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.
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.
The water has dropped 12 degrees in a week and a half, the pattern of the fish have changed once again. Many of the crappie that have been on their beds have toughed out the cold and are holding strong, but many of the Bass have changed their patterns, depending on what side of the lake you are fishing. The pickerel have not budged and will still bite anything. The perch have been showing up around the floating dock, and a few nice sized catfish have made an appearance. Live minnows are still the most popular bait at the park, but the white jigs are having the best luck with hooking a fish. Although the water is cold, the fish still have to eat, you just need to think like a fish, and figure out what they are up to. Warmer weather is on it’s way, and the lake is about to become active with new parents and babies everywhere. The osprey have even began getting their nest together. The Bass will be next.
Saturday, March 18th we held our opening tournament for the Beaverdam Big Bash Open Bass series. The morning started off cold with a chance of rain. The water Temp topped out at 46 degrees. Many of the anglers said it was a tough day on the water, but they still managed to bring in some nice bags.
Quillie Countiss and Robert Countiss Placed first with an 18 pound 5 ounce bag. They caught most of their fish in 12 feet of water. Jerry Jenkins and Ricky West placed 2nd, with 12:3, they caught most of their fish shallow. Lorenz Branden Placed third with 11:15. Lorenz fishes solo. not too shabby. Biggest Fish of the day was caught by Jerry Hogge weighing in at 5:2.
There was no ryhme or reason to the way fish were biting Saturday. There was some bright colored big belly girls weighed in and some pale deep water bucks. Some of these big girls look like their bellies are ready to pop while others look like they are not even thinking of spawning. Every single fish caught was released and healthy. Good job taking care of the lake yesterday.
We will see everyone again on April 15th for our Next open Bass Tournament. For more information about fishing Beaverdam you can contact the ranger station at (804) 693-2107 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy and fish responsibly.
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 www.drjball.com.
Chickahominy Lake: Contributed by Captain Art Conway of Conway’s River Rat Guide Service, (804) 746-2475.
On Saturday 3/18/2017 mid-day water temperatures in Chickahominy Lake were in the mid 40’s in the main lake and up many creeks. The lake level was a few inches above the top of the dam and the water was light brown and slightly cloudy. Early spring patterns reverted to late winter conditions with the cold front last week, but should return this next week. Action over the past month has been most reliable following several days of stable water temperatures, which should return in a few days. 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. Prior to the cold front, 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. Crappie vacated the creeks following the cold front, but should return fairly quickly. 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: www.blackwaternottoway.com. Jeff and Moonpie report the shad are biting hot and heavy in the Blackwater and Nottoway. Good chance to get the family out for some real fun.
Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life’s Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518, www.lifesrevengefishing.com.
Middle James: Contributed by local angler Doug Reynolds. You can find all the current river and fishing information at http://www.jamesriversmallmouth.com 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, www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com .
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: www.bobcatslakecountry.com.
James at Lynchburg: Angler’s Lane, (434) 385-0200, www.anglerslane.com. Tom Reisdorf reports that for brook trout in the mountain streams, water levels are low for this time of year, water temperatures are in the 40’s. Trout are hitting purple haze dry flies and elk hair caddis. Quill Gordon dry flies are getting ready to hatch as the water temperatures start to rise. Stream clarity is good.
Brown and Rainbow trout on the Jackson River: Water levels are lower than normal for this time of year, water temperatures are in the mid 40’s. Browns and Rainbows are taking Green Monster nymphs, Rubber leg Prince Nymphs, and Rainbow Czech nymphs. River clarity is good.
Smallmouth bass on the James River: Water levels low and clear with temperatures finally starting to rise out of the 40’s. Smallies are taking Crawfish imitations.
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. www.CatsNstripers.com. Visit the website for latest information.
Region 3: Southwest
Special Brook Trout Stockings at Clinch Mountain Fee Fishing Area in April – Brook trout will be stocked in Big Tumbling Creek located at the Clinch Mountain Fee Fishing Area during the month of April beginning after opening weekend. The month long special brook trout stocking will include more than 400 large brook trout sized 1.5 to 2 lbs. mixed with stocker size brook trout. Brook trout stocked throughout the month will test the skills of anglers of all ages. New this year, two barrier-free trails are now open for limited mobility anglers. DGIF Regional Fisheries Biologist Steve Owens, reminds anglers that a daily permit ($8) is required of anglers; however, children 12 and under may fish without a permit as long as they are accompanied by a permitted adult and their combined creel does not exceed that of the adult (6 trout). Steve also notes that there is no longer a license agent available in nearby Saltville, so anglers should purchase their trout licenses and daily permits prior to arrival at Clinch Mountain WMA. The closest license agents are located at Walmart stores in Abingdon, Lebanon and Marion. Also note internet and cell service are not available on site, so if purchasing licenses and daily permits on-line, complete transaction while in a coverage area. Steve also advises that experienced anglers like his daughter Clara, recommend you pick up some salmon peach power bait to net that big one! Additional information may be found by contacting the Marion Regional Office (276-783-4860).
Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina . For more info call at (540) 980-1488, or go to www.rockhousemarina.com.
New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415 email@example.com. 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 www.newrivercharter.com. The Upper New River is still suffering from the drought which has us at low levels and Gin clear water. These factors have made the walleye fishing tough except on cloudy days or at night. Muskie are hitting well as they feed up before their spawn, but the small mouth fishing has slowed as the water temp has dropped back down to 40 degrees. With the arrival of Spring it will be an exciting time shortly on the smallies. Give us a call if you want to book a trip in the “Prime” time mid April – mid May. God Bless our Woods, Waters and You!
Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC., firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 newrivertrips.com for trip info. Check out newrivertrips.com 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 rivermonsterguideservice.com, 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, www.murraysflyshop.com. 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, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. “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.
Forget Last Week… Bitter cold and high winds kept us away from the river last week. But, bass feeding is already in motion. Water temperatures dropped from near 60 to around 40! A significant warm up this week and longer days combined with shorter nights will warm water, faster. 60s to start the week with mid 40s under mostly sunny skies the remainder of the week with a chance of rain Friday. Morning lows in the mid 30s to 45.
Find the warmest water and try to either stimulate feeding or reaction bites. The perfect middle of this road is a suspending Lucky Craft Pointer 78 jerkbait. Work clown patterns on Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon line with long pauses. Vary the force of twitches to present both an easy meal and a reaction bite. Lipless crankbaits like the Lucky Craft LV RTO on 10 pound Edge can be crawled along the bottom, over grass and through wood. Vary this presentation too by popping or ripping out of cover to bring reaction strikes.
As for feeding response, try a shaky head with Mizmo 1/4 ounce Barbwire heads on 6 pound Edge tied to 15-pound Torque braid. Green pumpkin 5-inch Doodle worms shaken and allowed to sit can encourage a feeding bite from even lethargic fish. Drop shot the same worm on a 2/0 Mustad Mega Bite hook and 3/16 ounce Water Gremlin BullShot weight. Mizmo tubes with insert heads can also be fished slowly or with erratic reaction strike presentations. Same line set up. Soak worms in garlic flavor Jack’s Juice Bait Spray. Target grass clumps, wood cover and docks.
Later in the day or end of the week, as water warms into the mid 50s, expect fish to be a bit more aggressive taking spinnerbaits and power cranks.
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 email@example.com Visit for updated reports www.nationalbass.com “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, www.mccotterslakeanna.com. visit our website for curent conditions.
Lake Anna: Contributed by local guide Jim Hemby, (540) 967-3313, www.jimhemby.com.