Gene Mueller’s Fishing Report

It’s a cool time to fish Chesapeake

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LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles – Try the crappie fishing. It can be quite good if you use live minnows or small, scented Gulp grubs with or without a bobber. We have not received any decent reports of bass catches this week.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles – The concession is closed until spring 2012, but shore walkers could find willing catfish, bass and crappies. Now is the best time to use live minnows and to show more patience than is normally required. The fish are here.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles – Our lakeside reporter, Marty Magone, said some of the deeper shoreline drops in the feeder creeks will give up largemouth bass to casters of crankbaits and short fat worms, such as the Senko. Bridge abutments and shoreline rocks in deep-enough water hold fat crappies. By the way, Holly Grove Marina, (434/636-3455) now is closed for the season. It will reopen in February. The gas pumps will work with a credit card and the marina operators said that rental boats are still available if you call ahead and leave a message.

KERR RESERVOIR: 200 miles — Bobcat’s Lake Country Store (434-374-8381) can provide a water condition report. A number of bassboaters have said that catches have been fair to good. Crankbaits now appear to be lures of choice. If it’s crappies you want, fish in 10 to 15 feet of water in sunken brush piles and other structure. The catfish catches have been down, but that could be due to visitors not even going after “cats.” The lake’s rockfish like large shiners or threadfin shad. Water temperatures hover between 55 and 60.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles – (Tidal Richmond and downstream) Mike Hoke of Life’s Revenge Guide Service (804/357-8518) says the catfish love cut shad baits on the bottom. By the way, trophy-size blue catfish are now beginning to cooperate. The crappie fishing has been good in feeder creeks if you use live minnows under a cork, as Southerners say. But I’ll bet I can attract a few with an artificial Gulp grub instead of a minnow. Hoke also said that recently some rockfish were caught on bucktails in the evening hours around the Benjamin Harrison Bridge. The water temperature is in the mid 50s.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 135 miles – River’s Rest (804-829-2753) will provide the latest water conditions. The fishing has been a bit slow, but blame fewer boaters being on the water on that. The catfish are biting if you use cut fish as bait, although some boaters are dropping live eels to the bottom. The crappies like just about everything, from a live minnow under a bobber, or small jigs and darts fished under a float. Even a few rockfish are hooked down toward the mouth. The water temperature is dropping to 60 or below now.

WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 60-85 miles – Front Royal resident and frequent fisherman, Dick Fox, said, “The river is still in great shape, but you’ll find a lot of leaves floating on the surface. The water is clear with a temperature of 45 degrees. The fishing for smallmouth bass was tough this week, what with all the wind and cold water. However, stable weather should improve the bite for those who fish slowly.” Best bet for finding the smallmouths is to fish between deep cuts and river ledges.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles – Our friend Kevin Wilson (fatboysoutdoors.blogspot.com) fished here with several friends and found the lake to be a tough nut to crack last weekend. “After thousands of casts from four of us (in two boats), only one of us managed a legitimate strike using artificials,” he said. “I hooked and fought a nice striper in the middle of the day, and it pulled free. Later in the day, while using a Lucky Craft Pointer jerkbait I caught [a tiny shad and] transferred the little fish to my plastic worm rig, took off the weight, and tossed it under a bobber. While casting my jerkbait, the bobber swam off, and I closed the bail and the fight was on.” Wilson caught a fine rockfish on the little live shad that could provide dinner for eight people, I suppose. His group also caught a few bass. However, the fishing is tough right now.

UPPER JAMES RIVER (at Scottsville): 130 miles — The smallmouth bass fishing can be good if you use pig’n’jig combos, 1/4-ounce crawfish color crankbaits or tube jigs and such. However, do not expect large numbers of fish now, but what you’ll hook is usually of good size.

ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 165 miles to Ocean City — Sue Foster, of the Oyster Bay Tackle Shop (410-524-3433) in Ocean City, remarked that the resort city hasn’t had the world’s greatest weather. “But a few fish were caught,” she said. There have been steady reports that some nice rockfish blues and sharks were hooked in the surf, of all places. The Ocean City Inlet also receives visits from the stripers and local fishermen in the town find tautog catches. In the offshore waters, the sea bass numbers have been wonderful, but not many boaters ventured out during recent blows. Trollers could tie into a few large stripers and bluefish if they were able to get out, but the wind has kept most people in port.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach – Julie Ball (drjball.com) reports that flounder action is very good further offshore for wreck anglers, with the Triangle wrecks and the Light Tower areas being favorite picks. Fresh strip baits and Gulp Swimming Mullets entice strikes. Big sea bass are also available on many of these wrecks. The bluefin tuna watch continues. Perhaps this will be the weekend for them to arrive. Deep-dropped lures and baits will find big blueline tilefish, golden tilefish, grouper and rosefish if the boats can get. If the wind calms down and allows overnight trips by some of the charter boats out of Virginia Beach, there’s a chance of swordfish cooperating. Inshore waters, such as Rudee Inlet, turn up large speckled sea trout that like Gulp grubs and Mirrolures.

• For additional outdoor news, go to www.genemuellerfishing.com

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