Fishing Report - November 17, 2017


OVERVIEW - Anglers should be aware that it is much colder on the water than the temperature would indicate. Please dress for the weather. Many layers of warm clothing with a windbreaking outer shell is best. Also remember to leave a float plan....where you are going, when you expect to get back and take along a working cell phone.

POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - Fish may be caught throughout the city. Bass will take small grubs, plastic worms, jig 'n pig, jigging spoons and small crankbaits. Most are holding on banks where the bottom drops from very shallow to 10-15 feet. Work small crankbaits across the shallow areas, then probe the deeper water with grubs or worms. Bass should be caught on the dropoff along the War College Wall in Washington Channel. Rattle-chambered crankbaits retrieved slowly along the weedbed edge, and jig 'n pig or plastic grubs fished on the dropoff, will produce bass in the 2-5 pound class. Crappie are schooled up around the boat docks along the seafood restaurant wall in Washington Channel, and under the municipal dock at Blue Plains. These fish will take small minnows, Berkley Gulp baits, Silver Buddies, and tiny jigs. The outflow from Blue Plains is also attracting lots of bass intent on eating the gizzard shad that are almost always present there. Crankbaits, spoons and small plastic worms are taking these fish. Shad and carp are being snagged on the crankbaits or caught on Silver Buddies in 1/4 oz. size. Channel and blue catfish are taking cut bait, nightcrawlers and chicken livers under the Woodrow Wilson bridge. The warm water discharge from the Pentagon, dumping into the pond at Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary, is holding nice bass on the outgoing tide, while crappie are holding there on incoming tides. Small, shallow draft boats are necessary, as the water is very shallow adjacent to the parking lot, off the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Action is slow around Fletchers Boat House, but large stringers of crappie have been taken from the Cove by patient anglers. Small minnows and very tiny jigs are doing the trick. Smallmouth bass should take live minnows and crayfish along the Virginia Shoreline above Key Bridge, and small crayfish colored crankbaits in the channel behind Roosevelt Island. Yellow Perch will also take crankbaits in the same channel.

POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Nice stringers of bass are being taken from the lower creeks off the river. Most of these fish are being taken from channel dropoffs on plastic grubs, worms and live minnows. Small crankbaits worked across the shallows are also taking fish as long as there is grass present. Some of the better areas are Mattawoman Creek, Aquia Creek, Nanjemoy Creek, and the mouth of Little Hunting Creek. Main river points are also holding good fish. These points should be fished by casting across them with plastic worms and jig 'n pig. Retrieve should be very slow across the point. When the bait comes across the point, let it fall, keeping a taut line and watching the line. Most of the hits will come on the fall, so when the line moves the slightest bit, set the hook. The islands off the mouth of Nanjemoy Creek are loaded with largemouth and stripers. The bass are located on the bottom and inclines next to the islands, while the stripers are suspended over deep water. Fish for these trophy fish with bucktails, cast toward the shore and allowed to bounce down the incline into the deeper water. Do not hesitate to fish the baits all the way to the bottom. Some good fish are coming from 30-50 feet of water.

OCCOQUAN RIVER - Big crappie should be taken by anglers fishing live minnows around boat docks and submerged structure. Some of the crappie exceed one pound, but most are in the 3/4 pound class. Yellow perch are beginning to appear around the mouth of the river. Bass are located on the dropoffs adjacent to vertical structure and to the remnants of grass on flats. The wood pilings and the rock walls are the best cover in the river and most always hold fish. Fish for them with Shaky Heads, plastic worms and small crankbaits. A recent bass tournament had successful anglers using Shakey heads, tipped with Zoom Baby Brush Hogs or Yum Dead Ringers. Work the baits from shallow water into deeper water. Watch the line very carefully, as the hits will be very soft and normally will not be felt. Should the bait feel heavy, or the line move at all, set the hook. Some of the larger fish initially feel very small. If they are not moved away from cover immediately, you stand a good chance of losing them.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - Bass are holding in the deeper water off the sides of main lake points. They are moving up to feed on the baitfish that remain suspended above the points. Crappie are schooled up tight and are located adjacent to heavy brush, submerged timber or suspended over creek channels and points. Minnows and tiny jigs are taking them. Try the area off the rip-rap, downlake from Sandy Run. There are 20 foot high trees submerged in the main channel off this bank and they normally hold bass and crappie during this season of the year. A jigging spoon works wonders at times.

BURKE LAKE - Small minnows, nightcrawlers and tiny jigs are taking panfish, though most of those accessible from the bank are small. Bass may be caught on jig 'n pig and Texas-rigged plastic baits throughout the lake.

FARM PONDS AND SMALL LOCAL LAKES - Most of the public boat launch areas are closed for the winter, but good fishing may still be found in the local farm ponds and small lakes in the area. Take a large bucket of minnows and a handful of plastic grubs and head for the pond. These baits, fished in the deeper water of the pond, or along the dam, will produce good bass, some crappie and bluegill, until the ponds freeze. The ponds should not freeze for another 3-4 weeks, so good fishing is available. Those anglers who are able to get hold of crayfish should try free-lining these in the creek channel or along the dam. There are often much larger bass in farm ponds than anyone would ever guess.

POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER - Try fishing the outflow canal from Dickerson Power Plant. Smallmouth bass and large channel catfish are active in the current. Plastic grubs on weedless jig heads, allowed to bump the bottom in the current of the canal, will take the smallmouth bass, while nightcrawlers or live minnows are effective for the channel catfish. The feeder creeks off the main river are holding schools of crappie. These fish are to be found on the deeper banks, holding in submerged brush. Small minnows or crappie jigs are the ticket to filling coolers with these tasty fish. Largemouth bass are taking small crankbaits, plastic worms and live minnows in the feeder creeks. Fish the deeper bank of the creek, casting toward the bank and retrieving down the dropoff. Trolling the channel with the current will also produce good stringers of bass. Most of the bass are running 1-3 pounds, but an occasional trophy bass will also be taken.

POTOMAC RIVER - GREAT FALLS - Good smallmouth bass should be caught, along with a few walleye, between Great Falls and Chain Bridge. Live minnows and crayfish are the top bait choices, while jig 'n pig in small sizes, fished very slowly, will also take the fish.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - Good crappie fishing is to be had just below the city, in the brush along the banks. Small minnows and tiny jigs are the ticket. Bass anglers are catching an occasional largemouth, but patience is required. Best baits appear to be tiny crankbaits, in shad or chartreuse colors, fished along the shallow banks, around wood cover. Catfish anglers are still doing fairly well on cut shad and bream, in the deeper channels.

SHENANDOAH RIVER - Smallmouth and largemouth bass are cooperative on jig 'n pig, live minnows, crankbaits and plastic grubs. Some sunfish are available for flyrodders and anglers using small spinners, nightcrawlers and small plastic grubs.

LAKE ANNA - Stripers, bass, crappie and perch are taking baits throughout the lake. Stripers are schooled tight and working the baitfish schools. Follow the birds, is the current advice. When you see the birds diving on the water, a school of stripers is probably working through a school of shad. Approach the school quietly and cast across the school, working the bait slowly through the fish. Best areas are from the 208 Bridge up to Jetts Island, Contrary Creek, Pigeon Creek and the Stubbs Bridge area. Best baits are bucktails, four inch Sassy Shads and white grubs. Should no birds be seen working, head for the Jetts Island area and blind cast across the river channel. Lots of good stripers are taken here. Stripers are also being caught on live shad around the dikes and on top water baits early and late in the day. During the middle part of the day, trolling is producing good numbers of stripers in the 8-12 pound class. Crappie are found around beaver lodges, bridge pilings and brush piles. Small minnows seem to be the best bait, but some crappie fishermen get upset using minnows because bass will not leave them alone. Tiny crappie jigs will take the tasty little fish as well. Bass are taking minnows, shad-colored crankbaits, plastic grubs and worms and jig 'n pig. Work these baits slowly across the main lake points. Bass will take the baits at all depths, but the larger fish are generally found in 8-14 feet of water.

JAMES RIVER - The upper stretches of the river are still producing good numbers of smallmouth bass. The best bait is live minnows, followed closely by jig 'n pig. The "hottest" location is around Bosher's Dam. In the tidal section of the river, smallmouth bass are being taken on the dropoffs around Dutch Gap. Channel and blue catfish are still taking cut bait and live shad in the channel bends. Largemouth bass fishing is slow, but some patient anglers are taking limits. Best action has been on steeply dropping banks in the backs of creeks. Crappie are taking medium minnows fished over brushpiles and submerged structure. Stripers are still active around the Benjamin Harrison bridge and downriver, near the power lines.

LAKE CHESDIN - Largemouth bass and crappie are providing most of the action, with the majority of fish being taken on live minnows. Medium to jumbo minnows are producing the bass, while small minnows are taking the crappie.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - Some largemouth bass are being caught drifting large minnows, at the mouths of major feeder creeks. Bass are also found on cypress trees adjacent to dropoffs. Senkos and plastic lizards are the baits of choice. Yellow perch fishing is fair, with fish of citation size being caught from docks. Minnows are the preferred bait. Crappie are biting well on small minnows, around submerged structure. Catfishermen are still catching fish on cut bait. The cats are running 1-14 pounds. Striper anglers are taking fish at Walker's Dam.

CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Jumbo minnows are still producing largemouth bass and chain pickerel. Crappie fishermen are taking good numbers of slabsides on live minnows.

LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR - Although the grass is dead, it is still holding fish. Bass are taking Rat-L-Traps, crankbaits, blade baits, jerk baits and tail spinners. Look for fish along the inside of the grass, in 15 feet of water, on points and humps. Bluegills are located along the shoreline or grass edges in 3-4 feet of water. Crappie are taking medium minnows and jigs at 12 and 20 feet. Yellow perch are mixed in the catches. Best fishing starts at mid-day when the sun warms the water over the dark grass.

BACK BAY - Channel catfish and white perch are being caught throughout the main bay, while crappie, bluegill and a few bass are being taken from Hellespoint and other nearby creeks. West Neck Creek is giving up lots of crappie and bass to 3 1/2 pounds.

SUFFOLK LAKES - Striper fishing is picking up at Western Branch, along with some shellcrackers and a few yellow perch. Bass are feeding at Lake Prince, where a number of fish over the five pound mark were caught this past week. Anglers at Cohoon and Meade report only a few medium sized pickerel being caught there. While anglers at Lake Smith are settling for mixed creels of crappie, bluegill and white perch.

LAKE GASTON - Striped bass are being caught by anglers trolling bucktails and shad around the dam. Crappie are holding in 8-10 feet of water over brushpiles and around boat docks. They are hitting jigs and live minnows. Largemouth bass are taking jig 'n pig baits, but are also being caught on live shad by striper fishermen. Better areas include quiet coves adjacent to deep water and secondary points. Rattling crankbaits and slow-rolled spinnerbaits are also taking a good number of fish.

BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - Lots of large crappie are being taken from the bridge pilings and submerged brushpiles on live minnows and tiny jigs. Lots of bass are being caught, particularly in Bluestone and Grassy Creeks. Shallow running crankbaits and Carolina-rigged plastic worms are the more productive baits. Striper anglers are taking fish to 14 pounds, trolling Cordell Redfins and bucktails from Clarksville to the mouth of Bluestone Creek. The area around Goat Island is also producing some good fish.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Live shad are working well for the stripers in this mountain reservoir. Lots of 10-14 pounders were taken this past weekend. Anglers will find stripers feeding on shad in shallow creeks. Surface plugs or shallow-diving crankbaits at daybreak are working well. After the sun comes up, switch to deep-diving plugs or bucktails. Largemouth bass are also shallow, feeding on shad, but are beginning to move to deeper water. Largemouth bass in the 5-6 pound class are being caught consistently. Crappie anglers are being rewarded nicely for their efforts. The fish are very cooperative on live minnows, fished around submerged timber near creek channels.

LEESVILLE RESERVOIR - Rock bass are still being caught on small minnows and jigs, along with some white bass. Stripers are reported on crankbaits and live shad.

NEW RIVER - Muskie fishing is good throughout the river. Large Mepps spinners and double-jointed plugs are working best. Smallmouth bass fishing is slow.

SMITH RIVER - Flyrodders using blue-winged olives and nymphs, are catching brown and rainbow trout. Spinner-fly combinations and small crankbaits are also effective. Limit catches are common.

LAKE MOOMAW - Some yellow perch and bass are reported, but no significant trout catches.

PHILPOTT LAKE - Most successful anglers are using live bait for smallmouth bass and crappie.

SOUTH HOLSTON RESERVOIR - Bass fishing is improving, with both smallmouth and largemouth bass taking Silver Buddies, jig 'n pig and live minnows. Crappie fishing is reportedly good. Brown trout are being caught near the dam.

CLAYTOR LAKE - Reports of good smallmouth bass and walleye fishing are evidence of good fishing this weekend.