INSHORE REPORT – February 24, 2011

Chesapeake Bay, Coastal Waters Out To The Towers.

By Dr. Julie Ball fishing report contributor and IGFA Representative, Virginia Beach

The weather feels more like a roller coaster ride than a forecast lately. This past week’s spell of moderate conditions pushing to over 70-degrees compelled some folks to get out on the water.

With the recent rise in daytime temperatures, anglers are hopeful that this will also help push water temperatures up enough to encourage the striped bass to inch closer to local waters again. As for the word on the water lately, folks are still traveling south to catch nice fish to over 40-pounds just off the Carolina Coastline. Several boats are reporting catches within the 3-mile line this week, with plenty of bait and birds to show the way. Chesapeake Bay catch and release activity is on and off again. School-sized rockfish are reportedly taking lures cast around the structure of the HRBT, especially along the light lines at dark.

Optimistic flounder hunters are watching the calendar closely, as the first wave of spring flounder often debuts in mid March. The regulations this year have flounder pounders optimistic, with no closed season, and a bag limit of 4 fish per person at a length of 17.5-inches.

A few boats were able to sample the offshore tautog population this week with some decent results. Although nothing huge was reported, some keepers with a few scattered citations are keeping anglers interested. Most are using clams or frozen crabs since blue crabs are hard to find right now. Cod, a fish popular in more northern regions, are also hitting bait intended for tog. Don’t throw these fish back, they make great table fare!

The Elizabeth River is still giving up speckled trout, with many folks reporting good catches of smaller fish, along with a few keepers. A few nicer fish are also scattered about, ranging to around 24 to 30-inches. John Waugh of Virginia Beach scored with a nice 9-pound speck while working a plug in the Elizabeth River this week. The best catches are still coming from casting lures and jigs. If you are able to fish within the hot ditch discharge area, many big speckled trout are providing very good catch and release action. Scattered schoolie stripers and a few puppy drum are also providing entertainment in these same areas.

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North Carolina Update

Oregon Inlet boats have continued to catch striped bass north of the inlet, with a few weighing in the upper 40-pound range. A few big bluefin tuna have been caught offshore, along with some yellowfin and blackfin tuna.

Hatteras has been cold and hardly anybody is fishing the surf for puppy drum. Earlier this week there were a few puppy drum at Cape Point and even a few flounder at Hatteras Inlet. Offshore, a few boats have traveled to the Gulf Stream and caught bluefin and yellowfin tuna.

Surf fishermen on Ocracoke are still waiting for warm water to move in and bring with it larger red drum.

Source: Red Drum Tackle Buxton NC, Teach’s Lair Marina, Hatteras NC, Tradewinds Bait & Tackle, Ocracoke NC

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VMRC Lowers Recreational Size Limit for Flounder

17.5 inches with a four fish possession limit for 2011

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has voted 8 to 0 to lower the recreational size limit for flounder, allowing anglers to keep more of the flounder they catch this year.

This was possible due to a higher quota from an increase in biomass over the past few years.  The new size limit will be 17.5 inches, with a four fish possession limit and no closed season.

Last year’s limits were 18.5 inches with a four fish possession limit and no closed season.

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ASMFC Releases Black Sea Bass Draft Addendum XXI for Public Comment

Draft Addendum Provides Options for Regional or State-by-State Management of the 2011 Recreational Fishery

Arlington, VA – Atlantic coastal states from New Jersey through North Carolina have scheduled their hearings to gather public comment on Draft Addendum XXI to the Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan. The dates, times, and locations of the scheduled meetings follow. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York will also be conducting hearings; a subsequent press release will provide the details of those hearings once they have been finalized.

Virginia Marine Resources Commission
March 7, 2011; 6 PM
2600 Washington Avenue, 4th Floor
Newport News, Virginia
Contact: Jack Travelstead at (757) 247-2247

North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries February 23, 2011; 7 – 9 PM NC DMF Manteo Office
1021 Driftwood Drive
Manteo, North Carolina
Contact: Red Munden at (252) 726-7021

Draft Addendum XXI proposes to establish a program wherein the Commission’s Black Sea Bass Management Board could sub-divide the recreational black sea bass coastwide allocations into regional or state-by-state management for 2011 only. Since 1996, a uniform coastwide size, season, and bag limit has been set by the Commission and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council to constrain the recreational fishery to the annual harvest target. The harvest target was exceeded five times over the last 15 years, most recently in 2009 and 2010 when the harvest target was the lowest in the time series. It is estimated that 2009 and 2010 harvest targets were exceeded by 1.18 and 1.15 million pounds, respectively.

The current management plan only allows for the implementation of measures to be applied coastwide and not on a regional or state-specific basis. In 2010 all states, with the exception of Massachusetts, adopted coastwide regulations of 25 fish, 12.5 inches TL minimum fish size, and an open season from May 22 to October 11 and November 1 to December 31 in 2010.

Massachusetts opted for a more restrictive 20 fish possession limit, and adopted all other coastwide regulations in 2010. The 2010 regulations resulted in a preliminary estimated harvest of 2.98 million pounds, approximately 1.15 million pounds above the 2010 target.

Given that the 2010 regulations were not effective in staying within the target, harvest will need to be reduced by 40% to achieve, but not exceed, the 2011 target of 1.78 million pounds. In order to meet the required reduction using coastwide measures, the Board has proposed increasing the minimum size limit to 13 inches and contracting the season to July 1 to October 1 and November 1 to December 31. However, analyses have shown that these proposed changes will impact states differently. The Board initiated the Draft Addendum to provide the necessary management flexibility to mitigate potential disproportionate impact on states that can result from coastwide measures.

Fishermen and other interested groups are encouraged to provide input on the Draft Addendum, either by attending public hearings or providing written comments. The Draft Addendum can be obtained via the Commission’s website at under Breaking News or by contacting the Commission at (703) 842-0740. Public comment will be accepted until 5:00 PM (EST) on March 18, 2011 and should be forwarded to Toni Kerns, FMP Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St, Suite A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; (703) 842-0741 (FAX) or at (Subject line: Black Sea Bass). For more information, please contact Toni Kerns at (703) 842-0740 or

ASMFC’s vision is for healthy, self-sustaining populations of all Atlantic coast fish species with successful restoration in progress by the year 2015.

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North Carolina Update

At Oregon Inlet the striped bass bite has been a bit farther north for the past week or so, with concentrations out from the Wright Memorial Monument.

It’s been more than a week since the local marinas have had a trip to the Gulf Stream, where there should be bluefin tuna.

Earlier this week in Hatteras, there were northeast winds, chopping up the water for both boats and the few who might fish the surf, but the warm weather moved in Wednesday and the winds shifted. There’s still no positive word from the surf. The offshore fleet down here has managed to get out in the past week, and found lots of tuna, bluefin, yellowfin and blackfin.

After days of little or no attempts at surf fishing on Ocracoke, the warmer weather Wednesday coaxed a few out to the beach in the afternoon, though there was no word on results.

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