Fishing Report - March 31, 2017


OVERVIEW - Given the warmer weather this week, bass have moved up into the shallow spawning areas adjacent to the nearest deeper water. Remember, deep is relative. It may mean 14 feet, but it also may mean 4 feet. They are still anxious to nest and a couple of more warm days will put them in the mood. With a few sunny days, we should see lots of bass looking for nesting sites. Check out shallow sandy or gravel bottoms in direct sunlight in coves or backs of creeks for bedding bass. Grass beds are also good bedding spots. Rat-L-Traps, plastics and jig 'n pig are the preferred baits, although a well cast and worked Rapala will also take some big fish.

POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - The herring, hickory shad, white perch and striped bass are present in the waters above Key Bridge. Anglers at Fletcher's Boathouse are catching shad, stripers and catfish, along with the herring and white perch. Smallmouth and largemouth bass, channel catfish and carp are also actively foraging throughout the area, as well as at least one 18" walleye. Call 202-244-0461 for latest fishing report. Slow-rolled spinnerbaits, rattling crankbaits and plastics are taking good numbers of 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 and the Spoils. White perch may be taken on bloodworms or nightcrawlers throughout the city. Cut gizzard shad is the bait of choice for catfish. Crappie are available around most shallow brush or boat docks.

POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Most of the bass are to be found on points on the main river which contain rocks. Fish the shallow water during the high incoming tides and the dropoffs during the outgoing tides. The creeks are holding their share of bass. Concentrate on shallow gravel banks, dropping off into deeper water, and on lily pad fields on creek bends. Main river grass beds are also holding lots of bass. Small plastic baits and topwaters will take the fish. Better fish are holding in deeper water, on isolated clumps of grass, off the main grass beds. Rattling crankbaits and spinnerbaits are the better choice here. Better areas are the mouths of Aquia, Mattawoman and Potomac Creeks and Chickamuxen Creek.

OCCOQUAN RIVER - This weekend should see Spring fishing at it's finest. Herring have invaded the river, bringing with them the white perch, hickory shad, and stripers. These, combined with the resident blue catfish, crappie and largemouth bass, are providing good action for anglers in the river. White perch anglers are finally catching 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.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - With the warmer temperatures this weekend, expect the weekend fishing to pick up, with crappie and bass biting well. 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. 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 a few bass, but the ones caught are good size. Catfish are still biting well on cut baits fished on the bottom.

BURKE LAKE - Nice bass are being caught daily. Bass are located in shallow water, just off the grass beds, late in the afternoon. Topwater baits are the key, with Rapalas being very successful. Crappie, to 1.5 pounds, are suspended over the brushpiles and beaver lodges in 6-15 feet of water. Shellcrackers are taking nightcrawlers. A 27 pound channel catfish was caught last week.

POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER - Smallmouth action should pick up quickly with the current warm weather. Conditions are not quite right for the bronzebacks to start spawning, but it is very close. Small chartreuse and shad colored crankbaits and spinners will take these brawny battlers, when fished below riffles in deeper pools. 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 - Shad and herring have arrived at the U.S. Route 1 bridge, with good concentrations of shad under the bridge and upstream in the rapids. Herring are also present in full force. Good smallmouth action in the city section of the river. Large blue catfish continue to be caught in good numbers, on cut bait. Stripers to 20+ pounds are also spawning around the bridge.

SHENANDOAH RIVER - Although water temperatures are rising, smallmouth bass are latching onto small, smoke colored grubs fished in the deeper holes in the river. Catfish are taking nightcrawlers and cut bait. Sunfish are taking small minnows, spinners and tiny grubs. Overall fishing is excellent.

LAKE ANNA - Bass fishing is great, with bass hitting crankbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic worms in the shallows. Topwater baits are taking some good fish throughout the lake. Lots of spawning fish are being found in the coves and creek arms throughout the lake. Stripers are hitting four inch pearl colored Sassy Shads in the Dyke Three area and in the "S" turns in the Pamunkey. Crappie are hitting small minnows and jigs around boat docks and beaver lodges.

MATTAPONI & PAMUNKEY RIVERS - Throughout the rivers, white perch, catfish, bluegill, herring and small bass are being caught. Upriver, the catches include herring, hickory shad, stripers, bass, crappie and catfish.

JAMES RIVER - Catfish are the ticket in the tidal sections of the river. Lots of blue cats over 30 pounds, are biting well on cut gizzard shad. Largemouth bass action has been good, with tournament weights of 20+ pounds not unusual. Action should do nothing but improve with the warmer weather. White perch fishing is good around the I-95 Bridge. Above the city, the fishing is excellent for smallmouth bass on topwater baits. Some smallmouth bass are being caught on jig 'n pig baits and live minnows in the deeper holes.

LAKE CHESDIN - Crappie fishing is excellent on live minnows and tiny jigs. Many fish over the two pound mark have been weighed. Bass are turned on, with some 5-6 pound fish being taken this past week on jig 'n pig, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. A few stripers to 14 pounds are being caught on crankbaits.

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, while white spinnerbaits, fished in the grass, are doing equally well. Catfishermen are doing well on cut eel. Flyrodders are taking good numbers of sunfish from shallow creek mouths.

CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Crappie, bass and pickerel are the catch here, with live minnows being the preferred bait. A few trophy bass are taking rattling crankbaits, spinnerbaits and live minnows, while yellow perch are taking live minnows. This week should see bluegills taking flies.

LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR - Good largemouth bass action, as fish 2-5 pounds were caught on Carolina rigs, jerkbaits, blade baits and crankbaits. The fish are holding at 15-18 feet along windy points, coming up shallow in the afternoon hours. Crappie action has picked up, with lots of crappie being taken in six feet of water on minnows. Stripers are biting well for those who fish the lake consistently. Try swim baits and Sassy Shads.

BACK BAY - A few bass are being caught around the duck blinds in the bay and on spinnerbaits in the creeks. Lots of channel catfish, 12-18 pounds, are being caught throughout the bay, while anglers are taking smaller bass, white perch and crappie in the creeks at the northern end of the bay. Bass are beginning to spawn in West Neck Creek, as beds are reported in some of the coves.

SUFFOLK LAKES - Lots of panfish action, with bream and crappie providing excellent catches. Bream are taking live crickets, worms and small grubs, while crappie are being taken on live minnows. Shellcracker action is beginning to heat up, with a number of citations being caught this past week. Bass are active, taking jig 'n pig and spinnerbaits, with a number of larger fish being caught this past week. Catfish are suckers for cut bait. Striper action exploded this past week in Western Branch, with lots of the big fish being caught.

LAKE GASTON - Largemouth bass are biting well. Look for the warmest water and throw rattling lipless crankbaits or Zoom Flukes around boat docks, around cover on points and in the shallow coves. Retrieve the lures at medium or fast speeds and you should catch fish. Most of the lower lake is clear, so rattling crankbaits should work extremely well. 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. Lots of catch and release striper fishing, along with the shad, in the Roanoke River, below the dam.

BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - The water level is fairly steady. Currently, it stands at 299 feet. Stripers are biting on live shad, from buoy 10 to Bluestone Creek. Fishing is good in the upper end of the lake, as the stripers continue their spawning run. Red Fins and small Shad Raps are the prime lures, while three inch Sassy Shads are taking white bass, from Bluestone Creek upriver. Largemouth bass are taking spinnerbaits, Speed Shads and plastic grubs adjacent to the willow bushes on main lake points. These fish are in the pre-spawn mode, while the fish in the backs of the creeks are fanning beds and taking jig 'n pig and topwater lures.

BRIERY CREEK & SANDY RIVER RESERVOIRS - Excellent bluegill action, along with continuing catches of Florida strain largemouth bass. Most of the bass caught this week ranged from 3-6 pounds, with a couple of fish weighing over eight pounds. Crappie are biting well in both lakes and pickerel are doing well in Sandy River.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Largemouth bass fishing is excellent. Small jigs and pumpkin, blue-flash or smoke colored, four inch plastic worms are the better choice for lures. Stripers, 14-20 pounds, 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 at 15 feet. Crappie fishing is excellent, with lots of big fish.

LEESVILLE RESERVOIR - Good striper fishing on Cordell Redfins. Some fish over 20 pounds were caught this past week. Good largemouth bass fishing with Rat-l-traps, jigs and plastic baits. White perch are actively taking nightcrawlers, small spinners and small jigs. Catfishing is good.

LAKE MOOMAW - Some brown trout, to five pounds, and smallmouth bass, also to five pounds, are being caught, along with a few citation yellow perch.

PHILPOTT LAKE - The lake is clear, but the water temperature is in the low-mid fifties. Crappie and bass are being caught on live bait. Bluegills are taking nightcrawlers and fly rod poppers. Smith River trout anglers continue to do well, as do trout anglers in the lake, when the turbines are not turning.

SOUTH HOLSTON RESERVOIR - Crappie, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and white bass are being caught by anglers using live minnows, small jigs and crankbaits. The bass are being taken in the shallows.

CLAYTOR LAKE - Lots of crappie action, along with a few stripers, bluegill and bass.

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.