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RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles – Upper river will give up good-sized smallmouth bass, but overall numbers are down as the water steadily chills. The river is in great shape. Downstream, below Fredericksburg, but close to town, there will be some smallmouth hooked in the tidal water. Toward Hicks Landing and Port Royal, it’s usually largemouth bass. They like crankbaits, rattle baits and soft plastic craws and grubs.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles – The weekend will have fishermen using small darts and grubs under a bobber and they will catch crappies. A few decent bass and catfish are also available.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles – The concession is closed until spring 2012. Crappies are taking small bottom-fished plastic grubs or 1/16-ounce darts under a bobber. Most of the flooded timber and sunken brush hold the flecked fish. Bass catches are down for some reason, but the catfish are available and they like clam snouts.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles – Our lakeside reporter, Marty Magone, said up-lake bass are relating to the main channel drops and points now that water temperatures are in the 50s. “Deep-diving crankbaits and jig worms have been working very well, he said. “Large crappies up to two pounds [occasionally] slam into the crankbaits. Some fish can still be caught near the dying vegetation in the flats, but it can be slow going.” Two days ago, Magone caught 14 bass and one striper.

KERR RESERVOIR: 200 miles — Bobcat’s Lake Country Store (434-374-8381) can provide a water condition report. The crappie and bass fishing is grinding into high gear. Don’t forget, Kerr is one of the country’s best-known crappie waters. Big catfish take cut baits on the bottom.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles – (Tidal Richmond and downstream) Coves and shoreline cuts that offer deep-water sanctuary have turned up largemouth bass. The main stem of the river from near Richmond down to and past the Appomattox River mouth gives up blue catfish that will test your knot-tying skills and your gear.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 135 miles – River’s Rest (804-829-2753) will provide the latest water conditions. The “Chick” is better, as far as bass are concerned than the main, tidal James River. Few of the local bass boaters will disagree as they find largemouths on crankbaits, Rat-L-Traps and soft craws during slowly receding tides.

WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 60-85 miles – Dick Fox, of Front Royal, said, “The Shenandoah is in great shape, remaining at normal levels with a water temperature of 44 degrees. Fishing is normal now in the cold water and the numbers are way down, but quality is still good. Tubes, grubs, creature baits, crawled along the bottom, are working for us.”

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles – Weekend visitors will find schooling, land-locked striped bass — if they shut down their outboard motors the moment they spot a surface eruption by the fish. Cast a Sassy Shad, a large rattle bait or bucktail and you can hook some decent rockfish. Largemouth and smallmouth bass have been less than cooperative, but this lake has plenty of each.

UPPER JAMES RIVER (at Scottsville): 130 miles — Look for decent catches of larger-than-usual smallmouth bass, but the overall hookup numbers will be way down over those made on smaller specimens during summer. Spinners, crankbaits in crawfish color and plastic grubs and short worms can produce fish.

ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 165 miles to Ocean City — Sue Foster, of the Oyster Bay Tackle Shop (410-524-3433) in Ocean City, said, “Lousy weather again this week. We had gale force winds on Saturday and 10 to 13 foot seas! The first big striper was caught from the Assateague Island surf on Sunday when the wind calmed down somewhat. Tautog were biting good from the usual haunts in Ocean City most of the week and some of the weekend. Party boats got into a good catch of sea bass [last Friday] before the wind drove them home.” The sea bass will be on the menu this weekend if winds are kind. By the way, Foster said that the Delaware Bay, north of Ocean City, is turning up striped bass in the 30- to 40-pound range.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach – Julie Ball (drjball.com) reports that speckled sea trout are caught inside Rudee Inlet. “The smaller fish are swarming near the mouth of the inlet and off the jetties, with the best action happening at night,” she said. “Anglers are having better luck with larger keepers farther inside the inlet, especially near the Marine Science Museum, where most fish [have been measuring] 19 to 23 inches. Tautogs are biting over inshore and offshore wrecks. In addition flounder and large seabass are in the mix. “Anglers can now keep legal-sized seabass, which is 12.5-inches until December 31st, and big chopper bluefish continue to patrol offshore structures,” added Ball. The distant offshore waters have not seen any fishing boats because of strong winds, but the time for bluefin tuna to arrive is here.

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