Anglers catching large sea bass, bluefish and dogfish on wrecks

Virginia Beach, Long Bay Pointe Report –

Dr. Ken Neill and crew on the Healthy Grin returned to the wrecks for more sea bass action this week. This time Stan Simmerman caught the trophy fish, a state citation sea bass. The boat Playin’ Hookey got in on the  action as well. They caught fish in the 4 to 5 pound class and had one qualify for a state trophy citation. Ken said the bluefish were not as plentiful as they were on his last trip. The dogfish were still thick, but everyone managed to land a nice catch of sea bass.  He also landed a lone blueline tilefish, which was released.

Back at the dock VMRC fishery personnel measured, weighed and counted everyone’s fish. The February sea bass fishery is a closely monitored recreational fishery. You have to have a special permit, call VMRC before you head out, call again when you return and be met at the dock. Ken said, “if this sounds like a lot it is … but it really hasn’t been a problem at all. The VMRC people, both fisheries and law enforcement, have been friendly and appreciative. They are making up for decades of zero federal “wave-one” catch data during this special fishery, which has turned out to be a big science project.”   Permits can be obtained online here or at an VMRC Licensing Agent. Reporting can be done online through the Saltwater Journal or using forms provided by the VMRC.”

Offshore Virginia Beach last week the boat Diehard got into some nice February yellowfin tuna and picked up a wahoo as well.

On North Carolina’s outer banks there have been reports of puppy drum around Hatteras and near ramps 43 and 44.  Offshore conditions have been snotty, but those who fished picked up some yellow fin and blue fin tunas, one blue fin dressed out at 400 lbs.

In cobia news, NOAA fisheries has announced changes to cobia management in Atlantic federal waters. This change removes Atlantic cobia from NOAA’s fishery management plan. Atlantic cobia will now be managed under the purview of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, because the majority of Atlantic cobia landings are in state waters. The final rule is effective on March 21, 2019.

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Sea Bass, Bluefin, Tautog

Virginia Beach, Long Bay Pointe Report –

Virginia’s sea bass fishery is open, it’s a special one-month fishery, highly regulated and designed for data collection. A special, no-cost permit is required, reporting is mandatory, and you must tell VMRC when you are fishing so they have the opportunity to have a biologist meet you when you return.

All this is an effort to collect data on this wintertime fishery that we once had, but has been closed for several years.  When asking federal managers to reopen this fishery one objection has been that no information was known about this “Wave 1” fishery. VMRC stepped up and basically said they would collect the data if you will give our recreational anglers a winter season. So for the second year now, we have this “trial” one-month fishery.

The Rudee Angler (Head boat) enjoyed a successful sea bass trip. Everyone limited out in about an hour. Jim Baugh was onboard filming and got some incredible footage. He will be producing a show … watch for it. Jim will be at West Marine April 13 cooking up some of the sea bass at a cooking demonstration. The first trip on the Rudee Angler was sold out, so if you want to get in on the action call ASAP.

Dr Ken Neill and crew on the Healthy Grin also spent the first two days of the sea bass season on the ocean. They caught a 5-person, 75-fish limit on February 1. Two fish were heavy enough to earn trophy-fish citations of at least 5 pounds in weight. February 2nd, they caught a 6-person, 90-fish limit with more meeting citation minimum. They also caught multiple bluefish each day and a 9-pound hake. Boats were met at the dock each day by a very friendly VMRC biologist who measured and weighed a selection of the catch.

Anglers are finding a few tautogs on ocean structures.

A few giant bluefin tuna are showing up on docks from Virginia Beach down to Morehead City NC. There have been some nice size yellowfin and blackfin tuna caught off the OBX.

The Virginia Beach Boat Show is coming up February 8th –10th at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. If you have been thinking about buying or upgrading, now might be the time to do it, all the big dealers will be there.

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council will meet March 6-7, 2019 at the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront (3001 Atlantic Avenue, Virginia Beach, VA 23451, Telephone 757-213-3000).

Agenda and Briefing Materials 

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Black Sea Bass Season Established

By Dr. Ken Neill, III –

At this month’s VMRC meeting a February recreational sea bass season was established. It will run the entire month and will be very similar to the February season we had last year:

“It shall be unlawful for any person fishing recreationally to take, catch, or possess any black sea bass, from February 1 through February 28, without first having obtained a Recreational Black Sea Bass Permit from the Marine Resources Commission. It shall be unlawful for any black sea bass permittee to fail to contact the Marine Resources Commission Operation Station at (800) 541-4646 before returning to shore at the end of the fishing trip during the February black sea bass season. The permittee shall provide the Operations Station with his name, VMRC ID number, the point of landing, a description of the vessel, and an estimated return to shore time. Permits can be obtained online here or at an MRC Licensing Agent. Reporting can be done online through the Saltwater Journal or using forms provided by the VMRC.”

There are a couple of minor changes from last year. You still will need this free special permit but the wording will be changed so that just the captain of the vessel needs to have this permit (not one for each person on board) and the captain will be responsible for reporting. The other change is that you will need to call the 800 number prior to going fishing this year (not just when returning). The reason for this is there is just no data on this winter fishery. We had this fishery for years but NOAA did not collect wave 1 data (January-February). When trying to get our wintertime fishery back, we had no data to point to and a major objection to reopening the fishery was this lack of data. The only information we have is what Virginia collected last February. The phone call is to allow the fisheries managers at VMRC to know something like: we have 3 boats fishing out of Rudee Inlet today. This will give them the chance to have someone there to collect some biological information about your catch when you come back to port. They found that the phone call just as we were coming in did not give them much time to get someone there to measure fish and such.

Note that this permit, phone calling, and reporting requirements apply only to this February sea bass season and are not required for the rest of the sea bass fishing year. Also, it is expected that there will be some change the sea bass regulations during the spring-fall time period to make up for this February fishery but that is yet to be determined.

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Entering The Offseason

Virginia Beach Fishing Report – Long Bay Pointe

Well … we have officially entered our off-season. Fishing opportunities are very limited in January and February.  Only the most hardcore anglers can deal with the frigid weather.  But what better time of the year for a boat show! The Virginia Beach Boat Show is comming up February 8th –10th at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. If you have been thinking about buying or upgrading, now might be the time to do it. The boat show offers some great show specials and all the big dealers will be there.

The best news off the water this week is the tautog action is picking up on inshore structures. Dr Ken Neill put the Healthy Grin over some nice fish Saturday.

Some stripers have been marked 15 miles offshore, well beyond our legal waters. The Bay season of course is closed.

The black sea bass season is closed until February 1st. It tentatively reopens the 1st and runs through February 28th. The Rudee headboat will be running sea bass trips on Saturdays. They fill up very early, so give them a call as soon as possible.

North Carolina

The puppy drum have moved well south of Hatteras Island. Dogfish and skates are in the surf all most anywhere you wet a line. There should be some puffers around for those who enjoy the tender nuggets.

The big OBX news is that the Skirt Chaser, out of Oregon Inlet has caught the first blue fin tuna of the season. The fish measured 65 inches. There are also some nice yellowfin around.

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Bay Rockfish Season Closing, Ocean Season Opening

Virginia Beach Report

Craig Irwin with a nice 55 pound striper!

Big rockfish continued hitting the scales last week. Most of the action was coming from the eastside of the Bay, between Cape Charles and the ocean. Many fish have topped the 50-pound mark, one topped 66 pounds. The majority are being caught using eels, but a few are falling to Mojos.

Kenny Bruce & Gary Culpepper landed this 66.6LB, 50 incher. Gary was on the rod!

The Chesapeake Bay fall striper season comes to an end December 31st. The Virginia coastal season opens January 1st and runs through March 31st. The ocean season minimum size limit is 28 inches with a possession limit of 1 per person.

Dr. Ken Neill with a nice seabass!

Our offshore wrecks are holding sea bass and maybe a few flounder. The triangle wrecks are loaded up with hungry sea bass, some in the 6-pound class. The Rudee Headboat will be running 12-hour, Saturday sea bass trips starting February 2nd. The open recreational sea bass fishing season closes December 31, 2018 and reopens February 1, 2019 through February 28th.

This time of year there are usually bluefish around the wrecks and where there’s bluefish there could be a bluefin tuna or two.

On North Carolina’s outer banks surf anglers are finding small puppy drum, small trout, dogfish and black drum at the Jetties in Buxton. Several nice puppy drum were caught near ramp 55.

VIRGINIA UPDATE 12/31/2018 – Bluefin Report

On a recent sea bass trip Dr. Ken Neill ran into working birds, porpoise and bluefin tuna. The tuna appeared to be in the 100-pound class. They were about half way between the South East Lumps and the Cigar. A commercial boat also reported bluefin tuna near the Chesapeake Light Tower. Ken wasn’t rigged up for them that day, so he returned Sunday rigged and ready. He found lots of birds, bait and some porpoise at the the South East Lumps, but no tuna. He trolled out to 20 fathoms and down to the Cigar with no luck. On the way in he stop on a wreck and came back with another box of sea bass.

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