Fishing Report - September 23, 2016
OVERVIEW - Throughout the state, the lower temperatures will accomplish three things: lower the water temperatures, cause the fish to head to the backs of the creeks, chasing baitfish, and make the fish much more aggressive in feeding.
POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - Above Key Bridge, fish the Virginia shoreline for good numbers of smallmouth and largemouth bass, and the coves for schools of crappie. The upstream point of Three Sisters Island normally holds a nice school of walleye. These fish bite well on bottom-drifted minnows, nightcrawlers and plastic grubs. Washington Channel is producing good numbers of bass on the dropoff along the War College Wall and around the boat docks and pilings. Small stripers are also roaming the dropoff along the wall. These fish are taking trolled Shad Raps and Rebel FasTrac minnows. Most of the fish are undersized. Some bass are present around the submerged wood structure at the mouths of Oxon Cove and the Spoils. Crankbaits and plastic worms are the preferred baits here. Although the fish have been deep, they should come up in the cooler waters.
POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Most of the bass action is centered around main river dropoffs and submerged wood structure along the channel edges. Best method seem to be casting small crankbaits or plastic baits onto the flats and fishing them slowly to the edge of the dropoff. Allowing the baits to fall off the edge of the dropoff will normally trigger the strike. The fish are aggressive and strikes will be easily felt. Some main river grassbeds with well defined edges are attracting cruising bass. Crankbaits, particularly Rat-L-Traps, are taking the fish. Make sure that the grass is still green. When the grass turns color, the fish move out. The creeks are holding large numbers of fish, primarily oriented to grass beds, lily pads and steeply-dropping banks. Topwater lures, such as the Zoom Horny Toad, are taking some fish. Crappie are schooling and biting well. Striper action is great in the main river, all the way to Colonial Beach and beyond. Local anglers would be well advised to try the humps at the mouth of Nanjemoy Creek. These humps come up from 50+ feet of water to less than 10 feet. The stripers are holding on the edges of the humps and should be there throughout the balance of the striper season. Casting Sassy Shads and bucktails or trolling with Mann's Stretch 25+ baits or umbrella rigs with Sassy Shads, are producing well.
OCCOQUAN RIVER - Bass action is good, with largemouth hitting crankbaits and plastic baits, fished on dropoffs throughout the river. Best bass action is in the grassbed at the mouth of the river, on topwater frogs, Senkos and white spinnerbaits. Some small stripers are in the river. Rat-l-traps are taking these fish around the grass bed at the mouth of the river. Crappie are schooled around the boat docks and other submerged wood. Small minnows and tiny jigs are the ticket. Yellow perch are reported in large numbers throughout the river.
OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - The water level is down and bass fishing is poor to good, depending on the day. Most fish are being caught on main lake points, rock walls and the mouths of coves, particularly around Fountainhead Marina, where bass are regularly released by tournament anglers. Best lures appear to be spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jig 'n pig and plastics. Lots of crappie are being taken from the creek channels, around brush and standing timber, on live minnows and tiny jigs. The fish are located 10-12 feet down and biting well.
BURKE LAKE - Fishing pressure is very light. Most of the fish are still holding in deep water, adjacent to the grass beds. Plastic worms and jig 'n pig baits should take the bass. Some walleye and a few crappie have been seen.
POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER - Smallmouth bass are taking buzzbaits, crankbaits and plastic lures. Zoom Super Flukes and Yamamoto Senkos in pearl white are taking some trophy smallmouth. Do not hesitate to use large buzzbaits around blowdowns and grassbeds during the early morning hours. Larger baits will take larger fish. Small catfish are still taking nightcrawlers, shrimp and clam snouts, fished on the bottom, in the channel.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - Anglers are scarce, but smallmouth bass are hungry and active. Below the city, tidal sections are producing fair action for bass anglers. Shad colored crankbaits and plastic worms, fished along the south shoreline are taking good numbers of bass. Around Port Royal, slow-rolled spinnerbaits are taking some good bass from creek and cove mouths, on outgoing tides. Striper anglers are taking good catches of fish around Port Royal. Trolling river humps during daylight hours and casting to tidal rips in low light conditions provide the best action. Rat-L-Traps, Cordell Redfins and Rebel FasTrac minnows are the better choice of baits. Cut eel baits are producing a few catfish to 30 pounds, both above and below the Route 301 Bridge.
SHENANDOAH RIVER - Most anglers are concentrating on getting ready for hunting season, so pressure is light. Smallmouth bass and large sunfish are taking live minnows, small crankbaits and in-line spinners with gusto. Fish the pools below the riffles. Some anglers are taking 25+ smallmouth bass.
MATTAPONI/PAMUNKEY RIVERS - Striped bass are dominating the fishing on these rivers. Live bait, including bloodworms and peeler crab, are top choices in the upper ends of both rivers. Below Lester Manor and Walkerton, Rat-L-Traps, Sassy Shads, Red Fins, Rebel Minnows, spoons and bucktails are the favored baits. Most of the stripers are holding on bridge abutments, humps and points. Check for tidal rips and schools of minnows. Also, watch for diving gulls. Bass fishing is slow, but some anglers are taking limits on crankbaits. Catfishermen are doing well, bottom fishing with cut eel.
LAKE ANNA - Striper anglers are catching fish by trolling Sassy Shads, bucktails and Cordell Redfins, particularly around Jett's Island. Hopkins spoons, jigged near cover or over the main river channel, are also taking some fish. Largemouth bass, 3-5 pounds, are being taken by anglers fishing main lake points with deep diving crankbaits, live minnows and plastic lures, in 8-14 feet of water. The creeks are also producing some bass on Carolina-rigged plastic worms, in 8-17 feet of water, around boat docks. Crappie anglers are doing well on live minnows, small Beetlespins and tiny jigs. Catfishing has dropped off.
JAMES RIVER - Above the city, smallmouth bass are taking plastic grubs in smoke and pumpkinseed colors, in the deeper holes. Tidal sections of the river are still producing a few large blue catfish, to 45 pounds. Stripers are active in the river, primarily taking crankbaits around tidal rips on pilings and other structure. Crappie, to two pounds, are taking live minnows and tiny jigs around brushpiles and other cover in the Dutch Gap area of the river. The barge pits are an excellent starting point. Bass anglers are taking some nice fish from steep dropping banks, lily pads and marsh grass banks in the creeks. Small crankbaits, plastic worms and grubs are the predominant baits.
LAKE CHESDIN - Fair fishing overall, with lots of crappie and largemouth bass, as well as a few walleye. The crappie are being taken on live minnows, fished around bridge pilings and in the grass, while bass, 4-7 pounds, and walleye are being caught on crankbaits and plastic worms. Some stripers are also being caught by bass anglers.
CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - Lots of striper action on Cordell Redfins, Rat-L-Traps, peelers and bloodworms. Most of the fish are running 2-5 pounds, with an occasional 9-10 pounder. Bass action is good upriver, with lots of bass, 2-3 pounds, being caught on 1/8 oz. spinnerbaits and plastic worms, at the mouths of creeks, and dropoffs with wood cover. Crappie and bream are taking live minnows and nightcrawlers. Yellow perch and catfish are taking live minnows, grass shrimp and cut bait.
CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Bass, 2-7 pounds, and pickerel are taking live jumbo minnows, crankbaits, small spinnerbaits and plastic worms. Flyrodders are doing very well on Pecks Poppers, with bass to 5 1/2 pounds being weighed in this past week. Yellow perch and catfish action is also good, with best baits being live minnows and chicken livers. Excellent crappie action, with the fish being larger than usual. Gar, to 10+ pounds, are being taken on live jumbo minnows.
LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR - Stripers are the main quarry on this lake, although some large bass are being taken by striper anglers. More successful baits are Sassy Shads, Road Runners, live blue back herring and stick baits. The fish are not that aggressive, so make sure you are fishing s l o w. As the water temperature falls, the fish will become more aggressive. Shellcrackers and yellow perch are also being caught. Most of the fish are being taken at the 10-12 foot level on windblown points.
BACK BAY - Fishing action is slow. Some excellent action is to be had on large catfish in the Hellespoint-Tabernacle Creek area. Cut bait fishermen are catching a few speckled trout in the grass beds. More and more aquatic vegetation is being noted in both Back Bay and Currituck Sound, especially in the coves. Some nice bass are coming from these coves. Some nice crappie and small bass are biting well in the North Landing River, along with lots of white perch.
SUFFOLK LAKES - Shellcracker, crappie and yellow perch fishing is excellent. Lake Prince reports good striper action. Bass and crappie action is excellent, with the bass running 2-7 pounds. Lake Cohoon is producing a few pickerel for anglers using spinnerbaits and jumbo minnows. Crappie and small bass are also being taken in quantity. At Lake Smith, crappie and walleye are providing excellent action. All lakes are reporting big bass catches with 4-6 pounders not unusual and some over eight pounds being weighed in.
LAKE GASTON - Crankbaits and plastic worms are the baits of choice for the active largemouth bass. Most of the fish are found around concentrations of shad. Downlake, plastic worms seem to work best, while spinnerbaits are the bait of choice in the dingy water uplake. Slowly work plastic worms or grubs in 4-8 feet of water wherever you find shad. Best areas seem to be around creek channels that drop to 7-8 feet. The grass beds on points in the main river and in the creek channels, are producing good bass on topwater baits. Baby Chug Bugs and Zoom Horny Toads are particularly good. Live bait is particularly good for stripers. Lots of crappie are available to anglers fishing live minnows around submerged brushpiles. Look for these brushpiles around boat docks in Pea Hill Creek.
BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - Water level is at 298 feet and stable. Striper fishing is good to fair, with most fish being caught in the area from Buoy 10 to Clarksville. Live bait is the preferred method. Anglers are also taking stripers between dusk and midnight on live or cut shad, fishing from the points at the mouth of Nutbush Creek. Below the dam, stripers and catfish are being caught. Bass fishing is good with most fish taken in the back of creeks and coves on Rat-L-Traps, small spinnerbaits and plastic grubs. Some bass are also moving from deeper water off main channel points and creek channel points into 5-6 feet of water. Grubs and slow-rolled spinnerbaits are the most productive methods for catching these fish. Crappie action is also good with minnows fished on wood structures in 6-10 feet of water or submerged brushpiles in 9-10 feet of water.
BRIERY CREEK & SANDY RIVER RESERVOIRS - Small bass, crappie and bluegills comprise the catch of most anglers.
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - ass are hitting shad-colored crankbaits and small spinnerbaits around the baitfish schools in the creeks and coves. Best patterns involve rip-rap, boat docks and dropoffs into 30 feet of water. Small topwater lures are taking fish in the lower end of the lake, around the islands. Jig 'n pig baits, fished in 20-30 feet of water, in creek channels, particularly at creek mouths, are also doing well. Stripers are starting to move upriver, with good numbers being caught on live shad suspended at 15-20 feet. Bucktails, fished off deep mud banks on the outside bends of the river channel, are also taking fish.
LEESVILLE RESERVOIR - Largemouth bass, walleye and striper action is good, but information on catch methods is sketchy. Below the dam, crappie and white bass are being taken after dark on Doll Flies and Tiny Traps.
LAKE MOOMAW - Anglers are catching smallmouth bass, yellow perch and crappie. Trout to 15 inches are being caught.
PHILPOTT LAKE - Crappie fishing continues to improve. Live minnows and tiny jigs, fished around wood cover in 8-14 feet of water, are taking the fish. Bass throughout the lake are responding to spinnerbaits, fished early and late in the day, along steeply dropping banks. Night action is excellent. Catfish action is holding up well.
NEW RIVER - A few catfish and some smallmouth bass have been caught. Small topwaters and plastic grubs are the ticket.
SOUTH HOLSTON RESERVOIR - Very few fishermen out this week, although the water is clear and the weather was beautiful. Lots of crappie and bass were taken by those who did venture out. Best lures were crankbaits. A few catfish are being taken and white bass are beginning to show in the creels.
CLAYTOR LAKE - Some crappie are taking live minnows. Bass are taking crankbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic worms. Striper anglers are reporting fish to 14 pounds on alewives and shad, primarily around the lighthouse.
TROUT STREAMS - Southwestern streams should be in good shape for fishing. Spinfishermen should score on small spoons and spinners. Most of this area's trout waters are likely to yield trout this week. In the Northwest and Central parts of the state, trout have been caught on most of the streams on terrestrials and streamers.
N O T I C E
Once again, we come to the end of the saltwater fishing season. This will be the last report on saltwater fishing this year, unless something important develops. The report will resume in late March of next year. The freshwater report will continue all winter, incorporating some different bodies of water for those anglers who do not put their tackle aside during the winter.
CHINCOTEAGUE - Sea trout, taylor blues, sea mullet and flounder are still available inside the inlet. The surf off Assateague Island still holds sea mullet, sea trout, striped bass, small sharks, taylor blues and a few spot. Pan trout are available near the 2TL Buoy, for anglers drifting squid strips. Offshore boats are still finding yellowfin tuna from 30 fathoms out to the Canyons, while inshore waters are harboring lots of false albacore.
WACHAPREAGUE - Good catches of pan trout to two pounds, just 1-2 miles off Metomkin Inlet. Offshore boats are still catching dolphin and yellowfin tuna. Inside the inlet, bottom fishermen are taking sea mullet, taylor blues, sea trout, spot and flounder. Most of the croaker have moved outside the Inlet. The fall run of Flounder has yet to materialize. Some red drum were taken from the Parramore Island surf this past week.
ONANCOCK - Fair numbers of small flounder and grey trout to five pounds. The fish are scattered and drift fishing is proving more effective than anchoring. Peeler crab is the preferred bait for the trout, but most anglers are fishing cut spot, due to availability. The early morning and late evening tide change has provided the best catches. Lots of medium spot and croaker, bluefish to 21 inches and flounder to 24 inches still linger, along with stripers, puppy drum and plenty of porgy, straight out of Onancock in 35 feet of water. Speckled trout remain scarce.
QUINBY - Good fishing for grey trout, sea mullet, sea bass and a few flounder. The area from Eggen Marsh to Rebel Island has been the favorite spot. Anglers fishing just off the beach are taking 40-50 pound red drum on cut baits, cast toward the beach.
CAPE CHARLES - Good catches of tautog were made on the nearby mussel beds and at the Artificial Reef site. Bottom fishermen are also picking up grey trout, striped bass and puppy drum, along with a few spot, croaker and porgy. Catches are reported at the mouth of the harbor, along the deeper channel edges and at the Artificial Reef site. Speckled and grey trout are hitting at the mouths of the Bayside Creeks. Occohannock, Nassawadox and Hungars Creeks are all producing some nice stringers of fish. Flounder have diminished around the Concrete Ships.
LOWER CHESAPEAKE BAY AREA - Good spot action just outside the Lesner Bridge, while flounder and speckled trout action has been fair to good, inside the inlet, with best results coming on the incoming tide. Good spot action is also available at the M&M Crossing, Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and Twin Stakes. Along the Bay Bridge Tunnel, nighttime anglers are finding increasing numbers of grey trout, while daytime anglers report good catches of tautog. Anglers fishing topwater baits around the Fourth Island, are taking good numbers of school stripers, and bluefish to five pounds. Spanish mackerel are again showing off Cape Henry. Speckled trout and puppy drum are "just about everywhere" inside Lynnhaven Inlet, with some of the best action coming along the "Ditch". Nighttime anglers are finding speckled trout in front of the Duck-In Restaurant, around high tide. Around the Chesapeake Light Tower/Artificial Reef area, chopper blues to 15 pounds, and large Spanish mackerel are hitting deeply trolled spoons. A few amberjack continue to linger around this structure also. Bottom fishing with peeler crab is producing some of the best fishing of the year in the Severn River, lower York River and Mobjack Bay. Grey trout, spot and flounder are providing excellent action.
VIRGINIA BEACH - Offshore boats are returning with limits of yellowfin tuna in the 20-50 pound class, dolphin and wahoo. Amberjack are still found around the towers. Most of the fish are being caught between the Cigar and the Fingers. Inshore boats are fishing the Artificial Reef and inshore wrecks, returning with lots of sea bass, chopper blues and large Spanish mackerel. Headboats are catching mostly sea bass and some flounder.
PIERS - Call before planning a trip to fishing piers, as they are changing their hours during this season.
LYNNHAVEN - Medium to jumbo spot, stripers and puppy drum are providing steady action, with some speckled trout also being taken.
VIRGINIA BEACH - Medium spot, puppy drum, stripers, bluefish and speckled trout are the fare here, along with a few large red drum.
SANDBRIDGE - Spot are providing the bulk of the action. A few puppy drum and speckled trout are caught on the early morning incoming tide. Anglers fishing big chunks of fresh cut bait are taking 32-60 pound channel bass daily.
MIDDLE CHESAPEAKE BAY AREA - Excellent striper action is had by anglers fishing trolled spoons, bucktails and eels. Chummers are taking 50+ fish per day, 16-22 inches and bluefish to five pounds. Good catches of trout and Spanish mackerel at the Target Ships and around the Smith Point Lighthouse. Peeler crab, fished on the bottom or tipping a jig, is the top bait. A few trout are being caught by anglers trolling small bucktails. Acres of taylor blues are available from just East of the Smith Point Light to the Target Ships. The fish are taking almost anything cast or trolled through them. Good numbers of grey trout have moved into the Gwynn Island area, but the spot are about gone. Flounder are making a strong showing at Butlers Hole, but most are small. The Piankatank River and the Hole-in-the-Wall are showing good numbers of speckled trout on dark colored Mirrolures. Late evenings are the best time. Good catches of grey trout near the Silos on the Rappahannock River.
NORTH CAROLINA SALTWATER
OUTER BANKS, N.C. - Spot, sea mullet, Spanish mackerel and bluefish are hitting at the piers, with a good run of large speckled trout at the Nags Head Pier. Plenty of bluefish are available along the surf, with some of the best concentrations on the north side of Oregon Inlet. Flounder continue to bite inside the inlet. At Buxton, a strong showing of 25-40 pound red drum occurs in the evenings, at dusk. Puppy drum are thick throughout the area. The drum have been biting best on a falling tide, hitting a variety of cut baits, including spot and mullet. Pompano remain in excellent supply, with some of the best action coming from the north side of the Point. Spanish mackerel action has slowed, but flounder and speckled trout are improving at Hatteras Inlet. Offshore, limits of dolphin and yellowfin tuna are reported, with wahoo and billfish also being caught. Also mixed in with the yellowfin are bigeye tuna, with several fish 142-212 pounds being reported. King mackerel are running 4-10 pounds at the 102 Degree Tower, hitting spoons and strip baits. Best dolphin catches have been coming northeast of the Inlet. Inshore boats report steady action on 1-2 pound bluefish, with a few Spanish mackerel mixed in the catches. The headboat reported mixed catches of pigfish, sea mullet and croaker.