OVERVIEW - Water temperatures are rising steadily and fish are generally in spawning mode throughout the state. Because of recent rains, most waters are rising and are stained or muddy. Upper ends of lakes are generally stained, while the lower ends are clear. Grass is showing well in those waters that normally have grass and this is helping to clear the water. It is also providing a great spawning base for fish. The spawning run of anadromous fish is in full swing with shad, herring, stripers, and white perch showing well in the upper reaches of tidal waters.
POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - Fletcher's reports that shad, catfish, bass and stripers are eagerly taking baits above Key Bridge. In the city, largemouth bass are taking jig 'n pig, plastic worms and grubs, rattling crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Lower tides are producing best, near some type of structure. Try submerged wood, points, and dropoffs. Catfish are providing good action for shore anglers at Columbia Island and Haines Point. White perch anglers are loading up, using nightcrawlers and bloodworms. Crappie and sunfish round out the catches, taking small plastic grubs and small crankbaits.
POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Bass are beginning to spawn in the milfoil beds on the main river. White and yellow perch are also seeking food in the grass. Small plastic baits, chatterbaits, spinnerbaits and rattling crankbaits are the preferred baits, although small topwater baits are attracting strikes in the early morning. Catfish are taking cut bait and clam snouts. Fish flats adjacent to main river channels. Use stout tackle when fishing the channel itself, as trophy size fish are resident here. Creeks are showing bass in the lily pad fields, and tightly holding to wood cover. With all the fronts that have moved through in the past week or so,the fish are a little skittish. Fish bottom baits very slowly or fish reaction baits. Most of the river is stained, so pick colors that stand out.... Chartreuse, orange or black. Small baits are the ticket, cast or flipped on light line.
OCCOQUAN RIVER - Lots of Hickory shad continue to be caught in the back end of the river. Catfish are taking cut bait and clam snouts throughout the river. Crappie are consistent in the early evening along the shoreline and around boat docks. Best bait is live shiners. Bass are turning on, with most of the fish being taken on small plastic worms in shallow water or around wood cover, holding tight. Bass are beginning to spawn in 4-6 feet of water on any available cover. Four inch Yamamoto Senkos in green pumpkin, fished weightless, will take most of the fish. Remember to fish them s l o w.
OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - Largemouth bass are taking plastic worms in very shallow water. Fish the main lake points, casting onto the shore and retrieving back toward the deeper water. In the absence of bites here, move out on the point, fishing Carolina rigged lizards across the point. Crappie are schooled up and biting well. Catfish are taking clam snouts and cut bait throughout the lake. Fish the main creek channels on outside bends.
BURKE LAKE - Bass are biting well. Lots of nice fish being taken on plastic worms, crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Most of the fish are in the shallows, with the best depth being less than three feet. Crappie fishermen are being rewarded with nice stringers. Some large bluegill are being taken from the spawning beds. Muskie are becoming active.
FARM PONDS - Most of the bass are either spawning or in the pre-spawn stage. Baits should be live, or small plastics, fished in the deeper water near the dam. Fish the baits with as little weight as possible and be very patient. Sunfish should be spawning. They will take nightcrawlers, red wigglers, crickets and flyrod poppers. Use polaroid sunglasses to locate the beds in shallow water. Don't neglect small topwater poppers.
POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER - Smallmouth bass are taking small crankbaits, plastic grubs, spinners and live bait. Buzzbaits and Tiny Torpedos will also produce well early and late in the day. Flyrodders should try poppers and Wooly buggers. Spawning bluegill are suckers for Beetlespins, small spinners and flyrod poppers. Occasional walleye are being taken by anglers trolling Rapalas upstream, alongside weedbeds. Catfish are cooperating nicely on live and prepared baits. Carp are suckers for Niblets corn and Wheaties/strawberry Jello baits.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - The tidal section of the river is producing good stringers of largemouth bass, striped bass and giant blue catfish. Waders are still catching lots of Hickory shad around the Route One bridge. Shad darts and tiny gold spoons are the better choice of baits. The bass and stripers are taking shad-imitating baits along shoreline structure, while the catfish are taking cut gizzard shad, fished on the bottom in the outside bends of the main river channel. Crappie action is spotty, while sunfish are available on nightcrawlers and Beetlespins. White perch are being taken in numbers. Above the city, smallmouth bass are taking plastic grubs, spider jigs and topwater lures, fished in the holes in the river channel.
SHENANDOAH RIVER - Both forks of the river are producing good numbers of smallmouth bass on small plastic worms and grubs. Larger fish are suckers for small, fat crankbaits in green or chartreuse colors. Flyrodders have success with olive, brown and black, weighted, wooly buggers. Bluegill are taking tiny spinners and Beetlespins, while catfish may be taken on live minnows, nightcrawlers and chicken livers.
MATTAPONI/PAMUNKEY RIVERS - The big news is catfish; big and plentiful. Some bass are being taken on plastic worms and rattling crankbaits. White perch are still available on bloodworms and big bluegill are taking crickets and Beetle spins.
LAKE ANNA - Largemouth bass action is good for anglers fishing shallow points on the main lake or in the creeks. Topwater baits, early and late in the day, are producing good stringers. After the sun comes up, switch to plastic worms and grubs, jig 'n pig or crankbaits. Concentrate in the shallow water uplake, but work the baits deeper as the sun goes higher. Bigger fish are coming from the willow grass beds uplake in both arms of the lake. A few walleye are being taken from shallow points, on overcast days. Striper action is good, with most of the fish being taken on Sassy Shads, Hopkins Spoons and live shad. Crappie are biting well. Best areas are around the bridge pilings and beaver lodges.
JAMES RIVER - Above the city, some smallmouth bass are taking plastics, topwater lures and live baits. In the lower tidal sections, largemouth bass are orienting to creek mouths, coves and standing cypress. Shallow water and moving tides are the key to taking these fish. Blue catfish are biting well in the deeper channels well below the city. White perch are still available below the Dutch Gap Power Plant.
LAKE CHESDIN - Lots of bass in the 4-7 pound class are being taken from the lake. Buzzbaits are the best producing lure, but must be fished in the early morning or late evening to be effective. Better action is to be had in the willow grass downlake. During the day, plastic worms are the better choice. Bream and crappie are providing good action for panfishermen, with red wigglers, crickets and live minnows being the preferred choice for bait.
CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - Fishing is picking up, but there is lots of boat traffic on the river. Lots of gar are being taken on live minnows around the dam. Largemouth bass, orienting to the lily pads, may be taken on buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic worms. Catfish and bream round out the action.
CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Lots of bass are being taken. Bream are hitting crickets and flyrod poppers, while crappie are taking live minnows, fished over the submerged brushpiles. Flyrodders are taking crappie on poppers in the lily pads and around cypress trees. A few catfish are coming in to the marina.
LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR - Bass are spawning in shallow water. Sight fishing is best. Lake is clear with water temperature of 68 degrees. Some bluegills, but not many, nor are they large. Red worms and inline spinners are taking them. Some large crappie still available. Look for them on deep banks with wood cover in or near deep water.
BACK BAY - White perch are hitting in the bay. Some bass are being caught around the grass beds on spinnerbaits and flyrod poppers, particularly in Red Head Bay. The creeks are producing bass on nightcrawlers and live minnows. Catfish, bluegills and a few crappie complete the action.
SUFFOLK LAKES - Shellcrackers finally started to show some life this past week, as a few citations were written. The fish were taken on live crickets and red wigglers. Most shellcrackers are beginning to bed and the action should continue to be good through next week. Some bass, 5-9 pounds, are biting at Western Branch and Cohoon. Stripers are providing some action, along with bass and crappie at Lake Meade. Walleye are hitting at Lake Smith.
LAKE GASTON - Topwater baits are coming into their own on this lake, where largemouth bass may be taken almost at will early and late in the day. The bass are active in shallow water on main lake points. Midlake, fish the shallow back ends of coves. Try a Zoom Horny Toad or Spro frog adjacent to the vegetation along the bank. Make sure the water along the shorline is less than two feet deep with the sun shining on the shoreline. Lots of big bass are cruising these areas looking for bedding sites. Fish plastic grubs on most points in 4-8 feet of water and spinnerbaits on WINDY points. Those bass that have left the beds are orienting to boat docks, where plastic worms are taking their toll. Good fishing may also be had in the creeks off the main river channel above the Eaton Ferry Bridge. Striper action is good around the I-85 and Route 1 Bridges. Crappie are biting well. Bream are schooling, with crickets doing the job.
BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - Lake level is at 305 and rising. The most consistent pattern for bass this past week was Zoom Centipedes in pumpkinseed or watermelon seed, light sinkers, light line, fished on rocky bluffs. Some bass were located in the backs of coves. With the water now in the bushes, most of the bass will be located in the thickest brush available. Flipping plastics or jigs into the center of the bushes will entice lots of good fish. They are orienting to the willows and buckbrush. Buzzbaits and Zara Spooks are taking good fish in the early morning, while plastic worms and jigs, flipped on banks adjacent to the willows, or spinnerbaits along the shoreline, are taking good fish during the day. Lots of large crappie are taking slow-rolled spinnerbaits or jerk baits adjacent to the buckbrush. Crappie may also be found on bridge pilings and catfish are biting everything in sight. Cut shad or chicken livers in shallow water are the ticket for the cats. Striper fishing at the base of Kerr Dam is excellent. Fish to 18 pounds are not unusual. The key is determining when the gates are open. When only one gate is open, fishing is excellent. When more than one is open, fishing shuts down.
BRIERY CREEK & SANDY RIVER RESERVOIRS - Excellent bream fishing on crickets and red wigglers. Bass action is heating up again, with large numbers of 14-17 inch bass being taken from the dollar pads on slowly fished soft plastics. Larger fish are found in the thickest cover along the shoreline. Catches from deeper water are scarce. Pickerel are thick on topwater and just about anything cast near or in the dollar pads. Sandy River is giving up lots of bass in the 4-5# class to anglers fishing jig 'n pig or rattling crankbaits around the standing timber in 6-8 feet of water. ` Crappie and bream anglers are creeling limits daily.
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Bait fish are moving onto the banks at night. This makes 9:30-11 p.m. the best time for striper fishing. Live shad are the best bait for the big fish, but Cordell Redfins and 1/3 ounce Hopkins Shorty with bucktail are also working well. Largemouth bass are being taken on plastic worms and lizards in the Roanoke River arm of the lake, as they continue their spawn. Concentrate on boat docks, as far back under them as possible. Plenty of large crappie are also available.
LEESVILLE RESERVOIR - Stripers, walleye and crappie are the fare here. Shad Raps appear to be the best bait throughout the lake, as most of the larger fish weighed in during the past week were taken on this bait. Below the dam, lots of anglers are catching stripers from the fishing pier.
LAKE MOOMAW - Bass action is excellent, as catches of 20+ keepers are reported. Best success is to be had by fishing in 3-4 feet of water on live bait and crankbaits. Brown trout are being caught, trolling or fishing live alewives in deep water at night. Crappie fishing is excellent, with good numbers of big fish being caught. Rainbow trout have moved in the area around Fourtney Boat Landing. The fish are in the 12-16 inch range.
PHILPOTT LAKE - Smallmouth and walleye are the main targets here. Plastic worms, soft plastic jerk baits and topwater baits are luring the smallmouth, while crankbaits and nightcrawlers are taking the walleye. An occasional brown trout is also taken. Crappie are being caught regularly in the Fairystone Cove area.
SOUTH HOLSTON RESERVOIR - Crappie are located at the mouth of creeks, with good numbers being caught. Look for smallmouth bass on the rocky points, while largemouth bass are found near Jacobs Creek. White bass are being caught at the water intake, but may not be kept.
CLAYTOR LAKE - Stripers and hybrid stripers are taking Mann's Stretch 20 plugs live bait and topwater baits. Smallmouth bass are taking plastic grubs, while flathead catfish are taking cut bait, live minnows and crankbaits. Crappie action is fair to good. Lots of carp in the 20+ pound range are being caught.
NEW RIVER - Good catfish action, along with a few small walleye. Striper action is fair to good below the dam.
FLANNAGAN RESERVOIR - Trout action is good under the spillway, while the news on the lake is big crappie. Smallmouth bass are taking small plastics and shallow rattling crankbaits. Bream and bluegills are spawning, where flyrod poppers and Beetle spins are taking their toll.
CLINCH RIVER - Smallmouth bass are taking small rattling crankbaits, pumpkinseed grubs and small topwater baits.
TROUT STREAMS - Ideal conditions are holding on the larger streams in the Western portion of the state, as well as all of the headwater streams in the National Parks and Forests. The water levels are full and good fishing can be found in all the mountain streams. Small gold or brass spinners will work well, as will weighted nymphs and streamers in sizes 8-10.