Fishing Report - March 24, 2017


POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - Fletcher's Boat House reports that a few herring are in, and striped bass to 48 inches are present in the river. A few American shad and lots of hickory shad are also being observed, but the fluctuating water temperatures are not helping the white perch run. Big catfish are biting well on fresh, cut gizzard shad. Slow-rolled spinnerbaits, rattling crankbaits and plastics are taking some bass throughout the city. Most of the bass are located on shallow, rock or gravel points and banks, adjacent to deeper water. As the sun warms the water, the bass come into the shallows to feed. Better areas for bass are Columbia Island Lagoon, Blue Plains, Oxon Cove, Washington Channel, Four Mile Run and the Spoils.

POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Some nice bass are being caught. Most of the fish are being caught in the back ends of coves on sandy or gravel banks, or on main river gravel or rock points. Grass and lily pad beds are also producing good fish. Better lures are rattling crankbaits, spinnerbaits, plastic lures and jig 'n pig. Work the lures slowly in shallow water on moving tides. Catfish action is picking up, with cut gizzard shad being the better choice for bait. Best areas are flats adjacent to dropoffs, on incoming tides. Crappie are biting well around boat docks and brushpiles in creeks and coves. Small minnows, jigs and plastic grubs are taking the tasty fish. With the warming weather this week, the water temps should be coming up and fish should be heading for the spawning areas.

OCCOQUAN RIVER - Herring are invading the river, bringing with them the white perch, hickory and American shad, and stripers. These, combined with the resident blue catfish, crappie and largemouth bass, are providing fair to good action for anglers in the river. White perch anglers are catching a few fish on bloodworms and nightcrawlers. Bass are taking plastic worms, jigs and crankbaits, and crappie are being caught on small minnows and jigs. Catfish still like cut gizzard shad. When the water stabilizes and warms somewhat, the fishing will explode.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - Bass are being caught on flats in the back ends of coves uplake. The most productive baits are spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Downlake, fish main lake points with spinnerbaits, crankbaits and plastic worms, and coves with jig 'n pig in the very back ends. Crappie are found suspended over points on the main lake and around the brushpiles under the fishing pier. The area around the mouth of Sandy Run is producing only a few bass, but the ones caught are good size. Catfish are still biting well on cut baits fished on the bottom.

BURKE LAKE - Bass are beginning to hit well, as they move up shallow on the banks. Slow-rolled spinnerbaits, Rat-L-Traps, jig 'n pig and plastics are the more successful baits. Topwater baits are also taking some fish, with Rapalas being very successful. Crappie are suspended over the brushpiles and beaver lodges in 6-15 feet of water. Channel catfish, to 12 pounds, are also being caught. Cut bait is best.

FARM PONDS - Bass and sunfish should be cruising the shallows, preparing for the spawn. Topwater baits, particularly Rapalas and Storm Chug Bugs, are excellent shallow water baits. Deeper water, primarily near the dam, calls for plastic worms and spinnerbaits. Flyrod poppers and streamers will also take some good fish.

POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER - Smallmouth action should pick up quickly with the rising water temperatures next week. Conditions are right for the bronzebacks to go on the feed to get ready to spawn, barring any more substantial rains in the area. Chartreuse and shad colored crankbaits and spinnerbaits will take these brawny battlers, when fished below riffles in deeper pools. Plastic grubs are also accounting for good numbers of fish. Remember that all bass caught from Dam #2 at Seneca Breaks to the mouth of the Monocacy River, must be returned to the water, as this stretch is catch and release only for bass. Crappie are still present in creek mouths, and catfish are willing to take live minnows and cut bait, anywhere in the river. Bluegills are holding close to the weedbeds, just downstream, out of the current. Small flyrod poppers, spinners and grubs will fill any stringer with good-sized sunfish.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - The warm weather this weekend should bring on the shad, perch and herring run. Lots of stripers, white perch, crappie and largemouth bass are in tidal sections of the river. Shad colored crankbaits and spinnerbaits are the better baits. Cut bait is producing a few large blue catfish in the outside bends of the river channel. Above the city, smallmouth bass are taking small crankbaits and plastic grubs. Fish the deeper holes.

SHENANDOAH RIVER - Plenty of crappie are being caught on live minnows. Bass action has perked up, with smallmouth bass taking 4-5 inch pumpkinseed plastic grubs and small crankbaits. Catfish will be foraging heavily with the increase in water temperature, and the sunfish are feeding heavily, anticipating the spawn.

MATTAPONI/PAMUNKEY RIVERS - Fishing is still good for white and yellow perch. Shad angling is excellent, while catfish are taking cut baits aggressively. Bass and stripers are very aggressive in the rivers, taking shad colored crankbaits.

LAKE ANNA - Bass fishing is excellent, with bass hitting crankbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic lizards in the shallows. Topwater baits are taking some good fish throughout the lake. Some bass are on the beds, with Gitzits and Rapalas being successful in catching them. Stripers are hitting four inch, pearl colored Sassy Shads in the Dyke Three area, and uplake, around the mouth of Christopher Run. Crappie are hitting small minnows and jigs around boat docks and beaver lodges.

JAMES RIVER - Catfish are the ticket in the tidal sections of the river. Lots of 20+ pound blue cats biting well on cut herring or shad. Fishing for Hickory or American shad is excellent, though all American shad must be returned to the water. Largemouth bass action has been great, and should only improve with the warmer weather. Lots of 15# limits and lunkers to seven pounds are being caught. White perch fishing is good around the I-95 Bridge. Above the city, the fishing is good when anglers can safely anchor and fish. Some smallmouth bass, to five pounds, are being caught on jig 'n pig baits, Beetlespins, plastic grubs and live minnows in the deeper holes.

LAKE CHESDIN - Crappie fishing is excellent on live minnows and tiny jigs. Bass were turned on this past week, with a good number of fish over the five pound mark being caught. Most of the bigger fish were taken on spinnerbaits or jig 'n pig, fished in the willow grass edges, and flats near the river channel.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - The river is clear. Crappie fishing is excellent, with live minnows, fished at high tide on the cypress knees bringing in the larger fish. Topwater baits, fished in the lily pads, are taking good numbers of large bass. Plastic worms, spinnerbaits and rattling crankbaits are also taking good numbers of large bass from shallow sandy or gravel banks, adjacent to deeper water. Cypress trees are holding a fair number of fish. Catfishermen are doing well on cut bait. Flyrodders are taking good numbers of sunfish from shallow creek mouths. White and yellow perch are biting well throughout the river, with best results coming on bloodworms. Some herring and shad are taking small shad darts and small spoons.

CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Anglers are taking hickory shad and crappie from Walker's Dam, though not in the usual numbers. Anglers fishing live minnows in the lake are taking lots of pickerel, bowfin and a few large bass. Crappie and bream catches are good, with 25 fish limits being common. Flyrodders are in their glory, fishing small poppers in the lily pad and grassbed edges.

LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR - With the water temp at 48 degrees, fish are beginning to feed heavily. The recent cold weather has sent the fish back into their deepwater haunts. Lots of bass are found at 15-20 feet, but many are moving into the shallows. Fish Jerk baits, blade baits, crankbaits, plastic worms or Rat-L-Traps, slow. Small bait fish are in the shallows, so stripers should be near. Try Alabama Rigs and Sassy Shads, fishing them from shallow to deep, allowing them to sink on the drops. Big crappie are back in shallow water and biting well on small minnows or 1.5 inch jigs. Keep your bait close to the bottom and fish them slowly. Trophy bass hunters should be pounding the windy points and fishing S L O W L Y.

BACK BAY - The north end of the Bay is producing large catfish and nice bass, while West Neck Creek is giving up some nice largemouth bass. Nice catches of crappie and white perch are also being made in West Neck Creek. Anglers fishing the weed edges around Knott's Island are taking some good sized bass on spinnerbaits and topwater lures.

SUFFOLK LAKES - Western Branch is red hot, with stripers to 12 pounds, largemouth bass, crappie, white perch and lots of shellcrackers. Lots of panfish action in the other lakes, with shellcrackers, white and yellow perch, bream and crappie providing excellent catches. Shellcrackers and bream are taking live crickets, worms and small grubs, while crappie are being taken on live minnows. Bass are active, taking jig 'n pig and spinnerbaits. Lots of large bass are being caught in all the lakes. Catfish are suckers for cut bait.

LAKE GASTON - Largemouth bass action is fair, with bass orienting to docks on secondary points. As the water temperature rises this week, look for the warmest water and throw spinnerbaits or rattling crankbaits into the shallows and retrieve them as fast as possible. Most of the lake is dingy, but clearing, although the backs of southside creeks are dingy. 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. The shad run at Weldon, N.C. is on with lots of fish being caught.

BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - Lake level is at 299 and stable. Stripers are biting well on live shad. Fishing is good from Nutbush Creek to Palmers Point, and from the mouth of Eastland Creek to Butchers Creek. The stripers appear to be moving up the lake, starting their spawning runs into the Dan and Staunton Rivers. Largemouth bass are taking spinnerbaits, Speed Shads and plastic grubs in the shallows, around rip rap and rocky points. Anglers fishing spinnerbaits adjacent to buckbrush, are taking good sized bass. Crappie are in the process of spawning, with brushpiles being full of hand-sized crappies. Fish small minnows or jigs, 9-10 feet deep, over brushpiles. Stripers are being caught below Kerr dam, when the Corps is generating. Catfish are suckers for chicken livers or cut shad.

BRIERY CREEK LAKE - Some large bass were taken here this past weekend. A number over the six pound mark were weighed this past week. Most of the fish were caught on jumbo minnows or goldfish. Bream and crappie are biting well. Lots of anglers are out and lots of fish are being caught.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Largemouth bass are turned on. The bass may be caught off main channel points on plastic worms or jig 'n pig baits. The fish are not orienting to cover. Bass are also being caught on bucktails by striper anglers. Spinnerbaits are taking bass on gravel banks in the creeks. Bass are also bedding in some of the shallow areas. Crappie are in brushpiles back up the creeks, in 4-6 feet of water. Walleyes are also hitting in the creeks. Small crankbaits in white or yellow are best. Stripers are being caught in shallow water, with the fish running 12-22 pounds. Most active areas for stripers are from markers 31-47 on the Roanoke River and at Magnum Point and the 4-H Center on the Blackwater River. Stripers are also active on the points in Craddock and Witcher Creeks. Fish bucktails in 2-8 feet of water and live shad at 15 feet.

LEESVILLE RESERVOIR - Largemouth bass are in the back ends of coves, where spinnerbaits and topwater baits have taken some good fish. Crappie fishing is good to excellent for anglers fishing live minnows around submerged brush. Striper fishing is fair to good on Cordell Redfins. Most of the fish are over the 15 pound mark. Walleye continue to be caught in the Staunton River.

LAKE MOOMAW - Some brown trout are being caught by anglers fishing live minnows in deeper water near the dam. Smallmouth bass are being caught on the main lake points with jig 'n pig and spinnerbaits. Lots of smallmouth bass are on the beds and not biting, but largemouth are taking up the slack, with a number of bass over the five pound mark weighed in last week. Crappie anglers are being rewarded with good stringers of fish, along with an occasional catfish. Yellow perch are biting well.

PHILPOTT LAKE - Conditions are excellent. Lots of anglers are out and most are catching fish. Best action is for crappie, bass and brown trout. Smith River trout fishing is rated as excellent.

SOUTH HOLSTON RESERVOIR - Water level is stabilizing and the lake is stained. Crappie and smallmouth bass are being caught by anglers using live minnows, small jigs and crankbaits. Floating minnows are taking a few walleye in the upper reaches of the lake.

CLAYTOR LAKE - Lots of fishing success, as anglers are taking white bass on crankbaits, plastic grubs and spinnerbaits. Smallmouth bass are jumping all over Stump Jumpers, plastic grubs and crankbaits. Largemouth bass, walleye and lots of crappie round out the catches.

TROUT STREAMS - Excellent trout fishing everywhere. Bullpasture and Jackson Rivers and Stoney Creek are all doing well. Headwaters of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River is producing good rainbows. Back Creek and Paddy Run continue to be good, producing on streamers or small spoons. The Robinson River around Criglersville is also producing well for anglers fishing small spoons or spinners. Big Cedar and Dry River in Harrisonburg are also producing good trout.


Very little action inshore due to the cold water temperatures. Ocean run stripers are showing in the Chesapeake Bay on their way to normal spawning grounds in the tidal rivers. Offshore anglers will find tautog, black sea bass and cod on the ocean wrecks, while deep droppers will find blueline and golden tilefish and other deep bottom dwellers along the ocean floor near the edge of the Norfolk Canyon. Plenty of dogfish continue to hamper the catches. The Oregon Inlet fleet is catching lots of blackfin tuna and a few bluefin tuna, with many in the 100-250# class.