for much longer. The bigger tog will be awaiting boats on the deeper water wrecks, once the weather allows access and anglers show interest. Right now, folks going offshore are more interested in seabass and triggerfish. Good catches of Jumbo seabass pushing to nearly 5-pounds are coming from deeper water structures, with some of the biggest triggerfish of the season hitting on many of the same wrecks. The well-known Triangle Wreck area continues to be a favorite for wreck fishing, while nice chopper bluefish are also roaming near the Triangles and into the Chesapeake Light Tower area. Flounder action is good on many offshore wrecks when boats can reach them. Although no word of any sightings, bluefin tuna are a possibility from the Light Tower out to the inshore lumps.

Deep droppers continue to experience decent action, with good numbers of nice blueline tilefish, golden tilefish, and rosefish in depths of 300 feet of water or more. A variety of grouper are lurking along the edges of the Canyon in about 300 to 600 feet of water. Big seabass are also a welcome by-catch, with squid, jigs, and cut bait getting the job done.

Offshore action has been mostly deterred by gusty weather, but last week boats found a nice class of 50 to 60-pound yellowfin tuna and nice wahoo in some warm water that had moved into range of Virginia boats. Blackfin tuna, bigeye tuna, mahi, and king mackerel are also possibilities, but most of this action is happening further south out of North Carolina.

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Nov 13 2014

U.S. Goals for the 2014 Annual Meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) annual meeting is being held November 10-17, 2014 in Genoa, Italy.

The United States is going to ICCAT with the goal of reaching agreement on science-based management measures for shared stocks and applying a precautionary approach where appropriate, while preserving commercial and recreational fishing opportunities for U.S. fishermen.

bluefintunaAt the 2014 ICCAT meeting, the United States will be working to:

Adopt a two-year catch limit for western Atlantic bluefin tuna that is in line with the science advice and supports the goals of the rebuilding program by avoiding overfishing and allowing continued stock growth.

Ensure that management of the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery including monitoring and control measures designed to deter IUU fishing supports stock recovery and long-term sustainability, and is consistent with scientific advice.

Require that all sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached, and that precautionary and science-based management measures be adopted for sharks caught in ICCAT fisheries.

Strengthen the science underlying ICCAT management through an enhanced dialogue between scientists and managers, improved statistical data collection, and support for research initiatives needed to reduce uncertainties in stock assessments.

Continue to strengthen ICCAT’s compliance review process and take meaningful actions in response to non-compliance.

Enhance monitoring of ICCAT fisheries and combat IUU fishing by increasing the minimum rate of polling for vessel monitoring systems, improving the process for cross-listing IUU vessels from different oceans, establishing programs to assist developing state implementation of port inspection responsibilities, and ensuring full and timely implementation of ICCAT’s electronic bluefin tuna catch documentation system.

Further efforts to amend the ICCAT Convention so that it is in line with modern fisheries management instruments on issues such as the precautionary and ecosystem approaches to fisheries management and clarify the Commission’s management authority for sharks.


At ICCAT, one of many Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs), the United States and 48 other members come together to discuss and develop international fisheries management measures for highly migratory species including tunas, swordfish and other billfish, and sharks.

The United States is committed to sustainable fisheries management. In our domestic fisheries we have made very significant advances on ending overfishing and rebuilding stocks. It is important to do the same with respect to international fisheries, but we cannot do it alone. The species managed by ICCAT are highly-migratory – which means they can swim long distances and cross international boundaries. For this reason, successful fisheries management can only be achieved through international cooperation.

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna: As ICCAT Meets to Set New Catch Quotas, What Does the Stock Assessment Say?


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Nov 12 2014

Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman Weekly


By Dr. Ken Neill III, Seaford VA

Warmer water pushed in close to the Cigar this week. Virginia boats fishing above the Triple 0s, in 30-50 fathoms, experienced some very good wahoo action and they also caught yellowfin tuna. The fish should still be there if that water survives this week’s cold front. Boats running out of the Outer Banks are catching yellowfin tuna and blackfin tuna along with some wahoo and king mackerel. There were some good dolphin catches out of Hatteras when boats were last able to get out. Deep-droppers are catching blueline tilefish and blackbelly rosefish in good numbers and a variety of other creatures.

The offshore wrecks are holding good numbers sea bass. That fishery will close at the end of the year. Bluefish can be found around most of the ocean wrecks and in open water from 10 miles to 40 miles off of the beach. These fish are of a variety of sizes from 3 pounds to almost 20 pounds. Along with the bluefish, thresher sharks have made an appearance from the Chesapeake Light Tower area on out. No word of any bluefin tuna yet. Some nice flounder and triggerfish are being caught around the ocean wrecks 10 to 30 miles off of the beach.


Inside of the bay, it is speckled trout, striped bass, and tautog. There are still some flounder around but nobody is fishing for them in the bay, the Cape Henry Wreck would be a good location to try. The tautog bite is the best thing going right now with very good catches being made at the CBBT, Cape Henry Wreck, Back River Reef and pretty much every other structure in the bay. Speckled trout fishing is very good. Specks are still being caught in the Mobjack Bay area, on the bayside and seaside of the Eastern Shore, in the York, Back and James Rivers, on Poquoson Flats, along the VA Beach oceanfront, and inside of Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets. Where the speck bite is really hot is in the Elizabeth River with multiple trophy-sized trout caught there this week. Striped bass fishing is still mostly a resident, schoolie fishery. All of the crossing of the James, inside the York and Rappahanock Rivers and the middle bay are producing fish. Stripers were caught at York Spit this week. Some larger fish are being caught at the CBBT and at the James River Bridge, at night, on live eels and spot.

Charles Southall and the crew of the Special Kate will be the speakers at the Nov. 18 meeting of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association. Their topic will be “Fishing Offshore in a Small Boat”. Meetings are free and you do not need to be a member to attend.

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 soon.

The ASMFC decided to cut the striped bass harvest by 25% along the coast and 20.5% in the Chesapeake Bay. These reductions take place as of Jan.1and are to remain in place for three years. There are no changes to the dates of the various striped bass seasons but there will be bag limit and/or size limit changes. States are allowed “conservation equivalencies” to achieve these reductions. This means that states may come up with their own plans to be submitted for ASMFC approval or they may choose a preapproved plan. The coastal fishery regulations are currently a 2 fish bag limit of fish at least 28 inches long. Among the preapproved options for the coastal fishery are: 1 fish with a 28-inch minimum, 2 fish with a 33-inch minimum, 2 fish in a 28-34 inch slot (no fish over or under allowed), and 2 fish with one being within a slot and the second over a minimum. The preapproved slots and minimums for this last option are: 1 fish 28-34 inches and 1 fish a minimum of 36 inches, 1 fish 28-36 inches and 1 fish a minimum of 38 inches, and 1 fish 28-37 inches and 1 fish a minimum of 40 inches. For the bay fall fishery, the preapproved option is 2 fish with a minimum of 20 inches (up from the current 18-inch minimum). These and other options will be discussed at the Finfish Management Advisory Committee meeting on Nov. 19 and decided upon at the Virginia Marine Resources Committee meeting Dec. 9. If you have an opinion on how best to implement the required reductions, now is the time to speak up.

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