Fishing Report - December 29, 2017


OVERVIEW - With the extreme cold weather throughout the state, icy conditions are prevalent. Keep this in mind when launching boats as the ramps are very likely to be icy, particularly if another boat has launched prior to your arrival. Many vehicles have slid into the water due to ice on the ramp. Even with the cold weather coming in throughout the area, anglers should still be able to catch fish. Look for bass to become active on shallow banks dropping off into deeper water. This should happen in the afternoon when the sun has been warming the water on the shallow bank. Sand and gravel banks are best, with dropoffs into 10-15 feet of water. Small, wide wobbling crankbaits, retrieved very slowly, will take the fish. Bring in the bait just fast enough to create a vibration in the rod tip. When the tip stops vibrating, set the hook, as a fish has the bait in it's mouth, swimming toward the rod tip. At the same time, toss out a dark colored plastic grub, impaled on a small jig head, and allow it to sit undisturbed on the bottom of the drop. Leave the bail open, as bass will pick this up and run with it.

POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - Largemouth bass are holding on dropoffs in 15-18 feet of water throughout the area. Small plastic grubs, liberally doused with fish attractants are taking these fish. Silver Buddies and jigging spoons are also good bets. 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 bass and crappie. Crappie are schooled up and taking small minnows and jigs in Washington Channel and the Spoils. For sheer pleasure, try a 1/4 oz. Silver Buddy on ultra light tackle with 4-6# line. Toss this bait into the outflow of Blue Plains sewage treatment plant, allow it to fall and lift the rod tip slowly. Drop the rod tip, take up the slack and lift the rod tip again. Most casts are rewarded by 1-3# gizzard shad. If you fish the bait fast, you will snag the fish, while slow retrieves produce fish hooked in the mouth. You will know when they are hooked in the mouth, as they jump clear of the water and make some drag squealing runs.

POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Lots of ramps are ice covered in the morning, so be extremely careful. Channel dropoffs are producing decent numbers and sizes of largemouth bass for patient anglers fishing small plastic grubs and jig 'n pig. Some of the better dropoffs are located at the mouths of most of the feeder creeks, where the feeder creek channel meets the main creek channel. These areas frequently have visible mud lines where the muddy feeder creek water mixes with the clearer main creek water. Fish this mud line with lipless rattling crankbaits and swimming grubs.

OCCOQUAN RIVER - Lots of bass are located on dropoffs near the mouth of the river. Crappie are schooled up around bridge pilings, 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 these fish are bucks, as the females are not showing as well as we would like. Some stripers are working, off and on, near the foot bridge at the back end of the river. Sassy Shads, Rat-L-Traps, Cordell Red Fins and jumbo minnows are taking the fish.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - Some anglers are successful, by fishing the downlake points with plastic grubs, Silver Buddies and jig 'n pig baits. 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, and suspended over the creek channels. Small minnows and tiny jigs are the ticket here.

BURKE LAKE - Few anglers out. Those who brave the cold are catching a few bass and some crappie. The bass are being caught on plastic grubs on the dropoff on the north side of the lake, while the crappie are scattered in small pods either near the bottom or suspended in the deepest water. One angler reported catching bass on a jig 'n pig from the dock.

FARM PONDS - These small bodies of water produce many good fish in the late fall and winter to anglers who brave the cold and windy weather to fish them. When ice permits, fish small plastic baits in front of the dam, allowing it to sit still for as long as you can stand it. Many times, bass will pick up the bait from the bottom and move off with it. If there is not a lot of wood cover along the dam, try a Silver Buddy, fishing it very slowly. This small bait catches all species of fish.

POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER - Smallmouth bass to 3 pounds, walleye to 4 pounds, tiger muskies to 21 inches and channel catfish to 13 pounds are being taken from the warmwater discharge canal at Dickerson Power Plant, when the plant is running. Live minnows are the best baits for the fish, but small smoke grubs on 1/8 or 1/16 ounce jig heads, fished in the current, will also take the fish. Allow the current to sweep the grub downstream, keeping the line taut in order to feel a strike. Nightcrawlers are also tempting the fish. Even with the colder temperatures this week, don't neglect a Popping topwater bait. Throughout the river, tiny crayfish colored crankbaits are taking smallmouth bass.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - Lots of small stripers are cruising the lower reaches of the river, searching for large minnows and Rat-L-Traps. In addition, blue catfish, white perch and crappie are to be found around wood cover on steep dropping banks. Bass are present on flats adjacent to dropoffs in the afternoon when the sun is high. Small, slow moving baits are the ticket.

LAKE ANNA - Most of the action on this lake is to be had below the 208 bridge. Water temps around Dike #3 are in the low 50s. Walleye action is good around the rocky points at Dike #3. Live herring is the better bait for walleye weighing four pounds or more. Stripers are also active around this dike, where the water temperature is 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. Bass are located on the main lake points. Fishing Hopkins spoons, Silver Buddies and live jumbo minnows off the points, into the deeper water, is accounting for some good sized largemouth bass. Large jerkbaits are also taking good fish, with the bass running to six pounds. Crappie are holding around submerged brush, bridge pilings and suspended over creek channels.

JAMES RIVER - Blue catfish action has not stopped, but it has slowed a bit. A good number of citation cats were weighed in this past week. Most were caught on cut gizzard shad baits from the Dutch Gap Power Plant downstream.

SUFFOLK LAKES - Stripers, 8-10 pounds, are being caught at Western Branch and Prince. Most of the fish are being caught on minnow-imitating plugs. Citation white perch and bass are also being caught. Lake Prince reports nice crappie, lots of bass, yellow perch and pickerel. Both Lakes Cohoon and Meade are giving up large pickerel to shore anglers and crappie anglers are taking large fish from Cohoon. Crappie fishing is good at Lake Smith, which is also giving up large pickerel and walleye.

MATTAPONI & PAMUNKEY RIVERS - Few anglers are out. Catfish are the primary quarry and there are plenty being caught. Most are taking cut eel and gizzard shad baits.

LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR - Water temperature is in the low 40s, warming to the upper 40s on sunny days. Bass are being caught at 15-18 feet on points, humps and outside grass lines. Blade baits and Rat-L-Traps are taking the fish. Crappie are taking tiny jigs and live minnows.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - Most anglers here are fishing for crappie and finding nice schools of the tasty fish. The crappie are hanging around submerged brush and are taking small minnows and tiny jigs. Check both outside edges of each boat dock for brush piles. Rat-L-Traps, Berkley power worms and Jig 'n pig are taking some nice bass from Walkers Dam to Chickahominy Haven. Blue catfish are biting well on cut bait in the upper part of the river. The cats are running to 40 pounds.

CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Bass, pickerel and crappie are being caught on live minnows and Bomber Speed Shads. The bass are running to seven pounds. Fishing pressure is light, but most anglers venturing out, are catching fish.

LAKE GASTON - Stripers, 10-13 pounds, are hitting sporadically around the mouth of Pea Hill Creek and in front of the Gaston Dam. Largemouth bass, 4-10 pounds, are schooling with the stripers. Bucktails and live shad are the better baits. Below the Gaston Dam, anglers are taking stripers on drifted shad.

BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - Largemouth bass may be caught in 3-4 feet of water on Speed Shads and Poe's RC3 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 is slow.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Stripers are breaking in singles off deep mud points on the main channel at creek mouths. Look for shad and slowly swim bucktails or retrieve Bomber Speed Shads across the points and along the dropoffs. The larger fish are being caught in eight feet of water on 12-13 inch shad drifted across the coves and pockets under a bobber. Largemouth bass are located in 15-20 feet of water. Vertical jigging is best.

PHILPOTT LAKE - Both smallmouth and largemouth bass are being caught by anglers jigging Hopkins spoons in 30-40 feet of water.

CLAYTOR LAKE - Flathead catfish, to 25 pounds, are still biting well, along with smallmouth bass, crappie and stripers.

SOUTH HOLSTON RESERVOIR - Bass and walleye are taking Hopkins spoons, jigged at 25-30 feet. When the weather warms up in the late afternoon, bass may be taken from shallow banks on crankbaits.

LAKE CHESDIN - Some crappie are available for patient anglers. Occasional bass and chain pickerel on live bait. Stripers in the 10-12 pound class are taking Rat-L-Traps and Red Fins.

TROUT STREAMS - All streams throughout the state are in excellent fishing condition, although many streams are ice-covered. Trout anglers who venture forth are catching fish, but there are few anglers out.