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Fish News: Virginia's Tuna Fishing

Fish News
Virginia's Tuna Fishing
by Dr. Ken Neill, III

It is a great time for Virginia's tuna fishermen. There are a lot of yellowfin and bluefin off of our coast right now. Most of these fish are on the small size but there are plenty of them. There are some nice ones out there too, yellowfin over 80 pounds and bluefin over 100 pounds. Billfish action is still slow. Dolphin catches are decent.
June 27, Jorj Head and Tim Hatok fished for cobia on 9 Foot Shoal. They managed to catch 5 cobia. No real large ones.
June 25-26, We put in a full weekend on the Healthy Grin. My crew was Stephen Powell, Jorj Head and Dr. Julie Ball. We left at 3 AM Saturday morning and came back Sunday evening in time for dinner. First, we ran down to the South Tower looking for amberjacks. The jacks were there. So were the bluefish. We caught some bluefish and broke off some jacks. Jorj caught an almaco jack on a popper. The bluefish were eating up our croakers so fast that we decided to run down to the B Tower and see if there were less bluefish there. Bluefish were not a problem at the B Tower but we still were having a hard time with the amberjacks. Not a problem getting a bite. That took seconds. We kept breaking them off or the circle hooks we were using would pull. By the time we had used the last croaker, we had only caught 3 amberjack. The smallest was Julie's 49 inch fish. Jorj caught a 51 incher. I caught the largest at 55 inches. Out of croakers, we put out a spoon and trolled around the tower while my crew rigged up some ballyhoo. We caught a bluefish on the spoon and then put out a spread and trolled east. We caught one yellowfin and 10 dolphin. Julie caught a 47 inch dolphin that she released for a citation. That did not go over real well with the more carnivorous members of the crew. Stevie caught the biggest dolphin at 50 inches. I asked him if he wanted to release it. I can't print what he said to that. Anyway, the fish went into the cooler. At dusk, we settled in for the night along the 100 fathom curve. We were supposed to chunk all night but that did not happen. It did not even start. I rigged up a couple of squid for swordfish and we drifted them all night while we mostly slept. I kept checking everything in between naps. About 4 AM, we were woken up by a screaming 80 wide. We were hooked to something big. I was thinking it was the new state record swordfish so I say that I'll take this one. I wish I had let Stevie have it. After a good fight on stand up gear, I brought a rather large porpoise to the boat. Our second one in a year! I must say that mine was much bigger than the one Stevie caught late last summer and it took me a lot less time to catch and release it. When it got light, we trolled north to where there was a pretty decent tuna bite going on with the fleet out of Virginia Beach. We managed to catch a couple more yellowfin in a heavy rain. We also picked up some more dolphin. We then ran towards home. We stopped on the Hot Dog to pick up one of those schoolie bluefin that are all over the place. Well we caught a couple of bluefish and then the long rigger starts screaming. This did not seem like a 27 inch tuna. We will never know because the hook pulled. We caught a couple more bluefish and a king mackerel and then the same long rigger goes screaming again. It does not seem as big as the first one, but still seems like a nice tuna. We get this one in. We put the 48 inch fork length bluefin in the box. We have our one fish limit and we are soaking wet so home we went. Stevie caught both the bluefin and our largest yellowfin.

Dr. Neill writes a weekly column for The Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman's Association (

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