RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles – VDGIF biologist John Odenkirk says in spite of a little rain earlier this week, the river is in good shape for smallmouth bass anglers in the upper portions, above Fredericksburg. Below the city in the tidal stretches it’s time for bass boaters to cash in on the largemouths that are hanging around in the main-stem’s flooded trees and brush from Hicks Landing south to near Leedstown. Plastic worms, jerkbaits, Rat-L-Traps, shallow crankbaits and early hour surface lures will produce.
LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles – Some of the earlybirds find good bass action with surface baits, followed up later with Paca craws and other such craw claw lures fished with light slip sinkers. Bluegills and catfish are willing, but crappies have not cooperated.
LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles – Call concessionaire Darrell Kennedy, of Angler’s Landing (540-672-3997) for the latest water conditions. Just like Lake Brittle, it’s time to show up early and work shallow crankbaits, craw baits and finesse worms for bass around visible obstructions in the water where bass may hide, especially if the cover is along a deep-water ledge. This time of year, the largemouths don’t mind staying in water up to 10 feet deep. Plenty of catfish are available and if you use live minnows, you might hook a walleye.
LAKE GASTON: 179 miles – Largemouth bass have been looking at early and late hour topwater lures and lipless rattle baits, such as the Strike King Red Eye. Some of the locals say during the day a plastic worms fished on a Carolina rig is the way to go, but every time I come down here I have no trouble catching bass in the creeks on a simple Texas rig. Lots of catfish are available. Use chicken livers or cut fish pieces on bottom rigs. The water temperature reached 80 degrees in the creeks this week.
KERR RESERVOIR: 200 miles — Bobcat’s Lake Country Store (434-374-8381) says deep-fished crankbaits and plastic worms will find some decent bass. Needless to say, most brush piles and bridge abutments in this lake are home to crappies and some of them are whoppers. The catfish like cut fish pieces on the bottom and you already know how big they can be in this reservoir, judging by the 143-pound blue catfish record caught here.
JAMES RIVER: 115 miles – (Tidal Richmond and downstream) Crappies can be caught in the creeks and the more minnows you bring, the quicker you’ll be going home with a fish supper. Cut fish or whole bluegills are good for blue and flathead catfish in the main stem. A few bass are hooked on plastic worms, but this river can’t compare to the tidal Potomac when it comes to bass.
CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 135 miles – Check with River’s Rest (804-829-2753) for the latest conditions, but we know that nice bass are being hooked on spinnerbaits, Senko worms and early morning topwater lures. For some reason, the catfish and crappies are playing hard to get.
SHENANDOAH RIVER: 60-85 miles – Front Royal’s Dick Fox says, “The river now is below normal with water temperatures hanging around 79 degrees. The fishing is still good, but float trips take a little longer due to low water. Its good for wading with fish still hitting inline spinners, Senko type lures and topwater poppers.”
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles – Quite a bit of nighttime or very early morning bass and striper fishing is being done here. Plastic worms, jerkbaits, Rat-L-Traps, and loud topwater chug baits do the job along various shorelines. The Series 18 Floating Rapala lure has been the best rockfish lure by far. Trollers are finding some of the lake stripers, as are live-liners using sunfish.
UPPER JAMES RIVER (at Scottsville): 130 miles — The smallmouth fishing here can be tougher than in other mountain rivers, but don’t despair. The bass are here. Try fringed tubes in chartreuse or yellow/black coachdog colors on a 1/8-ounce jig hook. One of my friends fished here recently and took a chance throwing a 3-inch Mann’s Sting Ray grub dabbed in a fish attractant. The grub is fished with the jig hook totally exposed. He caught 11 smallmouths before the lure got stuck in a rock bed. He lost it.
MARYLAND: 153-175 miles – Sue Foster of Oyster Bay Tackle in Ocean City says the water temperature stands at 74.1 degrees and it’s rising. She said the surf is showing plenty of spot, croakers and kingfish. Even a few sea trout and sand sharks are hooked. The backwaters behind the resort city, as well as the surf, give up flounder, but most of them are too small to be kept. It takes a while to hook a legal 18-incher (3-fish limit). To be honest, though, quite a few in the 18- to 20-inch range are taken. It just takes a while. If you fish the Ocean City Inlet, you might catch a rockfish or bluefish, maybe a tautog. The headboats, meanwhile, are finding sea bass and a mix of cod and triggerfish in the nearby offshore waters, while the distant blue-water canyons deliver marlin and tuna, along with occasional large sharks.
VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach – Dr. Julie Ball (www.drjball.com) says tasty Spanish mackerel are providing plenty of action for trollers along the Virginia Beach shorelines. Along with the mackerel you’ll find a few snapper bluefish. Use 2- or 3-inch gold or silver color spoons for both species. A small planing device or a fairly light inline sinker will turn the trick. Amberjacks will strike live baits or jigs around the Southern Towers and a number of offshore wrecksseveral offshore wrecks. Seabass are available on the near shore wrecks and on structures as far as 30 miles out. While billfish are making plenty of boaters happy, most of the blue-water boats are concentrating on yellowfin tunas that run as high as 80 pounds. Some heavy bluefin tunas also are hooked. A 228-pound bigeye tuna was hooked recently. The rumor mill from Wachapreague down to Oyster on the Eastern Shore has it that tarpon have arrived. It’s not unusual. Virginia does get a few tarpon visits every summer. By the way, the backwaters of Oyster also hold decent flounder and croakers.
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