Fishing Report - March 17, 2017


POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - With the warmer weather forecast for the coming week, bass should begin to frequent their traditional spawning areas. A few fish are being caught, and the action should only get better. Better baits include red or chartreuse rattling crankbaits, Silver Buddies, jig 'n pig or plastic grubs. At Fletcher's Boathouse, white perch are showing, along with some shad. Blue catfish are available to bottom fishermen, and some striped bass. Stripers, shad and herring must be returned to the water, as the season is closed. As the temperature warms and more herring show in the river, the larger catfish will turn on. Smallmouth bass are being caught on deep-diving crankbaits along the Virginia Shoreline from Key to Chain Bridge. Some large crappie are being caught in Fletcher's Cove by anglers fishing smelt in the brushpiles.

POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Largemouth bass are taking plastic grubs and worms, live bait, and Silver Buddies during the early and middle part of the day. As the sun warms the water, crankbaits come into their own, with small shallow running baits and Rat-L-Traps taking the preponderance of the fish. The better areas are shallow flats adjacent to dropoffs. Most of the active fish are in the shallows, returning to the deeper water when through feeding. Main river vegetation, when you can find it, is also holding lots of bass. The mouth of Aquia Creek is loaded with fish seeking bedding areas, while Potomac Creek is also showing a few roaming bass. Plastic grubs, tube lures and Zoom lizards are a good choice for lures. Where the grass is found in deeper water, try a slow-rolled, willow leaf spinnerbait for larger fish. Most of the bass are averaging 2-5 pounds in the grass. Lower creeks are full of perch. Small twister tail grubs and spinners are taking large numbers of these tasty fish. A few pickerel are reported in Nanjemoy Creek. Catfish are active in the creek channels, feeding on white perch and herring. Remember that a 15 inch minimum size limit is in effect for largemouth bass in the river and all tributaries until June 15.

OCCOQUAN RIVER - Water temperature is in the low 50s and water is stained. A few herring showed in the river this past week. Bass have pulled back into deeper water, but the first bit of warmer weather will have them once again back up shallow, feeding and looking for nesting sites. Crappie are biting well around the boat docks and catfish are biting well in the river channel. Fish small shad darts in the back end near the rocks for shad and don't be surprised at what you catch. Just about any fish in the river will take these lures. Crappie are to be found in flooded brush, or suspended over deeper water, adjacent to structure, and may be taken on small jigs or live minnows. White perch may be taken on bottom rigs with nightcrawlers or live minnows, tiny Hopkins spoons or very small grubs. Largemouth bass are prowling the shallows, adjacent to deeper water in late evenings, after the sun has warmed the water a little. Slow-rolled spinnerbaits, small shad colored crankbaits and small plastic baits are taking good sized fish. Channel and blue catfish are biting well on cut gizzard shad or clam snouts.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - Bass are being caught by anglers fishing main lake coves with jig 'n pig and slow-rolled spinnerbaits. The bucks are up on the flats in the back of the shallow coves, while the females are hanging just off the flats in a little deeper water. Crappie have moved into the coves with brush and standing timber. Most of the good fish are being caught in 8-10 feet of water on live minnows and tiny jigs. Catfish action is fair, needing higher water temperatures to turn on good.

BURKE LAKE - Bass action is fair to good, with good fish being taken on crankbaits, buzzbaits and plastic lures, fished in the shallow coves on the north side of the lake, adjacent to deeper water. An occasional muskie is caught by anglers trolling large Believers or spinners. Some crappie, but sizes are small.

LAKE CURTIS - Surprisingly good action in this small lake. Bass, to six pounds, are being taken on suspending jerk baits in shallow coves on the North side of the lake. Catfish are also suckers for the jerk baits, but they are located near the rip-rap and adjacent to the old creek channel.

FARM PONDS - These small bodies of water are prime for big bass and crappie fishing. Topwater lures, small crankbaits and plastic worms will take good numbers of bass, including some large fish. Crappie and bluegill will take small minnows, tiny jigs and spinners.

POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER - The river is rising, but some smallmouth bass were caught this past weekend, primarily on tiny crankbaits, such as the Bill Norman Tiny Deep "N". The vegetation beds along the banks are some of the better places to try at this time of year, as the bass are invading these patches to feed on the small minnows clustered there. Catfish action is good, with the whiskered fish taking cut bait, nightcrawlers, clam snouts and bloodworms. Carp are hitting almost anything put in front of them.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - Big blue catfish are being caught, up to 35 pounds. Hickory shad and herring are in evidence throughout the river, along with a few white shad. A few fish should be caught from the Route 1 bridge area this weekend, by waders with flyrods or light spinning gear. Tidal water bass and stripers are also taking small shad-colored crankbaits and plastic grubs and worms, fished in and around the blowdowns below the city. Smallmouth anglers are catching smallmouth bass on large minnows.

SHENANDOAH RIVER - Smallmouth bass are taking live minnows. Flyrodders are taking some bass and bluegills on nymphs and wooly worms. Crappie anglers are taking fish on live minnows. Catfish action is excellent, with many fish in the 12 pound class.

MATTAPONI/PAMUNKEY RIVERS - The white perch run is in full swing, along with some yellow perch that are still being caught. Plenty of catfish rounded out the catches. The headwaters of the rivers are producing some decent catches of bass and pickerel. Stripers are available throughout the rivers.

LAKE ANNA - Anglers will find 2-8 pound largemouth bass consistently hitting suspending crankbaits and jerkbaits, or gold, willow leaf spinnerbaits, worked in shallow water. Main lake coves are the better producing spots downlake, while the areas around willow grass beds are the better choices uplake. Crankbaits cast into 3-6 feet of water are also taking good fish. Crappie are congregated around beaver huts, bridges and submerged fish structures. Channel catfish are taking cut fish or shrimp baits aggressively. Striper fishing is inconsistent, with most of the fish being taken uplake, as the fish are staging their false spawning run. Best baits are chartreuse Sassy Shads, Storm swim baits and living rubber bucktails.

JAMES RIVER - Below the city, around the 95 bridge, some white perch are being caught on bloodworms. Catfish, some very large, are taking cut gizzard shad baits in the outside channel bends of the main river. Striped bass are taking Rat-L-Traps and crankbaits, as they start their spawning run. Sassy Shads and grubs are the ticket for smallmouth bass, while cut bait and nightcrawlers are tempting the bream and catfish. Largemouth bass are moving into the shallows, staging for the spawn. Shallow sand or gravel banks, adjacent to deeper water is the proper place to find these fish. Best choice of baits is plastic grubs and slow-rolled spinnerbaits.

LAKE CHESDIN - Bass fishing has been excellent for 2-8 pound fish along sunny banks with submerged grass beds. Preferred baits include spinnerbaits, rattling crankbaits and jigs. Main lake points with stump fields are also producing well. Crappie are being caught on blowdowns in coves and creeks, around brushpiles, in 5-12 feet of water. Catfish, in the three pound class, are being caught throughout the lake.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - Bass action is good, with the better fish holding on dropoffs and points, where tidal action is swift. Small plastic grubs or worms and jig 'n pig baits are the ticket, allowing them to be swept along the bottom by the tide. Deep diving crankbaits are also taking some fish off points and dropoffs with cover available. Yellow perch are thick in the river, taking small crankbaits, spinners and plastic grubs. Catfish are active, with fish to 25 pounds being taken this past week. Herring and shad are taking small shad darts and small spoons. White perch are biting well throughout the river.

CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Bream are beginning to hit, particularly on flyrod bugs, fished slowly. Bass and pickerel fishing is generally good, with minnows being the better choice for bait, although some fish are taking Rat-L-Traps and spinnerbaits, fished in the lily pads, near deeper water. Some large bass are taking buzzbaits, fished over the grass. Bowfin action is excellent, with many fish in the eight pound class. Crappie anglers are concentrating on the cypress knees with small minnows and tiny crappie jigs.

LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR - The lake is at full pool and stained. Water temp is at 45 degrees, but warming rapidly. Fishing is fair to good. Bass and pickerel are found in 2-12 feet of water, on points, and biting well, with best results coming on rattling crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jig 'n pig. Crappie and bluegills are holding in 6-8 feet of water, just off bedding areas. Better baits are minnows and curly tailed jigs. Yellow perch are holding along ledges in 15-18 feet of water.

BACK BAY - Good fishing for white perch, catfish, crappie and bass. Most of the action is taking place in Hellespoint Creek, West Neck Creek, Pocaty Creek and around Knott's Island. When the winds allow, anglers are taking some good bass from the outside edges of the grassbeds at the north end of the Bay. Spinnerbaits are the preferred bait. Catfish action is excellent throughout the bay.

SUFFOLK LAKES - Bass action is excellent, with Lakes Western Branch, Prince, Burnt Mills and Cohoon producing good numbers of bass over five pounds this past week. Stripers are also biting well in Prince, with best results coming on minnows. Crappie are available in all the lakes and shellcracker are beginning to bite in Burnt Mills and Prince.

LAKE GASTON - Largemouth bass are biting well. Look for the warmest water and throw spinnerbaits into the shallows. Retrieve the lures at medium or fast speeds and you should catch fish. The weekend should have the upper and lower creeks lightly stained and the main lake clear. Rattling crankbaits should also work well. A good number of nice fish are being taken on Carolina rigged lizards, fished in the creek channels in the backs of the creeks. Pickerel are hitting shad colored crankbaits off the willow grass beds in the creeks. Crappie fishing is good, with most of the better catches being made around brushpiles and bridge pilings. Striper fishing is off slightly, but fish are still being caught on live shad. Stripers are actively feeding below Kerr Dam on bucktails, jigs and flat plugs. Below the Roanoke Rapids Bridge, stripers are also being caught in the N.C. tidal waters of the Roanoke River.

BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - Water Level is at 298 and stable. Water temperature is in the mid 50s. Some good catches of bass are being made on main lake points on jig 'n pig, slow-rolled spinnerbaits and rattling crankbaits. Bass are also being caught by anglers fishing the willows on main lake points with black/blue jig 'n pig, chartreuse spinnerbaits and Rat-L-Traps. The lunker pattern is to fish rip-rap with spinnerbaits. Lots of shad are present in the shallow water around the rocks and trophy largemouth are up after them. Flippin' jig 'n pig or plastic baits will get some lunkers out of bushes. Don't neglect jerk baits, fished parallel to the bushes early and late in the day. Stripers are being caught from buoys 2-8, trolling deep diving Cordell Redfins. Stripers are also being caught at Palmers Point, Keats, Eastland and Butchers Creeks on live bait and bottom fishing with cut shad. Crappie anglers are taking coolers of good sized crappie from brushpiles in 6-10 feet of water on small minnows and tiny jigs. Below Kerr Dam, anglers are catching walleye on small bucktails and Rat-L-Traps.

BRIERY CREEK LAKE - A bunch of large bass are being caught, with the largest being taken on live minnows and jig 'n pig. Plenty of 2-4 pound catfish are caught on chicken livers, as well as a number of large bream on nightcrawlers. Crappie and pickerel are also doing well.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Largemouth bass fishing is good to excellent, with a number of fish weighing over five pounds being caught last week. Small jigs, and pumpkin, blue-flash or smoke colored, four inch plastic worms are the better choice for lures. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits are also taking some fish. Fish the rocky areas in the backs of the creeks and coves. Small stripers are being taken between the islands at the lower end of the lake in shallow water. Stripers are also active on the points in Craddock and Witcher Creeks. Fish bucktails in 2-8 feet of water and live shad or alewives at 15 feet. Crappie are biting well on live minnows.

LEESVILLE RESERVOIR - Big stripers are coming from the lake and from below the dam. Redfins are the preferred bait for the stripers, while live minnows, jigs, grubs and rattling crankbaits are taking the other species. Some large walleye are being taken by anglers targeting these fish.

LAKE MOOMAW - Some nice trout are being caught, but smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing is good, with best action being in the upper end of the lake. A few northern pike are being caught, and yellow perch and crappie are biting well.

PHILPOTT LAKE - Varied catches from the lake. Minnows and jigs are taking largemouth and smallmouth bass, with some of the fish exceeding five pounds. Occasional large bass are taking topwater baits. Brown trout are taken on Shad Raps and nightcrawlers. Small minnows are taking crappie on the lower end of the lake. Walleye are taking nightcrawlers, fished on the bottom. From the Smith River, a number of rainbow trout, 3-5 pounds, have been caught. 

SOUTH HOLSTON RESERVOIR - Fishing is picking up. Crappie are hitting around creek mouths, on small minnows or chartreuse jigs. A few smallmouth bass are taking live bait or jig 'n pig on main lake points. Some trout are being caught at Weirs Dam. Lots of walleye anglers are out on the upper lake, with some good fish, to 12 pounds, being caught. Some flathead catfish, to 20 pounds, are being taken on cut bait.

CLAYTOR LAKE - Good numbers of largemouth and smallmouth bass, along with a few Kentucky bass are being caught. Most of the bass are taking rattling crankbaits, live minnows and spinnerbaits. Flathead catfish, to 20 pounds, were weighed in this past week, taken on large minnows. A few white bass and stripers were also caught on crankbaits.

TROUT STREAMS - Most streams throughout the state are full. They are clear and falling however, and trout fishing continues to be good. Dry flies and nymphs should do well in all National Forest streams. The Powell River in Lee County is producing good trout on small Mepps spinners, Shyster spinners and small spoons. Other good streams producing large trout are Maggadee Creek, North River and Upper North River and Elk Horn River. Large nymphs, such as Hare's Ear or Red Squirrel are producing well. Excellent fishing in Rockbridge County on the Maury and Mill Creek. Big Stoney is also producing some nice catches of rainbow and brown trout. Best baits for spin fishermen are small black Mepps, while fly fishermen should try olive or cream color stream nymphs in a size eight. Good hatches are coming off the streams in the Western part of the state. Blue Olives in 14, 16 and 18, Quill Gordon, Black Caddis in 16 and 18, and tan Mottled Caddis in 12 and 14 are working best. Rainbows over 20 inches in length are being taken from the Jackson River.