Fishing Report - February 16, 2018


POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - Regardless of the cold weather, the amount of available light is causing the fish to think about spawning. Put away the idea that all the fish are located on the bottom awaiting springtime water temperatures. White perch are starting to move up the river. Largemouth bass are moving into the prespawn stage. This means that they are holding in 10-15 feet of water and moving up on shallow banks or flats to feed. Jig 'n pig, small plastic grubs and Silver Buddies are the more successful baits. Some of the more productive areas are Blue Plains, The Spoils, main river bridge pilings, Washington Sailing Marina, Four Mile Run and Columbia Island Lagoon. Crappie are schooled and moving into shallow water. Live minnows and tiny jigs are the preferred baits. Yellow perch should be available on live minnow and plastic grubs on the flat behind Roosevelt Island. Outflows from Blue Plains are attractiving schools of gizzard shad, followed by catfish, stripers and largemouth bass.

POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Bass are being caught on main river points on jig 'n pig baits, cast into the shallows and worked down the dropoffs. Plastic grubs, retrieved in a swimming motion, will also take nice fish.Larger creeks are producing good catches on jig 'n pig baits, retrieved down dropoffs on outgoing tides. Crappie are schooled tight and holding in 8-12 feet of water, adjacent to shallow gravel banks with good cover. Live minnows and plastic grubs are the ticket. Blue catfish are foraging on flats adjacent to deeper water. Cut shad baits are taking the larger ones, with fish to 40 pounds being caught.

POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER - Most of the action is centered below the water disharge canal from the Dickerson Power Plant. Lots of nice smallmouth, walleye, tiger muskie and large channel catfish are in this area and downstream from the disharge point. Some of the deeper holes between Edwards Ferry and Dickerson are also giving up some nice fish. The Seneca Flats area is quiet, with few fish being caught. Smallmouth bass and channel catfsih are beginning to move in the area from Algonkian Park to the mouth of the Monocacy. Live minnows, small hair jigs and plstic grubs are the more successful baits. Crappie schools are located around the mouth of Broad Run and Goose Creek. Small minnows are working best for these tasty fish. Reports of white suckers are beginning to filter in from the White's Ferry area.

OCCOQUAN RIVER - Some male yellow perch are in evidence, but the roe perch have yet to appear. The boat docks and rock wall on the north shore of the river are holding largemouth bass. Fishing the dropoffs here will produce some bass. Patience is the key. A jig, plastic grub or live minnow, cast into the shallow water and moved very slowly into the deeper water, will entice the bass into striking. Use an exposed hook where possible, as the strikes will be very light and hooking the fish will be difficult. Silver Buddies or Shaky Head rigs, fished very slowly on the bottom in 10+ feet of water, adjacent to cover, will produce some fat sow bass.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - Most bass anglers will be concentrating on main lake points and humps, while crappie anglers will be looking for brushpiles in creek channels.

BURKE LAKE - Fish may be caught by shoreline anglers, concentrating on the points around the lake. For best results, use live minnows under a bobber. For those who own small, shallow draft boats, access is available at the VDGIF boat ramp near the dam. After launch, cross the lake, turn left and fish the shoreline with white buzzbaits, small spinnerbaits and shallow running crankbaits.

FARM PONDS - Most ponds have warmed enough to melt any ice. Live minnows, fished on the edge, between shallow and deep water, will take bass in the ponds. Nightcrawlers or plastic grubs/worms will succeed when fished on the bottom. Crappie and bluegill are very hungry and will take small minnows, nightcrawlers, small spinners or tiny crankbaits. Bring along lots of nightcrawlers and a large cooler if you plan to fish for these tasty panfish. The more panfish you take out of a farm pond, the more food that will be left for the bass and the remaining panfish. This will greatly increase the size of the fish in the pond. Remember that catch and release of panfish does not work to the benefit of a farm pond.

LAKE ANNA - Big fish are on the move and are beginning to feed heavily. Live bait is at it's best now for trophy bass. Lots of fish are being graphed in 3-20 feet of water. They are making their way into the shallows from the Route 208 bridge to Dick Three. The water temperature throughout the lake is in the mid 40s. Shad imitating crankbaits, jigs and grubs are taking good numbers of bass, but live jumbo shiners are producing best. Walleye action is picking up throughout the lake. Tubes and live shiners are the best baits for the Walleye. Crappie are schooled up and taking small shiners and jigs. Best action is found under the bridges and suspended over creek channels. Yellow and white perch are found on dropoffs adjacent to deep points. These fish are taking small minnows, jigs and spoons. Striper action is fair to good for those chasing the shad schools around the 208 Bridge and Dike Three.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - White perch fishing has picking up in the lower stretches, with bloodworms being the bait of choice. Yellow perch are biting well on minnows and nightcrawlers in the downstream sections. Crappie fishing is good in the tidal sections. Some blue catfish, to 30 pounds, are being caught on cut bait, fished in the main river channel bends, from Massaponax Creek to Hicks Landing. Above the city, shallow running Cordell Big O's and small hair jigs, tipped with pork rind, are responsible for a few three pound smallmouth bass.

MATTAPONI/PAMUNKEY RIVERS - The yellow perch run is in full swing, with lots of fish being caught. White perch, to one pound, are being caught at West Point, with smaller fish being taken all the way up the rivers. The warm weather predicted for next week, will bring larger schools up the rivers. Catches also included catfish, pickerel, crappie and walleye.

SHENANDOAH RIVER - Some smallmouth bass action is reported, mainly on live minnows and Rapalas. A few largemouth bass have also been caught. Most of the action, however, centers around catfish and white suckers. These fish are feeding heavily on cut bait, live minnows and nightcrawlers.

JAMES RIVER - Lots of reports of catfish, to 40+ pounds, around the Dutch Gap Power Plant and a few large smallmouth bass in the upper reaches of the river. Yellow perch and crappie are being caught with consistency around Dutch Gap. In the lower tidal sections, Upper Chippokes Creek is giving up some good largemouth bass.

LAKE CHESDIN - Some large bass, to six pounds, and lots of crappie are dominating the catches. A few walleye are also being creeled. Rat-L-Traps and Rapalas are the top bass baits.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - The mouths of the feeder creeks are producing some fish for anglers drifting live minnows. Speed Shads, Rat-L-Traps and spinnerbaits are taking good numbers of large bass. Lots of jumbo yellow perch are being caught on medium minnows, while blue catfish to thirty pounds are taking jumbo minnows, cut shad and eel chunks. Crappie fishing is picking up with the warmer weather.

CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Largemouth bass, 2-6 pounds, are taking jumbo minnows on the main lake points and over brushpiles in deeper water. Topwater baits are also taking bass in the shallow grassbeds. Pickerel, 2-4 pounds, are also taking the same baits throughout the lake. At the dam, some yellow perch are being caught on small minnows, in addition to large numbers of good sized crappie.

LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR - Bass are being caught on blade baits at 18-20 feet, along windy points. Stripers are taking the same baits, but are holding a little deeper at 20-25 feet. Crappie are being cuaght on small minnows and jigs on irregular features of grass lines. Walleye are available on minnows, nightcrawlers and deep diving crankbaits at the dam. Large yellow perch are biting crankbaits in 8-14 feet of water on inside grass lines.

BACK BAY - Fair catches of white perch, along with a few crappie and bluegill are being taken from the creeks emptying into the Bay. The Bay has quite a bit of grass this year. A number of bass and large channel catfish are also being caught in the creeks, as well as the northern end of the Bay.

SUFFOLK LAKES - Western Branch Lake is producing some good bass, a few yellow perch and crappie. Lake Prince gave u a couple of nice stripers and a number of bass over four pounds this past week. Lakes Cohoon and Meade report crappie, yellow perch, pickerel and small bass as the major catches. Crappie are providing most of the action at Lakes Smith and Whitehurst, with catches of up to 25 fish weighing up to 1.25 pounds.

BRIERY CREEK & SANDY RIVER RESERVOIRS - Jig 'n pig anglers are taking some bass, but none of any size. Pickerel and smaller bass are being caught with regularity. Bluegill are taking red wigglers, nightcrawlers and Beetlespins.

LAKE GASTON - Bass fishing is picking up, with fish taking jig 'n pig and slow-rolled spinnerbaits, fished on main lake points. Pea Hill Creek is also giving up bass on Speed Shads, swimbaits and C.C. Shads in clear water. Crappie are aggressive once found, but finding them is the trick. Check main creek channels and bends for suspended schools. Stripers are being caught at the lower end of the lake on live shad and bucktails. Below the dam, white perch are taking red wigglers.

BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - Largemouth bass fishing is fair on main lake points in six feet of water, near rocks. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits and five inch chartreuse/pepper grubs are the preferred baits. Crappie fishing is excellent over brushpiles and in the shallows. Slow trolling, with small minnows, in the backs of coves works well. Stripers are taking cut shad in 8-15 feet of water, on the bottom. The schools are located off major creek points. Stripers are also working off buoy 4. Surface action is best at midday, using bucktails and drifting live shad. Watch for gulls.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Stripers are being caught with some regularity on bucktails and live shad. Musky are also taking bucktails, while smallmouth bass are being caught on spinnerbaits. Crappie fishing is excellent on small minnows and jigs in 2-10 feet of water.

LEESVILLE RESERVOIR - Some stripers and walleye are being checked in. Most of the stripers are being caught on Cordell Redfins, although Storm swim baits are coming into their own. The Staunton River, below the dam, is producing walleye up to 4 1/2 pounds on jigs. Largemouth bass fishing is slow, using jigs and crankbaits.

LAKE MOOMAW - Crappie anglers are catching a few large crappie on live minnows, but the best action is on yellow perch, to 1.5 pounds. Some largemouth bass and pickerel are also reported. Tiny black midges are producing for fly fishermen, below Gathwright Dam, in the Jackson River.

PHILPOTT LAKE - Smallmouth bass are taking baits, fished in 5-35 feet of water. Wind has slowed activity, but the few anglers on the lake are catching some fish. Shallow water anglers are having success with small shad-imitating crankbaits, plastic worms and large, slow-rolled spinnerbaits, while deep water anglers are jigging up bass on Hopkins spoons. Anglers fishing for trout in the Smith River are taking some trophy trout, in addition to a large number of smaller fish. Berkley Power Baits, meal worms and salmon eggs are the most popular baits.

NEW RIVER - Muskie fishing is good, with a number of fish being caught this past week. Smallmouth fishing also improved with the warmer weather last weekend. Some anglers are catching large carp and catfish at the Celco warm water outlet.

SOUTH HOLSTON RESERVOIR - Crappie fishermen are doing well around the water intake, on jigs. Fairly consistent success is had by largemouth, smallmouth and trout anglers throughout the lake. Live bait is the best producer, although slow-rolled spinnerbaits and jig 'n pig are also catching bass.

CLAYTOR LAKE - A few stripers are being taken by the handfull of anglers out. Channel catfish are biting on nightcrawlers and cut bait. Walleye are being caught where the New River flows into the lake. Occasional largemouth bass are also reported.

TROUT STREAMS - Trout fishing is generally good in streams throughout the state. Be very careful, as stream banks are slippery and Hypothermia is a given if you slip into the water. Good trout fishing is available in the Smith and Jackson Rivers. Anglers are using size 22 and 24 blue wing olives, weighted nymphs in sizes 10-14 and size 10 streamers. Wild streams had very good reproduction last year and fly hatches are already starting. Nymphs will probably be the best lure for flyfishermen, while small spinners in the 1/16th ounce class will work best for spin fishermen.