It is a time of closures in Virginia's fisheries. Sea bass, one
of our best wintertime fisheries, is closed. The bay striped bass
season is closed. You can still fish for them in the bay. Some
anglers were doing just that in the New Year, right up to the
snow. You can even a release citation for these fish…at least as
long as we have a citation program.
The Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament is defunded as of
July 1 in the Governor's budget. The program is funded with
angler's license money but those funds are targeted to be
transferred to cover budget cuts. The citation program was
established 1958 to promote and enhance recreational fishing. It
has been a tremendous success and its loss will be acutely felt by
tackle shops, charter captains, marinas and all other businesses
that that depend on recreational fishing. But beyond this, it has
become a valuable source of catch data not available anywhere
else. The current cobia issues are an example where managers are
using an old stock assessment that showed a continuing decline in
the stock biomass and assume that trend has continued. The
citation program shows that the spawning stock biomass has been
increasing every year since the last stock assessment. This was a
big reason Virginia was able to have a cobia fishery last summer.
The last time the citation program's funding was taken, anglers
yelled and the General Assembly restored the funding. It may be do
so again this time but anglers need to be vocal and contact their
representatives in Richmond, now. Refunding the program would be
the best outcome. Another path could be possible budget language
allowing a $3 assessment to recreational licenses. This would
comply with the Governor's budget cuts while allowing the VSWFT to
be funded (again) by Virginia's anglers. This would also generate
enough to refund call-in registration to the federally-mandated
Fisherman Identification Program. Paying for these programs twice
is not ideal but is a better outcome than losing an irreplaceable
source of data.
With our "open" fisheries, tautog anglers are having
the best success on the coastal wrecks. The Triangle Reef area has
There has been some question about tilefish regulations for
deep-droppers. There are federal blueline tilefish regulations
being developed for our offshore waters. There were emergency
regulations put in place that were very similar to Virginia's
regulations. The emergency regulations expired and were extended
another 6 months. That has expired also but the permanent
regulations are still a month or so from being implemented.
Checking with both the Mid-Atlantic Council and VMRC, we are still
OK to fish under Virginia's regulations (7 tilefish combined and
one grouper per person) but stay tuned as new regulations are
coming. Remember you still need a tilefish/grouper landing permit
and there is mandatory reporting for permit holders.
There have been Boston mackerel reported in the area of the
Chesapeake Light Tower. From 20 to 40 miles off of the beach,
there are bluefish, rockfish, and there have been bluefin tuna
encounters. Anglers looking for rockfish in the open coastal area
are finding plenty of bait, a lot of whales but no rockfish.
The club's Irv Fenton Memorial Rockfish Tournament, sponsored
by Wilcox Bait & Tackle, began on December 1 and will run
through the entire month of December. Be sure to get with Capt.
Rick Wineman to enter prior to catching that big rockfish.
The PSWSFA annual banquet will be held on February 24. Put it
on your calendar and see the Chum Line for menu and registration
information. This is always a good time.
Dec 21, Hunter Southall went eeling for rockfish. He caught a
51-inch, 44 pound 11 ounce rockfish.
Dec 21, Capt. Rick Wineman fished for rockfish. They caught one
about 38 pounds and lost a big fish due to a broken circle hook.
Dec 11, Wes Blow did some offshore bottom fishing. They caught
a limit of sea bass and blueline tilefish. They caught a single
triggerfish and a couple of bluefish to over 14 pounds.
Dec 11, Phillip Neill fished the cut channel. He caught a 45.2
Dec 11, Scott Elford fished the Cut Channel. They caught a
Dec 4, we ran out and did some bottom fishing. We caught a
single flounder, sea bass to maybe 3 pounds, a hake, and multiple
bluefish in the 33-inch range. We spent most of our time fishing
for golden tilefish. We caught about a dozen…if you count the
head that was all that was left of a little one Johnny Boyd along
with a bluefish. The surprise catch was a mako shark that hit Wes
Blow's bottom rig as he was reeling it up for another drift. The
monofilament held up and after a number of jumps, we were able to
land the shark.
Nov 25, John Hunt fished out of Oregon Inlet. They caught a
limit of 18 yellowfin tuna.
Nov 25, Charles Southall fished out of Oregon Inlet. They
caught 23 blackfin tuna to 18 pounds.
Nov 25, Capt. Rick Wineman fished the Norfolk Canyon and caught
11 golden tilefish.
Nov 19, I fished the Triangle Wrecks with Stan Simmerman. We
caught sea bass to about 3.5 pounds, a bluefish, a false albacore
and a nice flounder before the wind blew up and chased us in.
Ken Neill with fishing news.
Ken Neill with
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