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Gene Mueller’s Fishing Report
Striper fishing brings mixed results
Question of the Day
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 40-80 miles – Tubes, jigs, spinners or small crankbaits can draw strikes from the smallmouth bass above the city of Fredericksburg and clear up toward Remington. Waders are happy that the rain brought fresh water into the river. However, there have been rains off and on. If much more arrives it could change the water color. In Fredericksburg, the shad fishing is still possible, but it has not been a great shad year for many. The tidal river portions above Port Royal seem to deliver the best catches of largemouth bass, but some are taken farther downstream. Catfish numbers are very good.
LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles – The concession stand’s Lori can be reached best during weekends at 540/219-1673. Low water conditions continue during construction on the dam, but if you can make it to the water somehow, you’ll catch bass, sunfish, catfish and crappies.
LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles – Darrell Kennedy of the Angler’s Landing concession (540-672-3997) will provide water condition reports. According to Kennedy, bass and crappies are either spawning or have finished their reproductive chores. Live minnows will find crappies in mixed water, some of it very shallow, but there are some caught in up to 12 feet of water. Soft plastics and 1/4-oz. crankbaits will draw a strike from bass.
LAKE GASTON: 179 miles – Holly Grove Marina (434-636-3455) will help with water condition reports. Many bass are now in a post-spawn pattern which can make the fishing tough, but enough are caught to make the lake a good choice for weekenders. Crappies are hooked on flats adjacent to rip-rap walls and around bridge abutments. No word on striper catches.
KERR RESERVOIR: 200 miles – Bobcat’s Lake Country Store (434-374-8381) can provide a water condition report. Blue catfish will inhale a whole sunfish on a weighted bottom rig, but if you use any kind of fish flesh, the “cats” will respond. Crappie catches are fine around brush piles and shallow shore spawning flats. Most of the bass have finished spawning and shorelines where the females were a week or more ago, now sees male bass guarding offspring.
JAMES RIVER: 115 miles – (Tidal Richmond and downstream) Blue catfish go after slabs of menhaden (if you can find a bait shop that carries the oily baitfish). Whole sunfish or perch also do well when used as bottom bait. The bass fishing has not been the best, but feeder creeks like the Chippokes, Walker and others turn up decent numbers now and then.
CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 135 miles – River’s Rest (804-829-2753) will provide the latest water conditions. Bass catches have been fair in some parts of the river and good catfish numbers are yours if you fish with baited bottom rigs. Upper river delivers crappies, especially if you bring a pail of small minnows with you.
SHENANDOAH RIVER: 60-85 miles – Front Royal fisherman, Dick Fox, said, “The Shenandoah stands at normal level, stained, with water temperatures in the 68-degree range. The smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing has been very good, although larger specimens are hard to find. We suspect they are resting after the spawn and the bite will pick up soon. Lures such as creature baits, tubes and flukes work well. Bluegills are everywhere and catfish are also biting, plus the carp spawn is in full swing.”
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles – Stripers, largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as flathead catfish are feeding close to shore since the scholling and spawning of small alewives is under way.
UPPER JAMES RIVER (at Scottsville): 130 miles – The local guide Guide L.E. Rhodes (434) 286-3366 says the rains have helped. The fishing for smallmouth bass has been good and in some cases it has been excellent what with a few 5-pounders being landed. Rhodes says the baits of choice have been pig’n’jigs, soft plastics and crankbaits. Fly anglers can connect with various streamers.
MARYLAND: 165 miles to Ocean City – Sue Foster of Oyster Bay Tackle in Ocean City said thatthe flounder fishing has been slow, but that was caused by strong winds and cooler than normal weather. “Some really nice stripers were caught in the surf and up at Indian River Inlet. We also had a couple days of good striper fishing from the Ocean City Inlet and the Route 50 Bridge,” she said, then pointed out that the offshore tautogs are biting, as are a few bluefin tunas and mako sharks. Surf anglers looking for striped bass should know that it’s a hit-and-miss affair, but now and then the southern end of Assateague Island gives up a whopper and one fellow fished the north Ocean City surf and caught a 44-inch and a 37-inch rockfish on slabs of alewive.
VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach – Dr. Julie Ball (drjball.com) reports that plenty of hard-core sport anglers are concentrating on the red drum (a.k.a. channel bass or redfish) among the shoals and breakers of the Smith and Fisherman’s islands on the lower Eastern Shore. Julie says peelers crabs, blue crabs or menhaden will be looked at by the beautiful brutes. Finding a 50-pounder is not uncommon. The same baits in the same areas also bring strikes from heft striped bass. If it’s black drum you’re after, the seaside inlets deliver a few hits from the big bottom feeders. By the way, the Eastern Shore’s inlets and backwaters also provide hit-and-miss flounder action. In Virginia Beach, the Ocean View fishing pier turns up bluefish and croakers for visitors. In the offshore waters, the reopening of sea bass season is eagerly awaited. It begins May 19.
For additional outdoors news, go to www.genemuellerfishing.com
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