Fishing Report - April 21, 2017


OVERVIEW - Throughout the state, lakes and rivers are stable and clear. In most bodies of water, good fish are being caught. Patience and persistence is sometimes necessary, along with an understanding of what fish are doing during this season of the year. The better baits for bass are normally rattling crankbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic lizards and creature baits. Topwater jerk baits are coming into their own as the water temperatures rise.

POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - Bass are hitting plastic baits, crankbaits and spinnerbaits, worked in and around any shallow cover from Blue Plains to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Dropoffs are also producing bass on deep-diving crankbaits, Rat-L-Traps, Chatterbaits and plastic baits. Catfish are hitting cut baits throughout the river, when fished on flats adjacent to deep water. Herring, shad, white perch, catfish and stripers are thick around Fletcher's Boat House. Crappie are being found around submerged brushpiles in quiet waters throughout the region. Washington Channel, The Spoils, and Belle Haven Cove are producing good numbers.

POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Bass are actively feeding in the emerging hydrilla beds along both shorelines, from Broad Creek to Nanjemoy Creek. On low, outgoing tides, fish grassbed edges with small, tight wobbling or lipless crankbaits. On incoming tides, shift to the extreme inside edge of the grassbeds and fish with jig 'n pig, Carolina-rigged plastic lizard, soft stick baits or plastic worms. Use as slow a retrieve as possible or let the bait sit totally still. The bass will do the rest. Bass anglers are also being shocked by stripers, roaming the edges of the grassbeds, hitting bass lures. Rattling crankbaits and swimbaits are taking fish in swift moving tides, on points and steep-dropping banks. Top-water baits are taking some fish early and late in the day. Bass have moved into the lily pads in the creeks. Spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, Chatterbaits, and creature baits are taking their toll here. Sunfish are spawning in the shallows, where Beetlespins, small spinners and flyrod poppers are irresistible. Yellow perch are found on sand and gravel banks, and points. Small crankbaits and grubs produce well. Catfish are taking cut bait aggressively. Small, live white perch and swimbaits are also taking trophy catfish.

OCCOQUAN RIVER - Crappie fishing is good with small jigs and live minnows being the more successful baits. Catfish are taking clam snouts and cut bait throughout the river at all times of day and night. Bass action is fair. Some fish are being taken from the back end of the river, among the rocks. Plenty of stripers are present in the river, along with plenty of shad. Rattling crankbaits and cut bait are the preferred baits for the stripers while shad darts and flutter spoons are taking the shad.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - Best action on bass has been on plastic worms and crankbaits, fished along the rock walls, on main lake points and in the coves. Better big fish action is to be had uplake. Catfish are taking clam snouts, cut bait and chicken livers. Crappie action is holding up well. Some citation fish are being caught.

BURKE LAKE - Crappie are thick and biting well. Shellcrackers are taking nightcrawlers and crickets. Bass are hitting plastic worms, buzzbaits and spinnerbaits in shallow water, near vegetation. Catfish are biting well on cut bait.

FARM PONDS - Bass are roaming the shallows in most ponds. Plastic worms, Rapalas and flyrod poppers are taking some good fish. Sunfish and crappie are also biting well on small jigs, Beetlespins and flyrod poppers.

POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER - Smallmouth bass are taking very small baits, fished slowly along the grass beds on the edge of the river. Small crankbaits, spinners, plastic grubs and top water baits are doing the trick. Flyrodders should use small poppers and woolybuggers in black and dark chartreuse. Good bass action can sometimes be found below the weed beds where the carp are rolling. As the carp roll in the beds, they dislodge insects and crustaceans, which are washed downstream by the current. Smallmouth have learned to station themselves downstream and wait for the bounty. Catfish action is good and bluegills are starting to take baits. The larger bluegills are loaded with eggs and will bite aggressively. Crappie are spawning at the mouths of the feeder creeks, with 1-2# fish not uncommon.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - Herring and white perch are in the river in force. Flyrodders are taking lots of hickory shad at the Route 1 bridge. Catfish are taking cut bait, fished on the bottom, in the outside bends of the main river channel. Bass are taking shad-colored crankbaits along the South bank of the river and plastic worms and grubs fished in the blowdowns. Plenty of stripers are hooked while fishing for bass. Above the city, smallmouth bass fishing is excellent on Tiny Torpedos and plastic grubs.

SHENANDOAH RIVER - Bass fishing has improved with smallmouth bass taking live minnows, nightcrawlers and small, slowly-fished artificial baits. Largemouth bass are also taking plastic worms, grubs, jig 'n pigs, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Catfish are becoming very active with cut bait, minnows and nightcrawlers taking the majority. Sunfish are popping on top and taking Beetlespins and other small lures.

MATTAPONI/PAMUNKEY RIVERS - Plenty of herring and a few shad in the rivers. Along with the herring are lots of stripers. Some bass action is to be had on tide swept points and around wood cover. White perch are being taken on bloodworms.

LAKE ANNA - Downlake, the bass are on a post spawn pattern where the water is clear, but up lake, the males have moved back in the coves, while the loaded sows are still on points adjacent to the coves. Carolina-rigged plastic lizards are the most effective baits, although some fish are being taken on crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Fish the Carolina rigs in stump fields, dropping into 8-12 feet of water. Cast to the shallows and retrieve down the dropoff very slowly. Striper fishing is best early and late in the day, with Sassy Shads and Bass Assassins, fished on the flats adjacent to main channel points. Crappie fishing remains excellent, with the tasty fish being caught on live minnows and tiny jigs around beaver huts, bridge pilings and suspended over creek channels.

JAMES RIVER - Lots of nice largemouth are being caught in the tidal sections of the river, particularly in the lower creeks. Blue catfish are cooperating nicely on cut bait in the river channels just below the city. Above the city, smallmouth bass are taking tiny crankbaits, buzzbaits and plastic worms and grubs. Catfish are thick and aggressive. Bluegills are spawning and viciously attacking almost anything thrown their way. Walleye are biting well around the Route 95 Bridge area, near the city. Most of the fish, 3-8 pounds, are taking crankbaits.

LAKE CHESDIN - Water levels here are normal and the water is clearing slowly. Bass action is slowing, with the preferred baits being spinnerbaits, plastics and rattling crankbaits. Crappie are taking minnows around submerged brush.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - Lots of bass in the 3-4 pound range are being taken on small crankbaits, plastic worms and grubs, and topwater lures. Big gar are being caught by anglers using large minnows, in and on the edges of the lily pads. Lots of big bream are caught on nightcrawlers. Catfish are taking cut bait throughout the river.

CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic worms, fished over the grass beds, are taking good stringers of bass and bowfin. Shellcrackers are taking flyrod poppers, grass shrimp and crickets. Catfish action is excellent on nightcrawlers, minnows and cut bait. Crappie are hitting flyrod poppers aggressively.

LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR - Bass fishing is consistent as the bass are spawning. Pay particular attention to the sunny side of points, along the shoreline. Foraging bass are taking spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, topwater lures and plastic worms. Occasional walleye are taking nightcrawlers or live minnows, while crankbaits account for some pickerel. Crappie fishing is excellent, with big slabs being found under floating grass along the shore. Large bream are beginning to bite, with the larger fish in 10 feet of water. .

BACK BAY - Channel catfish action is red hot, with catches of 7-13 pound fish normal. Some 4-6 pound bass, but no smaller bass are reported. Fishing in the creeks is excellent, with catfish, crappie, bream, white perch and bass to eight pounds, hitting well.

SUFFOLK LAKES - Fishing for bream and shellcracker is excellent, with red wigglers being the most productive bait. Lake Prince has given up many citation size fish during the past week. Bass fishing is good, with plastic worms and topwater baits accounting for some large fish. Stripers, 6-8 pounds, are biting well in Lake Meade. Lake Smith is producing some bass, to seven pounds, on plastic lizards.

LAKE GASTON - Fishing has been good this past week. Striper fishermen are catching fish on live shad and bucktails cast up on the bank in the upper end of the lake, near Kerr Dam. Catfish action is good for anglers fishing live shad on or near the bottom. Largemouth bass action is good for anglers fishing the spawning beds. Topwater lures, crankbaits and swimbaits are accounting for a few good fish in the back ends of main lake coves. Creature baits and soft stick baits are taking bass from the walkways at the rear of boat docks.

BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - The lake is stained at the upper end and clear at the lower end. Water level is at 300 and predicted rain should show it rising. Downlake, bass are holding on dropoffs adjacent to the buckbrush, on points, and in brushpiles. Best patterns seem to be topwater baits on points and along rock bluffs early in the morning, moving back into 8-12 feet of water after the sun comes up, with jig 'n pig, Carolina-rigged lizards and small Yamamoto Senkos. Uplake from Clarksville, bass are holding on creek channel dropoffs and cruising the flooded gum trees. Better choices of baits include plastic worms and lizards and Yamamoto Senkos, fished nearly weightless. When fronts make their way through the area, the fish may hold as deep as 30 feet. Jerkbaits are also taking some bass, when fished very slowly, right up next to the brush covered banks. Crappie are taking bass baits throughout the lake, as they are very aggressive. Lots of 2-3 pound crappie are being caught. Catfish are taking cut bait and most normal catfish baits.

BRIERY CREEK & SANDY RIVER RESERVOIRS - Briery Creek is still giving up big bass, with a large number of 4-5 pounders being caught this past week.Reports of 10-12 pound bass coming from Sandy River are unconfirmed at this time, but there are many rumored accounts. Plastic lizards and live minnows are the ticket. Bream anglers are catching lots of large fish on flyrod poppers, crickets and worms. Large crappie are taking minnows.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Excellent striper fishing around Cedar Key. Some of the fish weigh up to 30 pounds. Hopkins spoons, 1/3 ounce, are also taking some stripers. Lots of 12 pound stripers are hitting Cordell Red Fins and Rebel Spoonbill plugs at night at the lower end of the lake. Bass anglers are catching good numbers of bass, to seven pounds. Bass are hitting spinnerbaits and plastic worms on rocky points and boat docks. Fish the dropoffs and ledges adjacent to boat docks, as the bigger fish are about 20 feet deep.

LEESVILLE RESERVOIR - Striper fishing is good, with live shad, bucktails and Cordell Redfins being the best baits. Below the dam, striper action for 16-17 pound fish, is reported as good in the Staunton River. Bass fishing is fair to good, with most of the fish being taken on buzzbaits.

LAKE MOOMAW - Crappie action is excellent, with some of the fish weighing over two pounds. The larger fish are located in 12-15 feet of water. Plastic worms are taking smallmouth bass to five pounds. A few large trout have been caught on minnows, fished after dark.

PHILPOTT LAKE - Largemouth and smallmouth bass are taking spring lizard baits in the shoreline trees. Walleye are taking the same bait, in addition to live minnows and crankbaits. Some crappie are being caught, but they are not schooled up yet.

NEW RIVER - Some bass and catfish are being caught, with an occasional striper in the 4-5 pound class.

SOUTH HOLSTON RESERVOIR - Crappie fishing is excellent, with minnows being the best bait. White bass are hitting small spinners, although they may not be creeled. Smallmouth bass action is much improved, with good numbers of fish being taken on plastic grubs, small crankbaits and topwater lures. Walleye are taking nightcrawler-tipped spinner rigs. Occasional muskie are also taken.

CLAYTOR LAKE - Anglers are catching a few white bass at night, fishing with live alewives, at the upper end of the lake. Some stripers are also being caught at night. Flathead catfish are turned on, taking crayfish, cut eel and minnows. Walleye are being caught in the shallows at Daleton. Smallmouth bass and crappie round out the catches. Live bait are the choice of the more successful anglers.

TROUT STREAMS - Big Stoney Creek is producing well since the recent stocking. Paddy Run and Upper Passage Creek also have ideal conditions. The Lower Peddlar River is producing well on small spoons, and sizes 10 and 12 nymphs. Throughout the National Parks, March browns and Hendricksons in sizes #12 or #14 are good flies. Streamers, particularly the Muddler Minnow pattern, have also been working well.


VIRGINIA BEACH - Excellent action for tautog along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel pilings and tubes. These fish are ranging from 3-5 pounds, with a few pushing to over 10 pounds. Best bait is fiddler crabs and blue crabs. Big black sea bass and scattered cod are also being caught. The Tautog fishery closes at the end of the month. Red drum, to 45 inches, have also arrived along the shoals and breakers of the Eastern Shore islands. Peeler crabs, blue crabs and bunker are the most successful baits. Black drum are also present in the same areas, but most are on the small side. The larger black drum should begin showing in numbers by the end of the month. Croaker are biting on squid and bloodworms along the Virginia Beach oceanfront and in the tributary rivers of the Bay. Taylor and snapper blues round out the catches along the rail at Rudee Inlet, along with the first flounder catches of the season. A few flounder were also caught at Oyster this week. Offshore boats are still catching tilefish, rosefish and grouper from 300+ feet of water, although dogfish are pestering anglers. Some nice yellowfin and bluefin tuna have been caught this week by anglers out of Virginia Beach.

OUTER BANKS, N.C. - Pier anglers have had steady action on sea mullet, grey trout, speckled trout, croaker, taylor bluefish and small spot. Surf anglers are confronted with hordes of sea mullet, plus brief flurries of speckled trout and taylor blues from Little Bridge to Manteo, along with some nice puppy drum. The first pompano of the season are available in the surf at Avon. A few red drum are being caught nightly at Cape Point, but the fish are thicker at Hatteras Inlet. Offshore, the fleet is finding large yellowfin tuna to 100 pounds, with limit catches of 20-50 pound fish being taken at the Point. Fair to good numbers of gaffer dolphin, blackfin tuna, king mackerel and wahoo are also being caught. Good numbers of billfish are caught and released. Inshore, headboats are catching plenty of taylor blues, sea mullet, sea bass and pigfish.