Fishing Report - February 3, 2017

POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - Small yellow perch may be found on the flat behind Roosevelt Island, taking small plastic grubs and live minnows. Bass are feeding heavily on slow moving, minnow-imitating lures, throughout the city. Most productive lures seem to be three inch, dark colored plastic grubs rigged on 1/8 ounce leadhead jigs, and dark colored jig 'n pig. Chrome Rat-L-Traps, in the quarter-ounce size, and small, wide wobbling crankbaits are also taking some good bass. These baits should be fished on shallow flats, adjacent to dropoffs. Slow to moderate retrieves will produce best. Bass are available at Blue Plains on Silver Buddies and Carolina-rigged lizards. Crappie are schooled up and biting well. Try the underwater brushpiles in Belle Haven Cove and The Spoils. Nice crappie are also available around the docks in Washington Channel. Live minnows and small crappie jigs are the ticket. Yellow perch are taking live minnows, small Hopkins spoons and Roadrunners on gravel points and coves in the Woodrow Wilson bridge area. The island in the back of the Spoils holds a large number of these tasty little fish. Check the discharge from the Pentagon heating system in Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary for walleye. There are nice fish reported on the bottom at the exit pipe under G.W. Parkway. The mouth of Four Mile Run is giving up large numbers of bass and carp to anglers fishing under the bridges.

POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Some good bass may be taken by concentrating on dropoffs into 15-20 feet of water. Small grubs and jig 'n pig are producing lots of fish. Most of the fish are in the 1-3 pound range, but an occasional five pounder finds it's way into livewells. Crappie schools are roaming the dropoffs and brushpiles in most of the tidal creeks and may be taken on live minnows or small crappie jigs. The best areas are adjacent to wood structure that is close to deeper water. Yellow perch have invaded the river, but have not been in great supply in the creeks. Live minnows are the best bait, although yellow, 1/8 ounce Blakemore Roadrunners, fished very slowly on the bottom, will also take the fish. Catfish are taking cut bait, preferably winter shad, fished on the bottom in the main creek channels. Crappie are still schooled in the backs of Mattawoman and Aquia Creeks.

OCCOQUAN RIVER - The yellow perch have still not put in an good appearance. Isolated fish are taken, but numbers are still missing. The boat docks and rock wall on the North shore of the river are holding largemouth bass. Fishing the dropoffs here will produce good numbers of bass. The key is patience. A jig 'n pig, plastic grub or live minnow, cast into the shallow water and moved very slowly into the deeper water, will entice the bass into striking. Use an exposed hook where possible, as the strikes will be very light, and hooking the fish will be difficult. Silver Buddies, fished on the dropoffs among the boat docks at the mouth of the river, will produce lots of fish for patient anglers. Bring along plenty of the baits or a good lure retriever, as the bottom has lots of debris. Bottom-fished shad baits will take some of the large blue and flathead catfish cruising the river at this time.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - Very little action. Those bass that are caught are coming from the main lake points downlake. Lots of good crappie are being taken on live minnows and tiny jigs in the submerged brushpiles and standing timber.

BURKE LAKE - Anglers are scarce as fishing from the shoreline is not very successful. Catfish action is fair on chicken livers and nightcrawlers, fished in the deeper holes near the dam. Bass and walleye action is slow, but fish are being taken on live minnows, nightcrawlers and plastic grubs, fished on points. Muskie are on the prowl, with jumbo minnows being the key. Panfish are taking small minnows and nightcrawlers.

FARM PONDS - The fish in these bodies of water will turn on as the sun warms the water. Fish for largemouth bass with small plastic worms or grubs. One of the best methods for catching these early spring bass is to pierce a 4-6 inch plastic worm with the hook right through the center of the worm. This allows both ends of the worm to hang down when the hook is held up. Casting this rig in the root structure of the trees growing along the dam or bank of the pond will normally trigger strikes. You may not feel the strike, but rather, you will see the line streaming out toward the middle of the pond. Take up the slack quickly and set the hook immediately upon detecting any movement of the line. This method has managed to get my line popped more than once while fishing a farm pond in the early spring. Remember that most ponds contain one or more snapping turtles and they also have to eat. Plastic worms will catch them as well as fish, so be prepared. An ample supply of small minnows should be carried when fishing farm ponds, as most of them have good populations of crappie and bluegill. These are tasty fish and will take small minnows very readily. They are also school fish and when one is caught, fishing in the same spot will normally produce good stringers.

POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER - Those afflicted with "Cabin Fever" might want to try the ouflow from Dickerson Power Plant. The catching is "iffy" as the plant has not been operating on a consistent basis. Access is available at the power plant via a trail down to the canal. Smallmouth bass and catfish action is reported steady when the discharge is showing warm water. Best success is on plastic grubs, hair jigs and live bait at the mouth of the disharge canal and downstream to White's Ferry.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - Excellent fishing for blue catfish in the lower tidal sections. Many of the big fish are being caught on cut shad and herring baits, fished on the bottom, in the outside bends of the river channel. Some of these fish are weighing in at over 30 pounds. Fair largemouth bass action in the tidal sections on live bait and plastic grubs. Crappie are available around brushpiles in the creeks and on the main river. White perch, yellow perch and stripers are also in the lower river. Above the city, smallmouth bass are taking live minnows and plastic grubs in the deeper holes, when access is available.

SHENANDOAH RIVER - The water is lightly stained and cold. No angler's reports available this week.

MATTAPONI/PAMUNKEY RIVERS - Yellow perch are scattered throughout the rivers. Mattaponi anglers are averaging up to 15 to the boat, with a number of citation fish being taken. White perch are also showing, taking bloodworms. Catfish and bass are mixed in the catches, with bass taking the minnows and catfish taking cut shad.

LAKE ANNA - Near the dam, the water temperature is in the lower 50's, midlake finds 40-45 degree water and it cools to 38-40 degrees uplake. Largemouth bass and white perch are being caught on main lake points, near the dam, in 6-8 feet of water. Best choice for bait is live minnows, small crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jig 'n pig. The bass are running 2-7 pounds. Crappie fishing is good, with the schools suspended over the creek channels. Live minnows and tiny jigs are the preferred baits. Some striper action is being found around the Splits, with Sassy Shads.

JAMES RIVER - Bass action is still slow in the lower tidal sections. Some yellow perch, smallmouth and largemouth bass are being taken in the stretches below Dutch Gap. Most of the fish are being caught on live minnows, plastic grubs and jig 'n pig. A few walleye are mixed in the creels. Crappie are biting small minnows in the barge pits. Blue catfish action is hot, with fish to 40+ pounds, being caught on cut bait. The Appomattox River is also producing good blue catfish action.

LAKE CHESDIN - Largemouth bass fishing is fair with fish 5-7 pounds taking plastic worms, jig 'n pig and spinnerbaits. Walleye and crappie anglers are also catching fish, although numbers are not impressive.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - Although the river is stained, fishing is still pretty good for those anglers using live minnows, at the mouths of creeks and around the dam. Size of the minnows most often determines the species of fish. Small minnows are producing sunfish, yellow perch, bass and crappie. Medium minnows are producing larger perch and crappie, while jumbo minnows are taking the nice sized bass and catfish. Some of the bass are running to seven or more pounds.

CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Some bass are taking live minnows off points and over brushpiles. Pickerel and bowfin are also showing in the creels. Crappie anglers are taking good numbers of fish on live minnows over brushpiles.

LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR - A mixed bag of bass, pickerel, crappie, yellow perch and a few bluegill are available at this lake. Trophy bass and pickerel are taking minnows, grubs and crankbaits. The crappie are taking live minnows. The fish are located in 15+ feet of water on points.

BACK BAY - Bass and crappie fishing is fair on live minnows. Catfish action is fair, with some big fish taking cut bait. The big news however, is yellow perch. Lots of these spring spawners are being caught on live minnows.

SUFFOLK LAKES - Western Branch is turned on, with anglers taking yellow perch, crappie, big bass and stripers to 10 pounds. Lake Prince is giving up some trophy bass on jig 'n pigs. Stripers are also biting well. Crappie anglers are loading up in both Lake Meade and Cohoon, along with some bass, pickerel and catfish. Lake Smith anglers are also doing well, with trophy largemouth, walleye and catfish taking live minnows, jig 'n pig and crankbaits. Crappie stringers are full of large fish, taken on small minnows and tiny jigs.

LAKE GASTON - Largemouth bass in the 2-3 pound range are taking jig 'n pig baits in the north ends of the creeks. Larger bass and pickerel are also available just behind the dam. Spinnerbaits are the prime bait. Crappie are biting live minnows, drifted across shallow flats and creek channels. A few stripers are available around the bridges, when the water is moving. Live shad and bucktails are the primary baits for casters, while trollers are using the Cordell Redfin. Action is still good in Roanoke Rapids Reservoir, below the Gaston Dam.

BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - Bass action is fair to good on spinnerbaits and live shad in 6-8 feet of water, off points. Crappie are taking small minnows over creek channels and brushpiles, particularly in Rudd's, Butcher, Panhandle and Grassy Creeks. A fair number of large bass are taking Rat-L-Traps in the back of creeks, particularly on NE banks.

BRIERY CREEK & SANDY RIVER RESERVOIRS - Lots of bluegill for anglers fishing worms and Eurogrubs, while seasoned bass anglers are catching some trophy fish on live jumbo minnows and weightless wacky rigged plastic worms.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Striper and largemouth bass fishing is good. The bass are taking jigging spoons and plastic grubs on humps, while stripers, 12-14 pounds are taking bucktails. Occasional walleye are jumping on jigging spoons in 25-30 feet of water. Some larger stripers are taking live shad in the coves on the NE side of the lake.

LEESVILLE RESERVOIR - Fair numbers of 6-10 pound stripers are hitting lures consistently, with an occasional fish over the 20 pound mark. Live shad are producing the better fish.

STAUNTON RIVER - The upper stretches of the river are seeing the beginning of the walleye pre-spawn run. The primary lure used on the upper stretch is a white bucktail with a yellow twister-tail grub attached.

LAKE MOOMAW - Fishing is slow due to the cold water temperatures. Trout fishing is iffy, with lots of fish caught one day and none the next. Smallmouth bass anglers are catching a few fish on Silver Buddies. Below Gatwick Dam, the Jackson River is giving up some nice trout on flies.

PHILPOTT LAKE - Hopkins spoons and baby spider jigs are the top baits here, with anglers taking equal numbers of largemouth and smallmouth bass from deep water. Most of the fish are in the 3-5 pound class. Crappie fishing is also very good.

NEW RIVER - A few catfish are being creeled, and muskie action was fair before the water began to rise.

SOUTH HOLSTON RESERVOIR - Crappie are reportedly taking minnows, fished 20-40 feet down in the upper end of the lake. Trout are being caught near Spring Creek, while crappie and both largemouth and smallmouth bass are being caught on main lake points in 8-14 feet of water. Live minnows are the top choice of baits, although the larger fish are being taken on hair jigs, tipped with pork or plastic frogs.

CLAYTOR LAKE - Fishing is very slow due to cold water temperatures. Some brave anglers are catching stripers, 14-16 pounds, on live shad and bucktails.

TROUT STREAMS - Most of the streams throughout the state are in excellent condition for fishing, although recent snow and rain have them overflowing their banks, with access very slick. Larger streams are full and running swiftly. Spinfishermen should have good success on small spinners.