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Virginia anglers had a citation-heavy 2012
Susan Nelson of Maryland set a Virginia state record in June of 2012 with a 122-pound, 1-ounce wahoo.
Friday, February 8, 2013
Virginia saltwater fishermen tangled with more trophies in 2012 than in recent years.
The Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, a program administered by the state’s Marine Resources Commission, processed 6,071 trophy awards, or citations, in its program last year.
It was only the eighth time in the tournament’s 55-year history that anglers have topped the 6,000 mark, and the first time since 2007.
Striped bass, arguably the state’s most sought-after saltwater game fish, led the way.
Anglers registered 1,331 trophy-sized stripers that met the tournament minimums of 40 pounds for a kept fish or 44 inches for a released fish.
The largest was a 74-pound state record striper caught by Cary Wolfe of Bristow.
Of the striper citations, 32 percent were for released fish.
Next up was another coveted sport fish, the speckled trout.
The 1,279 trout citations were a record for the species, and came during a year when anglers enjoyed phenomenal action for trout of all sizes.
Nearly two-thirds of the awards were for released trout.
White marlin were third on the list, with the offshore fleet connecting with 1,179 marlin during a season that started with the first catch on June 9 and lasted until the final billfish was boated on Dec. 1.
Because citations are offered only for released marlin, all of the fish were released in 2012, the second-best for white marlin in the program’s history.
With 772 citations, red drum took the fourth spot in the program. Like billfish, red drum are eligible only for release citations.
Saltwater fishing is cyclical for most species, and the program tally reflected that.
For the first time since 1994 anglers failed to registered a single eligible spot.
Gray trout were another species that drew a blank.
No trophy spadefish were registered, either, a first since the species was added to the program in 1995.
Croaker, a popular target for anglers seeking fish for the frying pan, also had a poor season, with only five citations registered.
Pompano, for which only a single citation was awarded, and Spanish mackerel (three citations) were other poor performers.
State records were set for three other species.
Joseph Harris of Virginia Beach set a swordfish record with a 446-pounder, Ken Neill caught a 24-pound, 3-ounce tautog and Susan Nelson of Maryland made the book with a 122-pound, 1-ounce wahoo.
Visit mrc.virginia.gov/vswft/index.shtm for more information, including citation totals for every year starting in 2000.
Bird club hosts raptor competition
While some outdoors enthusiasts are happy just getting out there, others can’t avoid the thrill of competition.
Consider Saturday’s annual winter raptor count hosted by the Roanoke Valley Bird Club.
Teams of birders will head afield with tally sheets for recording sightings of raptors.
Each bird must been seen or heard by at least two members of each team.
The birds have various point values, from a single point for a turkey vulture to a high of 150 points for a northern shrike.
The teams must stay within a 100-mile radius of the Woodpecker Ridge Nature Center in Troutville.
Organizers stress that the count isn’t a serious competition, but rather just a chance to get outdoors with birding friends.
For more information contact count coordinator Anne Tucker at 721-1573.
— Mark Taylor
Weather JournalSome severe storm risk thru Thurs.