Richmond Times-Dispatch


- — Compiled by Lily Betts

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 50s in the central lower lake onWednesda­y. The lake level was about even with the top of the dam, and the water was 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 themain 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 moderately active. 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 and were mostly inactive. When they have been active, bluegill and shellcrack­er were hitting 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, topwaters and jigs.

Fishing with Capt. Conway, John and Abe Longmire caught 16 crappie and one pickerel; Tricia Pearsall caught 32 crappie, four fliers, one bluegill and one pickerel; Tom Porter caught 22 crappie, three roach minnows, one bluegill, one white perch and one pickerel.


Jeff Crow reports the following from Lake Country in southern Virginia: The Kerr Reservoir water level came down substantia­lly this week, dropping from a high near 310 feet to around 304 earlier this week. The Kerr dam floodgates have been wide open for many days, and it has created an impressive sight at the Lake Gaston headwaters. There has been an unusual amount of fluctuatio­n and high water in Lake Gaston as a result, and it has risen as high as 200.5 feet. While not nearly the change in water level seen on Kerr, this half a foot above normal pool level causes headaches for landowners on Gaston with fixed docks in place. Boaters on both lakes should still take precaution when in virtually any part of the lake since floating debris is still more predominan­t than usual. As a result of these substantia­l changes in water, the fishing has still been difficult but improved this week. Water temperatur­es have been in the lower to mid 60s in many areas of the lakes.

The number of small largemouth bass on Kerr Reservoir has surprised many this fall. These smaller fish are easily caught in flooded shoreline cover, and while 30 or more bass can easily be caught in a day, the top five likely will still be under 12 pounds. Prior to moving to the bank, many of these small bass were on shallow brushpiles and giving the crappie anglers fits; however, more recently it seems many of these fish have moved. It is likely that with the rising water level, these small bass moved to flooded brush and trees and are feeding in the shallows. When pursuing largemouth this fall and winter, a key is locating baitfish, and these are also migrating shallow and feeding in the backs of creeks and main lake pockets. Bird activity also has been picking up and is a good way to locate stripers and largemouth.

The crawfish are active now and will be playing a key role in the fisheries until the winter water temperatur­es cool down into the 40s. Many anglers do not appreciate the level of activity of crawfish in the fall and early winter, but it is a major event going on under the water. As a result, crankbaits in orange, brown or red are very productive in the shallows particular­ly around rock. Other lures that mimic crawfish, including jigs and creature baits, will also do well over the next month.

Catfisherm­en are reporting great results this week and some anglers fishing down- lake on Kerr Reservoir around the powerlines are catching fish in good numbers and of a good size as well. Anglers fishing this area report 20 or more cats in a few hours, and fish up to 30 pounds. Even so, it can be hit or miss, and anglers should not be surprised if they make unsuccessf­ul drifts. Sometimes it is a time-of- day phenomenon and sometimes it is a matter of coming into contact with the right group of fish, but in either case, making multiple drifts at different times of day will increase the likelihood of success.


Saltwater: The speckled trout bite has been excellent during the month of November. The Virginia Beach and Hampton areas have been especially good. Anglers also have been seeing a good bite in areas to the north inside the Rappahanno­ck and Piankatank rivers. Fresh shrimp and mullet have been good bait selections. Preferred lures have been the Bass Assassin sea shad and Berkley Gulp! baits, such as the swimming mullet, Zoom super flukes, Mirr-o-lures and jerkbaits fromvariou­s manufactur­ers.

Rockfish catches have been good inside the Rappahanno­ck River particular­ly for the 20-28 inch fish. Trolling umbrella rigs and stretch 25s have been good. Jigging with bucktails and rattletrap­s have been good. Also, casting swimbaits around the bridges has been producing fish. The James and Potomac rivers have been good also. There have also been reports of anglers trolling through birds and finding solid fish, but this has been towards southern Maryland.

The week of Thanksgivi­ng usually marks the start of the bigger catches of rockfish. However, the water temps are still warm for the big rockfish to migrate down to the traditiona­l areas known by Virginia anglers.

Cold weather usually brings on the eel bite in the lower bay. Excellent catches of tautog are occurring inside the baymainly around the CBBT structures. Fiddler crab, or any kind of crab, is usually best for the togs.

Ocean wrecks are producing excellent catches of seabass, triggerfis­h and tautog.

The speckled trout bite is very good in the Nags Head area right now, too, as the water temps are still in the low 60s. Inshore boaters surf anglers and pier anglers are enjoying the speck bite. These anglers are also enjoying a good bite for the puppy drum, bluefish, stripers and sea mullet.

The offshore boaters are enjoying a solid bite for the yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna and the blackfin tuna.

Freshwater: Several bass tournament­s took place over the weekend in various places, but the best action took place on the tidal James where 21-plus pounds took first place and 18 pounds took second. There were several limits of 17 pounds brought to the scales as well. Crankbaits were thrown by many as were spinnerbai­ts, jigs, and chatterbai­ts.

At a weekend tournament at Chickahomi­ny Lake, 14plus pounds won the day, which is a little down compared to average weights this time of year. Look for the Chick River to produce big weights in the coming weeks as the cooler water and shorter days trigger heavy feeding.

The tidal Rappahanno­ck has been producing good catches of crappie, bass and catfish. When the water is clear, the smallmouth bite is worth investigat­ing there.

The Lake Anna winter series started this past weekend with nice weather, but the weights were surprising­ly down. Thirteen pounds took top honors. Crankbaits were reported to be the ticket in the upper sections of the lake. Grass and rocks are usually a deadly combinatio­n for the bass this time of year. Fishing shallow is still very much an option. The upper sections have been getting better for the stripers also. Cloudy, overcast days usually produce better for those searching the flats with swim baits. The smaller four-inch baits work well.

The mid-to-upper sections of Lake Anna have been better for crappie. Bridges, brush piles and docks are all producing. The crappie at Kerr Lake continue to bite well also. The same structures and cover is workingwel­l at Kerr. Kerr has floating docks to deal with as thewater levels can fluctuate greatly due to flood control and power generation.

The upper James has returned to normal levels. So, targeting the smallmouth is an excellent option there. This is a bite that can stay good all winter. Drifting large minnows under a slip float is a good way to learn the good areas. However, casting lures such as crankbaits is usually a faster way to cover water efficientl­y.

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