Fishing Report - January 20, 2017

* * * NOTICE * * *

Many thanks to everyone who indicated their well wishes over the past month. I am still recovering from surgery and the effects of the cancer. However, I am feeling well enough to gather information and compose the Fishing Report again. Welcome back and I hope my fishing reporters can come up with good reports for everyone.

POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - Blue Plains Sewage Treatment Plant outflow is giving up lots of large gizzard shad to anglers jigging Silver Buddies, and bass to anglers fishing live minnows, jig 'n pig and plastic baits along the shoreline. Anglers fishing the Spoils are taking numbers of largemouth bass and crappie from dropoffs, on Silver Buddies, small dark-colored grubs, live minnows and crappie jigs. Four Mile Run is giving up bass, carp and catfish to anglers fishing the warmer waters. Small crankbaits and spinnerbaits are taking the bass along the rip-rap walls and bridge pilings, while catfish are taking cut bait and prepared baits.Anglers fishing the 14th Street Bridge pilings are reporting large catfish and a few bass. Shaky Heads, jig 'n pig and crankbaits are the baits of choice.

POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Bass are holding on the bottom along steep-dropping banks. Yo-yoing a spinnerbait, tipped with a Big Daddy pork frog, will take some of the larger bass. Better numbers of fish will be taken on small plastic grubs, fished on 1/8 oz. jig heads. Cast the bait into shallow water and fish it back to the lip of the dropoff. Most hits will occur on the lip. When the bait falls off the lip, allow it to sink on a taut line. Should the line move at all during the fall, set the hook. Fish the bait very slowly and watch the line intently. The pickups will be very soft, and often the only indication of a fish will be a little heaviness on the line. Some of the better creeks are Mattawoman, Nanjemoy and Aquia, as well as Gunston Cove and the Occoquan River. Crappie are schooled up around submerged brush in the major creeks and coves.

POTOMAC RIVER - MORGANTOWN BRIDGE (ROUTE 301) - Anglers can catch small stripers off and on in the outflow from the Morgantown Power Plant. Tip a 1/2-3/4 oz. jighead with a 4-6 inch Sassy Shad, cast into the uptide, outside edge of the outflow, and allow the tide to carry the bait along the bottom. The stripers will do the rest. Just be ready for the line to start moving. Medium heavy bass tackle will do the job.

OCCOQUAN RIVER - Fish are available throughout the river. Yellow perch are staging at the mouth for their spawning run. Medium minnows, Silver Buddies, yellow grubs and 1/8 ounce, yellow horsehead jigs are taking these plump prizes. Fish these very slowly along the bottom, watching the line carefully. Most of the fish are taking the baits aggressively, but some of the larger fish will just mouth the bait and not move. Largemouth bass may be taken by anglers, concentrating on the dropoffs around the Route One bridge and along the rock wall. Most of the successful anglers will be using plastic grubs, Silver Buddies, jig 'n pig and live bait. Any structure in the river will be holding crappie. Channel catfish like nightcrawlers, minnows and cut bait, and extremely large blue cats are cruising this river.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - Fountainhead Regional Park boat ramp is closed for the season, but personal boats may be launched at Lake Ridge Marina on the Prince William County side of the lake. Bass are being caught on the downlake points, in submerged standing timber and on rocky sun-drenched shorelines. Best baits are small wide-wobbling crankbaits, jig 'n pig and small plastic grubs.

BURKE LAKE - Anglers are being consistently "skunked" fishing from the bank around this lake. Boaters are taking bass from the dropoffs along the shoreline. More successful baits are small crankbaits and bottom bounced plastics.

FARM PONDS - Those ponds that are still liquid should produce crappie from planted brushpiles and around shoreline brush. Live minnows and Tiny Tubes are the preferred baits. Occasional bass may be taken from sunny shorelines, well into the afternoons, when the water has warmed. Plastic grubs and live minnows should be the more successful baits.

POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER - The Dickerson power plant warm water discharge canal continues to produce good numbers of smallmouth bass and channel catfish, as well as occasional walleye and tiger muskie. The smallmouth prefer small plastic grubs in smoke or black, while the catfish are taking nightcrawlers, cut bait or live minnows. Don't neglect topwater baits in the afternoon. Water access is also available at White's Ferry on the Maryland side. In this stretch, some smallmouth are being caught by anglers fishing small hair jigs tipped with pork rind, in the deeper holes, off ledges in the river bottom. Bank fishermen are not reporting much action.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - Stalwart anglers are still catching blue catfish to 30 pounds in the deeper channel holes on cut bait and live white perch. Bass fishing is slow, although some crappie are recorded.

SHENANDOAH RIVER - Anglers have connected on some smallmouth bass, along with lots of bluegill and rock bass. Small crankbaits, tubes and Senkos have been the more productive baits.

MATTAPONI/PAMUNKEY RIVERS - Some anglers are catching catfish on cut shad baits. The yellow perch run is on, with the roe-laden fish being caught on live minnows, small silver buddies and Rat-L-Traps and plastic grubs. Some pickerel, crappie and bass are taking live minnows around Aylett.

LAKE ANNA - Better bass fishing is available on downlake points on jig 'n pig, plastic grubs, live minnows, jerkbaits and crankbaits. Crappie are available to knowledgeable anglers, throughout the lake, on small minnows and tiny jigs. Walleye fishermen are not having a lot of success this week, but if the weather improves, look for good stringers of these tasty fish in the next few weeks. Jigs, tipped with minnows or nightcrawlers, fished across points will take the toothed predators. Another favorite spawning area is just below the old VDGIF ramp at Route 522 on the North Anna River. Stripers, to 15 pounds, are being caught on Sassy Shads, fished under the roving schools of shad. Better fishing is coming from the area from Sturgeon Creek to the dam. The cooling ponds are giving up lots of small to medium bass and good sized crappie to anglers with access to the waters.

JAMES RIVER - Monster blue catfish are once again in the news. The big fish are taking cut bait in the area around the Dutch Gap Power Plant. Walleye have started their spawning run, and a number have been taken between Dutch Gap and the Route 95 Bridge. Crappie are still biting well in the barge pits around Dutch Gap. Smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing is slow, but some are being taken on live minnows and jig 'n pig baits, fished on the river side of the islands around Dutch Gap and in the barge pits. Above Columbia, on the upper James, smallmouth bass are taking skirted Yamomoto grubs, fished in the holes and below riffles.

LAKE CHESDIN - Crappie and some bass are being caught by die-hard anglers, fishing the Namozine and Whippernock Creek bridges. Small minnows are the bait of choice.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - Feeder creek mouths and main river points are beginning to produce good sized yellow perch for anglers. Small minnows, plastic grubs and small spinners are working well for the fish, running to 1 1/2 pounds. Crappie anglers at the dam are taking some fish. Bass fishing is slow due to low water temperatures.

CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Lots of fish are being caught by lake regulars who tempt the bass, pickerel and bowfin with live minnows. Some crappie are also recorded by die hard anglers.

LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR - Anglers are catching a few bass and perch, with an occasional pickerel. The fish are holding in 20-30 feet of water and taking baits fished vertically. Blade baits and jigs are the best choice. Carolina rigs, fished along the 25 foot ledges and along the weed lines are also producing bass. Crappie are being taken from 20-25 feet of water on live minnows and small tube baits. Some stripers are taking slow trolled lipless crankbaits.

BACK BAY - Creeks around Sandbridge are giving up some bass, catfish and perch, as well as a few pickerel. West Neck Creek is giving up some small bass, white perch and catfish, all on live minnows.

SUFFOLK LAKES - Lake Prince is giving up bass and big yellow perch to anglers with light boats. Western Branch recorded some small stripers and yellow perch. Lake Meade has no report. Lake Cohoon has given up some good sized pickerel this past week. Most of them have been taken on live minnows, but some are taking spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Lake Smith reports no angling activity.

LAKE GASTON - When the wind allows access to the lake, largemouth bass are hitting crankbaits in 4-6 feet of water just inside the feeder creeks. Good-sized largemouth bass are also being caught on slow-rolled spinnerbaits, fished along steep dropping points in the Poplar Creek area. Crappie fishing is excellent. Striper activity is best below the Gaston Dam, in Roanoke Rapids Lake, on live shad, Sassy Shads and Redfins.

BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - Striper fishing is good, with live bait and 3/8 ounce bucktails producing the better catches. Largemouth bass are favoring the main lake gravel points and may be caught on 10+ crankbaits in shad colors. Crappie are holding above brushpiles in 10-15 feet of water.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Fishing for stripers is iffy, depending on the weather. When winds are up, anglers stay home, but when the winds lay down, some catches are reported. Most anglers are jigging with Hopkins Spoons and bucktails or fishing live shad, in Betty's and Becky's Creeks. Crappie fishing is exceptional on small minnows in 6-8 feet of water. A few largemouth bass are being taken on bucktails, while striper fishing.

LAKE MOOMAW - Little fishing activity is reported on the lake. A couple of brown trout in the five pound class were weighed this past week.

PHILPOTT LAKE - Smallmouth bass are being caught on live bait, from 15-30 feet, and on Hopkins Spoons from 30-35 feet. Largemouth bass are taking spinnerbaits, slow-rolled in 15 feet of water.

SOUTH HOLSTON RESERVOIR - No angling reports available.

CLAYTOR LAKE - Some anglers are fishing. The bulk of the catches are walleye, taken on bucktails, in the rapids at the upper end of the lake. The fish are running to four pounds. Stripers, 6-8 pounds, are also being caught. Crappie fishing is good, on small minnows, while a few smallmouth bass, to five pounds are taking striper baits.

TROUT STREAMS - Streams are in excellent condition this week and catches should be the same. Smaller stream trout should be responding to small spinners, wet flies and terrestrials, while larger streams should produce some good fish on streamers