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CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles – Our lake contact sent the following, “Fishermen are expecting a big spawn for many species this weekend. Both largemouth bass and crappies are shallow right now and fishing around boat docks has been very successful. Look for stripers to be feeding heavily at first light every morning throughout the lake. Also, a surprising number of big catfish have been caught.”

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles – State fisheries biologist John Odenkirk said that the hickory and white shad are in the Fredericksburg sector, but he fears that the lack of rain and the extremely low water conditions aren’t helping fishermen. “We need a good soaking,” he said. In the tidal water, we begin to sound like a broken record. The Front Royal to Hicks Landing and stretches above sector of the river is fine for bass that like anything from a Rat-L-Trap to a soft plastic craw or worm.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles – Don’t expect great fishing during the current draw-down of lake water that was necessary to effect dam repairs. Johnboat launching will be tough. The lake concession’s phone number is 540/219-1673.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles – Some bass are spawning; others are actively seeking food, so chances are quite good to catch some nice specimens. The same goes for the crappies and catfish. Angler’s Landing concession phone is 540/672-3997.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles – The bass are spawning or are preparing to spawn. A variety of soft and hard baits will attract the fish, but, please, if you drag a female largemouth from her nest, release her in the immediate vicinity so she can return to her bed and finish the job. A 74-pound blue catfish was caught last week, which says to me that there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to drop a cut fish bait to the bottom and see what size catfish responds. The crappie action is good in the backs of creeks. The water temperature is in the low 70s and somewhat stained.

KERR RESERVOIR: 200 miles – Bobcat’s Lake Country Store 434/374-8381 can provide a water condition report. Bass catches have slowed down quite a bit, but you’ll find some willing largemouths, to be sure. The crappies are spawning or are ready to start spawning. Jigs, darts, Dollflies, live minnows — all of them catch crappies. Catfish inhale live sunfish, jumbo shiners, even goldfish (if that is legal, but some are doing it). The water is a bit stained and the water temperature can be as high as the low 70s.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles – (Tidal Richmond and downstream) Local guide Mike Hoke of Life’s Revenge Guide Service, 804/357-8518 says the big blue catfish are jumping on cut fish baits, even live white perch. The white perch are in good supply. They like small pieces of bloodworms throughout the river, but tiny spinners, shad darts or even 1/8-ounce spinnerbaits will be attacked. The guide Mike Ostrander, 804/938-2350. finds flathead catfish on pieces of gizzard shad and he reminds us that herring can be caught, but are not legal to keep. The water temperature stands at 68 degrees.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 135 miles – River’s Rest, 804/829-2753, will provide the latest water conditions. Bass catches are steadily increasing and some of the local anglers say they’ve caught 6- and 7-pounders. Mum’s the word about the types of lures that they’re using, but it’s a good bet to say crankbaits, Chatterbaits and Pure Poison lures, spinnerbaits, as well as soft plastics probably were in the mix to get hookups. By the way, the crappie fishing has been fine, especially for those who use small live minnows. Ditto for catfish. The “cats” love eels and cut bait on the bottom, and before we forget, white perch and spawned-out yellow perch are always a possibility.

WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 60-85 miles – Front Royal’s Dick Fox, said, “The river is still up — about a foot over normal — but its very fishable with a moderate stain. The smallmouth bass fishing was tough last week with water temperatures dropping 12 degrees. A few warm days should bring the action back.” However, the catfish bite has been good, Fox told me a few days ago.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles – Look for the bass to start seeking bedding locations, but this lake’s water is usually cooler than low-country impoundments, such as Kerr and Gaston. In the feeder creeks, Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits and soft plastics do the job. Crappies are found in sunken brush and now and then a striper is caught by a troller using Sassy Shad lures.

UPPER JAMES RIVER (at Scottsville): 130 miles – Local smallmouth bass hunters are not complaining. The “brown” fish are hitting tubes, spinners, small crankbaits and fly fishermen’s streamers.

ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 165 miles to Ocean City — Sue Foster of Oyster Bay Tackle, 410/524-3433, says more stripers are being reported inshore and in the surf. “The tautog bite was pretty good this week as long as you were on the right tide and fishing in the right place,” she said. Lots of wind this week made fishing offshore difficult. Not many boats ventured out to fish the wrecks for tautogs.

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