Fishing Report - February 10, 2017

OVERVIEW - Please use the utmost caution when boating on our state's waters this week. The outdoor temperatures are cold, and the water is cold enough to cause hypothermia and possible death. Special note: WEAR your life jacket. It can save your life. It won't do anyone any good in a compartment. At the very worst, it will at least allow law enforcement to find your body more quickly.

POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - Regardless of the cold weather, the amount of available light is causing the fish to think about spawning. Put away the idea that all the fish are located on the bottom awaiting springtime water temperatures. White perch are starting to move up the river. Largemouth bass are moving into the prespawn stage. This means that they are holding in 15-20 feet of water and moving up on shallow banks or flats to feed. Jig 'n pig, small plastic grubs and Silver Buddies are the more successful baits. Some of the more productive areas are Blue Plains, The Spoils, main river bridge pilings, Washington Sailing Marina docks, Four Mile Run and Columbia Island Lagoon. Crappie are schooled and moving into shallow water. Live minnows and tiny jigs are the preferred baits. Yellow perch should be available on live minnows and plastic grubs on the flat behind Roosevelt Island. Outflows from Blue Plains are attracting schools of gizzard shad, followed by catfish, stripers and largemouth bass.

POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Bass are being caught on main river points on jig 'n pig baits, cast into the shallows and worked down the dropoffs. Plastic grubs, retrieved in a swimming motion, are taking smaller fish. Larger creeks are not producing as well as the main river, however jig 'n pig baits, retrieved down dropoffs on outgoing tides, are accounting for some bass. Crappie are schooled tight and holding in 8-12 feet of water, adjacent to shallow gravel banks, with good cover. Live minnows and plastic grubs are the ticket.

OCCOQUAN RIVER - Some male yellow perch are in evidence, but the roe perch have yet to appear. The boat docks and rock wall on the north shore of the river are holding largemouth bass. Fishing the dropoffs here will produce some 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 or Shaky Head rigs, fished very slowly on the bottom in 10+ feet of water, adjacent to cover, will produce some fat sow bass.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - Most bass anglers will be concentrating on main lake points and humps, while crappie anglers will be looking for brushpiles in creek channels.

BURKE LAKE - Fish may be caught by shoreline anglers, concentrating on the points around the lake. For best results, use live minnows under a bobber.

FARM PONDS - These ponds should warm up quickly when the high pressure systems start moving through the area. Live minnows, fished on the edge, between shallow and deep water will take bass in the ponds. Nightcrawlers or plastic grubs or worms will succeed when fished on the bottom. Crappie and bluegill are very hungry and will take small minnows or nightcrawlers. Bring twice as many nightcrawlers as you think you need and a large cooler if you plan to fish for either of these tasty panfish. The more panfish you can take out of a farm pond, the more food that will be left for the bass and the remaining panfish. This will greatly increase the size of the fish in the pond. Remember that catch and release of panfish does not work to the benefit of a farm pond.

POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER - Most of the action is centered below the warm water discharge canal from the Dickerson Power Plant. Lots of nice smallmouth, walleye, tiger muskie and large channel catfish are in this area and downstream from the discharge point. Some of the deeper holes between Edwards Ferry and Dickerson are also giving up some nice fish. The Seneca Flats area is quiet, with few fish being caught. Smallmouth bass and channel catfish are beginning to move, in the area from Algonkian Park to the mouth of the Monocacy. Live minnows, small hair jigs and plastic grubs are the more successful baits. Crappie schools are located around the mouth of Broad Run and Goose Creek. Small minnows are working best for these tasty fish. Reports of white suckers are beginning to filter in from the White's Ferry area.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - White perch fishing is picking up in the lower stretches, with bloodworms being the bait of choice. Yellow perch are biting well on minnows and nightcrawlers in the lower reaches. Crappie fishing is good in the tidal sections. Some blue catfish, to 30 pounds, are being caught on cut bait, fished in the main river channel bends, from Massaponax Creek to Hicks Landing. Above the city, shallow running Cordell Big O's and small hair jigs tipped with pork rind, are responsible for a few three pound smallmouth bass.

SHENANDOAH RIVER - Some smallmouth bass action is reported, mainly on live minnows and Rapalas. A few largemouth bass have also been caught. Most of the action, however, centers around catfish and white suckers. These fish were feeding heavily on cut bait, live minnows and nightcrawlers.

MATTAPONI/PAMUNKEY RIVERS - The yellow perch run is in full swing, with lots of fish being caught. White perch, to one pound, are being caught at West Point, with smaller fish being taken all the way up the rivers. A little warm weather will bring larger schools up the rivers. Catches also included catfish, pickerel, crappie and walleye.

LAKE ANNA - Big fish are on the move and are beginning to feed. Live bait is at it's best now for trophy bass. Lots of fish are being graphed in 3-20 feet of water. They are making their way into the shallows, from the Route 208 bridge to Dike Three. The water temperature throughout the lake is in the low to mid 40's. Shad-imitating crankbaits, jigs and grubs are taking good numbers of bass, but live jumbo shiners are producing best. Walleye action is good throughout the lake. Gitzit grubs and live shiners are the best baits for the walleye. Crappie are schooled up and taking small shiners and jigs. Best action is found under the bridges and suspended over creek channels. Yellow and white perch are found on dropoffs adjacent to deep points. These fish are taking small minnows, jigs, and Hopkins spoons. Striper action is fair to good for those chasing the shad schools around the 208 bridge and Dike Three.

JAMES RIVER - Lots of reports of catfish, to 40+ pounds, around the Dutch Gap power plant and a few large smallmouth bass in the upper stretches of the river. Yellow perch and crappie are being caught with consistency around Dutch Gap. In the lower tidal sections, Upper Chippokes Creek is giving up some good largemouth bass.

LAKE CHESDIN - Some large bass, to six pounds, and lots of crappie are dominating the catches. A few walleye are also being creeled. Rat-L-Traps and Rapalas are the top bass baits.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - The mouths of the feeder creeks are producing well for anglers drifting live minnows. Speed Shads, Rat-L-Traps and spinnerbaits are also taking good numbers of large bass. Lots of jumbo yellow perch are being caught on medium minnows, while blue catfish to 30 pounds are taking jumbo minnows. Crappie fishing is picking up, with some good stringers being seen.

CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Largemouth bass, 2-7 pounds, are taking jumbo minnows, Johnson Silver Minnows, small spinnerbaits and topwater baits in the shallow grass beds. Pickerel, 2-4 pounds, are taking the same baits throughout the lake. At the dam, yellow perch are not yet being caught in large numbers, but this should change any day. Lots of crappie are being caught just below the dam.

LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR - Bass are being caught on blade baits at 18-20 feet, along windy points. Stipers are taking the same baits, but are holding a little deeper at 20-25 feet. Crappie are being caught on small minnows and jigs on irregular features of grass lines. Walleye are available on minnows, nightcrawlers and deep diving crankbaits at the dam. Large yellow perch are biting crankbaits in 8-14 feet of water on inside grass lines.

BACK BAY - Fair catches of white perch, along with a few crappie and bluegill are being taken from the creeks emptying into the Bay. The Bay has quite a bit of grass this year. A number of bass and large channel catfish are also being caught in the creeks, as well as the northern end of the Bay.

SUFFOLK LAKES - Western Branch Lake is producing some good bass, a few yellow perch and crappie. Lake Prince gave up a couple of nice stripers and a number of bass over five pounds this past week. Lakes Cohoon and Meade report crappie, yellow perch, pickerel and small bass as the major catches. Crappie are providing most of the action at Lakes Smith, with catches of up to 25 fish weighing up to 1 1/4 pounds.

LAKE GASTON - Bass fishing is picking up, with a number of fish in the 5-9 pound class being taken in the northern coves of the lake. Best lures are spinnerbaits with large blades, rattling lipless crankbaits and shad colored crankbaits. The main lake water temperature is in the forties, but some northern coves are posting temperatures in the low fifties. These are the areas that are giving up the larger fish. Crappie are aggressive once found, but finding them is the trick. Check main creek channels and bends for suspended schools. Stripers are being caught at the lower end of the lake on live shad and bucktails.

BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - Crappie fishing is excellent, with the tasty fish being found in 3-8 feet of water. Bass anglers are finding some fish along the banks with crankbaits. Shallow humps in the lake, adjacent to deep water, are producing good catches of bass, on Silver Buddies and deep-diving crankbaits. Carolina rigged baits are also taking some bass. A near world record blue catfish was caught off Clarksville in a local "Ice Bowl" catfish tournament. The big fish weighed in at 141.76 pounds and was released alive.

BRIERY CREEK & SANDY RIVER RESERVOIRS - Jig 'n pig anglers are taking some bass, but none of any size. Pickerel and smaller bass are being caught with regularity. Bluegills are taking red wigglers, nightcrawlers and Beetlespins.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Fishing success is off and on, but some nice stripers are being caught in the larger coves on live shad and trolled Mann's Stretch 25s. Musky are taking bucktails, while smallmouth bass are being caught on spinnerbaits. Crappie fishing is good on small minnows and jigs in 2-10 feet of water. Largemouth bass are taking jig 'n pig and jigged Hopkins Spoons.

LAKE MOOMAW - Some trout in the 3-4 pound class are being caught, along with a couple over the five pound mark. The fish are being caught on minnows, fished at 30-35 feet.

PHILPOTT LAKE - Largemouth and smallmouth bass action is improving daily. The water temperature is climbing into the high 40's, turning the fish on. Live minnows, jig 'n pig, Hopkins spoons and plastic grubs are the top baits. Trout action is excellent in the Smith River.

NEW RIVER - Muskie fishing is good, with a number of fish being caught this past week. Smallmouth fishing also improved with the warmer weather last weekend. Some anglers are catching large carp and catfish at the Celco warm water outlet.

SOUTH HOLSTON RESERVOIR - Catches are fairly consistent for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and trout. Crappie fishermen are doing well around the water intake, on jigs.

CLAYTOR LAKE - A few stripers are being taken by the few anglers out. Anyone actively striper fishing, can catch 3-4 per day on bucktails. Blue catfish are biting on nightcrawlers and cut bait. Walleye anglers are catching a few fish, but success is "iffy".

TROUT STREAMS - Excellent trout fishing is available in the Smith and Jackson Rivers. Anglers are using size 22 and 24 blue wing olives, weighted nymphs in sizes 10-14 and size 10 streamers. The streams should be in good condition by the weekend, but care should be exercised on muddy banks. Wild streams had very good reproduction last year and fly hatches are already starting. Nymphs will probably be the best lure for fly fishermen, while small spinners in the 1/16th ounce class will work best for spin fishermen.