For the first time, Virginia’s anglers will face a blueline tilefish closure.
The blueline tilefish season will be closed as of Nov. 1. Golden tilefish and grouper seasons will remain open. For now, the state regulations remain in place for a seven-fish combined species tilefish bag limit (only golden tilefish as of Nov. 1) and a one-fish grouper limit with a special permit and mandatory reporting required.
On a more positive note, Virginia will have the option to have a winter recreational sea bass fishery in 2018. The winter months are the prime time to catch jumbo sea bass on the offshore wrecks, but the fishery has been closed for numerous years in spite of a healthy sea bass population. The proposed season will be the month of February, including a 15-fish bag limit with a 12.5-inch minimum size.
This fishery will be closely monitored and might lead to a more extended winter season in 2019. The final regulations will be established at the December meeting of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.
The 2018 cobia regulations are in development. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has taken co-management of the species. Virginia’s anglers get 39.8 percent of the total available cobia catch north of Florida. This is the largest of any state. Federal catch estimates (from the Marine Recreational Information Program) are much lower this year. This means we will have a cobia season next summer. The final regulations will be set prior to the March VMRC meeting.
A 95-pound wahoo has taken the lead in the state. The fish was caught by Samuel Graham on Oct. 22 while fishing at the Norfolk Canyon.
A look at what is happening at some of our local fishing spots:
Back River Reef: Tautog are being caught. Red drum are a by-catch, and there are flounder around the reef.
Buckroe Pier: Speckled trout, gray trout, flounder, striped bass and puppy drum are being caught from the pier.
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel: Tautog catches are excellent. There are some flounder near the structure. Red drum continue to be caught.
Chickahominy: Captain Art Conway said some really nice crappie were caught this week. Bass and pickerel are active. Catfish can be found near the channel edges.
Eastern Shore: Speckled trout and puppy drum catches are very good. Some big red drum continue to found in the surf.
James River: Wilcox Bait and Tackle said a few spot are still being caught but that the bite is about over. Striped bass, puppy drum and speckled trout catches are good.
Little Creek Reservoir: Largemouth bass are being caught, along with some striped bass. Walleye catches remain strong, and some nice crappie are being caught.
Mobjack Bay: Speckled trout fishing is very good. Puppy drum and striped bass are also being caught.
Offshore: Bishop Fishing Supply said some nice wahoo were caught this week and good numbers of dolphin are still being caught. Yellowfin tuna made a showing with a nice class of fish, with a number weighing over 70 pounds. The occasional bigeye tuna also has been encountered.
Poquoson Flats: Speckled trout and puppy drum action is excellent on the flats and inside of Back River.
Waller Mill Reservoir: A lot of largemouth bass are being caught. Sunfish are active. Perch catches are common, and small striped bass are being caught. Some really nice crappie have been caught this week.
York River: Grafton Fishing Supply said puppy drum are being caught and there are good numbers of small striped bass in the river. Speckled trout are seemingly everywhere.