Fishing Report - December 8, 2017


OVERVIEW: Most gamefish are holding in deeper water during this season of the year. Unless there is a warm water discharge in the vicinity, the fish will be deep and very sluggish. They will not move far or fast to feed, and successful anglers know that small baits, fished very slowly, are the better choices. "Dead-sticking" is one of the better techniques at this time of year. This involves casting a grub or jig 'n pig and allowing it to sink to the bottom. Once it hits bottom, it should be allowed to sit with no motion for as long as the angler can stand it. After the initial wait, move the bait very slightly and let it sit again. Self control and patience are required, and the slower the retrieve, the more successful the angler. One trick that is practiced by veteran anglers is to cast a small, plastic grub, saturated with fish attractant, into 15-20 feet of water and set the rod down. Leave the bail open and use another rod to work a different lure. Keep an eye on the spinning rod, as the line should start peeling off in 5-10 minutes. This technique is not only used for bass, but for any gamefish located in the area. Small baits, such as 1-3 inch plastic grubs will take largemouth bass, crappie, yellow perch, catfish, walleye and pickerel. Baits like the jig 'n pig will result in bass being caught. When the line starts peeling off, pick up the rod, take up most of the slack and allow the fish to take up the balance. Raise the rod tip sharply when the fish is felt and retrieve the line. Do not expect tackle busting fights at this time of year, as the fish are quite sluggish. Good fish may be taken during this season, however, if anglers are patient enough.

POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - Bass may be found in 15-20 feet of water around structure, taking small grubs, live minnows and jig 'n pig. Fish these baits very slowly and the bass will take them. Best bets this week are the "Spoils", Blue Plains, Belle Haven Cove, Four Mile Run and the Washington Channel. Each of these areas also contain schools of crappie. These fish are generally oriented to submerged brush and boat docks. For anglers looking for action, try fishing Silver Buddies on ultra-light tackle with 4-6 pound line, for shad in the outflow at Blue Plains. Cast the bait to the dark spot in the water, allow it to fall, and lift the rod tip sharply. The shad will normally try to take the bait on the fall. If they are not successful, raising the rod tip sharply will result in snagging the fish. When a fish is felt, hold on, as the rod will remain bent double until the fish is landed. Unless you wish to keep the shad as bait, the easiest way to unhook the fish is with a simple home-made de-hooker. Take a piece of parting bead molding (3/4 x 1/2 in.) and attach a small piece of rat wire or hardware cloth to the end. This will allow you to catch the free hook, shake the fish free and remove the hook from the wire with ease without touching the fish.

POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - The bass are located on dropoffs, primarily back in the creeks. Almost any bank dropping steeply into 10-20 feet of water will be holding bass, particularly if there is a little green grass in the area. Small baits, fished very slowly in the deeper water, will take these fish. Don't neglect to throw a small plastic grub or Senko up on the shallow bank, as the bass come up in the shallows to feed, particularly on the low end of the tide. Crappie are schooled up around submerged brush and are suckers for tiny jigs or live minnows.

POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW ROUTE 301 - Some striped bass are being taken by anglers trolling large swim baits or Mann's deep running crankbaits. On the flats just below Monroe Bay, at Colonial Beach, fan cast the area off the bluffs with 3/4 oz. Rat-L-Traps or Rebel Fastrack minnows to catch stripers in the 5-9 pound class and a few flounder. Storm swim baits are also taking a fish now and then.

OCCOQUAN RIVER - The dropoffs around the Route 1 bridge are holding a few bass, as is the rock wall on the North bank of the river. Larger bass are available on the rock points on the southern shore. Jig 'n pig baits will take the larger fish, while numbers of fish will be caught on plastic grubs or rib worms. . Lots of crappie, most of them small, are around the boat docks and brushpiles. Yellow perch are on the increase on the bottom in 15-20 feet of water. Most of these are bucks, but more roe perch are moving in daily. Live minnows or small plastic grubs in yellow, fished on the bottom will take the ring perch. Some anglers are taking yellow perch on small, gold, Silver Buddies, jigged slowly just off the bottom. They are also being regularly surprised by bass on their lines.

POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER - Be careful boating on this section of the river as the water level is very low. The mouths of the tributary creeks are holding some largemouth bass, but crappie are scarce. Best bets for these bass are small grubs, Beetlespins, live minnows and small jig 'n pig. Crappie anglers are happy as the mouths of Goose Creek and Broad Run are loaded with Big schools of crappie. Tiny jigs under bobbers and live minnows are the ticket. Good bets for larger smallmouth should be the deeper holes at the mouth of Limestone Branch above White's Ferry, the mouth of the Monocacy at the Dickerson Power Plant, the warm water discharge canal below the Dickerson Power Plant, the ledges below Edward's Ferry, and Seneca Flats. All of these areas have been producing good smallmouth action on live minnows and small jig 'n pig. Some nice walleye are being caught at the base of Great Falls on live, redside minnows, fished in the quiet pools. Some whopping smallmouth are being caught in the same areas.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - When the water is clear, a few largemouth bass are being taken in the tidal sections of the river by patient anglers fishing live minnows and jig 'n pig baits. The steeper dropping banks are holding the fish, although some nice fish are coming from the blowdowns along the shore. Above the city, smallmouth bass are also taking live minnows and crayfish, fished in the deeper holes in the river. Catfish are still taking cut baits, fished in the outside bends of the river channel.

LAKE ANNA - Most of the angling success is coming downlake, around dyke three and the deeper points close to the dam. Small bass are very evident around points and islands, in 12-15 feet of water. Larger fish are holding in deeper water. Jumbo minnows, Shakey Heads, jig 'n pig and Silver Buddies are the most popular baits. The upper end of the lake, above the 208 Bridge is lightly stained, while downlake, the water is clear. Crappie anglers are finding fish around the concrete bridge pilings, suspended in 20-30 feet of water. Striper fishermen are having some success around the 208 Bridge and the channel dropoffs around the mouth of Contrary Creek, primarily early and late in the day. Best baits are live shad, jumbo minnows and Storm swim baits. Beaver lodges near deep water are good places for large crappie and bass. The key to fishing for bass and crappie at this time is lots of cover and deep water. Twenty feet or more is necessary. The hot side of the lake is producing large numbers of small bass, as well as a few larger fish. Some large crappie are being taken from the beaver lodges adjacent to deeper water. Live minnows are almost a must. Crappie jigs are not taking fish as well as they normally do. Small bass are taking the minnows aggressively however, and you may find that you will catch more bass than crappie. Stripers are taking jumbo minnows on points, adjacent to steep dropoffs. Fish these minnows 5-8 feet deep on the channel side of the point. Remember: keep your drag loose and the rod in your hand or a rod holder. The lake is full of rods and reels that someone "just laid down for a second".

JAMES RIVER - Lots of smallmouth bass are being caught above the city. Live minnows and crayfish are the better baits, but plastic grubs and jig 'n pig are taking their share. When the sun is high and water is clear, Rat-L-Traps and crayfish imitating crankbaits are also successful. Below the city, lots of crappie are being caught in the barge pits and along the steeper dropping shorelines. Brushpiles are the attraction and these should be worked well with small minnows and jigs. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass may be caught by drifting live minnows parallel to the steeper banks. Although few of the fish will be large, they do provide lots of action. Large blue catfish are being caught consistently by anglers in the Dutch Gap area. Cut shad baits, fished on the bottom, near the warm water discharge from the power plant, are taking the 30 plus pound fish. Lots of 10 pound gar are also being caught in the same area on cut bait.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - Crappie and yellow perch are the main attractions here. Although bass are being caught by skilled and patient anglers, most of the fishermen are after panfish. The mouths of feeder creeks and the steeper dropping banks in the backs of the larger creeks are the holding areas for largemouth bass. Crappie and yellow perch are holding on wood structure in 10-15 feet of water. Live minnows, small grubs, and jigs are the ticket for the panfish, while live minnows, small grubs and jig 'n pig baits will take the bass.

CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Live bait fishermen are taking pickerel, bass and crappie. Brushpiles are holding all three species and are difficult to find. Once found, however, coolers can be filled in little time.

BRIERY CREEK AND SANDY RIVER RESERVOIRS - Some slot bass are being caught, but the good news is the crappie fishing. Lots of good stringers of the calico sided panfish are being taken from both lakes. Live minnows and small jigs are the ticket.

LAKE GASTON - Striper action is hot in the main lake around the mouth of Pea Hill Creek. Large schools of surface-feeding fish are marauding through the shad schools early and late in the day. Plenty of stripers in the 10-20 pound class are taking live minnows, shad, and bucktails on the main lake dropoffs. Citation bass are taking the same baits on main lake points and dropoffs, with the majority located in 25-40 feet of water. Crappie in the 2-3 pound class are hanging on the bridge pilings and suspended off points and rock bluffs. Striper action is also good below the dam in the Roanoke River, particularly when the gates are open and the water is flowing.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Striper action is hot. Lots of 8-10 pound fish being caught daily, with a few over 20 pounds being caught each week. Surface lures early and late in the day and live shad other times are taking the fish. Most of the fish are holding at the 20-25 foot mark during the day, but are coming up to feed on the surface in the backs of coves at dawn and dusk. A good depthfinder will locate the schools of shad, with the stripers among them. Live shad are also taking their share of smallmouth and largemouth bass from rocky points and brushpiles throughout the lake

PHILPOTT LAKE - A few diehards are catching some fish in the lake, but the majority of the action is located on the Smith River, below the dam. Lots of trout are being caught, along with quite a few walleye.