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By Dr. Julie Ball

IGFA Representative, Virginia Beach

Dr. Julie Ball's Website

IGFA - International Game Fish Association

19 March 2010

St. Patrick’s Day Report

The weather decided to cooperate just in time for the official arrival if spring. Although the tough winter is keeping the debut of the spring species a little behind the curve, hope is in the air for a good influx of flounder and croaker to kick off the season. In the meantime, local tackle shops are reporting phones ringing off the hook as anglers prepare for the gorgeous weekend on the horizon.

Crabs. Everyone is looking for them. Be sure to all ahead to secure your share. Fiddlers may also be available if it stays warm enough. And you don’t have to go far to find their recipient species. Water temperatures are pushing 50-degrees in the Bay, which is the optimal range for tautog feeding. Several boats are already reporting spotty catches of tog within Bay waters, with a few pushing to around 9-pounds. Now that crabs are more available, this fishery will continue to become more attractive to anglers. Offshore and near shore reports are not as encouraging, with few fish to show for efforts lately, mostly due to less than optimal fishing conditions. This should improve as the weather allows mere access.

The Ocean View Fishing Pier is bustling with activity. Pier anglers are becoming frustrated as they to attempt to hook unidentified “nibblers” reportedly stealing their bait lately. The water temperatures are still a little behind last year’s trend, so expect the bite to materialize within a few days. Die hard pier anglers will be the first to get in on the action.

Puppy drum are still providing good action in the Elizabeth River. Nice pups ranging up to 26-inches are hitting Gulp grubs and top water lures. Rumor has it, one angler also reported he had good luck with some pups inside Rudee Inlet recently. Decent speckled trout pullage is still drawing anglers into the same areas in the Elizabeth River. The Hot Ditch and Cove areas of the Elizabeth River are still yielding respectable catches of speckled trout to around 7-pounds, where top water lures are working well this week. Rudee Inlet speck action could also pick up again after the recent warm-up.

Boats targeting striped bass along the coast are finding hit and miss action right now. The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reports boats are still catching a few fish averaging to around 25-pounds. But remember you only have until the end of the month to catch ocean stripers. These fish continue to move into the Bay and towards the Rivers to spawn.

Richie Keatley of Norfolk was just approved as the newest World Record holder from Virginia. The 51lb, 5oz striped bass he boated on the fly at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on December 17th topped the existing 43lbs, 12oz record previously held by another Virginia resident, Harry Huelsbeck. Richie was fly fishing in his 22-foot boat at the <acronym title="Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel">CBBT</acronym> on December 17th using a hand-tied 3/0 Clouser blue-tinted fly. After a nerve racking battle and three netting attempts, once again Virginia fishing history was made!

This week could prove successful for deep droppers, with decent weather allowing boats to get out. Jumbo black seabass will take offered baits on deep water wrecks, but throw them back as the season is still closed. Blueline tilefish and other deep bottom dwellers are also available along the ocean floor and near the edge of the Norfolk Canyon. The dogfish continue to pose an incredible nuisance for deep droppers, so expect to weed through plenty of trash fish in order to find edible fish.

Those folks traveling to Hatteras to get in on the bluefin tuna bite are still enjoying good action. Some of these fish are pushing to 200-pounds.

Time is running out to get in on the next IGFA Certified Observer Training Class. I am helping organize the next class to be hosted at Ocean’s East 2 in Virginia Beach, Saturday, March 20th at 9 a.m. The class instructs experienced anglers, boat captains and crew members as observers for fishing tournaments held across the globe. The IGFA OTC covers topics such as species identification, IGFA saltwater fishing rules and tackles regulations, safety at sea and boating etiquette. Applications are available online at http://www.igfa.org/PDF/COP_Application2008.pdf.

Pre-registration is required and the $150 fee covers the cost of the training class, course materials, and a one-year IGFA membership. Contact IGFA Conservation Director Jason Schratwieser at 954-924-4320 or jschratwieser@igfa.org for more information. For more information, go to Dr. Julie Ball's Website.

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