OVERVIEW - With the warmer temperatures this week, the water temperatures have increased. All species of resident and anadromous fish are still actively getting ready to spawn. All anglers must remember that the season for striped bass is closed, and a moritorium is in effect for American shad, hickory shad (Potomac Only) and river herring (Alewife and Blueback Herring) in all tidal waters. Any of these species caught, must be returned to the water.
POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - The fish should be roaming around structure and vegetation in shallow water. Plastic worms, rattling crankbaits and spinnerbaits are the better choice for baits. Crappie fishing has picked up. Fletcher's Boathouse area is producing good numbers of fish. Species caught are white perch, catfish, hickory shad, smallmouth and largemouth bass, and some striped bass and walleye. The perch are taking bloodworms and nightcrawlers, shad on shad darts, catfish and stripers on cut bait and bass on rattling crankbaits. The shad run is on, although a little higher water temperature would help the catching.
POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Fishing should be good in this area this weekend as the temperatures stay pleasant and the water falls and clears. Bass in this area will be cruising the emerging lily pads, hydrilla and milfoil beds. Main river grass beds have been producing well, as have gravel and sandy banks with 3-4 feet of water on them. Crankbaits produce better on high tides, while plastic baits are the better choice for outgoing tides. Crappie action is red hot, with fish being taken in shallow water and around submerged brushpiles on live minnows and tiny jigs. Catfish action has picked up, with fish to 25 pounds being taken on cut bait. Chumming with corn kernels is producing good sized carp for those who enjoy sportfishing. Bowhunting for carp is getting better as the water clears.
POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW ROUTE 301 BRIDGE - Anglers braving the wind are catching stripers around the Route 301 bridge, mid channel markers, at the mouth of Monroe Bay, and as far down as the mouth of Nomini Bay. Trolling parachute rigs and Mojos are producing the best catches, but casters are catching their share as well.
OCCOQUAN RIVER - Bass action should be fair to good on red/orange crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Better fish are coming from wood cover and gravel banks. The fish are located throughout the river, from the mouth to the rocks in the back end. Crappie action is best on minnows and tiny jigs around dock pilings. Catfish are hot in the mouth of the river, around the islands. Cut gizzard shad is the bait of choice.
OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - Bass action is excellent for those anglers who fish a prespawn pattern. Water temperature ranges from 48-55. Lots of large bass have been caught, primarily on spinnerbaits in shallow water. Anglers are catching good sized bass from the pier. Crappie success is slow. Catfish action is improving.
BURKE LAKE - Bass action is good. Better action is to be had on buzzbaits, plastic worms, Rat-L-Traps and jig 'n pig. Fish the outside edges of the weedbeds throughout the lake. With the water level up and clearing, anglers should be catching bass on jerk baits around the brush and on plastics fished deep in the brush. Crappie action is fair. Some good crappie are being caught. Catfish are being taken on cut bait, but patience is required.
LAKE BRITTLE - Lots of bullhead catfish and a few bass, 2-5 pounds. An occasional walleye and some crappie are also being caught off the dam or the fishing pier.
FARM PONDS - Lots of action in these small bodies of water. Bass are taking crankbaits, topwater lures, plastic baits and live bait. Best action is centered in the deeper water in front of the dams. Bluegill action is excellent, on the edges of vegetation and along the shallow banks. Better baits are nightcrawlers, Beetlespins and flyrod poppers.
POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER - As the water clears, fishing is picking up. Chartreuse crankbaits, plastic grubs and topwater lures should be taking large numbers of smallmouth bass. Catfish and carp should be heavily feeding on the bottom. Bluegill are taking small spinners, tiny Beetlespins and topwater poppers, around the weedbeds.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - Shad fishing is excellent. The white perch run is slow this year, but they are coming on strong. Shad darts are taking shad and herring, while bloodworms and nightcrawlers are taking the white perch. Remember that herring and American shad must be returned to the water. The season is closed on these species. Bass, catfish and stripers in the tidal sections are active, although the season on stripers does not open until May 1st. Big blue catfish, to 40 pounds, are taking cut bait, fished on the bottom of the outside bends of the river channel. Stripers and bass are suckers for any shad colored crankbait or shad imitation plastic bait. Best action is along the Southern bank around any wood structure in the water. Above the city, smallmouth action is excellent on small crankbaits, small topwaters, four inch plastic worms and live minnows.
MOTTS RESERVOIR - Anglers are taking good numbers of large white perch and bluegills, along with some nice largemouth bass and northern pike.
SHENANDOAH RIVER - The river is lightly stained, but dropping and clearing. Smallmouth bass should respond well to tiny crankbaits, plastic grubs, spinners and live bait. The key is to fish slow and thoroughly. It may take six casts to the same piece of cover, but the fish are there. Sunfish are taking small spinners, nightcrawlers, plastic grubs, live crickets and minnows. Flyrodders should try small poppers adjacent to the weedbeds throughout the river. Catfish, 4-15 pounds, are taking cut bait and nightcrawlers.
MATTAPONI/PAMUNKEY RIVERS - Lots of shad are being caught, along with white and yellow perch, catfish and a few bass and crappie. Catfish are taking cut bait, perch are taking bloodworms, shad are taking shad darts and bass are taking rattling crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Stripers are also thick in the rivers.
LAKE ANNA - Big bass are taking crankbaits, spinnerbaits, plastic worms and topwater baits. Secondary points in the creeks are still producing a few good fish, with the best areas being from the Route 208 Bridge downlake. The fish are located in 1-3 feet of water, right on the banks. Crappie are biting well around shallow beaver lodges, submerged brush and boat docks on live minnows, tiny Hopkins spoons and jigs. Stripers are active around the splits and the mouth of Contrary Creek. Best time is dawn and dusk on bucktails and noisy topwater baits.
JAMES RIVER - Lots of smallmouth action, although the fish are generally small, except below Boshers Dam, where a good number in the three pound range have been caught. Small crankbaits, grubs and small buzzbaits are the preferred baits. In the city, anglers are catching smallmouth bass on nightcrawlers and minnows. Bream and catfish are also plentiful. White perch have slowed. Tidal sections of the river are producing good bass in the gravel pits on crankbaits and live minnows. Crappie action is superb in the pits, while 25-55 pound blue catfish and stripers are taking cut baits.
LAKE CHESDIN - Crappie are biting well. Small minnows are the better choice for bait. Largemouth bass, many over six pounds, are taking plastic worms, buzzbaits and jig 'n pig. Catfish action is excellent, with fish to 25 pounds being taken on cut bait.
CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - Spinnerbaits, topwater baits and plastic worms are taking large numbers of bass from the edges of the lily pad fields and around cypress trees. Catfish and crappie are also plentiful. Flyrodders are taking large numbers of crappie from the base of cypress trees. Cut bait, shrimp and dip baits are the choices of bait for catfish, to 35 pounds.
CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Anglers working Walker's Dam are catching herring, crappie and catfish. The lake is yielding some nice bass and pickerel on live minnows, Flukes, plastic lizards and Power Frogs. Bowfin are also taking minnows, but the best action is for pickerel. Many anglers are taking 10-20 per day. Flyrodders are filling creels with bream and crappie. Both species are also taking small grubs and Beetlespins.
LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR - Excellent bass fishing, with most catches being made on grape and red shad plastic worms, topwater baits or Bomber Flat A crankbaits. Crappie fishing is excellent, with most fish being taken on live minnows. A number of large yellow perch were caught this past week. Some stripers, to 10 pounds, were taken on "The Humps" at the North end of the lake.
BACK BAY - Lots of white perch and catfish, along with some of the best bass catches in years. The perch are taking minnows and nightcrawlers, while the catfish are taking nightcrawlers and chicken livers. The bass are taking spinnerbaits and topwater baits over grass beds. Action in the creeks is excellent with bass, crappie, white perch and channel catfish being caught.
SUFFOLK LAKES - Largemouth bass action is excellent. Most of the bass are caught on plastic worms, crankbaits, spinnerbaits and live minnows. Shellcrackers are biting well. Best lakes for the big sunfish are Western Branch and Lake Prince. Some nice stripers are being caught in Lakes Meade, Prince and Western Branch on white bucktails and live jumbo minnows. Crappie are biting well in all lakes on live minnows. Walleye are taking broken back Rebels in Lake Smith.
LAKE GASTON - Fishing is getting better, as water temperatures range from 60-65 in the coves and the mid 50s in the main lake. Bass may be taken on Shad Raps, spinnerbaits, plastic worms and Gitzits in pumpkinseed and electric grape colors. Devil's Horse topwaters are also producing some good fish. Head for the back ends of the creeks, where the water is very shallow and fish amid the stumps. Crappie fishing is excellent around boat docks on small minnows and jigs. Live shad and bucktails are accounting for good striper catches. Below the Roanoke Rapids Dam in Weldon, N.C., striper anglers are cleaning house. Catches of 20-25 in a day are not unusual.
BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - Striper and white bass fishing is good below Kerr Dam. Bucktails and live shad are the best bait. With the lake level at 302 and stable, fishing has picked up. Currently, the larger fish are generally on the windblown points. Fish the flooded willow bushes adjacent to the creek channel in the back end of the creeks, when the sun is high. Flip a jig 'n pig or crayfish imitating plastic into the middle of the bush. Early in the day, cast small spinnerbaits into the outside edges of the buckbrush, adjacent to creek channels. After the sun comes up, switch to jig 'n pig, flipped into brush among sweet gum trees halfway into pockets in the backs of creeks. Main lake points are giving up some good fish on Carolina-rigged lizards. Crappie action is excellent on medium minnows over submerged brushpiles and around bridge pilings. Two pounders are not uncommon.
BRIERY CREEK & SANDY RIVER RESERVOIRS - The parade of large bass is continuing at Briery Creek, with fish weighing from 5-9 pounds having been caught this past week. Most of the large bass were taken on plastic lizards in shallow water. Nice bream are being taken from the lake, with crappie and catfish rounding out the catches. Sandy River is also beginning to give up some nice bass, as fish in the 5-7 pound class were taken this past week, along with some nice bream and a few crappie.
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Good striper action, to 25 pounds, on Cordell Ripplin' Redfins and live shad, in the lower end of the lake. Uplake, anglers are catching largemouth and smallmouth bass, and crappie. Main lake points are the preferred location for the bass, while crappie are located around submerged brush and bridge pilings.
LEESVILLE RESERVOIR - Good fishing, with anglers catching stripers, white perch and largemouth bass. Most stripers are being caught early in the morning on Cordell Redfins, bucktails and live shad. White perch and largemouth are taking bucktails, live shad and crankbaits. The Staunton River is giving up good sized walleye.
LAKE MOOMAW - Largemouth bass, to six pounds, are being caught on plastic worms and spinnerbaits, off points in 12-15 feet of water. Smallmouth bass are taking jig 'n pig and grubs in the upper end of the lake. Crappie, to three pounds, are taking small minnows, in 10-12 feet of water, at night under a crappie light. Anglers, using live minnows between dawn and 9 a.m., are catching some brown trout to six pounds.
PHILPOTT LAKE - Both largemouth and smallmouth bass are feeding heavily, and crappie action is good in the upper end of the lake. Catfish anglers are bringing in nice stringers. Trout fishing in the Smith River is excellent.
SOUTH HOLSTON RESERVOIR - Stripers are biting well on live alewives, rattling crankbaits and bucktails. Smallmouth bass and crappie anglers are reporting good success on live minnows, particularly around the bushes. Occasional nice catches of trout are reported.
CLAYTOR LAKE - Lots of action is reported, with musky, bass, walleye, crappie, striped bass, redeye bass and perch being caught. Stripers and white bass are being taken on alewives in Peak Creek. Crappie are biting well on minnows and tiny jigs. Largemouth bass fishing is fair with the fish in the pre-spawn pattern.
TROUT STREAMS - Most streams have excellent hatches of caddisflies and mayflies. Excellent fishing is available in the National Forest and Shenandoah National Park streams on dry flies and small nymphs. Larger streams in the valley are producing well on streamers, nymphs and small spinners. Passage Creek (Shenandoah County) is producing many large rainbow trout. The Bullpasture River (Highland County) is very productive, using small caddis imitations. Back Creek (Frederick County) has good may fly hatches in the upper areas. The Robinson River (Madison County) is producing lots of rainbows on March Brown nymphs. The lower Rose River is still carrying good water levels and trout are hitting small spinners and medium size nymphs. Other good streams are Tinker Creek in Roanoke County, Tye River in Nelson County, Big Stony Creek in Giles County and Mill Creek in Augusta County.
S A L T W A T E R - Reports are hard to come by this week as the wind has kept most anglers off the water. Saltwater reports will resume as I get them.