Apr 29 2016

Virginia Freshwater Fishing Report

By Charlie Taylor

By Charlie Taylor

The waters of the state are finally beginning to catch up with the calendar. Water temperatures are rising steadily and fish are generally in spawning mode throughout the state. Because we have had little rain recently, most waters are falling and clearing. Upper ends of lakes are generally stained, while the lower ends are clear. Grass is showing well in those waters that normally have grass and this is helping to clear the water. It is also providing a great spawning base for fish. The spawning run of anadromous fish is in full swing with shad, herring, stripers, and white perch showing well in the upper reaches of tidal waters.


POTOMAC RIVER – D.C. – Fletcher’s reports that shad, catfish, bass and stripers are eagerly taking baits above Key Bridge. In the city, largemouth bass are taking jig ‘n pig, plastic worms and grubs, rattling crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Lower tides are producing best, near some type of structure. Try submerged wood, points, and dropoffs. Catfish are providing good action for shore anglers at Columbia Island and Haines Point. White perch anglers are loading up, using nightcrawlers and bloodworms. Crappie and sunfish round out the catches, taking small plastic grubs and small crankbaits.

POTOMAC RIVER – BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE – Bass are beginning to spawn in the milfoil beds on the main river, south of Chickamuxen Creek. Arkindale Flat, Blue Banks, Wade’s Bay and Aquia Creek are some of the better places for these beds. White and yellow perch are also seeking food in the grass. Small plastic baits, chatterbaits, spinnerbaits and rattling crankbaits are the preferred baits, although small topwater baits are attracting strikes in the early morning. Catfish are taking cut bait and clam snouts. Fish flats adjacent to main river channels. Use stout tackle when fishing the channel itself, as trophy size fish are resident here. Creeks are showing bass in the lily pad fields, and tightly holding to wood cover. With all the fronts that have moved through in the past week or so,the fish are a little skittish. Fish bottom baits very slowly or fish reaction baits. Most of the river is stained, so pick colors that stand out…. Chartreuse, orange or black. Small baits are the ticket, cast or flipped on light line.

OCCOQUAN RIVER – Lots of Hickory shad continue to be caught in the back end of the river. Catfish are taking cut bait and clam snouts throughout the river. Crappie are consistent in the early evening along the shoreline and around boat docks. Best bait is live shiners. Bass are turning on, with most of the fish being taken on small plastic worms in shallow water or around wood cover, holding tight. Bass are beginning to spawn in 4-6 feet of water on any available cover. Four inch Yamamoto Senkos in green pumpkin, fished weightless, will take most of the fish. Remember to fish them s l o w.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR – Largemouth bass are taking plastic worms in very shallow water. Fish the main lake points, casting onto the shore and retrieving back toward the deeper water. In the absence of bites here, move out on the point, fishing Carolina rigged lizards across the point. Crappie are schooled up and biting well. Catfish are taking clam snouts and cut bait throughout the lake. Fish the main creek channels on outside bends.

BURKE LAKE – Bass are biting well. Lots of nice fish being taken on plastic worms, crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Most of the fish are in the shallows, with the best depth being less than three feet. Crappie fishermen are being rewarded with nice stringers. Some large bluegill are being taken from the spawning beds. Muskie are becoming active.

FARM PONDS – Most of the bass are either spawning or in the pre-spawn stage. Baits should be live, or small plastics, fished in the deeper water near the dam. Fish the baits with as little weight as possible and be very patient. Sunfish should be spawning. They will take nightcrawlers, red wigglers, crickets and flyrod poppers. Use polaroid sunglasses to locate the beds in shallow water. Don’t neglect small topwater poppers.

POTOMAC RIVER – UPPER – Smallmouth bass are taking small crankbaits, plastic grubs, spinners and live bait. Buzzbaits and Tiny Torpedos will also produce well early and late in the day. Flyrodders should try poppers and Wooly buggers. Spawning bluegill are suckers for Beetlespins, small spinners and flyrod poppers. Occasional walleye are being taken by anglers trolling Rapalas upstream, alongside weedbeds. Catfish are cooperating nicely on live and prepared baits. Carp are suckers for Niblets corn and Wheaties/strawberry Jello baits.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER – The tidal section of the river is producing good stringers of largemouth bass, striped bass and giant blue catfish. Waders are still catching lots of Hickory shad around the Route One bridge. Shad darts and tiny gold spoons are the better choice of baits. The bass and stripers are taking shad-imitating baits along shoreline structure, while the catfish are taking cut gizzard shad, fished on the bottom in the outside bends of the main river channel. Crappie action is spotty, while sunfish are available on nightcrawlers and Beetlespins. White perch are being taken in numbers. Above the city, smallmouth bass are taking plastic grubs, spider jigs and topwater lures, fished in the holes in the river channel.

SHENANDOAH RIVER – Both forks of the river are producing good numbers of smallmouth bass on small plastic worms and grubs. Larger fish are suckers for small, fat crankbaits in green or chartreuse colors. Flyrodders have success with olive, brown and black, weighted, wooly buggers. Bluegill are taking tiny spinners and Beetlespins, while catfish may be taken on live minnows, nightcrawlers and chicken livers.

MATTAPONI/PAMUNKEY RIVERS – The big news is catfish; big and plentiful. Some bass are being taken on plastic worms and rattling crankbaits. White perch are still available on bloodworms and big bluegill are taking crickets and Beetle spins.

LAKE ANNA – Largemouth bass action is good for anglers fishing shallow points on the main lake or in the creeks. Topwater baits, early and late in the day, are producing good stringers. After the sun comes up, switch to plastic worms and grubs, jig ‘n pig or crankbaits. Concentrate in the shallow water uplake, but work the baits deeper as the sun goes higher. Bigger fish are coming from the willow grass beds uplake in both arms of the lake. A few walleye are being taken from shallow points, on overcast days. Striper action is good, with most of the fish being taken on Sassy Shads, Hopkins Spoons and live shad. Crappie are biting well. Best areas are around the bridge pilings and beaver lodges.

JAMES RIVER – Above the city, some smallmouth bass are taking plastics, topwater lures and live baits. In the lower tidal sections, largemouth bass are orienting to creek mouths, coves and standing cypress. Shallow water and moving tides are the key to taking these fish. Blue catfish are biting well in the deeper channels well below the city. White perch are still available below the Dutch Gap Power Plant.

LAKE CHESDIN – Lots of bass in the 4-7 pound class are being taken from the lake. Buzzbaits are the best producing lure, but must be fished in the early morning or late evening to be effective. Better action is to be had in the willow grass downlake. During the day, plastic worms are the better choice. Bream and crappie are providing good action for panfishermen, with red wigglers, crickets and live minnows being the preferred choice for bait.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER – Fishing is picking up, but there is lots of boat traffic on the river. Lots of gar are being taken on live minnows around the dam. Largemouth bass, orienting to the lily pads, may be taken on buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic worms. Catfish and bream round out the action.

CHICKAHOMINY LAKE – Lots of bass are being taken. Bream are hitting crickets and flyrod poppers, while crappie are taking live minnows, fished over the submerged brushpiles. Flyrodders are taking crappie on poppers in the lily pads and around cypress trees. A few catfish are coming in to the marina.

LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR – Bass are spawning in shallow water. Sight fishing is best. Lake is clear with water temperature of 68 degrees. Some bluegills, but not many, nor are they large. Red worms and inline spinners are taking them. Some large crappie still available. Look for them on deep banks with wood cover in or near deep water.

BACK BAY – White perch are hitting in the bay. Some bass are being caught around the grass beds on spinnerbaits and flyrod poppers, particularly in Red Head Bay. The creeks are producing bass on nightcrawlers and live minnows. Catfish, bluegills and a few crappie complete the action.

SUFFOLK LAKES – Shellcrackers finally started to show some life this past week, as a few citations were written. The fish were taken on live crickets and red wigglers. Most shellcrackers are beginning to bed and the action should continue to be good through next week. Some bass, 5-9 pounds, are biting at Western Branch and Cohoon. Stripers are providing some action, along with bass and crappie at Lake Meade. Walleye are hitting at Lakes Smith and Whitehurst.

LAKE GASTON – Topwater baits are coming into their own on this lake, where largemouth bass may be taken almost at will early and late in the day. The bass are active in shallow water on main lake points. Midlake, fish the shallow back ends of coves. Try a Zoom Horny Toad or Spro frog adjacent to the vegetation along the bank. Make sure the water along the shorline is less than two feet deep with the sun shining on the shoreline. Lots of big bass are cruising these areas looking for bedding sites. Fish plastic grubs on most points in 4-8 feet of water and spinnerbaits on WINDY points. Those bass that have left the beds are orienting to boat docks, where plastic worms are taking their toll. Good fishing may also be had in the creeks off the main river channel above the Eaton Ferry Bridge. Striper action is good around the I-85 and Route 1 Bridges. Crappie are biting well. Bream are schooling, with crickets doing the job.

BUGGS ISLAND LAKE – Lake level is at 299 and holding steady. The most consistent pattern for bass is Zoom Centipedes in pumpkinseed or watermelon seed, light sinkers, light line, fished on rocky bluffs. Some bass are located in the backs of coves. Most are suspended a couple of feet down, in ten feet of water. They are orienting to the willow bushes and downed wood. Buzzbaits and Zara Spooks are taking good fish in the early morning, while plastic worms and jig ‘n pig flipped on banks adjacent to the willows, or spinnerbaits along the shoreline, are taking good fish during the day. Crappie may be found on bridge pilings and catfish are biting everything in sight. Cut shad or chicken livers in shallow water are the ticket for the cats. Striper fishing at the base of Kerr Dam is excellent. Fish to 18 pounds are not unusual. The key is determining when the gates are open. When only one gate is open, fishing is excellent. When more than one is open, fishing shuts down.

BRIERY CREEK & SANDY RIVER RESERVOIRS – Excellent bream fishing on crickets and red wigglers. Bass action is heating up again, with large numbers of 14-17 inch bass being taken from the dollar pads on slowly fished soft plastics. Larger fish are found in the thickest cover along the shoreline. Catches from deeper water are scarce. Pickerel are thick on topwater and just about anything cast near or in the dollar pads. Sandy River is giving up lots of bass in the 4-5# class to anglers fishing jig ‘n pig or rattling crankbaits around the standing timber in 6-8 feet of water. ` Crappie and bream anglers are creeling limits daily.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE – Bait fish are moving onto the banks at night. This makes 9:30-11 p.m. the best time for striper fishing. Live shad are the best bait for the big fish, but Cordell Redfins and 1/3 ounce Hopkins Shorty with bucktail are also working well. Largemouth bass are being taken on plastic worms and lizards in the Roanoke River arm of the lake, as they continue their spawn. Concentrate on boat docks, as far back under them as possible. Plenty of large crappie are also available.

LEESVILLE RESERVOIR – Stripers, walleye and crappie are the fare here. Shad Raps appear to be the best bait throughout the lake, as most of the larger fish weighed in during the past week were taken on this bait. Below the dam, lots of anglers are catching stripers from the fishing pier.

LAKE MOOMAW – Bass action is excellent, as catches of 20+ keepers are reported. Best success is to be had by fishing in 3-4 feet of water on live bait and crankbaits. Brown trout are being caught, trolling or fishing live alewives in deep water at night. Crappie fishing is excellent, with good numbers of big fish being caught. Rainbow trout have moved in the area around Fourtney Boat Landing. The fish are in the 12-16 inch range.

PHILPOTT LAKE – Smallmouth and walleye are the main targets here. Plastic worms, soft plastic jerk baits and topwater baits are luring the smallmouth, while crankbaits and nightcrawlers are taking the walleye. An occasional brown trout is also taken. Crappie are being caught regularly in the Fairystone Cove area.

SOUTH HOLSTON RESERVOIR – Crappie are located at the mouth of creeks, with good numbers being caught. Look for smallmouth bass on the rocky points, while largemouth bass are found near Jacobs Creek. White bass are being caught at the water intake.

CLAYTOR LAKE – Stripers and hybrid stripers are taking Mann’s Stretch 20 plugs live bait and topwater baits. Smallmouth bass are taking plastic grubs, while flathead catfish are taking cut bait, live minnows and crankbaits. Crappie action is fair to good. Lots of carp in the 20+ pound range are being caught.

NEW RIVER – Good catfish action, along with a few small walleye. Striper action is fair to good below the dam.

FLANNAGAN RESERVOIR – Trout action is good under the spillway, while the news on the lake is big crappie. Smallmouth bass are taking small plastics and shallow rattling crankbaits. Bream and bluegills are spawning, where flyrod poppers and Beetle spins are taking their toll.

CLINCH RIVER – The river is low, but fishable. Smallmouth bass are taking small rattling crankbaits, pumpkinseed grubs and small topwater baits.

TROUT STREAMS – Ideal conditions are holding on the larger streams in the Western portion of the state, as well as all of the headwater streams in the National Parks and Forests. The water levels are full and good fishing can be found in all the mountain streams. Small gold or brass spinners will work well, as will weighted nymphs and streamers in sizes 8-10.

Permanent link to this article: http://vbsf.net/2016/04/29/virginia-freshwater-fishing-report-5/

Apr 28 2016

Red and Black Drum Biting, Flounder Picking Up


By Dr. Ken Neill III, Seaford VA

Until Virginia decides what to do with its cobia fishery, cobia will remain the main fish story. Cobia fishing will close in federal waters on June 20. It remains to be seen if Virginia and North Carolina will follow suit with closures in state waters. This would be much more problematic for Virginia as the closure would occur just about the time the cobia season begins to heat up here. Virginia will decide at the May 24 VMRC meeting. This is one you may want to attend if cobia fishing is important to you.

In the meantime, there will be a meeting on May 9 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Kitty Hawk, NC where the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council will try to explain just how we have arrived at this situation with cobia. Also, beyond this year, work needs to be started on cobia management for 2017 and beyond. Stakeholders (us) will have the opportunity to ask questions and to provide comments. If you cannot attend this meeting in person, you can attend via webinar. For more information visit: http://safmc.net/CobiaQandAMeeting_05092016 .

The first cobia have been caught out of Hatteras. The first Virginia cobia will be caught in about 3 weeks, likely by some angler targeting drum. Both red and black drum are being caught on the seaside of the Eastern Shore. Flounder action is picking up in the seaside inlets and more will begin to target them in the lower bay as the very good tautog bite is closed as of May 1. Some flounder have been caught up in the York and Back Rivers. Speckled trout are being caught in the normal speckled trout locations but not hot and heavy yet. The best reports have come from inside of Rudee Inlet and in the York River. The croaker bite continues to pick up in the rivers in the western side of the bay. Small bluefish are in the bay with some nicer blues being caught inside Rudee Inlet and on Poquoson Flats. The sea bass season will finally reopen on May 15 to give us something to fish the ocean wrecks for. The trophy striped bass season opens May 1. This is not a fishery that generates much interest in Virginia as most of the “trophy” fish are not here but there can be some caught at the CBBT and on the Eastern Shore sometimes. Smaller striped bass are being caught by anglers looking for speckled trout. There will be more interest in these fish when the spring bay season opens on May 16.


Offshore action has been mainly out of the Outer Banks where there have been good catches of yellowfin tuna, dolphin, and wahoo. There have been bluefin tuna caught in the canyons to our north. With tuna to the south and north, there should be something offshore of Virginia to catch but there hasn’t been any effort yet, largely due to a long run of windy weather. Tilefish will become a more attractive target after the seabass season reopens as blueline tilefish and sea bass are often caught in the same area.

Capt. Jorj Head will be the speaker at the May 17 meeting of the PSWSFA. His topic, of course, will be cobia.

The April issue of Sport Fishing Magazine has an article on Virginia titled: “An Embarrassment of Riches”. It covers inshore and offshore fisheries. The PSWSFA is prominently featured with a number of us in it along with Congressman Rob Wittman. There is the “Special Kate”, the “Healthy Grin” and the “Get Anet” in there. VMRC and VIMS programs are also featured. Somewhat ironic is a main section on “Chesapeake’s Prevalent Cobia” that talks about this great fishery we have June-September. http://www.sportfishingmag.com/fishing-inshore-and-offshore-virginia-beach

The PSWSFA’s big tournament, the “Flounder Bowl” will be back this summer with a new “weather rule”. Last year, the weather forecasts moved the tournament to the following (July 4) weekend. This created difficulties for many anglers and tied up Dare Marina for two weekends. To avoid that happening again, the Flounder Bowl will be held June 25-26 with a captains meeting on Friday, June 24. Anglers will still just fish one day but they will get to choose to fish Saturday or, those that declare Saturday a lay day, can fish Sunday. The party and awards presentation will be held after the weigh in on Sunday. It will now be the teams’ choice as to which weather day is best for them. This event is only possible through sponsor support. Sponsors for this year’s tournament are being signed up now. If you are interested in sponsoring the Flounder Bowl, you can contact the tournament director at: flounderbowl@verizon.net

Permanent link to this article: http://vbsf.net/2016/04/28/red-and-black-drum-biting-flounder-picking-up/

Apr 24 2016

Virginia Freshwater Fishing Report

By Charlie Taylor

By Charlie Taylor

Throughout the state, lakes and rivers are stable and clear. In most bodies of water, good fish are being caught. Patience and persistence is sometimes necessary, along with an understanding of what fish are doing during this season of the year. The better baits for bass are normally rattling crankbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic worms and lizards. Topwater jerk baits are coming into their own as the water temperatures rise.

Beaverdam Reservoir, Gloucester VA

Beaverdam Reservoir, Gloucester VA

POTOMAC RIVER – D.C. – Bass are hitting plastic worms, crankbaits and spinnerbaits, worked in and around any shallow cover from Blue Plains to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Dropoffs are also producing bass on deep-diving crankbaits, Rat-L-Traps, Chatterbaits and plastic baits. Catfish are hitting cut baits throughout the river, when fished on flats adjacent to deep water. Herring, shad, white perch, catfish and stripers are thick around Fletcher’s Boat House. Crappie are being found around submerged brushpiles in quiet waters throughout the region. Washington Channel, The Spoils, and Belle Haven Cove are producing good numbers.

POTOMAC RIVER – BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE – Bass are actively feeding in the emerging hydrilla beds along both shorelines, from Broad Creek to Nanjemoy Creek. On low, outgoing tides, fish grassbed edges with small, tight wobbling or lipless crankbaits. On incoming tides, shift to the extreme inside edge of the grassbeds and fish with jig ‘n pig, Carolina-rigged plastic lizard, soft stick baits or plastic worms. Use as slow a retrieve as possible or let the bait sit totally still. The bass will do the rest. Bass anglers are also being shocked by stripers, roaming the edges of the grassbeds, hitting bass lures. Rattling crankbaits and swimbaits are taking fish in swift moving tides, on points and steep-dropping banks. Top-water baits are taking some fish early and late in the day. Bass have moved into the lily pads in the creeks. Spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, Chatterbaits, and creature baits are taking their toll here. Sunfish are spawning in the shallows, where Beetlespins, small spinners and flyrod poppers are irresistible. Yellow perch are found on sand and gravel banks, and points. Small crankbaits and grubs produce well. Catfish are taking cut bait aggressively. Small, live white perch and swimbaits are also taking trophy catfish.

OCCOQUAN RIVER – Crappie fishing is good with small jigs and live minnows being the more successful baits. Catfish are taking clam snouts and cut bait throughout the river at all times of day and night. Bass action is fair. Some fish are being taken from the back end of the river, among the rocks. Plenty of stripers are present in the river, along with herring and shad. Rattling crankbaits and cut bait are the preferred baits.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR – Best action on bass has been on plastic worms and crankbaits, fished along the rock walls, on main lake points and in the coves. Better big fish action is to had uplake. Catfish are taking clam snouts, cut bait and chicken livers. Crappie action is holding up well. Some citation fish are being caught.

BURKE LAKE – Crappie are thick and biting well. Shellcrackers are taking nightcrawlers and crickets. Bass are hitting plastic worms, buzzbaits and spinnerbaits in shallow water, near vegetation. Catfish are biting well on cut bait.

FARM PONDS – Bass are roaming the shallows in most ponds. Plastic worms, Rapalas and flyrod poppers are taking some good fish. Sunfish and crappie are also biting well on small jigs, Beetlespins and flyrod poppers.

POTOMAC RIVER – UPPER – Smallmouth bass are taking very small baits, fished slowly along the grass beds on the edge of the river. Small crankbaits, spinners, plastic grubs and top water baits are doing the trick. Flyrodders should use small poppers and woolybuggers in black and dark chartreuse. Good bass action can sometimes be found below the weed beds where the carp are rolling. As the carp roll in the beds, they dislodge insects and crustaceans, which are washed downstream by the current. Smallmouth have learned to station themselves downstream and wait for the bounty. Catfish action is good and bluegills are starting to take baits. The larger bluegills are loaded with eggs and will bite aggressively. Crappie are spawning at the mouths of the feeder creeks, with 1-2# fish not uncommon.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER – Herring and white perch are in the river in force. Flyrodders are taking lots of hickory shad at the Route 1 bridge. Catfish are taking cut bait, fished on the bottom, in the outside bends of the main river channel. Bass are taking shad-colored crankbaits along the South bank of the river and plastic worms and grubs fished in the blowdowns. Plenty of stripers are hooked while fishing for bass. Above the city, smallmouth bass fishing is excellent on Tiny Torpedos and plastic grubs.

SHENANDOAH RIVER – Bass fishing has improved with smallmouth bass taking live minnows, nightcrawlers and small, slowly-fished artificial baits. Largemouth bass are also taking plastic worms, grubs, jig ‘n pigs, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Catfish are becoming very active with cut bait, minnows and nightcrawlers taking the majority. Sunfish are popping on top and taking Beetlespins and other small lures.

MATTAPONI/PAMUNKEY RIVERS – Plenty of herring and a few shad in the rivers. Along with the herring are lots of stripers. Some bass action is to be had on tide swept points and around wood cover. White perch are being taken on bloodworms.

LAKE ANNA – Downlake, the bass are on a post spawn pattern where the water is clear, but up lake, the males have moved back in the coves, while the loaded sows are still on points adjacent to the coves. Carolina-rigged plastic lizards are the most effective baits, although some fish are being taken on crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Fish the Carolina rigs in stump fields, dropping into 8-12 feet of water. Cast to the shallows and retrieve down the dropoff very slowly. Striper fishing is best early and late in the day, with Sassy Shads and Bass Assassins, fished on the flats adjacent to main channel points. Crappie fishing remains excellent, with the tasty fish being caught on live minnows and tiny jigs around beaver huts, bridge pilings and suspended over creek channels.

JAMES RIVER – Lots of nice largemouth are being caught in the tidal sections of the river, particularly in the lower creeks. Blue catfish are cooperating nicely on cut bait in the river channels just below the city. Above the city, smallmouth bass are taking tiny crankbaits, buzzbaits and plastic worms and grubs. Catfish are thick and aggressive. Bluegills are spawning and viciously attacking almost anything thrown their way. Walleye are biting well around the Route 95 Bridge area, near the city. Most of the fish, 3-8 pounds, are taking crankbaits.

LAKE CHESDIN – Water levels here are normal and the water is clearing slowly. Bass action is slowing, with the preferred baits being spinnerbaits, plastics and rattling crankbaits. Crappie are taking minnows around submerged brush.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER – Lots of bass in the 3-4 pound range are being taken on small crankbaits, plastic worms and grubs, and topwater lures. Big gar are being caught by anglers using large minnows, in and on the edges of the lily pads. Lots of big bream are caught on nightcrawlers. Catfish are taking cut bait throughout the river.

CHICKAHOMINY LAKE – Buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic worms, fished over the grass beds, are taking good stringers of bass and bowfin. Shellcrackers are taking flyrod poppers, grass shrimp and crickets. Catfish action is excellent on nightcrawlers, minnows and cut bait. Crappie are hitting flyrod poppers aggressively.

LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR – Bass fishing is consistent as the bass are spawning. Pay particular attention to the sunny side of points, along the shoreline. Foraging bass are taking spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, topwater lures and plastic worms. Occasional walleye are taking nightcrawlers or live minnows, while crankbaits account for some pickerel. Crappie fishing is excellent, with big slabs being found under floating grass along the shore. Large bream are beginning to bite, with the larger fish in 10 feet of water. .

BACK BAY – Channel catfish action is red hot, with catches of 7-13 pound fish normal. Some 4-6 pound bass, but no smaller bass are reported. Fishing in the creeks is excellent, with catfish, crappie, bream, white perch and bass to eight pounds, hitting well.

SUFFOLK LAKES – Fishing for bream and shellcracker is excellent, with red wigglers being the most productive bait. Lake Prince has given up many citation size fish during the past week. Bass fishing is good, with plastic worms and topwater baits accounting for some large fish. Stripers, 6-8 pounds, are biting well in Lake Meade. Lake Smith is producing some bass, to seven pounds, on plastic lizards.

LAKE GASTON – Fishing has been good this past week. Striper fishermen are catching fish on live shad and bucktails cast up on the bank in the upper end of the lake, near Kerr Dam. Catfish action is good for anglers fishing live shad on or near the bottom. Largemouth bass action is good for anglers fishing the spawning beds. Topwater lures, crankbaits and swimbaits are accounting for a few good fish in the back ends of main lake coves. Creature baits and soft stick baits are taking bass from the walkways at the rear of boat docks.

BUGGS ISLAND LAKE – The lake is stained at the upper end and clear at the lower end. Water level is at 300 and predicted rain should show it rising. Downlake, bass are holding on dropoffs adjacent to the buckbrush, on points, and in brushpiles. Best patterns seem to be topwater baits on points and along rock bluffs early in the morning, moving back into 8-12 feet of water after the sun comes up, with jig ‘n pig, Carolina-rigged lizards and small Yamamoto Senkos. Uplake from Clarksville, bass are holding on creek channel dropoffs and cruising the flooded gum trees. Better choices of baits include plastic worms and lizards and Yamamoto Senkos, fished nearly weightless. When fronts make their way through the area, the fish may hold as deep as 30 feet. Jerkbaits are also taking some bass, when fished very slowly, right up next to the brush covered banks. Crappie are taking bass baits throughout the lake, as they are very aggressive. Lots of 2-3 pound crappie are being caught. Catfish are taking cut bait and most normal catfish baits.

BRIERY CREEK & SANDY RIVER RESERVOIRS – Briery Creek is still giving up big bass, with a large number of 4-5 pounders being caught this past week.Reports of 10-12 pound bass coming from Sandy River are unconfirmed at this time, but there are many rumored accounts. Plastic lizards and live minnows are the ticket. Bream anglers are catching lots of large fish on flyrod poppers, crickets and worms. Large crappie are taking minnows.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE – Excellent striper fishing around Cedar Key. Some of the fish weigh up to 30 pounds. Hopkins spoons, 1/3 ounce, are also taking some stripers. Lots of 12 pound stripers are hitting Cordell Red Fins and Rebel Spoonbill plugs at night at the lower end of the lake. Bass anglers are catching good numbers of bass, to seven pounds. Bass are hitting spinnerbaits and plastic worms on rocky points and boat docks. Fish the dropoffs and ledges adjacent to boat docks, as the bigger fish are about 20 feet deep.

LEESVILLE RESERVOIR – Striper fishing is good, with live shad, bucktails and Cordell Redfins being the best baits. Below the dam, striper action for 16-17 pound fish, is reported as good in the Staunton River. Bass fishing is fair to good, with most of the fish being taken on buzzbaits.

LAKE MOOMAW – Crappie action is excellent, with some of the fish weighing over two pounds. The larger fish are located in 12-15 feet of water. Plastic worms are taking smallmouth bass to five pounds. A few large trout have been caught on minnows, fished after dark.

PHILPOTT LAKE – Largemouth and smallmouth bass are taking spring lizard baits in the shoreline trees. Walleye are taking the same bait, in addition to live minnows and crankbaits. Some crappie are being caught, but they are not schooled up yet.

NEW RIVER – Some bass and catfish are being caught, with an occasional striper in the 4-5 pound class.

SOUTH HOLSTON RESERVOIR – Crappie fishing is excellent, with minnows being the best bait. White bass are hitting small spinners, although they may not be creeled. Smallmouth bass action is much improved, with good numbers of fish being taken on plastic grubs, small crankbaits and topwater lures. Walleye are taking nightcrawler-tipped spinner rigs. Occasional muskie are also taken.

CLAYTOR LAKE – Anglers are catching a few white bass at night, fishing with live alewives, at the upper end of the lake. Some stripers are also being caught at night. Flathead catfish are turned on, taking crayfish, cut eel and minnows. Walleye are being caught in the shallows at Daleton. Smallmouth bass and crappie round out the catches. Live bait are the choice of the more successful anglers.

TROUT STREAMS – Big Stoney Creek is producing well since the recent stocking. Paddy Run and Upper Passage Creek also have ideal conditions. The Lower Peddlar River is producing well on small spoons, and sizes 10 and 12 nymphs. Throughout the National Parks, March browns and Hendricksons in sizes #12 or #14 are good flies. Streamers, particularly the Muddler Minnow pattern, have also been working well.

Permanent link to this article: http://vbsf.net/2016/04/24/virginia-freshwater-fishing-report-4/

Apr 19 2016

Tautog Are A Good Bet

By Dr Julie Ball

By Dr Julie Ball

A lot could happen on the spring fishing scene … if the weather would just cooperate. Gusty winds, crazy fronts, and unseasonal drops in temperatures are making it a challenge for the spring season to come together.

12987221_1051711484900641_5244960670136512399_nTautog are a good bet, especially within Bay waters. Inshore anglers are scoring with tog using fiddler crabs and clams on most lower Bay structures and wrecks. When boats can get out, the rocks and tubes of all four artificial islands and the pilings near the High Rise section of the Bay Bridge-Tunnel are providing the best results, but the Concrete Ships on the Eastern Shore can be more accessible in windy conditions. Most folks who are toughing out the weather are catching limits of fish ranging up to about 5-pounds, but some 8 and 9-pounders are also around. Deeper ocean wrecks are also holding nice tog, along with some nice seabass, which are still illegal to keep until mid-May. It tautog is on your list, you had better hurry since the season closes on May 1st.

Anglers are thrilled that the flounder are here and biting, but gusty weather is making flounder fishing conditions less than favorable, and keeping the water fairly dirty. Although flatfish anglers are finding some decent fish in protected areas, folks are working hard for their catches. Some flatties ranging from 17 to 21-inches have come from both the Eastern Shore seaside inlets and the Southside inlets lately.

Big bluefish are still keeping casters in Rudee Inlet content, with top water lures still the best enticement. Some scattered reports of speckled trout are also coming from protected waters this week, with both Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets reporting that most specks are small, but a recent citation trout caught in Rudee Inlet has speck hunters hopeful for an improving season. Puppy drum are also hitting in these same areas.

Croaker are now available in various areas in the Bay, especially near Willoughby, Ocean View, Little Creek and Buckroe, where pier anglers are using squid and bloodworms. The bigger hardheads are still coming from the lower Bay Rivers such as the James and York Rivers.

Drum enthusiasts are still anticipating the first catches of big red and black drum near the Eastern Shore, but for now anglers are mostly watching for weather openings.

When deep droppers can get out, the usual bottom dwellers are available. Tilefish, black-bellied rosefish, and grouper will hit while working the edges of the Norfolk Canyon in water ranging from 600 to 900 feet. Dogfish are still making this fishery difficult to access right now, but will begin to clear out soon.

The offshore action out of North Carolina is still good when the fleet can get out. Boats are still scoring with scattered yellowfin tuna, blackfin tuna and mako sharks.

Permanent link to this article: http://vbsf.net/2016/04/19/tautog-are-a-good-bet/

Apr 19 2016

Finally Some Fishable Weather


By Dr. Ken Neill III, Seaford VA

13043269_1004409502976035_7792455972903490546_nWe finally got some fishable weather and the fish were waiting. Both big red and black drum are being caught on the seaside of the Eastern Shore. Flounder are being caught inside the seaside inlets. Some nice speckled trout and a lot of bluefish are being caught inside of Rudee Inlet along with some flounder and puppy drum. Speckled trout and flounder have been caught on the western side of the bay and more croaker are being caught now that warm weather has returned and it is calm enough for people to get out on the water some. Tautog fishing is very, very good when the weather has allowed. The CBBT is the prime spot but most structures in the bay and along the coast are producing. The tautog season closes at the end of the month so get out there now. The trophy striped bass season opens May 1. Unlike up in Maryland where the springtime trophy fishery is huge, few Virginia anglers target them during this time of year as most of the “trophy” (36 inches and greater) striped bass are gone by May 1. If you are going to fish for them, a free permit is required and you must submit a catch report…even if your catch is zero. There will be more interest in schoolie striped bass when the bay season opens on May 16 with a minimum size limit of 20 inches. There will be sea bass on the ocean wrecks when that season opens May 15. They won’t be as thick as they were all winter when the season was closed. Tilefish are available further offshore and the spiny dogfish will not be as much of a nuisance as they were during the winter.

The Finfish Management Advisory Committees of the Marine Resources Commissions of both North Carolina and Virginia have weighed in on cobia. Both advisory committees voted to not close their state waters when federal waters are closed. This federal closure is currently scheduled for June 20 but can change based on what states do. States had been looking at ways to delay this federal closure and could do so by enacting very strict regulations like greatly increasing minimum size limits and greatly decreasing bag limits but even doing this would delay the closure only by a couple of weeks at most. If Virginia and/or North Carolina do not close their state waters, the federal waters closure will likely occur sooner than June 20. While both advisory committees voted to keep state waters open, they did recommend tighter cobia regulations. In North Carolina, the recommendation is to go to a 2-fish boat limit after June 20 (currently, they are at 1 person limit). Virginia’s committee recommended to keep the 1-fish per person limit with a maximum of 3-fish per boat with only 1 fish allowed to be 50 inches or greater. Cobia is a discussion item at the April 26 meeting of the VMRC. It will be at the May meetings of both North Carolina’s and Virginia’s Marine Resources Commissions when the states’ cobia regulations will be set. The VMRC meeting will be on May 24. If you have an interest in this issue, you should be there. Comments can also be emailed to VMRC Fisheries Chief Rob O’Reilly at: rob.o’reilly@mrc.virginia.gov. This issue is generating a lot of public comment. Chief O’Reilly says that for your emails to be included in the packet presented to the commissioners prior to the May 24 meeting, they need to be received during the official public comment period which will begin on May 10. So if you have sent comment and want it included in the commission packet, resend it May 10-19 to make sure it gets printed up in the commission packet.

Tilefish regulations will be changing. In what was an unregulated fishery in the offshore waters off of Virginia, VMRC enacted proactive regulations on tilefish and instituted, among other measures, a 7-fish per person recreational bag limit. VMRC cannot establish regulations for federal waters but can and did limit what could be landed in Virginia. This was done to protect this fishery until federal regulations were in place. The VMRC regulations were for all tilefish combined, which for Virginia means golden and blueline tilefish. Federal regulations for recreational golden tilefish were established at 8-fish per person but still no blueline tilefish regulations. Last year, an emergency rule was established in federal waters for blueline tilefish at 7-fish per person. For 2016, this bag limit has been continued. So, in federal waters anglers are allowed to keep 7 blueline tilefish and 8 golden tilefish per person but when you reach state waters, you are allowed only a total of 7 tilefish per person. Virginia’s regulations are out of sync with federal regulations. This will become even more so in 2017. The Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council has recommended for 2017, a blueline tilefish season of only May 1-October 31 with the fishery closed for the other 6 months of the year. In a bizarre move, recreational bag limits would be 3, 5, or 7 fish per angler depending on what boat you are on. This last may or may not be approved by NOAA but you can expect a 6-month closure for blueline tilefish with a year-round open fishery for golden tilefish in federal waters. VMRC will need to change our state regulations or just remove state tilefish regulations entirely as this is totally a federal fishery with federal management plans now in place.

The April issue of Sport Fishing Magazine has an article on Virginia titled: “An Embarrassment of Riches”. It covers inshore and offshore fisheries. The PSWSFA is prominently featured with a number of us in it along with Congressman Rob Wittman. There is the “Special Kate”, the “Healthy Grin” and the “Get Anet” in there. VMRC and VIMS programs are also featured. Somewhat ironic is a main section on “Chesapeake’s Prevalent Cobia” that talks about this great fishery we have June-September.

The first PSWSFA Tournament of the year will began on April 1 and run through July 31. It is the “Triple Threat”, sponsored by Bishop Fishing Supply. This tournament combines the lengths of Red Drum, Black Drum, and Cobia. The drum bite is likely to start early this year so make sure you enter before you start fishing for them.

The PSWSFA’s big tournament, the “Flounder Bowl” will be back this summer with a new “weather rule”. Last year, the weather forecasts moved the tournament to the following (July 4) weekend. This created difficulties for many anglers and tied up Dare Marina for two weekends. To avoid that happening again, the Flounder Bowl will be held June 25-26 with a captains meeting on Friday, June 24. Anglers will still just fish one day but they will get to choose to fish Saturday or, those that declare Saturday a lay day, can fish Sunday. The party and awards presentation will be held after the weigh in on Sunday. It will now be the teams’ choice as to which weather day is best for them. This event is only possible through sponsor support. Sponsors for this year’s tournament are being signed up now. If you are interested in sponsoring the Flounder Bowl, you can contact the tournament director at: flounderbowl@verizon.net

Permanent link to this article: http://vbsf.net/2016/04/19/finally-some-fishable-weather/

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