Fishing Report - May 19, 2017

 

POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - Small stripers and large catfish are the fare at Fletcher's Boathouse, where cut gizzard shad chunks are taking the fish. Downstream, bass are hugging the riprap above Columbia Island, main river bridge pilings, and rocky points. Catfish are available to anglers fishing flats adjacent to the channel, on chicken livers, cut bait and clam snouts. The Spoils is still producing quality bass on plastic tubes and creature baits. Lots of bass are being taken from the War College Wall in Washington Channel on Rat-L-Traps, plastic creature baits, spinnerbaits and topwater baits.

POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Outgoing tides are producing bass for persistent anglers fishing baits very slowly in the shallow, main river grassbeds. Incoming tides find the hydrilla beds producing well on buzzbaits and Johnson Silver Minnows, tipped with twin tail grubs. Buzzbaits and Zoom Horny Toads in the lily pads, early and late in the day, are producing some good fish. Flipping jigs and worms, tight to cover, is also responsible for lots of fish, while fishing shallow flats adjacent to dropoffs can result in good catches. Marsh banks with pickerel weed edges are loaded with bass on high tides. Flipping a Senko or Texas rigged creature bait will get bites with regularity. Patience, however is necessary. When a strike is felt, wait and allow the fish to eat the bait. The bite is very tenative and good fish are lost when the hook pulls out of the lip. There are lots of fry in the river and this is the clue to downsize bait offerings and slow down your presentation. Catfish anglers are filling boats with the tasty bottom feeders throughout the river system. Cut gizzard shad and clam snouts are the better choices for bait.

OCCOQUAN RIVER - Herring, shad, a few crappie and lots of bass are being caught here. The herring and shad, although almost gone, are found in the rocks in the back of the river, while crappie and bass are found near the boat docks and structure around the Route One Bridge and over the grass beds at the mouth of the river. Catfish action is great throughout the river. Belmont Bay grass beds are producing good catches of bass on plastics, flipped at random throughout the grass and on gold Rat-L-Traps.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - Bass fishing is good, with most of the fish caught being males, in the one to three pound range. Midlake is producing best, with topwater baits taking fish from the points early and late in the day, while jig 'n pig and plastic worms are the choice when the sun is high. Spinnerbait fishermen are doing well uplake on downed wood. Excellent crappie action, with some of the fish being caught shallow, and others in the river channel. These tasty fish are biting well on small minnows and tiny jigs. Sunfish are spawning and some large fish are being caught on nightcrawlers and flyrod poppers.

BURKE LAKE - Crappie and bass action is generally good, with bass hitting crankbaits and plastic worms around brushpiles and points. Crappie are taking small jigs and live minnows on dropoffs and over brushpiles. The deeper brushpiles are producing the larger fish. Crickets are taking lots of shellcrackers. Catfish action is good on clam snouts, with most being taken near the grassbeds. Some lucky anglers are still catching nice walleye.

FARM PONDS - Ponds are prime for topwater lures. Fish buzzbaits, Rapalas, chuggers, flyrod poppers, etc. around vegetation and pond edges. Zoom Horny Toads, fished through and around any vegetation, will produce heart-stopping strikes. Just wait until you feel the fish before setting the hook. Heavy (30-65#) braided line works best. Plastic worms are best fished off the dam, particularly in vegetation. Big bluegills are available on flyrod poppers and nightcrawlers in the shallows.

POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER - The big news here is the new Maryland state record muskie. The big fish, weighing 32.5 pounds was caught below Dam #5 on a black spinner. Overall, fishing has been great. Sixty fish days have been reported on several occasions, including a good number of three pound smallmouth. Smallmouth bass are biting on plastic grubs, tiny crankbaits and small spinners or spinnerbaits. Work baits along the shoreline weedbeds during the morning and in the middle of the river during the afternoon. Topwater baits should also account for some good fish, early and late in the day. Upon seeing carp spawning in the grassbeds along the shore, fish the area just downriver from the grassbeds with tiny crankbaits. Smallmouth and bluegill should be having a field day, feeding on the crustaceans and insect larvae stirred up by the carp. Flyrodders are having a ball, tossing tiny white mayfly imitations that resemble the White Miller hatch. Catfish are taking live minnows and cut bait, fished on the bottom in the deeper holes. Lots of big, spawning bluegills, which may be caught on nightcrawlers, spinners, Beetlespins and flyrod poppers, are found around the shoreline weedbeds.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - Big blue catfish are still taking cut shad baits, fished on the bottom, in the outside bends of the river. Creek channels are also holding lots of biting catfish. Downriver creeks are very muddy and fishing is very slow for bass and perch. Catfish, white perch and stripers are being caught around the Route One Bridge. Above the city, smallmouth bass, 2-3 pounds, are taking Tiny Torpedos.

SHENANDOAH RIVER - In the South Fork, good action is being had by anglers fishing for catfish, sunfish and smallmouth bass. Catfish are taking cut bait and nightcrawlers, fished on the bottom. Sunfish are taking nightcrawlers and Beetlespins, while smallmouth are taking topwater baits and plastic grubs. Smallmouth action is such that 20+ fish per day is normal. Sizes are not great, but action is terrific.

MATTAPONI/PAMUNKEY RIVERS - Excellent catfish and bream action, with a few bass and an occasional pickerel also caught. Catfishermen are using cut bait and clam snouts, while bream anglers are touting nightcrawlers. Rat-L-Traps and plastic worms are taking the bass and pickerel. Good numbers of stripers are also being caught and released.

LAKE ANNA - Bass fishing is excellent on secondary points. Plastic lizards and topwater baits are the most effective baits, although some fish are being taken on crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Anglers targeting docks are doing well by skipping Senkos and tubes back under the dock to the shadiest portion of the water. Striper fishing is best early and late in the day, with Zara Spooks, Cordell Redfins and chartreuse colored Sassy Shads, fished on the shallow flats adjacent to main channel points. Crappie fishing remains excellent, with the tasty fish being caught on live minnows and tiny jigs around beaver huts, bridge pilings and suspended over creek channels.

JAMES RIVER - Smallmouth bass are taking live minnows, plastic grubs and worms and small topwater lures above the city. Big blue catfish and stripers are being caught at the "Z" dam in Richmond. The best pattern for bass on the tidal stretch is flippin' the standing cypress trees with small plastic worms, grubs and jig n' pig, and flippin' Slug-Gos in the outside edge of lily pads. The wing dams between Hopewell and Richmond are producing well on crankbaits and plastics on the downtide side and the ends of the dams. The wing dams on the Appomattox are also producing well on crankbaits, plastics and slow-rolled, large spinnerbaits. Catfish action is good on cut eel and gizzard shad, fished on the bottom, in the outside bends of the river channel.

LAKE CHESDIN - Bass action is picking up, with the preferred baits being spinnerbaits, plastics and rattling crankbaits. Crappie, good numbers of which are over the one pound mark, are taking minnows around submerged brush. Stripers are putting in an appearance, as quite a few were taken this past week on rattling crankbaits and jumbo minnows. Catfish action is fair on bottom baits. Occasional walleye are also being caught.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - The river is in good shape. Lots of bass in the 1-3 pound range are being taken on plastic worms and topwater lures, in the upriver pad fields. Larger fish are also available around wood cover on channel edges. A good bait is a Zoom, red shad, U-tail worm, with a 1/16 oz. sinker. The key is patience. Fish v e r y s l o w l y, as the river is loaded with baitfish. Big gar are being caught by anglers using large minnows in and on the edges of the lily pads. Lots of big bream are caught on crickets and nightcrawlers. Catfish action is excellent on medium minnows, turtle livers, clam snouts and cut bait.

CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Bass will be oriented to the grass beds or cypress trees. Best baits for fishing this cover are Senkos and small plastics. Zoom Super Flukes, Tiny Torpedos and small Buzzbaits, fished in the grass beds, are taking good stringers of bass and pickerel, as well as an occasional bowfin. Zoom Horny Toads and floating worms are also taking fish from the grassbeds and pad fields. Bream are taking flyrod poppers, crickets and grass shrimp. Catfish action is excellent on nightcrawlers, minnows and cut herring.

LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR - Excellent action for bass, stripers, catfish and pickerel. Bass and pickerel are taking buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic worms, while catfish are taking cut bait and nightcrawlers. Stripers are being caught by trolling 30 feet deep, and on topwater baits at dusk. Shellcrackers are taking red wigglers and nightcrawlers in 5-10 feet of water, over a hard bottom. Bass are taking soft plastics, fished very slowly in 6-12 feet of water. Pickerel will take anything thrown in the water, as long as it is fished as fast as you can turn the handle.

BACK BAY - Lots of catfish and bass are being caught in the falling and clearing water. Nightcrawlers and cut bait are taking the cats, while worms and spinnerbaits are accounting for most of the bass. Best action is in Hellespoint and Tabernacle Creeks. Some nice perch are being taken in the Bay, particularly near Ragged Island.

SUFFOLK LAKES - Fishing for bream and shellcrackers is excellent, with crickets being the most productive bait. Bass fishing is excellent with most of the fish being caught on topwater baits and spinnerbaits. Live jumbo minnows are accounting for a number of gar being taken from Lake Prince. Lake Meade and Western Branch are producing good numbers of striped bass on live minnows, but most are small.

LAKE GASTON - Fishing is good, with striper fishermen catching fish on live shad and bucktails cast up on the bank, in the upper end of the lake, near Kerr Dam. Catfish action is good for anglers fishing live shad on or near the bottom. Largemouth action is picking up, with topwater lures accounting for a few good fish in the grass and plastic baits taking them off points and around boat docks. Bream are spawning in the shallows.

BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - Water level is at 303.5 and stable. Bass are still feeding. Spinnerbaits in the coves, with particular attention to points, are a good choice. Creature baits, dropped into the middle of buckbrush, will also take the finicky fish. Jerk baits, fished parallel to buck brush banks, are accounting for good fish. Carolina-rigged lizards are taking lots of fish on main lake and secondary points. Topwaters, such as Zara Spook, will also entice some bass, particularly late in the day. Crappie are on brushpiles in eight feet of water and are taking live minnows. Stripers are being caught on live bait, from Buoy 7 to Clarksville. Night anglers are taking stripers on Redfins in mackerel and fluorescent red finishes, from Buoy 4 to the mouth of Nutbush Creek. White bass are being caught at the mouth of Bluestone Creek.

BRIERY CREEK & SANDY RIVER RESERVOIRS - Most of the action here is centered on bluegill, fliers and catfish. The few bass being caught are in the slot limit. Lots of citation bluegills and shellcrackers being caught in both lakes.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Lots of bass are being caught on smoke grubs and six inch plastic worms, in the backs of coves and on shallow banks. The better bass fishing is in the Blackwater River arm of the lake. Striper and white bass fishing is excellent, with fish all over the lake. Best results are coming on bucktails, Cordell Redfins and live shad, fished on main lake points.

LEESVILLE RESERVOIR - Buzzbaits are taking bass early and late in the day. Striper fishing is good below the dam and in the Staunton river.

LAKE MOOMAW - Bass action has picked up considerably. Largemouth bass may be taken on crankbaits during low light periods. Some smallmouth are being caught at night. Better baits at night appear to be jig 'n pig and crankbaits. Trout action is excellent, with browns to seven pounds being caught on live shad or spoons, and rainbows to four pounds at night under the crappie lights. Some catfish are taking chicken livers and cut bait. Lots of big yellow perch and bluegills are being caught.

PHILPOTT LAKE - Largemouth and smallmouth bass are taking spring lizard baits. Best areas are around wood structure in 6-10 feet of water, around Mile Marker Three. Walleye are taking the same bait, in addition to live minnows and Rapalas. Best area seems to be around Mile Marker Seven. Some crappie are being caught, but they are not schooled up yet. Insect hatches are drawing bluegills to the surface, along with some bass.

NEW RIVER - Smallmouth bass are taking plastic baits, crankbaits and topwaters. Water is returning to normal.

SOUTH HOLSTON RESERVOIR - Crappie fishing is excellent, with minnows being the best bait. A few smallmouth bass and catfish are also being caught. Typical summer patterns prevail, although reports indicate that night fishing has not yielded substantial catches yet.

CLAYTOR LAKE - Anglers are catching a few white bass at night, fishing with live alewives. Some stripers are also being caught at night. Flathead catfish are turned on, taking crayfish and chub minnows, while bass anglers are taking good smallmouth on live alewives.

TROUT STREAMS - Excellent trout fishing throughout the state. Spin fishermen are have good success using Dardevle spoons and Roostertail spinners. Fly fishermen are finding good fishing with maribou muddlers in sizes 8-10 in the larger streams and size 14-16 dry flies in the smaller streams.

VIRGINIA SALTWATER

CHINCOTEAGUE - Improved catches of flounder with the warmer weather. Black Narrows, Queens Sound and around the Assateague Island Bridge are the better areas. A few small grey trout are being caught around the shorelines. In the surf, taylor blues and a few choppers are being caught on cut bait. Sea bass are beginning to show inside on the bridges and other structure. Outside the inlet, taylor bluefish remain plentiful and wreck fishing for sea bass and tautog is holding strong. Offshore, sharking is very productive, with lots of blue sharks and a few large makos being caught this past week.

WACHAPREAGUE - The "Hills" are loaded with 7-12 pound bluefish, Atlantic bonito and false albacore. The first of the yellowfin tuna were caught this past week in Norfolk Canyon. Wreck fishing for sea bass is good, with some tautog mixed in with the bass. Inside the inlet, flounder fishing is fair, with the better catches being made in front of the Old Coast Guard Station. A few sea mullet and grey trout are mixed in the catches.

ONANCOCK - Speckled trout, red drum and medium bluefish are being caught by anglers, bottom fishing with peeler and soft crab. Best action has been in shallow water around the Pocomoke Sound Islands. Speckled trout are running to five pounds, red drum 20-35 pounds and blues 6-10 pounds. Pan trout are beginning to hit off Gilford. On the western side of Tangier Island, some taylor blues and a few speckled trout are hitting around the Target Ships. Croaker are plentiful throughout Pocomoke and Tangier Sounds, with spot, grey trout, sea mullet, blowfish and porgy mixed in the catches.

QUINBY - Flounder fishing has been fair to good. Bottom fishermen are catching a few spot, sea bass and trout. Several schools of drum have been spotted on shallow bars in the Quinby area, but anglers have not reported any catches.

CAPE CHARLES - The first cobia of the season were caught at the C-10 mussel beds this past week. Black drum action is still strong. Sporadic catches of pan trout are being made at C-10 and just off the Cement Ships. Good catches of tautog are being made at Plantation Light, the C-10 mussel beds and from several local wrecks. Red drum and cobia have moved in the Latimer Shoals area. Bottom fishing is excellent for croaker, small spot, pan trout, sea mullet and taylor blues. Spadefish are reported from Plantation Light, Cherrystone Reef and over the Cell.

LOWER CHESAPEAKE BAY AREA - Croaker and flounder are being caught at the Small Boat Channel, and flounder just off Harrison's Pier. Tautog are in fair supply around the rocks, with some flounder being caught around the First Island and on either side of the Lesner Bridge. Sporadic catches of Spanish mackerel are being made in the area, with the more consistent action being just off Grandview Beach. Cobia have blitzed the area, with fish to 52 pounds being registered this past week. Red drum action is good around the Fourth Island. Flounder action is reported to be good just off the mouth of the Back River and around Fort Wool. Bottom fishing for spot, croaker, grey trout, sea mullet, blowtoads and flounder is good at Buoy Y-9 and just inshore of Twin Stakes, in 18 feet of water. Good catches of flounder are available off Plum Tree Island and on Poquoson Flats. Croaker and spot are thick just off the Bell Buoy. Inside the York River, decent sized croaker, flounder and small spot are being caught. Fair to good flounder action is to be had at the Gloucester Point Pier and surrounding shoreline. Speckled trout action has slowed inside Mobjack Bay, but Spanish mackerel are beginning to show. Amberjack action has been fantastic at the Southern Tower. Chopper bluefish are also thick in the area.

VIRGINIA BEACH - Offshore, decent catches of 30-50 pound yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin, with a scattering of wahoo and 100 pound mako sharks, are made by the charter fleet. Best action has been just south of the Cigar. The SE Lumps and Bluefish Alley are holding hordes of bluefish in the 8-18 pound class, with water temperatures in the low to mid 60's. Headboats are still catching good numbers of sea bass and tautog on the inshore wrecks. Trollers are seeing more Spanish mackerel in their catches, and several schools of cobia have been spotted. Surf anglers are taking a mixture of sea mullet, blowtoads and small spot. Inside Rudee Inlet, fireball rigs, baited with cut mullet, are finding an occasional chopper bluefish.

PIERS -

JAMES RIVER - Croaker provide consistent action, with catches including stripers, spot and flounder. Crabbing is improving daily.

LYNNHAVEN - A mixture of stripers, spot, croaker, flounder, surf perch, sea mullet and a few taylor blues.

VIRGINIA BEACH - Plenty of spot, sea mullet, croaker, flounder, taylor blues and a few trout. Stripers are occasional visitors and Spanish mackerel action is improving.

SANDBRIDGE - A wide variety of fish are being caught, including spot, taylor blues, sea mullet, blowtoads, surf perch, flounder, grey trout, speckled trout, stripers, cobia, a few Spanish mackerel and a load of skates.

MARYLAND SALTWATER

MIDDLE CHESAPEAKE BAY AREA - The cool, rainy spring has caused the trophy stripers to linger in the middle bay area. These fish may still be caught, trolling in the familiar early spring areas. A few schools of large black drum are present in the area as well. "Croaker are about to take over", at Kruse's Wharf, who noted that the biggest fish are found in the shallows along the shorelines. Croaker to 24 inches are being caught in 20-25 feet of water around Blackberry Hang. Some spot have also moved in. Good numbers of striped bass are available throughout the area, with only a scattering of taylor blues. Speckled trout continue to show at Dameron Marsh. Grey trout, 16-18 inches, are available just southeast of Buoy 62. Speckled trout and large croaker are being caught by casters working the Hole-in-the-Wall and around the Piankatank River Oyster Reef. Flounder are providing decent action off Mosquito Point and Smith Point Jetty.

UPPER CHESAPEAKE BAY AREA - Striped bass are thick in the upper bay. Good numbers are being taken around Thomas Point. Anglers at the Point are also taking a mixed bag of spot, croaker, speckled trout and flounder. Choptank River piers are reporting white perch being caught on grass shrimp. Bottom anglers are taking a mix of spot, croaker, flounder and speckled trout. Trollers are taking some chopper blues near Cove Point.

OCEAN CITY - A few flounder are reported, caught on squid and shiners on flood tides. In the surf, blowfish and skates are the main catch, while offshore, bluefish are showing at the First Lump and the Bass Grounds. Party boats are doing well on sea bass and ling cod.

NORTH CAROLINA SALTWATER

OUTER BANKS, N.C. - Pier anglers are taking good catches of croaker, spot and sea mullet, plus a few grey trout and taylor blues. Fair to good action on small bluefish and speckled trout is being found at the Little Bridge to Manteo. Oregon Inlet has a good supply of taylor blues and flounder. Just outside the inlet, taylor blues and some Spanish mackerel are being caught by trollers. This past week saw a strong run of Spanish mackerel and cobia at several of the piers. Offshore, yellowfin tuna provided the most consistent action. Best action is just south of the Point. Mixed in the catches were king mackerel, wahoo and gaffer dolphin. Several white and blue marlin are being taken daily. Chopper bluefish have taken up residence at the 102 Tower and schools of bluefin tuna have been sighted within 10-12 miles of the inlet. Inshore boats are finding amberjack on the towers, along with fair numbers of king mackerel. Trollers, working the mouth of the inlet, are catching Spanish mackerel, taylor blues and the occasional cobia. Headboat anglers are catching croaker, flounder, sea bass, trigger fish and spadefish.