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LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles — (Concession stand, 540/672-3997) Crappies and bass are stirring. Live minnows are best for the crappies, but you can use small crankbaits and spinnerbaits for the bass. Cast them to flooded timber and blowdowns, which of course are also crappie hangouts.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles — Lakeside resident Marty Magone has been whacking the bass and some lake stripers using his faithful Lazer blade bait. It’s a shiny metal lure with treble hooks and the fish probably take it to be a shiner of some sort. His favorite areas have been near Hawtree Creek an other tributaries.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles — Everybody in these parts is abuzz about the 109-pound potential state record blue catfish that was caught last week. But don’t overlook the fine early bass and crappie opportunities that are available right now, not to mention the widely scattered striped bass in the upper lake.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles — (Tidal Richmond and downstream) You can bet your last dollar the river’s catfish specialists will be soaking herring or bream baits in search of a monster blue catfish. They can’t understand why Kerr Reservoir gave up a 109-pounder. Bass fishing has been less than exciting, but when the dogwoods bloom, there’ll be shad and some stripers up in the Richmond sector.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER : 135 miles — (Williamsburg area) Grubs, 1/4-ounce crankabits in red or red/orange, or slowly fishing spinnerbaits will find some decent-size bass. Upper end still shows some yellow perch and fat white perch.

WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles — Our friend Dick Fox, who lives in Front Royal, says during his first outing since the high water conditions abated he found stained water, but nearly normal levels and 51-degree water temperatures. Tube lures managed to draw hits from a dozen smallmouth bass. None of them were of bragging size, said Fox.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles — The water is still cold and bass catches leave a little to be desired. There’s a chance for hooking a lake striper is you have herring baits, but it will be a week or two of warmer weather before all-around fishing improves.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles — (Route 6 south of Charlottesville to Scottsville) If heavy rains stay away you’ll find some willing smallmouth bass in the quiet pockets below and above riffles. Tubes, jigs and spinners will do the job.

ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles — A good distance east of Ocean City one of the headboats found tautogs. One captain reported a smattering of codfish, which is good news indeed although the plentiful catch days of the 1960s and ‘70s have not returned. It won’t be long now before we’ll see some red drum (a.k.a. channelbass or redfish) traveling along close to the beaches where surf anglers can reach them with cut mullet baits.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach — Offshore boaters connect on tautogs over the inshore wrecks, says Dr. Julie Ball, the IGFA representative in Virginia Beach (www.drjball.com). Ball also mentioned that the big striped bass are starting to head into the Chesapeake Bay. Farther out in the ocean, deep-water baits attract blueline tilefish and blackbellied rosefish. The Ocean View Fishing Pier is open, but not much is happening for bait dunkersjust yet. Puppy drum are taking grubs, even topwater lures, inside the Elizabeth River. The fishing dentist, Dr. Ken Neill, adds, “Croaker are here but I have only heard of gillnet catches so far. Big red drum are on the way. They will be biting on the Eastern Shore by the next full moon.”
 

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