The Outdoor Report

Fishin’ Report

Captian Forest Pressnell, guide for New River Charters shows proof holding this 10 lb. 4 oz. walleye that the Upper New River walleye are in full swing feeding mode for the upcoming spawn which should occur around the March 12th full moon.  Muskie have been active and are expected to pick up for the next few weeks before they spawn.
Captian Forest Pressnell, guide for New River Charters shows proof holding this 10 lb. 4 oz. walleye that the Upper New River walleye are in full swing feeding mode for the upcoming spawn which should occur around the March 12th full moon. Muskie have been active and are expected to pick up for the next few weeks before they spawn.

Sarah White’s Fishing Guide’s Notebook

Editor’s note…  The Fishin’ Report is put together from recent reports from 20 plus  fishing guides, marinas and avid anglers for major rivers and lakes  all across the state.  Sarah is off for this edition and we have gathered reports from most of the regular contributors.  The websites or telephone numbers are listed for all our reporters so contact them for latest information, as with spring weather conditions and fish activity may change quickly.   We encourage you to take advantage of the unusually warm sunny days and  head out to your favorite river or lake and take a kid fishing.   Please use caution in planning any outdoor activities or going on the water.  Always wear your life jacket and let someone know  where you are going and when you plan to return.  Check conditions before you venture out.    For more information on a particular area contact the guide or marina listed through their website, Facebook page, or telephone and please mention you saw their contact info in The Outdoor Report.

Fishin’ Report

Region 1: Tidewater

Little Creek Reservoir:  Park Attendant  Carson Grainer reports the bass bite is good. They should be getting ready to bed soon, which will make it even better. They are going for jerkbaits, sticks and cranks. No word on crappie and bream.  Cat action is slow, but with the aid of some stinkbaits a fair amount of lunkers have come in. For more info call (757)  603- 7853.

 Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by Park Supervisor Michelle Dawn. Citations are still being caught in large numbers at the lake. Only a few anglers have been daring enough to fish in the wintry weather but they have left the lake fulfilled. The water temp is averaging 45 degrees and the pool is full. The grass is not an issue at the lake in the winter, and the water clarity is crisp and clear to five feet. Nice size buck bass have been caught in 4 to 6 feet of water using swimbaits. The substantial females have been seated in the depths, hitting the deep diving jerkbaits. The crappie are hit and miss and difficult to find.  They are schooled up in clusters but don’t expect to come across them easily, she is going to make you work for the fish. You may catch a few here and there but when you finally find them, you won’t be unhappy because you are certain to pull a few citations out of every school you stumble on.  The north side of the lake is abundant with eagles on every other tree, it is a sight to be seen, if you’re not catching fish, at least you can enjoy the view. The Beaverdam Bass Open Tournament series will kick back off on March 18th, just in time for the bass spawn.  For more information about fishing Beaverdam lake you can call the ranger station at (804) 693-2107 or email at

 Cat Point Creek: Contributed by local guide Penn Burke of Spring Shad Charters (804) 354-3200.

Chesapeake: Check out Dr. Julie Ball’s awesome website at

Chickahominy Lake: Contributed by Captain Art Conway of Conway’s River Rat Guide Service, (804) 746-2475.

On Friday 3/3/2017 mid-day water temperatures in Chickahominy  Lake were in the mid 50’s in the main lake and up many creeks.  The lake level was even with the top of the dam and the water was light brown and very slightly cloudy.   Early spring patterns were in place and should continue if conditions hold.

Action over the past month has been most reliable following several days of stable water temperatures.  Most blue cats and bullheads were on flats and channels in the main lake and scattered in creeks, and hitting live minnows and cut bait.  Some crappie were still on mid-depth flats, along drop-offs, and in channels in the main lake, but many crappie have been moving into creeks in typical pre-spawn locations.  Active crappie were hitting live minnows, Wright Bait Co. and Southern Pro curlytail jigs, small tubes, Kalin crappie scrubs, and small swim baits.  Small to medium yellow perch appeared to still be carrying some eggs and were scattered or in loose aggregates in creeks and along the channel at the upper end of the lake.  When located, they were hitting live minnows, small swim baits, and small jigs.  Most bluegill and shellcracker were still along channel edges in the main lake but a few had moved into the creeks and were occasionally hitting small jigs, Nikko nymphs, small swim baits, and live worms.  Most bass were on flats, along drop-offs, or in channels in the major creeks and the main lake, but some bass have relocated to shorelines following periods of sunny moderate weather.  Pickerel appeared to be mostly post-spawn but were still in many creeks on shorelines or around wood cover, especially up the lake.

When active, bass and pickerel were hitting live minnows, spinnerbaits, swim baits, stick worms, crank baits, jerk baits, and jigs.

Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers: Contributed by Riverkeeper Jeff Turner.   Contact the Blackwater-Nottoway Riverkeeper’s website for more information: 

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 23rd through the 25th on the Nottoway below the Bronco Club. The water was clear and 53 degrees, air temps ranged from 46 to 80 degrees.  Sadly the trash was pretty bad which is unusual on this stretch of river. So anyway we got the river cleaned up and then got down to the fun stuff…fishing. We rode all the way back upriver to the Narrows to try the shad. Only caught one big 3-pound American White, which was it for the shad. So then we decided we would go back downriver and try for rockfish. Along the way back downriver we stopped at Monroe Bridge, and I started jigging the ½ ounce blade bait. Caught a couple of blackfish but that was bout it, and I was thinking of moving on.  (Note: the next day I did catch three rockfish but they were all less than 18 inches long). The boat had worked its way over the deep hole there and we were in like 27 ft of water. There I caught the largest fish of my life, a huge (for the Nottoway) 56.34 pound blue cat. Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 4th through the 6th on the Nottoway below Courtland. Fished for rockfish and shad, only caught one hickory.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life’s Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518,

Middle James: Contributed by local angler Doug Reynolds. You can find all the current river and fishing information at website. As always, let’s go fishing! Nothing this time around.

 Region 2: Southside

 James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes, (434) 286-3366, (434) 996-5506, .

Kerr Reservoir: Bobcat’s Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bass: With water temperatures in the mid 40s to low 50s fishing has been good, most fishermen are using shallow running crankbaits, rat-l-traps, jerkbaits and jigs, fish have been holding on red clay banks and rocky points in 1 to 8 feet of water. Reports of good numbers of fish and 5 fish bags from 14 to 19 pounds have been coming in.  For more info see Bobby Whitlow’s website for a full and detailed report:

James at Lynchburg:  Angler’s Lane, (434) 385-0200,  Tom Reisdorf says that smallmouth  action in the James is slow due to low water temps. When they do bite, it’s usually crayfish imitators. The water is clear, at a seasonable level and  around 40 to 41 degrees.   Rainbow and brown fishing in the Jackson is good. Try Stonefly Nymphs. The water is clear, at a fine level and 43 to 44 degrees.  The mountain brookie streams are at a “perfect” level, clear and 40 degrees. Black Stonefly Nymphs are proving effective.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina. Holly Grove was closed until mid February. Call to get current info-  leave a message at (434) 636-3455.

Smith Mountain Lake: Contributed by Captain Travis Patsell of Cats N ‘ Stripers Fishing Charters (540) 580-3487.

Region 3: Southwest

Claytor Lake:  Rock House Marina . For more info call at (540) 980-1488, or go to  

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415  Shawn Hash notes the warm weather has fishing improving on the New, check the website for current conditions.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274. For information go to  The Upper New River walleye are in full swing feeding mode for the upcoming spawn which should occur around the March full moon. Fishing has been very good for them considering we have been battling low clear water and sunny days but the recent rain has finally put some stain in the river. Muskie have been so so but I expect them to pick up for the next few weeks before they spawn. Small mouth are still on the slow tube or jig presentation. Remember the water is still cold, back down in to the mid 40’s so be safe on the water and call me if we can help you with a trip.

Top New River:  Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC.,  Needed rain has helped the water levels on the “Top New” (Mouth of Wilson to Fries), but the gauges are still below average. Water temps are around 50 which is warm for this time of year. The full moon this Sunday will help turn on  the musky bite. Air temps will be closer to normal for the next few days with some possible wintry weather. Should be some good early spring fishing for smallmouth when we get the next warm up. Goto for trip info.   Check out for trip info, or call (276) 236-5492,  (276) 235-2514 (cell).

 New, Clinch and Holston Rivers: Contributed by Tommy Cundiff of River Monster Guide Service, (844) 588-2347. If you would like to get a trip in during one of the most beautiful times to be on a river in Southwest Virginia, call 844-luv-2fish now. We have some spots available and will put you on some fish. You can also visit our website at, or like us on Facebook and send us a message. Thanks and good fishing!   

Region 4: Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

 North and South Forks Shenandoah River: Harry Murray, (540) 984-4212,  According to Harry, both the north and the south forks of the Shenandoah are good places to bring up a fine smallie. You’ll have the best chances in deep pools. Good flies are: Murray’s Hellgrammite, size 4; and Murray’s Magnum Streamer, size 4. The water is clear, full and 47 degrees.

The action in the delayed harvest and stocked streams in the Valley is pretty hot, especially in the deep pools and below the riffles. Good flies are: Mr. Rapidan Streamer, size 10; and the Murray’s Larva, size 12. The water is 49 degrees full and clear.  The mountain brookie streams are too cold to fish.

Harry will be giving his nationally renowned classes every Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon until April. It’s a good investment if you want to learn new skills or brush up on old ones. Check his website for complete details.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenberger, (540) 468-2682,   “Puff” and his family are getting ready for the Highland Sugar Maple harvest and Festival in mid -March.  Visit their website for current information. 

Region 4: Northern Piedmont

 Tidal Potomac: Contributed by local guide Captain Steve Chaconas.

We are Getting There!  Lots of moving baits are working. The key is cover and speed.Water temperatures are hovering about 50. Warming this week to around 60 and fairly dry. Overnight around 40.

Fish have moved from the deeper areas, though some are still on the drops. Cover like grass, wood, rock and docks are primary targets. But the key is to slow down.

In the clearest water, Lucky Craft suspending Pointer 78 jerkbaits on 10 pound test GAMMA Edge fluorocarbon line cast on spinning gear. This enables long casts and, with a medium action rod, good hooksets. Make slight taps and longer pauses. Find the cadence that gets fish to come up. Cloud cover, use Aurora gold. Sunny skies, clown pattern works.

Casting Mizmo tubes, green pumpkin with blue tails, on 1/4 ounce Mud Puppy lures weedless insert heads. Soft lifts and pauses. Shake in place. Keep rod tip a bit lower to set the hook. A spray of garlic Jack’s Juice Bait Spray soaks into baits and will help encourage fish to hold on longer. Work these around dock pilings and wood cover.

Spinnerbaits with a chop on the water or cloudy skies are also working. Colorado/willow blades are effective. Using 10 pound test Edge line will enable better hooksets. Use white skirts with clouds or stained water or white/chart when the water is clear and with sunshine. Slowly retrieve through wood cover.

Lipless crankbaits like Lucky Craft LVR D-7 on 10-pound test Edge can be worked over grass. Engage the grass and snap free. Use short snaps and look for reaction bites on the slight hesitation. Use sharp hooks! Change out with Mustad KVD short shank triple grips.  Also run Mann’s Baby 1-Minus crankbaits over cover on 10 pound Edge.Find shallow fish first! Then work deeper.

Captain Steve Chaconas/National Bass Guide Service/SEOPA Boat U.S. On-line Expert National Bass Fishing Show 8619 Camden St. Alexandria, VA 22308 home office: 703-360-3472 cell: 703-380-7119 Visit for updated reports “Take me fishing!”

Lake Orange: Contact Darrell Kennedy of Angler’s Landing (540) 672-3997.

Lake Anna: C. C. McCotter, McCotter’s Lake Anna Guide Service 540.894.9144,  visit our website for curent conditions.

Lake Anna: Contributed by local guide Jim Hemby, (540) 967-3313,

The 13th Annual Orange County Fishing and Sportsman Show will be held March 11-12 at the Hornet Sports Center in Orange. This unique show is sponsored by the “Nation’s Outstanding Junior B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Chapter”, the Orange County High School 4-H and B.A.S.S. Angler’s Club. There will be exhibits featuring hunting and fishing guides, gear, artwork, taxidermy, boats and more. There is a trout fishing pond for kids and an official ESPN BASS Casting Kids Competition. VDGIF and other conservation organizations will be there to provide information on the great fishing and skill building workshop opportunities statewide. VDGIF volunteer Boating Education Instructors will provide boating safety information, seminars and classes for certification. There will be seminars on all kinds of fishing and the VDGIF boater education safety class. Admission is $6 with kids under 10 free.  For more info visit:

Video: Stocking brown trout in Virginia’s Jackson River

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