Fishing Report - September 30, 2016


OVERVIEW - The cooler temperatures are sending the fish on the feed as the water temperatures begin to drop and baitfish school up and head for the backs of creeks. As the water cools, look for all species of fish to begin taking faster moving baits, such as crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Next week should signal the start of some of the best fishing of the year.

POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - Bass are moving from the vegetation to dropoffs and submerged structure. The onset of colder weather will lower water temperatures and bass will be feeding heavily for the winter. Most successful lures should be shad or chartreuse colored crankbaits, rattling lipless crankbaits, plastic worms and grubs, and jig 'n pig combinations. Above Key Bridge, fish the Virginia shoreline for good numbers of smallmouth and largemouth bass, while the coves are holding schools of crappie. Best bait should be small, live crayfish. Below Memorial Bridge, the Virginia shoreline is holding good numbers of smallmouth bass to Columbia Island and largemouth bass to National Airport. Washington Channel is producing some bass on the dropoff along the War College Wall and around the boat docks and pilings. Stripers are also prowling the War College wall. Crappie are schooled around the boat docks and may be taken on live minnows or tiny jigs, fished under a bobber. The mouth of Oxon Cove, the Spoils and Fox Ferry are producing some largemouth bass on crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jig 'n pig and plastic baits.

POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Most of the bass action is centered around main river dropoffs and wood cover along the channel edges, from the bridge to Pohick Bay. Best method seems 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. Below Pohick Bay, the creeks are holding large numbers of fish, as they come out of the dying hydrilla and lily pads and hold on steeply-dropping banks. Small spinnerbaits, cast into the vegetation and retrieved slowly back to the boat, will take some fish. Grassbeds, when still green, are holding large numbers of bass. These fish may be taken on plastic baits, fished on top of the grass or in the holes. Crappie are schooled and biting well. Stripers are currently working around the mouths of Nanjemoy Creek and Port Tobacco River.

POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW ROUTE 301 - Stripers are marauding baitfish on the shoals below Mattox Creek, and around the grassy islands and points throughout the lower Potomac River. Sassy Shads, swim baits, Rat-L-Traps and topwater baits are producing well. Trollers are having success using Mann's 30+ crankbaits while flyrodders are doing well with Lefty's Deceivers and Clouser Minnows in red and white.

OCCOQUAN RIVER - Bass action is still good, with largemouth hitting crankbaits and plastic baits, fished on dropoffs throughout the river. The grassbed at the mouth of the river is still holding good bass. The fish are taking plastic "toads", pulled steadily across the top of the water. Lots of small stripers throughout the river. Crappie are schooled around the boat docks and other submerged wood. Small minnows and tiny jigs are the ticket.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - Bass will be hanging on the downlake side of points, standing timber and submerged cover. With the colder weather, the weekend should see lots of bass being caught on crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jig 'n pig on main lake points, rock walls where wood is present, and along the creek channels. Most of the fish in the lower end of the lake are holding in 8-12 feet of water, while the upper end is producing bass from 4-8 feet of water. Spinnerbaits are producing good bass catches uplake. Lots of crappie are being taken from the creek channels, where they are suspended over the bottom. Best results are coming from 8-12 feet of water, on live minnows and tiny jigs.

BURKE LAKE - Action is slow, with very few anglers out. Lots of small catfish and a few crappie. No reports on bass this week.

POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER – Water is rising and should be stained to muddy for a few days. Lots of action on the upper river before the rain. Smallmouth bass will be taking buzzbaits, crankbaits and plastic lures early and late in the day. Do not hesitate to use large buzzbaits around blowdowns during the early morning hours. Larger baits will take larger fish. After sunup, move to the main river channel, where the fish will be cruising in deeper water, looking for an easy meal. Small catfish are still taking nightcrawlers, shrimp and clam snouts, fished on the bottom, in the channel. Some good sized crappie are available at the mouths of Goose Creek and Broad Run.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - Above the city, smallmouth bass are taking live minnows, crayfish and small crankbaits. In the tidal sections, largemouth bass are taking crankbaits and plastic lures, fished along the shoreline brush and blowdowns on the south side of the river. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits are also taking good largemouth bass at the mouths of coves and creeks. Work the baits down the drops. Crappie and white perch are hitting live minnows around the brush, while catfish are taking cut bait, bottom fished in the outside bends of the main river channel. Striper action is centered well downriver, around Port Royal.

SHENANDOAH RIVER - Lots of smallmouth bass are being caught on live minnows, small crankbaits, plastic grubs and spinners. Motor oil and smoke seem to be the most productive colors for grubs, while chartreuse and crayfish are the better crankbait colors. All lures must be fished very slowly to attract fish. Lots of bream are still taking small spinners, and catfish are available for bottom fishermen.

MATTAPONI/PAMUNKEY RIVERS - The upper reaches of both rivers are producing lots of bass, crappie, white perch and catfish. The Mattaponi is also giving up some nice pickerel. Below West Point, there are plenty of white perch and stripers. Peeler crab, bloodworms, bucktails and spoons are taking the fish. Catfish anglers are taking good numbers of fish on peeler crab and bloodworm baits.

LAKE ANNA - Bass action is fair, with most of the fish being taken on crankbaits, topwaters and jig 'n pigs. The bass are holding and feeding in water 8-15 feet deep, with the better fishing being midlake. On the lower end, bass are holding in stump fields in 11-17 feet of water, particularly on points and near boat docks. Zoom Trick Worms, fished on Shaky head jigs, are taking good fish under docks located in 8-12 feet of water. Uplake, fish the secondary points of coves and creeks with willow grass beds. Spinnerbaits, 1/4 oz., worked slowly around the grass points, will take some large bass. Lots of stripers working the area around Rose Valley, between Jett's Island and Stubb's Bridge, and the mouths of Contrary Creek and Christopher Run. Cordell Redfins, Sassy Shads and bucktails are the preferred baits. Stripers are also taking topwater baits. Crappie are taking small and medium minnows around submerged brush in the Stubb's and Dillard's Bridge areas.

JAMES RIVER - The tidal section, below the city, is producing good numbers of largemouth bass on small crankbaits, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic worms. Wood structure, near deeper water, is the best location. Crappie are schooled at the mouths of creeks and coves, around submerged brush. Yellow perch are taking small crankbaits, spinnerbaits and grubs throughout the tidal sections. Stripers are present around the power lines below Jordan Point. Large crankbaits and bucktails are the preferred baits. Near the city, blue catfish to 40 pounds, are being caught on cut eel. Flathead catfish, to 25 pounds, continue to be caught on live bait at the Pony Pasture and Reedy Creek. The upper end of the river is also showing some good smallmouth bass action on live bait, plastic grubs and flyrod offerings.

LAKE CHESDIN - Good fishing overall, with lots of crappie and largemouth bass and a few walleye. The crappie are being taken on live minnows, while bass, 4-7 pounds, and walleye are being caught on crankbaits and plastic worms. Catfish action is good. Striper fishing also exploded this past week. Pickerel have turned on in the lake, with bass anglers catching many of them by accident.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - Lots of bass, to four pounds, are being caught by patient anglers using small buzzbaits, jumbo minnows and plastic worms at the mouths of creeks and dropoffs with wood structure in the upper reaches of the river. Crappie and bream are taking live minnows and nightcrawlers. Stripers are running the channel in force, taking Rat-L-Traps and live bait. The Walker's Dam area is giving up good numbers of stripers and large crappie.

CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Bass, 2-6 pounds, and pickerel are taking live jumbo minnows, crankbaits and plastic worms. Yellow perch and catfish action is also good, with best baits being live minnows and chicken livers. Crappie action is excellent around dark at the dam, or by trolling the lake. Stripers, to 10 pounds, are being caught by bass anglers.

LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR - Pickerel, bass and crappie are the prime targets here. Large pickerel are still hitting well on live minnows and crankbaits. Crappie fishing is excellent from the pier on live minnows and tiny tubes. Catfish anglers are taking some good sized channel cats. Stripers are hitting well, as are the yellow perch.

BACK BAY - White perch are biting on live minnows and grass shrimp. Some bass are being caught from the grass beds around Knott's Island and duck blinds throughout the bay, when there is water in the bay. Catfish are still biting well in Hellespoint Creek. West Neck Creek is producing fair to good fishing action for bass, catfish, white perch and crappie.

SUFFOLK LAKES - Lots of action in all the lakes. The cooler weather has turned on the larger bass, as well as pickerel, crappie and striped bass. Plastic worms, crankbaits and live minnows are the primary baits. Citation shellcrackers are still being caught on crickets and red wigglers, as the fish are said to be "biting as well as they were last spring". Yellow perch and catfish round out the catches.

LAKE GASTON - Crappie action is excellent with fish in the 1-2 pound class being taken on small minnows, fished around solid structures and submerged bushes, 12-14 feet down. Bass fishing is slow, with no apparent pattern. Crankbaits and plastic worms are the baits of choice. Most of the fish are found around concentrations of shad. 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. Live bait is particularly good for stripers from the Route 85 Bridge to Gaston Dam.

BUGGS ISLAND LAKE – Water level is at 298, just two feet below full pool. Striper fishing is good to fair, with most fish being caught in the area from Buoy seven to Clarksville. Trolling Cordell Redfins and bucktail jigs is the preferred method. Shad are schooling up and moving into the back ends of the creeks. Bass fishing is slow, with most fish being taken in the back of creeks and coves below Clarksville, on spinnerbaits and shallow running crankbaits. Bass are holding near shady clay banks in 3-10 feet of water in the creeks. Crankbaits and topwaters are taking these fish. Some bass are also moving into deeper water off main channel points and creek channel points in 5-6 feet of water. Shaky Heads, drop shots and deep diving crankbaits are the most productive methods for catching fish. Crappie action is also good with minnows, fished on wood structures in 12-15 feet of water or submerged brushpiles in 9-10 feet of water. Schools of white bass are available at the mouth of Bluestone Creek. White perch are being caught in 14 feet of water, off rip-rap, on nightcrawlers and small minnows. Lots of gar are prowling the clay banks in the lower creeks. They readily take topwaters and crankbaits, but hooking them is another story.

BRIERY CREEK AND SANDY RIVER RESERVOIRS - Lots of bass are being caught, with a few larger fish mixed in the creels. A good mix of fish have been caught, including catfish to 15 pounds and plenty of good sized bluegills. Live bait has been the best bet.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Bass are hitting shad-colored crankbaits and spinnerbaits in the creeks. Small topwater lures are taking fish in the lower end of the lake. Jig 'n pig baits, fished in 18-20 feet of water, in creek channels are doing well. Best pattern for bass this past weekend was small plastic lures on boat dock pilings on main lake points in 20+ feet of water. Lots of flathead catfish being caught by anglers fishing for other species. Striper fishing is tough throughout the lake. Most of the guides are getting 1-5 small fish per day. No good reason for the turnoff, although lots of theories are being advanced. Plenty of good fish are being marked at 45-50 feet, but they appear uncatchable. Best time is late evenings and early mornings. Crappie fishing is excellent, with many over the one pound mark being caught.

LEESVILLE RESERVOIR - White bass, walleye and largemouth bass top the menu here, with stripers expected to pick up this week. Largemouth bass, 2-6 pounds, are taking crankbaits, plastic worms and live bait. White bass and walleye are taking bucktails, crankbaits and plastic grubs.

LAKE MOOMAW - Smallmouth bass fishing is outstanding, with several fish to five pounds being caught. The fish are located in 2-3 feet of water and are being caught on topwater baits. Crappie fishing is picking up, but trout anglers are coming up empty. Trout fishing in the Jackson River, below the dam, is reported as fair.

PHILPOTT LAKE - Fair smallmouth bass fishing, with fish being taken on live, medium minnows, and live crayfish, fished in 30-35 feet of water. Anglers fishing at night, are catching bass on spinnerbaits and plastic grubs. Nice crappie action is to be had on small minnows. Walleye action is picking up, also on live minnows. Trout fishing is good on the Smith River after recent stockings.

SOUTH HOLSTON RESERVOIR - Smallmouth bass are taking jig 'n pig baits in 10-15 feet of water. Topwater baits are also accounting for some nice bass, early and late in the day. Crappie are beginning to school and catches are improving daily. Walleye fishing is reported as slow.

CLAYTOR LAKE - Good striper action, along with some large catfish being taken by lake regulars. Occasional muskie and white bass are also taken. Crappie fishing is excellent on live minnows.

NEW RIVER - Smallmouth bass are biting well. Topwater baits and small jigs are the order of the day, but patience is required.

TROUT STREAMS - The middle fork of the Holston River, Big Stoney Creek, Middle Fox Creek, Lick Creek and the Jackson River are good possibilities this week. Best lures are streamers, small spoons and spinners.


The Chesapeake Bay is holding some good sized striped bass on humps, underwater islands, rock piles and structure that produces tidal rips, such as bridge pilings. Most of the larger tidal rivers are also hosting these fish. Anglers on charterboats around Point Lookout, are catching and releasing up to 50 stripers per day in the chumlines. The fish are so thick around the boats, you can watch the fish take the bait. Best action is around the Point-No-Point Light. Cobia, large red drum and sea trout abound throughout the middle grounds, where anglers are taking them on trolled baits. Lots of bluefish, a few flounder, sea bass, tautog and sea trout remain in the middle to lower portions of the Bay. Anglers fishing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel Islands with topwater baits, are finding bluefish, stripers, Spanish mackerel and lots of other unexpected fish. Inshore ocean anglers are finding sea bass and tautog on wrecks and rockpiles, king mackerel, false albacore, Spanish mackerel and large bluefish on the artificial reefs and towers. Surf anglers are finding some red drum on the seaside islands. Pier anglers are finding taylor blues, sea mullet, grey and speckled trout, flounder and occasional pompano.