Fishing Report - October 6, 2017


CAUTION - Duck hunting season opens this weekend. Anglers are advised to be wary around duck blinds, particularly if there are ducks in the water. Chances are these are decoys and hunters are in the blind.

POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - Smallmouth bass action is excellent around Fletcher's Boat House on live crayfish, tube baits and Yamamoto Senkos. From Chain Bridge to 14th Street Bridge, along the Virginia shoreline, crankbaits are taking most of the fish. Bridge pilings, wood cover and dropoffs are holding most of the largemouth throughout the city. Crankbaits, slow-rolled spinnerbaits, jig 'n pig and plastic baits are the better choice of baits. Crappie are available throughout the river, orienting to submerged brush in 10-15 feet of water. Small minnows and tiny jigs are the preferred bait. Catfish action has slowed considerably, with little success reported. Stripers are available around Fletcher's Boathouse, National Airport, 14th Street Bridge pilings and the National War College Wall.

POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Water temperatures in the river and tributaries have dropped slightly and the fish should begin feeding heavily. Large shad schools are invading the mouths of the creeks and the bass are there waiting for them. Bass are thick in the grass beds at the mouths of the creeks. Frogs and poppers, fished over the grass, should take numbers of fish, while the better fish will be caught on jigs and Senkos. Yellow and white perch, sunfish, catfish and snakeheads are all present in creek channels and will actively take spinnerbaits, small crankbaits and topwater baits. Stripers are to be found around grassbed edges. They are consistently taken on gold Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits and shad colored crankbaits.

POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW ROUTE 301 - Stripers are marauding baitfish on the shoals below Monroe Bay and around the grassy islands and points throughout the lower Potomac River. Sassy Shads, Rat-L-Traps and topwater baits are producing well. Flyrodders are doing well with Lefty's Deceivers and Clouser Minnows in red and white. Lower tributary creeks are off and on, with best action coming on swift running tides at sunrise and sunset. Fish bridge pilings, points and dropoffs with Rebel Fastrak Minnows, Rat-L-Traps, bucktails, swim baits and Sassy Shads.

OCCOQUAN RIVER - The grass bed at the mouth of the river is producing bass for anglers using Zoom Horny Toads, buzzbaits and Pop Rs. Spinnerbaits on the outside edges will take bass and stripers. Some bass are available around the wood pilings below the Route One Bridge. Crankbaiting or flippin' small plastic baits will take these fish. Bass are also being taken on main river points, adjacent to dropoffs, along the rock wall and around wood blowdowns. Better choices of baits include small crankbaits, jig 'n pig and plastic lures. Crappie are schooled around submerged brush and boat docks. Small minnows are the ticket. Small yellow perch are schooling on the flat below the Route One Bridge. Jigging small Silver Buddies in gold colors will take these fish.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - Fishing is good. Largemouth bass to five pounds are being caught by anglers using jig 'n pig and slow-rolled spinnerbaits in the upper reaches of the lake, particularly in the Bull Run arm. The fish are concentrated around blowdowns in 2-10 feet of water. Downlake, the fish are located on secondary points in 15-20 feet of water. Most successful anglers are using jig 'n pig and plastic baits. Water temperatures are falling, resulting in actively foraging fish. Crappie fishing is fair with lots of fish being taken from the fishing pier.

BURKE LAKE - Few reports of anglers on the lake. Those who are out report catching bass, crappie and yellow perch. Most of the fish are being taken on live minnows. Some bass are taking jig 'n pig baits and plastic baits, fished on dropoffs in 8-12 feet of water.

POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER - Good smallmouth activity on small jigs, tiny crankbaits and slowly retrieved spinners, with the fish ranging from small to three pounds plus. Deeper pools are holding the larger fish. Some better areas are just below Point of Rocks, just above White's Ferry and around Edward's Ferry. Crappie are schooled, off and on, at the mouths of Goose Creek and Broad Run. Catfish action is very slow.

LAKE BRITTLE - Bass fishing has been good. Slow-rolled spinnerbaits are taking bass to four pounds. Bluegills are biting well, along with lots of catfish.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - Above the city, smallmouth bass are taking live bait and tiny crankbaits in the deeper pools. Water is clear, but leaves are abundant. In the tidal sections, crappie are schooled and biting well. Bass anglers are not as successful, as leaves on the water curtail fishing crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Plastic grubs and jig 'n pig are taking a few fish. Better bass fishing is available below the Route 301 Bridge. Blue catfish, to 30 pounds, are biting on cut bait in the river channel. Stripers are in short supply at both the Port Royal and the Tappahannock Bridges.

MATTAPONI/PAMUNKEY RIVERS - Catfish and crappie are the main fare on the Mattaponi, although some smallmouth bass are taking Rat-L-Traps in extreme upper end of the river. Pamunkey anglers report catfish and white perch on peeler crab baits at Lester Manor, bass to three pounds on Teeny Craws, plastic worms and spinnerbaits near Williams Landing, and catfish, white perch and some pickerel around the Route 360 Bridge. Stripers are spread throughout the river, from Aylett to below West Point, but no concentrations or good catches are reported.

SHENANDOAH RIVER - Water temperature is dropping daily. Excellent smallmouth bass fishing for those who can put up with the annoyance of floating leaves. Small crankbaits and plastic grubs are the hot baits and Bixler Ferry Bridge is the hot area.

LAKE ANNA - Downlake, bass are holding on main lake and secondary points in 4-12 feet of water, around boat docks and some bridges. Better baits are large crankbaits, jig 'n pig and plastic baits. Uplake, bass anglers are taking fish from the willow grass beds on buzzbaits early and Zoom Super Flukes, Senkos and small spinnerbaits after the sun comes up. Stripers are active, particularly at the Splits, Jetts Island, Stubbs Bridge, Dike Three and Rose Valley. Live shad, Sassy Shads, Cordell Redfins and jigging spoons are the better choices of baits. Fishing is good for crappie. Best bet for the novice angler is to fish live jumbo minnows on main lake points. Lots of big fish are being caught in this manner.

JAMES RIVER - Smallmouth bass are hitting well above the city, with some trophy fish being taken. Anglers should expect clear water and lots of leaves. Lots of fish are being caught. Plastic lures and live bait are the preferred baits. Tidal sections of the river are producing good sized blue and flathead catfish on cut bait and live minnows in the main river channel, and bass on plastic lures, spinnerbaits and small crankbaits in the creeks and around main river wood structure. Crappie are biting well in the barge pits around Dutch Gap. Live minnows and tiny jigs are taking the fish. Stripers are on the move throughout the river, taking almost any large bait thrown into the water. Check almost any large wood structure, with current swirling around it. Best areas are the Benjamin Harrison Bridge and wood pilings around the power lines at Sturgeon Point.

LAKE CHESDIN - Bass and crappie are occasionally cooperating, with bass, 3-5 pounds, being caught on spinnerbaits, jig 'n pig and plastic worms, while crappie are taking small minnows. Bass are unusually skinny this year, as if there is a distinct lack of baitfish, even though schools of bait are seen on the surface throughout the lake. Some nice sized stripers and an occasional pickerel are also being caught.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - Some anglers are catching bass, to five pounds, on small crankbaits, Shad Assassins and plastic baits, fished around wood cover, adjacent to lily pads. Cypress trees, on points, are holding numbers of good sized bass. Live minnows are also accounting for some large bass, as well as crappie, yellow perch, bream, and catfish. Stripers are being caught on crankbaits and topwater lures, particularly near Walker's dam.

CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Lots of action for largemouth bass and bowfin on live minnows. Most of the bass range 2-7 pounds, while the bowfin are running to 10 pounds. Large, slow-rolled spinnerbaits are also accounting for some large bass. Pickerel, yellow perch and crappie are also being seen in the catches. Most of the fish are being caught on live minnows, fished on points and over brushpiles. Topwater frogs and Zoom Super Flukes, fished over the grass, are taking bowfin as well as bass.

LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR - Bass and catfish are the main fare. Trolling with deep diving crankbaits is working well for larger bass, while topwaters, crankbaits and spinnerbaits, fished along points and humps are catching lots of fish. Pay particular attention to the pump house and humps in the North end of the lake. Fish just over the grass in 15-18 feet of water for best results. Crappie are also biting well, on live minnows and tiny jigs. One report says nice bluegills were caught on fly rod poppers. Some stripers, to eight pounds, are being caught as well.

BACK BAY - Very few fishermen out on the Bay. Those who are fishing are catching small bass, crappie, bluegill and catfish. Crappie fishing has improved in West Neck Creek. Fishing the North Landing River and Currituck Sound is producing some good bass for those anglers who dare to brave the wakes from cruisers during their mass exodus along the Intercoastal Waterway.

SUFFOLK LAKES - Western Branch reports shellcrackers, crappie and yellow perch are providing most of the action, on worms and small minnows. Stripers are coming on, with Sassy Shads, bucktails and live bait taking fish to 9 pounds. Burnt Mills is reporting the same, with some larger bass being taken. Lake Prince is giving up some stripers, to 10 pounds, along with the shellcrackers and bass. Crappie and pickerel action is good at Meade and Cohoon, while anglers at Lake Meade are also catching some nice bass. Anglers at Lake Smith are reporting good fishing. White and yellow perch, bass, pickerel and crappie are all taking baits aggressively. Most of the crappie are taking live minnows, while small to medium bass are taking spinnerbaits and plastic worms.

BRIERY CREEK & SANDY RIVER RESERVOIRS - Most of the bass are in the slot, with quite a few in the 4-5 pound class caught this past week. Crappie, topping one pound, are seen daily, but bluegill catches are down. Live minnows are the better choice of bait.

LAKE GASTON - Best action is down lake. Poe's, Pretty and Lee's Creeks are good areas to fish. Bass can be caught by crankbaiting main channel points and fishing jig 'n pig around rocks and stumps in 4-10 feet of water. Best crankbait colors are shad and silver. Pop-R's and twitch worms are taking bass in the willow grass beds, while crankbaits and Carolina-rigged worms are taking them on the outside edges of the grass. Early and late in the day, some large bass are being taken on topwater baits, fished in the back ends of coves, where there are leaves on the water. Stripers are being taken trolling bucktails and Cordell Hot Spots in the main river channel. The fish are suspended in 16-20 feet of water. Crappie anglers are having good success fishing small minnows over brushpiles and solid structures.

BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - The water level in the lake is now standing at 296 feet and stable. The southern coves midlake, are holding hundreds of baitfish in huge schools. Bass are not agressive in these coves. Check out coves on the Northern side of the lake, off creeks below Goat Island and above the Route 58 bridge. Best patterns are chunk rock banks, dropping off into 10 feet of water; secondary rocky points; and wood cover midway back in the cove or creek. Square bill crankbaits, Chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, Senkos and creature baits are the better choice of baits. To be effective, baits must be fished within 12 inches of the rocky shoreline. Topwater action is occasionally productive, particularly on points of coves, halfway back in the creeks. Crappie anglers are loading coolers, using small minnows over brushpiles and around bridge pilings. Schools of breaking stripers are being found between Buoy 16 and the Clarksville Bridge, and at the mouth of Bluestone Creek. Trolling Cordell Redfins and Rebel FasTrak minnows along the river channel is producing some good catches of stripers, but don't be surprised if you end up with a 30 pound flathead or blue catfish. A number of anglers this past week landed these catfish while fishing for stripers.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Anglers are catching a few fish. Live shad, bucktails and Cordell Redfins are the best striper baits. Impressive stringers of crappie are also being caught and largemouth bass fishing is fair. Striper anglers should fish points and dropoffs. Bass are in the backs of coves and jig 'n pig in black/red or purple are good bets, although some good bass are taking topwater baits on the points. Shad Raps, retrieved in a stop and go pattern or quarter ounce spinnerbaits, cast up on the bank in the backs of coves, and retrieved slowly, will take plenty of bass. There are lots of bait fish on the lake and schools of bass and stripers are feeding under the bait fish. In these instances, try a swim bait in shad color. Just cast beyond the school and retrieve under the school where the bass and stripers are.

LEESVILLE RESERVOIR - Fishing is improving, with largemouth and white perch being taken on live minnows and jigs. Crappie are still biting, along with lots of redeyed bass. Stripers have quit feeding.

LAKE MOOMAW - Trout action is picking up, as anglers are taking trout to five pounds around the Fortney Boat Ramp. Crappie 1-2 pounds, and bass to five pounds are also available. Bass anglers are catching fish on points and around the standing timber. Live bait and jig 'n pig are the most productive baits, although topwater lures are taking fish at night. The brown trout should be beginning their spawn.

PHILPOTT LAKE - Excellent largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and walleye fishing, with many limits of fish. Most of the fish are holding at 15-20 feet and are taking live minnows and crayfish. Crappie anglers are bringing in good numbers of fish, caught on live minnows. Best areas are Fairystone Cove and above the Union Bridge. The Smith River has been stocked with trout and is receiving heavy fishing pressure, with resultant catches improving in quantity, if not size.

SOUTH HOLSTON RESERVOIR - Crappie and bass are available on live minnows, on points and creek mouths.

FLANNAGAN RESERVOIR - Shad schools are located in the middle of the lake, where schools of smallmouth and largemouth bass, catfish and trout are chasing them. Early mornings and late evenings see the better catches.

CLAYTOR LAKE - Striper action in the Peak Creek area is good on live minnows and alewives. Patient anglers are taking limits. Crappie action is good on live minnows. Catfish action is steady for 10-20 pound fish. Bass anglers are taking a few good fish each on plastic worms, topwaters, and jig 'n pig.

NEW RIVER - Few anglers are out, but those who do venture forth are catching bass and catfish on live minnows. Some small muskie are being caught.

CLINCH RIVER - Smallmouth bass fishing continues to be good, with minnows producing the better catches. Catfish are mixed in the catches.

TROUT STREAMS - The best trout areas are Big Stoney in Shenandoah County; Cedar Creek, West of Strasburg; and the Bull Pasture River, close to Williamsville. Small streams in the George Washington National Forest are producing good trout fishing. Hares ear nymphs and Mr. Rapidan flies are some of the better flies to use. Dardevle spoons and #0 Mepps spinners are good for spin fishermen. In the Hot Springs area, there are some late hatches of blue wing olives, midges and black caddis flies. Bluewing olive in size #16 and #18, cream and olive midges and black caddis flies will be the best to use. Stream levels are normal and clear.


Striped bass are ranging throughout the Bay and it's tributaries, with the best concentrations being found up the rivers. The middle bay is giving up large numbers of legal sized stripers to chummers on the Southwest Middlegrounds. The mouth of the Potomac and St. Mary's Rivers are experiencing a blitz, with huge schools of stripers, small bluefish and gray trout feeding on surface schools of baitfish. Some of the season's best fishing for school trout remains along the Eastern Shore, seaside. Schools tend to move further offshore in response to rough seas, but can often be found just 1-3 miles off the beach during calm periods. Some good catches of flounder are being made along the seaside inlets, as these fish prepare to move offshore to spawn. The Cape Charles area has good fishing for tautog, as well as the black drum, moving through the lower bay. The Western side of the middle bay region has grey trout in the 3-5 pound range for trollers along the Mud Leads and some fine speckled trout on the Tangier Target Ships for jiggers. Fair numbers of tautog are reported from the Cell, while taylor blues remain plentiful throughout the region. In the lower bay, anglers are catching grey trout, speckled trout, bluefish, flounder, sea bass and tautog all along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Offshore, Virginia Beach boats are catching large yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dolphin, along with good numbers of false albacore and chopper bluefish to 20 pounds around the Chesapeake Light/Artificial Reef area. Inshore wrecks are giving up good numbers of sea bass and tautog. North Carolina anglers are experiencing a decent run of channel bass and chopper bluefish. Offshore boats are loading up on king mackerel, yellowfin tuna, dolphin, and a few billfish. Inshore activity is good for smaller king mackerel and false albacore. Inlet anglers may expect taylor blues, speckled trout, flounder, sea bass and puppy drum.