Richmond Times-Dispatch


- Bill Caldwell Bill Marley Tom Porter — Compiled by Lily Betts


Jeff Crow reports the following from Lake Country in southern Virginia: The Kerr Reservoir water level came back down this week to the normal pool range of 300 feet after having risen to around 303 feet last week. Much of the lake remained stained earlier this week, but it is beginning to clear. Lake Gaston has been consistent­ly just below 200 feet. Water temperatur­es have been in the lower to mid 60s in many areas of the lakes.

Even with the nice fall weather and cooler temperatur­es, many largemouth bass anglers report difficulty in locating fish on Kerr Reservoir. That being said, the winning weight on this lake was 19 pounds last weekend. The key factor right now is time on the water and spending a lot of that time looking and trying different locations. Even when anglers find bait, there may or may not be gamefish associated with or around the school. Kerr Reservoir has so much baitfish, it is not unusual to find bait but no bass. Major creeks such as Grassy, Panhandle and Butchers have been holding bait and gamefish.

Lake Gaston fished fairly shallow this week on grass and docks, but having deep water near is still key. Many are reporting good success in the front half of the major creeks as well as main lake pockets. Crawfish

colored crankbaits in oranges, browns and reds are starting to produce more and will continue to improve as the water cools. Jigs, Texas-rigged worms and weightless stickbaits also do well in imitating crawfish and other shallow bait. Topwater lures are still productive and will be for another week or two, until water temperatur­es drop consistent­ly into the 50s or even lower.

Catfish are scattered right now and can be caught anywhere from 10 to 50 feet of water. Most anglers are drifting in the range of 0.3 to 0.5 mph, and fishing the bottom with a Santee rig, using chicken or cutbait. Anglers report catching up to thirty a day and many are in the sub-five pound range, but some up to 30 pounds are usually in the mix. Even though many fish are moving shallow, catfish anglers are still dragging bait in the main channel.

Striper anglers are casting and trolling umbrella rigs right now with swimbaits in the three to four inch range, usually in a shad or pearl color. The umbrella rig can be trolled using downrigger­s and lead-core line, but unless you are hoping for a giant striper with this rig, casting may be the better option. In addition to the umbrella rig, swimbaits can also be cast and fished on a one-eighth to one-quarter ounce jighead. Bucktail jigs in white and chartreuse and up to 3/4 ounce are also good choices for the stripers right now. Many fall striper anglers on Lake Gaston focus on the upper end, above Holly Grove all the way to the Kerr Reservoir dam.

Crappie are moving shallow as well and following bait, but larger fish are typically deeper. It is a good time of year to fish a spoon, particular­ly for brushpiles in 15 feet or more. For shallower piles, it is just as effective to cast a jig to the brush, but the spoon will get deeper faster, and it is a lure that will entice a strike. One of the best spoon choices for crappie is a 3/8 Cotton Cordell in silver or gold. Some anglers opt to paint one or both sides chartreuse or white depending on water clarity and sunlight conditions.

CHICKAHOMI­NY LAKE Capt. Art Conway of Conway’s River Rat Guide Service out of Ed Allen’s Boats and Bait reported that Chickahomi­ny Lake midday water temperatur­es were in the low to mid 60s in the central lower lake on Wednesday. The lake level was about two inches above the top of the dam, and the water was light to medium brown and clear in the central lake, with much more murky water near windy shorelines.

Most blue cats and bullheads were along drop-offs and in channels in the main lake. When active, cats were hitting live minnows and cut bait. Most crappie were on deeper main lake flats or on channel edges, frequently near brush piles, and some schools were becoming moderately active again. Active crappie were hitting live minnows, Wright Bait Co. and Southern Pro curly tail jigs, small tubes, Kalin crappie scrubs and small swim baits.

White and yellow perch were scattered or in loose aggregates on deep flats and channel edges in the main lake and when active were hitting small live minnows, swim baits and jigs. Larger bluegill and shellcrack­er were in 5-12 feet of water on channel edges, frequently on wood cover, but were mostly inactive. When they have been active, bluegill and shellcrack­er hit live worms, Nikko nymphs and small swimbaits. Pickerel and bass were located along a few shorelines, around cypress trees, on flats and on channel edges, especially near the mouths of creeks. When active, bass and pickerel were hitting live minnows, spinnerbai­ts, swim baits, stick worms, crank baits, jerk baits and jigs.

Fishing with Capt. Conway: and

had 23 crappie, two bluegill and two largemouth bass. had 22 crappie, one bluegill and one white perch.

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