On Saturday my cousin, Phillip Neill, and I went to the Concrete Ships for some catch-and-release rockfish action. It was unreal. Fish and bait everywhere and gannets working all over. It was constant catching. We were drifting eels. It did not matter if they were dead or alive. Fish would nail them as we were letting them out. Most fish were about 40 inches long. We registered 6 fish from 44-46 inches long for release citations. I don't see anything in the weather forecast to push these fish out of the bay.
After cranking in all the rockfish we could stand the day before, we decided to head offshore for some different action yesterday. Virginia has added blueline tilefish to its trophy recognition (citation) program and has made them and snowy grouper as state record eligible. We headed out to the 50 fathom curve and caught a nice mess of tilefish and sea bass. The sea bass averaged about 2 pounds each with our largest at 4 pounds. The tilefish were in the 2-7 pound range. Phillip caught our largest at 10.5 pounds to earn our first Virginia blueline tilefish citation. Bob Manus caught one that missed citation weight by 2 ounces. He made up for it by catching a monster snowy grouper. It was the same length (40 inches) as the two world records that we caught last year so we brought it in to weigh for a possible new world record and establishment of the initial Virginia state record. Well it weighed pretty much the same as our two world records coming in between them. Bob's fish weighed in at 36 pounds 9 ounces a bit more than Jeff Dail's fish and a bit under Jason Ferguson's fish. Bob caught a really nice fish but Jason gets to keep his record a little longer.
Bob wanted to try out a new bait. He bought a big yellow sponge and cut it into cubes. He put one on his hook and would dip it into some menhaden oil and drop it down. He would put some real bait on his other hook. That one piece of sponge lasted him all day and caught the heck out of the tilefish and sea bass. No need for the artificial baits out there, just buy yourself a sponge. Of course, from now on he will be known as Sponge Bob. His grouper did not eat the sponge, it ate a piece of bluefish. We caught several bluefish out there also. His biggest tilefish did come on the sponge.
Weather? Bill, you do have an Albemarle don't you?
I always see your boat missing from the slip on days I wouldn't leave the dock. I guess I just haven't put mine to the test yet. I like to be comfortable. I always joke that "ken must not have checked the weather today"
Bill, there have been some days that I wished that I had stayed in the slip.
Larry, to target the groupers, you are supposed to fish deep: 100 fathoms or more. We have been fishing shallower than that along the 50 fathom curve. Sunday, we found the fish a little inshore of where we have been fishing in about 46 fathoms.