With the Virginia deer hunting season in full swing and Maryland’s starting tomorrow at daybreak, this could be one of the better weekends for fishing if you don’t mind cold morning temperatures. The waters will be far less crowded in fact, many will be deserted and there is plenty of action available.
For example, with the start of the deer hunting in Virginia earlier this week, not many anglers were seen on the popular Chickahominy River, near Williamsburg. However, there are rockfish, bass, blue catfish and crappie opportunities. The same holds for the adjacent Chickahominy Lake, where crappies, pickerel and bass are definitely cooperating. If you use live minnows (with or without a bobber), your chance of hooking all three species in a relatively short stretch of lake shoreline is good indeed.
Down around the Virginia/Carolina border, Kerr Reservoir is nine feet below normal pool, but the bass catches have actually picked up. Small crankbaits in crawfish or firetiger colors will find action in brushy areas, where the lake is as shallow as two feet, and also in deeper layers. Currently, as the water surface chills quite a lot during frosty nights, the bass will go down to deeper ledges and holes, but they can be found there as well with scent-laden grubs, short worms or deep-running crankbaits. Kerr’s crappies are willing to look at small, live minnows.
With the arrival of frosty weather the landlocked striped bass in southwestern Virginia’s Smith Mountain Lake have turned on. A Gretna, Va., visitor came back to the Campers Paradise facility on the lake shore to weigh a fat rockfish. The scale’s needle didn’t stop until it reached 40.55 pounds. Quite a few others are hooked, too, but most are in the 10- to 14-pound range. The stripers have been hanging out along the edges of jutting lake points. Live shiners are your best bait.
Closer to home, Spotsylvania and Orange counties fishermen in Virginia are doing quite well at Lake Anna (west of Fredericksburg). Anna Point Marina reported a 3-pound crappie caught by Gary Bender of Mineral. The huge crappie took a live shiner. Stripers are also active, but only for short periods every day. Meanwhile, largemouth bass can be found most any hour in four to 10 feet of water. Work your crankbaits, plastic grubs, jigs and short worms along rip-rap edges, bridge abutments, lake points and brush piles.
Washington area anglers who are fond of Occoquan Reservoir are advised that the impoundment’s Fountainhead Park, including its boat launching ramp, has closed for the season. It will reopen in mid-March.
Tidal river action is fine Pro guide Andy Andrzejewski of Reel Bass Adventures (301/932-1509) says the tidal Potomac’s bass fishing has been excellent. “Bass are found in the creeks and in the main river,” he says. “Quarter-ounce, deep-diving crankbaits in shad or firetiger colors have been effective on the outside bends of the creeks. The deteriorating grass beds in Potomac can offer some fine bass catches, especially in the Wilson Bridge area.”
The guide also says that main river ledges that contain rocks, logs, stumps and other cover can turn up more than one quality bass. “I recommend deep-diving crankbaits in firetiger or brown crawfish patterns for such waters,” he says. “Dark plastic worms or Mann’s Stingray grubs can also be effective. And jumbo bluegills hang around those same ledges.”
Chesapeake Bay offers rockfish The Tackle Box in Lexington Park (St. Mary’s County) reminds us that the Maryland rockfish season will end Nov. 30, but until then you can cash in big time. Don’t worry, the Potomac River and the Virginia parts of the Chesapeake will remain open until the end of the year. However, right now the trollers are getting plenty of big fish all up and down the ships channel as they use umbrella rigs loaded with white and chartreuse Sassy Shads.
Big specimens have been hooked. Word has it that Chesapeake Beach charter fishing captain Ed O’Brien had a 58-pound rockfish aboard his Semper Fi vessel. In St. Mary’s County, charter skipper Greg Majeski had a 49-pounder aboard his boat, the Temple M. Many others in the 20- to 30-pound range are hooked.
cLook for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Friday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: email@example.com.