By Ken Neill III
Saltwater recreational fishing license fees will be reduced an average of $5 each. The various recreational license fees that were increased for 2015 are being rolled back to 2014 levels. The new fee structure will start April 1.
In other Virginia Marine Resources Commission action, striped bass regulations were set. The coastal season will remain the at a one fish bag limit with a 28-inch minimum size. The Chesapeake Bay spring and fall seasons remain the same, with the exception that the minimum size is increased to 20 inches.
The largest changes are in the spring trophy season that begins May 1. The bag limit remains at one fish, but the minimum size is increased to 36 inches and anglers will be required to get a special fishing license to participate in the spring trophy season.
This new spring trophy striped bass license is free but, like the free recreational tilefish/grouper landing permit, it cannot be obtained at all fishing license outlets. Spring trophy striped bass licenses must be obtained from a VMRC authorized agent, the same locations where commercial fishing licenses are sold.
The recreational sea bass season will open May 15 (was originally slated for May 19).
The springtime fisheries are slowly getting started. The freshwater fisheries are taking off. The salt waters are still cold.
A look at what is happening at some of our local fishing spots:
Chickahominy River: Ed Allen's Boats and Bait reports light angler activity, but some impressive catches are being made. Largemouth bass up to 8 pounds were caught this week. Pickerel action is excellent on live minnow and artificial baits. Catfish are being caught on cut bait and on live eels in the reservoir and in the river below the dam.
Buckroe Fishing Pier: The pier plans to open the weekend of April 3 with the hope that the croaker bite will be starting up.
James River: Wilcox Bait and Tackle reports that catfish are being caught in all of the creeks and other tributaries of the James from around Denbigh on up the river.
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel: Tautog activity will increase rather quickly over the next couple of weeks. There are some striped bass on the structure. Flounder should arrive sometime in April.
Eastern Shore: The first flounder catches should be made soon, inside the seaside inlets. In a few weeks, we will see the arrival of big drum on the seaside of the Eastern Shore.
Beaverdam Reservoir: The park held their first Big Bash Bass open tournament this week. The winning team of Taylor Mitchell and Steven Manisko weighed in a stringer of 12.8 pounds. They also took big fish honors with a 3.11 pound bass. Most of the bass being caught are on the small size. Crappie fishing is very good with anglers coming in with limit catches. Good numbers of perch are being caught and the pickerel bite is picking up.
Waller Mill Reservoir: Fishing activity is slow. The park is expecting more anglers to get out on the water as the weather gets nicer. Those that have gotten out are catching some bass, crappie and perch.
Little Creek Reservoir: Bass are being caught. Many are small, but some up to around 5 pounds are in the catches. The crappie bite is picking up. Small-to-medium bluegill are providing good action but not many large ones are being caught. Some nice yellow perch are being caught.
Offshore: Some tuna are being caught when boats can get out of the Outer Banks. Bluefin, blackfin and yellowfin tuna are being caught. The main action off of Virginia has been bottom fishing for blueline and golden tilefish in the area of the Norfolk Canyon. The ocean wrecks are producing some nice tautog.
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