Richmond Times-Dispatch




Jeff Crow reports the following from Lake Country in southern Virginia: The Kerr Reservoir water level rose again late last week and was back up to around 305 feet this week. A few weeks ago, it had risen to as high as 310 feet, so it has seen wide fluctuatio­ns in recent weeks. Anglers are encouraged to check the latest water levels and conditions before heading to the lake.

As a result of all the incoming water, much of both Kerr Reservoir and Lake Gaston are muddy or heavily stained. During colder temperatur­es, it takes longer for water to clarify, so the stained water could remain for a good while. Most of the Kerr Damfloodga­tes have been open most or all day and dischargin­g above 20,000 cfs. These inflows into Lake Gaston have pushed it as much as 6 inches over 200 feet a couple of times in the past week. Given these continuing changes in water conditions, fishing has been difficult. Water temperatur­es have been in the 50s and lower- 60s in many areas of the lakes.

During periods of stained and muddy water in the main lake, Kerr Reservoir bass anglers can typically rely on better water conditions in mid-lake creeks such as Butchers, Panhandle, Grassy, Eastland and Island Creek. This week, anglers reported tough conditions exist in many of these creeks, and report not only is the water quite high, but it is heavily stained. Catches have been down as a result.

It is a time of year many anglers start using suspending jerkbaits, a technique which demands a certain level of water clarity for success. Fortunatel­y, this can still be found in the Nutbush region of the lake, and that is precisely where many anglers are heading right now. The crankbait and jig bite is still strong, and anglers should look for rocky banks and points, particular­ly on the northwest sides of the lake as these areas receive more sunlight. Midday to afternoon could be the best time as the air and water have some time to absorb heat.

It is also that time of year thatweathe­r patterns can be critical and the key to success. Unlike in spring, when cold fronts can shut down the fish, right nowhaving a fewdays of warmth and sunshine, and awarming trend, is the ticket to success. This is particular­ly true for getting those bites off of shallowroc­k.

Crappie anglers are reporting some good results in mid-lake creeks on Kerr Reservoir, primarily on brush. Some anglers are catching crappie tightlinin­g in open water as well. A good lure to try right now is a Bobby Garland baby shad on a 1/ 16 ounce jig, and it is always a good idea to tip these with minnows.

The striper fishermen are reporting excellent results, despite all thewater fluctuatio­ns, in the main lake off points, in part by following the birds. The bird activity has been good and it is still relatively early for this. The key is to watch the birds, particular­ly those that are diving at the surface. Sometimes, the activity can get very intense and these are the best indication­s of bait and game fish.

Anglers should check downlake areas around North Bend and Palmer’s Point. Grassy Creek has also been the home to a high level of bird and bait activity. Drifting for catfish has beenworkin­g for many anglers, also downlake. Once anglers get in the vicinity of the dam, they often can hook up with multiple species, particular­ly stripers and cats. This includes not only the North Bend area, but also Palmer’s Point and even upper Nutbush.

Capt. Art Conway of Conway’s River Rat Guide Service out of Ed Allen’s Boats and Bait reported that Chickahomi­ny Lake’s midday water temperatur­es were in the low 40s throughout the lake onWednesda­y. The lake level was about eight inches above the top of the dam, and the water was medium brown and very cloudy in the lower lake, with somewhat less cloudy water up the lake.

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 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 channels, frequently on wood cover, but were mostly inactive. When 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. When active, bass and pickerel were hitting live minnows, spinnerbai­ts, swim baits, stick worms, crank baits, jerk baits, blade baits and jigs.

Fishing with Capt. Conway: David Ross had seven white perch, three crappie and two roach minnows, and TomPorter had 11 crappie and two pickerel.

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