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It has been a tough winter for saltwater striped bass anglers
Courtesy Ken Neill
Ken Neill caught and tagged this tautog April 2008, then caught it again the past weekend on the same wreck.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
BILL, I get the feeling that saltwater striped bass citations have been scarce this winter. Do you have any information on how the 2013 catch compares to January and February of 2012?
C.H., the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament registered 132 striped bass citations in January and February. During the same time period last year the count was 728. So, yes, your feelings that things haven't been going well are on target. It is too late now to salvage the winter season.
Two things have been against anglers. The bulk of the big striped bass migrating southward along the coastline have stayed well off shore, in federal water that protects them from fishermen. Secondly, frequent fronts have created rough water.
"It has been plum tough. Cold, wet and windy sums up the month of February." That's how Dr. Ken Neill, III, put it. He is an International Game Fish Association representative for the Virginia Beach area.
Fishing is so slow that Dr. Julie Ball, also an IGFA representative, has suggested that anglers might want to stay home and work on their equipment or attend shows and seminars rather than challenge the elements.
A few adventurous anglers have had success catching tautogs on coastal wrecks, when they can reach them. Jumbo sea bass have loaded up on some wrecks, but that season ended March 1.
Dr. Neill, who holds the Virginia tautog record, reported that his boat caught eight tautogs this past weekend, the largest 11 pounds, 8 ounces. That fish had been caught and tagged by Dr. Neill in April, 2008 on the same wreck. It measured 17 inches then, and 25 inches this time.
Some bluefin and yellowfin tuna can be found off the Outer Banks in North Carolina, but, again, getting to them is a challenge.
In the more protected and warmer water of Virginia's Elizabeth River, speckled trout are being landed, along with puppy drum and even stripers. One boat reported catching a couple dozen trout up to 25 inches. But even that fishing has been spotty.
"The Elizabeth River is still the best game in town, but folks are losing interest," Dr. Ball reported. "The unpredictable frigid weather makes it uncomfortable to chase these fish when the bite is hit and miss right now."
READER INPUT: Several readers told me they were have difficulties accessing my website. Problems occurred when roanoke.com was being re-designed. Most of the bugs have been worked out. You can access my site as in the past with www.billcochran.com. Also, you can go to the roanoke.com home page and click on Sports, then Outdoors. This will bring up work by Mark Taylor and me.
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