Fishing Report - January 27, 2017

POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - Walleye activity is reported at the base of Great Falls and the mouth of Difficult Run, in Mather Gorge. The bridges at the mouth of Four Mile Run are holding bass. Shore anglers are taking them on Ratl-L-Traps, Silver Buddies and small crankbaits. Take plenty, as you will lose a bunch to the hardware cloth protecting the banks. Blue Plains is still giving up some bass along the shoreline, while gizzard shad anglers are taking lots of fish on 1/4 oz. Silver Buddies.

POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Dropoffs, adjacent to shallow sand or gravel banks, are holding bass. These are available along the creek channels, as well as on the main river. Best baits are live minnows, plastic Power Grubs and Silver Buddies. Fish these baits from shallow to deep water, paying close attention to the lip of the dropoff. Bass may also be found in any green grass, primarily in late afternoons.

OCCOQUAN RIVER - Yellow perch have not yet appeared in the river in force. Bass may be taken throughout the river on small plastic grubs, jig 'n pig and live minnows. These baits are best fished on dropoffs, adjacent to bank structure. This method should produce good numbers of bass as they cruise the dropoff, searching for food. The boat docks and rock wall on the North shore of the river are also holding largemouth bass for boat anglers. Use an exposed hook where possible, as the strikes will be very light and hooking the fish will be difficult. Crappie fishing is fair on minnows, around brush piles and boat docks on the South side of the river.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - Some bass activity on the points, particularly on the upper end of the lake. Slow-roll large spinnerbaits or suspending crankbaits down the points, toward the channel. Plastic grubs and jig 'n pig will also take the fish. Crappie are generally suspended over creek channels, at the 12-15 foot level. Small minnows or jigs will take coolers of these tasty fish.

BURKE LAKE - While only private boat may be launched at this time, some hardcore anglers are catching fish. Try to access points and submerged brush, as well as grass beds. Yellow perch, catfish, crappie, bluegill and largemouth bass are the normal catch, although an occasional walleye or muskie is taken.

POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER - For shore anglers, the Dickerson Power Plant warm water discharge canal continues to provide good action for smallmouth bass, walleye, tiger muskie and channel catfish anglers when the plant is operating. Live bait is the best choice for the catfish, while smoke grubs and live minnows or crayfish are the better choice for the other species. The deeper holes from Dickerson to Edwards Ferry are holding some good smallmouth. Live minnows, hair jigs and plastic grubs are enticing strikes at times. Some crappie are reported at the mouths of Goose Creek and Broad Run, by bank fishermen. Walleye and smallmouth bass are available at the base of Great Falls on live minnows and plastic grubs.

FARM PONDS - Bank anglers, fishing from the dams are occasionally taking a catfish or bass on live bait. Scouting out ponds for fishing next month is a good activity during the cold weather. Once found, (Google Earth is a good source) and permission obtained, the waiting and planning begins. The matter of bait becomes almost automatic. Start with small plastic grubs, Beetlespins or four inch plastic worms. Work them very slowly across the bottom near the dam or the deepest water of the pond. Watch the line closely for the telltale strike. When grubs don't work, fish medium to large minnows on the dropoff into deep water. In shallow ponds, fish these minnows near the dam, around the trees or other structure. As the sun warms the water, switch to top-water lures, such as Rebel Pop-R, Rapala floating minnows and Heddon Tiny Torpedos. Crappie will be feeding heavily as well, so those ponds that contain crappie will be dynamite. Small minnows or jigs will clean out the schools.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - Yellow perch have started their trek up the river and should be around the Fredericksburg area within a week. Small minnows, plastic grubs, Silver Buddies and Roadrunners will take coolers-full of these early Spring taste treats. A few white perch have appeared around Port Royal, moving North. Blue catfish are still feeding heavily in the deeper holes in the river, primarily on cut shad or live white perch.

SHENANDOAH RIVER - Bank anglers are catching fish. Catfishing is good with 12-16 pound fish being taken on nightcrawlers in 2-6 feet of water in the South Fork. Smallmouth bass action is very slow, although a few good fish are being taken on hair jigs, tipped with live minnows or pork frogs.

MATTAPONI/PAMUNKEY RIVERS - Some yellow perch are in the rivers, but sizes and catches are small. Most of the fish are being taken on live minnows. Another week will have more of the larger fish coming in. Channel catfish are taking cut bait with gusto. Anglers are also catching some crappie, largemouth bass and white perch.

LAKE ANNA - Bass fishing is fair to good, with fish in the 3-7 pound range taking jig 'n pig and live minnows in 5-10 feet of water, near cover. The larger fish are being taken near the dam and in the upper end of the lake. Striper action has slowed considerably, but some are still being caught downstream of Sturgeon Creek, on Hopkins spoons and bucktails, and around Dike 3 on Cordell Redfins. Crappie and yellow perch may be found around the fish structures and in the creek channels. Small minnows, Hopkins spoons and plastic grubs are taking these fish.

JAMES RIVER - Large minnows, fished on the bottom of the river channel in the bends, are producing good numbers of large channel and blue catfish. Walleye are also hitting large minnows and brightly colored jigs. Largemouth bass and crappie action is excellent in the barge pits. Brown/orange jig 'n pigs and smoke grubs are the better baits for bass, while crappie are hitting small minnows and jigs. Trophy smallmouth bass are holding in the deeper holes above Bosher's Dam and around Columbia. Live bait and jig 'n pig are the best choice.

LAKE CHESDIN - Fishing the bridges over Whippernock and Namozine Creeks, is producing some good catches of crappie and largemouth bass. Bass anglers are reporting a very few bass in the 4-7 pound class, hitting large minnows, fished on the willow grass edges, near deeper water.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - Yellow perch and crappie are hitting small jigs and medium minnows in 3-5 feet of water throughout the river. They are best taken on jig 'n pig, slow-rolled spinnerbaits and small plastic grubs. Best areas are the mouths of the main feeder creeks on the outgoing tides. Catfish are taking cut bait aggressively.

CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Those anglers fishing just below Walker's Dam are taking good stringers of jumbo yellow perch and largemouth bass in the 2-3 pound class. Medium minnows are the bait choice for the yellow perch, bass, crappie and channel catfish.

LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR - Anglers are catching fish on blade baits, large spinnerbaits and jigs. Best areas for stripers and bass are on points and humps in 25-30 feet of water. Jerk baits are also catching some good fish. Crappie are suspended in 15-18 feet of water in the mouths of creeks, moving into the coves when the sun is high. Walleye are staging along the dam, taking nightcrawlers, minnows small crankbaits and jerkbaits.

BACK BAY - Crappie, bass, catfish and white perch are the bounty for area anglers. Some bass are running to six pounds, taking live minnows. The catfish and crappie are also taking live minnows, particularly in the West Neck Creek area. White perch fishing is just picking up, with the majority taking small minnows in 2-3 feet of water. Results of VDGIF bass stockings are showing good numbers of bass to eight pounds. The upcoming season promises to be very good. Lots of milfoil, pondweed and wild celery is growing in the Bay, providing lots of cover for the released fingerlings.

SUFFOLK LAKES - Bass anglers are catching some nice bass in all the lakes, with the most successful bait being jumbo minnows. Stripers are the rage at Western Branch and Lake Prince, with the fish running 6-8 pounds. Lakes Cohoon and Meade are reporting good catches of pickerel and crappie, along with some nice bass. Lake Cohoon gave up a number of nice pickerel this past week. Large yellow perch are being taken from Western Branch, with the majority of the fish being caught in the coves. Crappie fishing is excellent at both Lake Smith and Waller Mill Reservoir, with some fish weighing over a pound.

LAKE GASTON - Largemouth bass are hitting crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps in 4-6 feet of water just inside the feeder creeks and shallow coves. Slow-rolled spinnerbaits are also taking some large bass, particularly in clearer water, like that in Pea Hill Creek. Crappie fishing is excellent. Striper activity is centered on the creek mouths, and below the dam, in Roanoke Rapids Reservoir. The big fish are feeding on the schools of shad. Follow the gulls for the best action.

BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - Bass fishing is fair, with small fish being taken on jig 'n pig and crankbaits in 6-12 feet of water, on points. The larger fish are halfway back in the coves, feeding in late afternoon and evening. Slow-rolled spinnerbaits are taking some good bass from riprap throughout the lake. Rat-L-Traps are also taking some fish. Crappie fishing is good, with the fish being taken from brushpiles and bridge pilings in 12-15 feet of water. Some stripers are being caught, mainly on old river channel bends and in Rudds Creek.

BRIERY CREEK AND SANDY RIVER RESERVOIRS - A mixed bag of bluegills, pickerel and small bass, with an occasional five pounder, is available here.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Bass and striper fishing is fair with 2-7 pound bass being caught on jig 'n pig and live minnows in 7-12 feet of water, off points. Striper fishing is also fair, with some medium sized fish being taken in the Blackwater arm of the lake. Most of the fish are being caught on bucktails and live shad, although Rebel and Bomber Long-A's are producing some stripers on top, as dawn breaks. Crappie anglers are pleased with the catches of these tasty fish. Live minnows and tiny jigs are taking the fish around brushpiles and boat docks.

LAKE MOOMAW - Fishing is very slow. Some die-hard anglers are taking a few trout in the four pound range, on spoons and live minnows. Best fishing is below the dam on dry flies in sizes 24-28 for catch and release trout or fishing live minnows on the bottom of the lake for jumbo yellow perch.

PHILPOTT LAKE - Bass fishing is good, with fish in the three pound class taking Hopkins spoons, deep jigged on main lake points, in 20-25 feet of water. Crappie fishing is picking up, with the water temperatures in the low 40's. Trout anglers are taking some nice fish on the Smith River.

SOUTH HOLSTON RESERVOIR - Crappie fishing is good on minnows, fished 6-12 feet deep, in open water. Occasional catches of smallmouth bass, on deep-jigged Hopkins spoons, off rocky points, but other species have lockjaw.

CLAYTOR LAKE - Some anglers have reported stripers and smallmouth bass, but details are sketchy.