Richmond Times-Dispatch



Saltwater: Bigger rockfish are being caught, but there are fewer folks in the Chesapeake Bay itself compared to the rivers. The river catches are outnumberi­ng the bay catches because of the sheer numbers of anglers. Now is the time when we usually see the big rockfish being caught as they are entering the bay. Many of the larger rocks in the Bay are caught by drifting live eels. Keepers inside the rivers are often caught by trolling umbrella rigs, stretch 25s and tandem rigs. Vertical jigging with buck tails and spoons is usually productive as well.

Speckled trout reports have been down over the past few days in light of the colder weather and heavy rain, but this bite is still an option. The colder water usually calls for more of the suspending baits and ultra-slow retrieves when using the Mirr-o-lures or swim baits.

The seabass action is great when the weather is conducive to venturing out 30 miles or more. The charters have been catching quality- sized triggerfis­h mixed in with the seabass.

The tautog bite is another bite that will endure through the winter. Togs are being caught both in the Chesapeake Bay and out in the ocean. Hard cover is what they prefer, and crab is usually the best bait.

Windy conditions have been keeping many of the Carolina charters docked, but the ones choosing to head out are sometimes returning with sizable king mackerel and blackfin tuna.

Some good flounder have been caught from the Hatteras surf, along with some puppy drum, sea mullet and blow toads.

Freshwater: Kerr Lake elevation is currently at 305.41 feet. Water temps are in the 52- 56 degrees range. Tournament weights over the weekend were 17 pounds on Saturday and 18 pounds on Sunday, which are solid weights for December. Many of the top weights reported catching their fish on jigs in the shallower, flooded cover.

The main part of Kerr Lake is stained down to Nutbush Creek. Stripers are being caught fromEastla­nd Creek to Nutbush Creek. Vertical jigging is a goodmethod for the stripers when located on the bottom. An Alabama rig is another good method for the stripers.

Jigs have also been good for the tournament anglers at Lake Anna. The winning weight on Sunday was 19 pounds, with 18 pounds taking second. Other good baits were jerkbaits and crankbaits. The striper fishing has been good for many at Lake Anna. The better areas have been from Pigeon to the second bridges on both arms. Four-inch swim baits have been very good.

The crappie fishing remains good in many of our local waters, particular­ly Anna and

Kerr. The deeper brush piles seem to be holding the better fish. The 15- to 25-inch depths have been good. The rivers continue to produce well, despite the higher water levels.

The Chickahomi­ny River seldom becomes muddy. So, it tends to be more consistent than the James River. Many seek out the pits on the lower James because of the decreased current and sometimes cleaner water often found in these pits. The baitfish also tend to like the conditions inside the pits, as some have warmer water because of the discharge from the Dutch Gap Power Plant. During this time, lipless crankbaits can be outstandin­g as they can be fished at various speeds and depths.

The upper James is high at this time, as the water level is at 8.3 feet at the Westham gauge. Hopefully, the water will continue to drop this week and bring opportunit­ies for catching smallmouth this weekend.

— Compiled by Lily Betts

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