Fishing Report - December 15, 2017


OVERVIEW - With water temperatures running in the high 40s to low 50s, the fish are holding in the normal wintertime haunts, in deep water. Lots of good fish are being taken throughout the state by anglers who are patient. Plastic baits, fished at the base of channel dropoffs or on shallow gravel banks dropping off into deeper water, will take bass, perch, crappie, striper and catfish. Warmwater discharges are holding lots of active fish. These fish are suckers for Silver Buddies, small Rat-L-Traps and crankbaits, and white grubs. Species range from catfish to stripers, carp, bass and yellow perch. Most sewage treatment plant discharges and power plant cooling water discharges are warmer than the water into which they are dumped.

POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - Largemouth bass are holding on dropoffs in 15-20 feet of water throughout the area. Small plastic grubs, liberally doused with fish attractants are taking these fish. The slower the bait is fished, the more successful it will be. Letting the bait sit on the bottom motionless will often produce better than moving it. The outflow from Blue Plains is still a local hot spot, giving up stripers, bass and crappie. The Spoils is another area that is giving up fish. The steep dropping banks should be the target for bass anglers, while crappie fishermen should concentrate on the concrete islands. Better choice of crappie baits would be live minnows and small tube jigs in 1/16 or 1/32 oz. sizes. Anglers wishing the ultimate in action should rig ultra-light equipment with 2-4 pound line and 1/4 oz. Silver Buddies. Cast these into the discharge at Blue Plains, allowing the bait to fall, and lift the rod tip sharply. Almost every cast will produce gizzard shad, ranging from 1-3 pounds. Although some will be snagged, most of the shad take the baits on the fall, and have all three tines of the hook firmly embedded in their mouths. Allowing the bait to fall to the bottom and lifting it gently will produce both stripers and big yellow perch. Four Mile Run is giving up bass to anglers fishing crankbaits and spinnerbaits along the riprap. Remember that the riprap is covered with rat wire that loves cranbaits. Fan casting Senkos above Four Mile Run Park will also take some good bass. Long casts are required in the clear water.

POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Main river dropoffs are producing good numbers and sizes of largemouth bass for anglers patiently fishing small plastic grubs and jig 'n pig. Some of the better dropoffs are located at the mouths of most of the creeks, where the creek channel meets the main river channel. Fish these areas with lipless rattling crankbaits and swimming grubs. The main creek channel of most of the major creeks are also giving up bass for anglers patiently fishing small grubs or other plastic baits on banks dropping into 10-20 feet of water. Small, wide wobbling crankbaits, fished just fast enough to impart vibration to the rod tip will also take bass in the same areas. Best time is on the end of the outgoing tide and the beginning of the incoming tide.

OCCOQUAN RIVER - Lots of bass are located on dropoffs near the mouth of the river. Crappie are schooled up around the submerged brushpiles and boat docks. Yellow perch are showing near the mouth and are taking small grubs and minnows, fished on the bottom in 15-20 feet of water. Most of the perch are bucks, but more roe perch are moving in daily. Occasional stripers are being taken in the area around Hoffmaster's Marina on Sassy Shads and live jumbo minnows. Bass are also being taken in the back end of the river, jigging Silver Buddies and Hopkins spoons at the base of the dropoffs, under the schools of baitfish.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - Anglers fishing the main lake points with plastic grubs and jig 'n pig baits are catching fish. The bass are located in the deeper water off the points and are coming up on the points to feed. Crappie are thick in the submerged brush and timber. Small minnows and tiny jigs are the ticket here.

POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER - Some nice smallmouth bass are being taken from the mouth of the warmwater discharge canal at Dickerson Power Plant. Lots of big channel catfish are to be found at the same place. Fish small smoke grubs on 1/8 or 1/16 ounce jig heads in the current. Allow the current to sweep the grub downstream, keeping the line taut in order to feel a strike. Live minnows and nightcrawlers are also tempting the fish. The main river is cold, but clear. Deeper holes in the river will give up smallmouth, along with catfish. Try fishing small hair jigs, tipped with pork rind. Also try fishing small topwater baits slowly along the ledges. When the sun has warmed the water in the late afternoon, try a 1/8th oz. buzzbait along the sunny shoreline.

FARM PONDS - Throughout the state, farm ponds that are not iced over, are giving up good sized bass to patient anglers. Jig 'n pig, plastic baits and jerk baits are the ticket for trophy sized bass. Good sized sunfish are also on the feed, taking small plastic grubs, small crankbaits and in-line spinners.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - Some largemouth bass should be available in the tidal sections of the river for patient anglers fishing live minnows and jig 'n pig baits. The steeper dropping banks are holding the fish, although some nice fish should also come from the blowdowns along the shore. Above the city, the smallmouth bass will also be taking live minnows and crayfish, fished in the deeper holes in the river. Catfish like cut baits, fished in the deeper outside bends of the river channel.

LAKE ANNA - Walleye action is fair around the rocky points at Dike #3. Live shad is the better bait for walleye weighing four pounds or more. Stripers are also active around this dike, where the water temperature is a couple of degrees warmer than the balance of the lake. Surface activity is limited on the main lake, but the stripers do surface. When they do, Cordell Redfins are taking the big fish. Better fishing is coming downlake, near the dam. Bass are located on the main lake points. Fishing small baits very slowly off the points, into the deeper water, is accounting for some good sized largemouth bass. Trophy hunters are using live jumbo minnows. Crappie are holding around submerged brush, bridge pilings and suspended over creek channels. The cooling ponds are loaded with small bass. Almost anything thrown in the water will take these aggressive fish. Schools of surface-feeding stripers and largemouth bass are common at dawn and dusk. Topwater baits, bucktails and live minnows will entice them. During the day, the stripers may be found along road beds and around islands, particularly in Elk Creek and the mouth of Mill Pond Creek. The canals are holding bass and walleye. Drifting live bait, small plastic grubs or jig 'n pig with the current, will take these fish. Jigging spoons will also take largemouth bass in the canals, particularly around the bridge pilings.

JAMES RIVER - Fishing is slow, but fish are being caught. The area around the Dutch Gap Power Plant has been giving up some good fish. Blue catfish in the 30 pound class were caught last week, along with some 3-4 pound walleye, plenty of crappie and 3-4 pound bass. The crappie and bass were taken from the old barge pits, while the walleye and catfish were taken from the main river. Smallmouth bass are also available on island dropoffs and rocky points. Catfish are taking cut shad, while the other species are taking small plastic grubs, live minnows and nightcrawlers.

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 cover in 10-15 feet of water. Live minnows and 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 - A few bass and crappie are reported being caught on live minnows. Fishing pressure is very light and few reports are coming in.

LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR - Water temps are in the high 40s with visibility at 14 feet. Bass are found on the deep points and humps. Deep running crankbaits, jig 'n pig, large spinnerbaits, blade baits and drop shot rigs are the more productive baits for fish to five pounds. Fish the sunny side of the lake at midday.

SUFFOLK LAKES - Lake Prince reports some stripers, caught on light line and live minnows. Western Branch also reports some striper action on live minnows. Lake Smith is reporting a few crappie and white perch, along with some bass and an occasional large striper.

LAKE CHESDIN - Some crappie are available for patient anglers. Occasional bass and chain pickerel on live bait, although most anglers report being skunked.

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. Bass are confined to the deeper dropoffs, with the majority located in 25-40 feet of water.

BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - Largemouth bass may still be caught in 3-4 feet of water on Speed Shads and square billed crankbaits. A stop-and-go retrieve is working best. Crappie are hovering around deep brushpiles. Vertical jigging minnows over the brushpiles will produce the better fish. Striper fishing picked up, with most of the fish being taken downlake, trolling Cordell Redfins and free-lining live shad.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Striper action is hot. Lots of 8-10 pound fish being caught daily, with a couple over 20 pounds being caught this past week. Surface lures are taking the fish early and late in the day and live shad at other times. 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.

LAKE MOOMAW - Some anglers are out on the lake, catching some small trout. Bass anglers are consistently skunked, while crappie anglers are catching few, but large crappie.

PHILPOTT LAKE - Some largemouth and smallmouth bass are being taken, along with small walleye and large crappie. Live bait is producing better results, although plastic grubs, rattling crankbaits and jig 'n pig are also taking fish.

CLAYTOR LAKE - A few stripers and an occasional bass is the news here. Not many anglers out.

TROUT STREAMS - Most streams throughout the state are in perfect condition and fish are being caught by patient anglers, particularly in the larger streams.

VIRGINIA SALTWATER - The annual fall sea run of striped bass is in full swing. Limit catches of stripers over the 40 inch mark are the rule for anglers trolling umbrella rigs and bucktails in 30+ feet of water. The big fish are found throughout the lower Potomac River, the Chesapeake Bay from Smith Point to the mouth of the Bay and around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel complex.