Virginia's cobia regulations for the rest of 2016 will be set May 24

Correspondent
Anglers are allowed 15 sea bass catches each, at least 12.5 inches long per day

The cobia clock is winding down. Virginia’s cobia regulations for the rest of 2016 will be set at the May 24 meeting of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. This is about the time the first cobia can be caught in Virginia this year. Virginia’s cobia season really gets going about June 20, when cobia fishing closes in federal waters.

Virginia has been asked to close state waters on that date by the federal government. There is strong sentiment in the fishing community for Virginia not to comply with this request. Everyone at all levels of government agree that Virginia is being asked to shoulder the majority of this federally required reduction in the coast-wide cobia catch.

Steps are being looked at to make sure that this does not happen again in 2017 and beyond. That does not help Virginia’s anglers and the businesses that rely on this fishery this year.  They are asking the Virginia Marine Resources Commission not to close the cobia fishery June 20. The public may attend and comment at the commission meeting. Prior to the meeting, comments can be sent to Fisheries Chief Rob O’Reilly at Rob.oreilly@mrc.virginia.gov.

The sea bass season opens Sunday. Anglers are allowed 15 sea bass each, at least 12.5 inches long, per day. The bay spring striped bass season opens Monday. This season allows anglers two striped bass each, at least 18 inches long but no longer than 28 inches.

There will be a boating safety class at the Hampton Bass Pro Shops at 9:15 a.m. May 21. Register for free at dgif.virginia.gov.

A look at what is happening at some of our local fishing spots:

Buckroe Fishing Pier: Croaker catches are good. A few rockfish were caught off of the pier this week. There are some small bluefish in the area.

Chickahominy: Ed Allen’s Boats and Bait said bass fishing is good and that they have recorded more than 120 bass over 5 pounds so far this year. Catfish are active, and good numbers of bowfin are being caught. Crappie action is good. Pickerel are active, and bluegill are moving onto their beds.

James River: Wilcox Bait and Tackle reported that the croaker bite continues to improve. Some striped bass have been caught at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. A few flounder are being caught. Catfish action remains good up the river.

Mobjack Bay: A few speckled trout are being caught. Croaker is the main catch, and there are some striped bass around.

Eastern Shore: The red drum bite has taken off. Good numbers of black drum are also being caught. Most of the action is on the seaside. Some black drum are starting to show in the buoy 13 and 16 areas. A few large striped bass are in the catches. Flounder are inside the seaside inlets.

Beaverdam Reservoir: Buck bass are guarding their fry on the nest. The large female bass are hanging in deeper water, where the crappie also are. Bluegill and perch are holding near the shoreline.

Little Creek Reservoir: Some bass are being caught. Yellow perch fishing is good. Some really nice crappie are being caught, with some slabs as long as 15 inches. Pickerel are active.

Back River Reef: Croaker, along with some pufferfish and flounder, are around the reef.

Poquoson Flats: A few speckled trout and some flounder and bluefish are on the flats.

Offshore: Bishop Fishing Supply reported that the dolphin bite is very good out of Hatteras, where blackfin tuna are also being caught. Boats staying closer to shore are catching cobia. Out of Oregon Inlet, there have been good catches of yellowfin tuna and dolphin. Out of Virginia, more boats will be heading out with the opening of the sea bass season. While the tuna bite hasn’t reached us yet, sea bass/tilefish trips will be productive.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel: There are striped bass on the structure and there are also some bluefish. Flounder are a possibility. The shoals near the northern section are holding drum. Sheepshead will show soon.

Waller Mill Reservoir: Bass fishing is good. Some crappie are being caught. The bluegill bite is picking up.

York River: Grafton Fishing Supply reported that some speckled trout, striped bass and flounder are being caught in the river. Croaker fishing is good. Crabbing remains great.

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