The Outdoor Report

Fishin’ Report

Robert Deel and brother Ricky Deel from Grundy, Virginia enjoy using the barrier free trails along Big Tumbling Creek on the Clinch Mountain WMA. They're looking forward to the special  trophy trout stockings beginning in April and remind fellow anglers to be sure and get your required  Daily Permit before coming to the Fee Fishing Area as there are no local license agents near the WMA and internet service is sparse.  Call the DGIF Regional Office in Marion (276-783-4860) for information on the month long special stocking and other fishing opportunities in the great Southwest.  Photo by David Coffman, Editor The Outdoor Report.
Robert Deel and brother Ricky Deel from Grundy, Virginia enjoy using the barrier free trails along Big Tumbling Creek on the Clinch Mountain WMA. They're looking forward to the special trophy trout stockings beginning in April and remind fellow anglers to be sure and get your required Daily Permit before coming to the Fee Fishing Area as there are no local license agents near the WMA and internet service is sparse. Call the DGIF Regional Office in Marion (276-783-4860) for information on the month long special stocking and other fishing opportunities in the great Southwest. Photo by David Coffman, Editor The Outdoor Report.

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 mmaynora@gloucesterva.info. 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   tangentoutfitters@gmail.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., newrivertrips@gmail.com.  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 info@nationalbass.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.

 

Youth and Apprentice Spring Turkey Hunt Full Weekend April 1-2

Share your photos of the fun and excitement of smiling young hunters during the spring youth gobbler hunting weekend  April 1-2 with The Outdoor Report and other websites.   See story for opportunities for prizes from sponsors.  Photo courtesy VA NWTF website.
Share your photos of the fun and excitement of smiling young hunters during the spring youth gobbler hunting weekend April 1-2 with The Outdoor Report and other websites. See story for opportunities for prizes from sponsors. Photo courtesy VA NWTF website.

The Youth & Apprentice Spring Turkey Hunting Weekend 2017 will take place on April 1 (statewide) and April 2 (private land only with the written permission of the landowner),  making a perfect opportunity to take a young person or apprentice hunter afield for a chance of taking a gobbler.  Resident and nonresident youth hunters 15 years of age and under or holders of a valid apprentice hunting license, when in compliance with all applicable laws and licenses, may hunt when accompanied and directly supervised by an adult who has a valid Virginia hunting license or is exempt from purchasing a hunting license. Nonresident youth of any age need to have the appropriate licenses (unless exempt from purchasing a license).

  • Hunting hours are from 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset.
  • Bag limit is one turkey (bearded bird only) per youth/apprentice hunter, per weekend.
  • Turkeys harvested by youth or apprentice hunters count against their daily and season bag limit.

Adult hunters accompanying youth or apprentice turkey hunters:

  • do not need a deer/turkey license on this weekend.
  • may assist with calling.[electronic calls are not allowed]
  • shall not carry or discharge a firearm.
  • shall maintain close visual and verbal contact with and provides adequate direction to the youth or apprentice hunter.

Remember Safety First!  Because turkeys have both keen hearing and sharp eyesight, camouflage is worn by hunters. It is essential for every hunter to positively identify their target and the area beyond their target, before pulling the trigger. Most hunting fatalities are the result of the hunter not making sure of his or her target.

Share your photos of the fun and excitement of smiling young hunters during the spring youth gobbler hunting weekend April 1-2 with The Outdoor Report and other websites.   There are three opportunities to share your photos of smiling young hunters with their trophy gobblers and possibly win some great prizes..

The Cabela’s Short Pump store in Richmond is hosting a Youth Spring Turkey Hunting Weekend Weigh-In Contest for all participants who take a turkey during the Youth and Apprentice weekend to bring your turkey to the store to have it weighed.  The youth with the heaviest turkey will take home a $250 Cabela’s Gift Card. Visit the Cabela’s Shortpump Store website for details.

The Virginia State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation is hosting their 2nd annual JAKES Youth Spring Gobbler Weekend photo contest for youngsters hunting in Virginia during the tw0-day Youth Weekend April 1-2.  There will be two winning categories, 12 and under, and 13-15 year old hunters. TWO winners will receive a new 20 ga pump shotgun. You do not have to harvest a turkey to enter the contest, BUT you must post a picture of you in the field during the hunt, AND holding a sign or piece of paper, with the hashtag #VA-JAKES. The shotgun will need to be registered to your parent or guardian, and both winners must meet all FFL requirements.   Visit the VA NWTF website photo contest page for contest rules and information.

The Star City Whitetails Hunting website is sponsoring the Spring Gobbler  4th Annual Best Photo Contest 2017.  Jeff Phillips  website founder, invites youth and adult hunters throughout the spring season to simply send in the BEST PICTURE of you and your spring gobbler to jeff@starcitywhitetails or to Whitetails Facebook page and you will be in the running for a great group of prizes.  Visit the SCWT website photo contest page for details and list of prizes.

Be safe and have fun!

Trout Heritage and Kids Fishing Day April 1st at Graves Mountain Lodge

Kid’s Fishing Day on the Rose River at Graves Mountain Lodge in Madison County April 1st promises to brings smiles and excitement to young anglers and their parents. Photo courtesy Lee Walker, VDGIF Manager for Outreach.
Kid’s Fishing Day on the Rose River at Graves Mountain Lodge in Madison County April 1st promises to brings smiles and excitement to young anglers and their parents. Photo courtesy Lee Walker, VDGIF Manager for Outreach.

Celebrate Trout Heritage Day with the kids in Madison tomorrow April 1st, when the Rapidan Chapter of Trout Unlimited and DGIF partner with Graves Mountain Lodge  for Trout Heritage Day and Kid’s Fishing Day.

Several hundred trout are stocked along a private section of the Rose River, solely for children under the age of 12 to experience the joy of fishing. This popular event is Saturday only and features educational exhibits and skill building activities. Youngsters can register from 8am – 3 pm to fish free and win prizes every hour.

DGIF will have furs, feathers, tracks and skulls for the youngsters to identify and goodie bags to take home.  A red corn snake will be featured at the DGIF exhibit for kids of all ages to hold and learn about their role in the food web.

Trout fishing expert Harry Murray will be hosting a seminar and fly fishing demonstrations.  Come join the fun on April 1st– no foolin!

And, Check the VDGIF website for details of other special stocking locations for Trout Heritage Day.

Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival Returns to Meadow Event Park in Doswell April 8-9

The Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival will be held April 8- 9 at  the Meadow Event Park near Doswell.  See the latest in outdoor gear, traditional fly tying demonstrations and hands on casting techniques coached by the legends of the sport. Photo courtesy Beau Beasley, Program Director Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival.
The Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival will be held April 8- 9 at the Meadow Event Park near Doswell. See the latest in outdoor gear, traditional fly tying demonstrations and hands on casting techniques coached by the legends of the sport. Photo courtesy Beau Beasley, Program Director Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival.

The 2017 Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival (VFFF)will return to The Meadow Events Park, just a few miles outside of Richmond April 8-9.   Festival director Beau Beasley noted, “This is the second year at the new location which better accommodates our growing event. It allows us to bring all of our vendors under roof, no longer subject to the vagaries of the weather. I enjoy being outside as much as the next fly angler,” continued Beasley, “but rough weather has—quite literally—dampened festival activities and attendance in the past. At our new location, weather is nolonger an issue.”The festival—the largest event of its kind in the country, drawing fly anglers from as far away as New York and Georgia—appeals to anglers of all ages and stages. Organizers have deliberately worked to draw new anglers (especially women and children) into the quiet sport and reengage those who may have started fly fishing years ago but gave the sport up for any number of reasons. Festival attendees listen to lectures from various experts and practice hands-on skills at the two-day, family-friendly event. Several wineries from throughout the Old Dominion provide free wine tastings for those 21 and older.“Never fear: We have plenty to entice the veteran angler. In addition, the festival will continue to reach out to a nontraditional audience—folks who may not be aware of how easy and enjoyable fly fishing really is,” said Beasley. “We are also committed to welcoming more women into the sport—and especially young families. Hey, I’ve got children of my own. So I’m all for getting kids to put down the cell phone, step away from the game system, and get outside.”The 17th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival will be held April 8-9, 2017, at The Meadow Events Park in Dozwell. New this year is an expanded kayak demonstration area sponsored by Wild River Outfitters of Virginia Beach. Those who have enjoyed the outdoor festival environment for years can rest easy: Although the new facility will enable all vendors to be under roof, the events center is surrounded by extensive grounds suitable for outdoor classes and wine tastings.

To learn more about the 2017 Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival, visit www.vaflyfishingfestival.org or contact Beau Beasley (Fishutopia@comcast.net; 703-402-8338).

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.  Cell and internet services are not available on site, so if purchasing licenses and daily  permits online, complete your transaction while in a coverage area. Steve also advises that experienced anglers like his daughter Clara pictured here, 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).

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 mmmaynora@gloucesterva.info.

 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 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:  www.blackwaternottoway.com 

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, 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 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. www.CatsNstripers.com.

Region 3: Southwest

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   tangentoutfitters@gmail.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 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., newrivertrips@gmail.com.  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.

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 info@nationalbass.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.

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: www.ochsanglers.com

Video: Stocking brown trout in Virginia’s Jackson River

Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

CPO Daniel Eller will be at the 13th OCHS Fishing Expo March 11-12 at the Hornets Center in Orange to answer your questions regarding fishing, boating and hunting opportunities and regulations in the region. This unique show supports and showcases the
CPO Daniel Eller will be at the 13th OCHS Fishing Expo March 11-12 at the Hornets Center in Orange to answer your questions regarding fishing, boating and hunting opportunities and regulations in the region. This unique show supports and showcases 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, trout fishing pond and casting contest for kids and a certified Boating Education Class. Photo by David Coffman, Editor TOR.

To increase awareness of the activities of our dedicated Conservation Police Officers (CPO), previously called game wardens, the “Virginia Conservation Police Notebook” provides an overview of the variety of activities encountered by our officers who protect natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation in the fields, woods and waters of Virginia. These reports are prepared from the officer’s actual field notes by Kim McCarthy, Executive Assistant to Major Scott Naff [Operations] and Major Bryan Young [Administration]of the Law Enforcement Division VDGIF. These CPO reports show the value of concerned citizens, landowners and true sportsmen in providing tips to law enforcement officers on suspected violations by lawbreakers who give other outdoor enthusiasts an undeserved bad reputation. Don’t let the actions of a few outlaws tarnish the reputation of Virginia’s sportsmen!

Region I – Tidewater

Plain Clothes Patrol on Crappie Fishermen – On February 15, 2017, CPO Joe Rollings received an email from Bureau biologist, Scott Herman. It had been reported to Herman that large numbers of huge Crappie were stacked up in a certain cove at Beaverdam Reservoir in Gloucester and fishermen were keeping over their limit. Herman expressed a concern of overfishing and the effect it would have on the Crappie population. Officer Rollings planned a plain clothes patrol of the area and watched the area being fished. As the fishermen left, Rollings inspected them back at the boat landing. Everyone checked was found to be in compliance having under their legal limit of fish. It was said that to a casual observer, someone with a creel of 12” to 15” fish, it would appear they were keeping more than they were supposed to. Officer Rollins sent a detailed report of his findings to Herman who was very appreciative of the timely action taken. Rollings will continue to monitor the area.

Follow-up to previous activities reported:

Court Completed – On February 17, 2017, CPO Dunlevy completed court regarding a shooting in the road right of way from an incident which occurred December 21, 2016 and in a previous activity report. The deer hunter was found guilty in King & Queen County. He was fined $100.00 and his hunting privilege was revoked for 2 years.

Court Completed – Also, in King & Queen court on February 17, 2017, Senior Officer Tyler Bumgarner had a subject who had been charged with 4 counts of failing to check deer and 4 counts of illegal possession. These charges were a result of Tyler’s data mining of social media and DGIF records. A plea deal was reached where the hunter was found guilty on 2 counts of each charge, $800.00 in fines all suspended, with his hunting privilege revoked for 3 years with 3 years of probation. Since 2012, this subject has been convicted of nine hunting and fishing related violations.

Warrant Served Following Investigation – On January 5, 2017, Officer Cameron Dobyns received a text message from a landowner in Essex County. The text included a photograph taken by the landowner’s trail camera of a hunter trespassing on the posted property. Dobyns began investigating the incident and was able to determine the identity of the suspect in the photo. It turned out that the suspect did not live at the address found on record for him. Dobyns continued his pursuit of his leads until he was able to make contact with the suspect on February 16, 2017. After the interview the suspect was subsequently charged with trespassing to hunt on posted property and served with a warrant obtained from the magistrate.

Back for More – On February 17, 2017 Officer Smith patrolled Northwest River Park in Chesapeake in plain clothes.  The lake at the park had been stocked with trout for the urban trout program the previous day.  While patrolling Officer Smith observed an individual catch his limit of trout, pack his belongings, and head towards a vehicle.  The individual told Officer Smith he was going home to clean those fish and he would be back for more that evening.  A couple hours later Officer Smith returned to the park to observe people fishing.  While walking across the parking lot the suspect pulled next to Officer Smith and said “You’re back for more.”  Officer Smith continued on his patrol.  Shortly afterwards he observed the suspect catch his fish and return back to the parking lot.  At that time Officer Smith advised the suspect he was a Virginia Conservation Police Officer.  The suspect was surprised and admitted that he was caught.  He received a summons for his violation.

Region III – Southwest

Surveillance Activity Yields Violations – On February 23 and February 24, 2017, Virginia Conservation Police Officers Nikita Burke, Cody Hash and Sergeant Jamie Davis conducted trout fishing surveillance operations in Smyth County at Buller Dam.  Numerous violations were detected including exceeding daily creel limit of trout and fishing after obtaining daily creel limit of trout.  Fishermen were surprised to see the officers “come out of nowhere” and they were also thanked by several fishermen and women for addressing the issue of exceeding daily creel limits.

Public Outreach – On February 26, 2017, Senior Virginia Conservation Police Officer Dan Hall and Officer Nikita Burke gave a summary of Virginia’s Boating Laws and Boat Registration and Titling; to students enrolled in Virginia’s Boating Basics course held at Cabela’s in Bristol, Virginia. A total of fifteen students were enrolled in the course which was administered by VDGIF’s Volunteer Boating Education Instructors. The officers answered numerous questions during the event.

Region IV – Mountains & Shenandoah Valley

CPO’s Speak to Future Law Enforcement Officers – Sergeant Carl Martin and CPO Owen Heine spoke to the Winchester City Sheriff’s Office Explorers group on Tuesday night, February 21st. They brought two patrol boats and discussed the importance of life jackets and boating safety enforcement efforts of CPO’s on Virginia waters. CPO Heine gave a PowerPoint presentation that he developed showing an overview of Conservation Police Officers and the laws they enforce. As a result, the kids asked many questions about the hunting, fishing, and boating laws. The CPO’s provided job requirements and guidance to careers in wildlife law enforcement. Since the Explorers goal is to explore the different law enforcement opportunities available to them, we may see one of them in the VDGIF Academy in the future!

Deer – Bear- Turkey Harvest Results 2016-17 Announced

Wildlife biologists with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) have compiled the preliminary figures for the 2016-17 fall/winter hunting season. The Virginia bear and turkey harvests showed a slight rise over last year while the deer harvest was down. According to Dr. Gray Anderson, Chief of Wildlife, “The annual variation in harvest is normal and most populations are healthy and on-track with long-range management plan objectives.” These harvest data are used to inform future regulatory decisions and the VDGIF welcomes public comment on regulations recommendations during a 45-day public comment period beginning March 8, 2017.
For details on the deer, bear and turkey harvest data visit these links:

2017 One Shot Turkey Hunt Youth Essay Contest

This year’s Old Dominion One Shot Turkey Hunt event includes an essay contest for youth hunters. Not only will five lucky winners receive a free guided hunt during One Shot, they also will be awarded a lifetime hunting license! To enter, kids ages 15 and under must write an essay on the topic “What does hunting mean to me?” Submissions must be emailed to Jenny West at jwest@vawildlife.org by March 8, 2017.

New 2017 Virginia Fishing Forecasts, Outlooks, and Rankings

Fisheries biologists with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) spend considerable hours on Virginia’s smallmouth bass rivers trying to understand more about the sport fish that live there. Knowledge about sport fish populations is partially accomplished by collecting fish with boat electrofishers in the fall at established stations. Several of our smaller rivers are difficult to access in low water, so they are sampled in the spring. The following reports provide information on what anglers can expect from various fisheries in Virginia reservoirs and also provide information on largemouth bass population statistics in various large and small impoundments throughout the state.

 

Fishin’ Report

Sarah White’s Fishing Guide’s Notebook

Editor’s note…  We extend our condolences to Sarah White  whose father,  Mel White died in a vehicle accident last Friday.  Mel was a retired information and education media specialists with DGIF and a mentor to many of the current Outreach Division staff including myself and his daughter Sarah.  Our views and experiences of Virginia’s great outdoors were enhanced through Mel’s talent and passion for visual media.

The Fishin’ Report is abbreviated this edition, but the website and contact information for all the regular  fishing guides, marinas and avid anglers for major rivers and lakes  are listed so you can contact them directly for information on current conditions.   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.

Fishing 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 mmmaynora@gloucesterva.info.

 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.   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.  Most crappie were on mid-depth flats, along drop-offs, and in channels in the main lake, especially near wood
cover, but on sunny days after several days of stable conditions, crappie
have been moving onto shallow flats and into creeks.  Active crappie were
hitting live minnows, Wright Bait Co. and Southern Pro curlytail jigs, small
tubes, Kalin crappie scrubs, and small swimbaits.  Small to medium yellow
perch were apparently in spawning mode, scattered or in loose aggregates in
creeks, especially up the lake, and were hitting live minnows, small swimbaits, and small jigs.  Most bluegill and shellcracker were along channel
edges in the main lake and were occasionally hitting small jigs, Nikko
nymphs on drop shot rigs, small swimbaits, 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 entering spawning mode and were
in many creeks on shorelines or around wood cover, especially up the lake.
When active, bass and pickerel were hitting live minnows, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, stick worms, crankbaits, jerkbaits, and jigs.

 

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

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 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. www.CatsNstripers.com.

Region 3: Southwest

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   tangentoutfitters@gmail.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.

Top New River:  Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC., newrivertrips@gmail.com.  The “Top New”, Mouth of Wilson to Fries, is running about 25% below average. Water clarity is good. No ice in the river or local trout creeks, so trout fishing is a good option for this area. Late February through March is a good time for a walleye/muskie/smallmouth trip so let me know if you would like a multispecies adventure. Be extra careful when out on the water this time of year.   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 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. Another great week for winter fishing.  Winter is not getting a foothold. Water is staying above freezing, opening up the tackle box for more aggressive presentations. Expect water in the mid 40s and warmer in the discharge areas.

With 45 degree water, toss a 3/8-ounce Mann’s Classic spinnerbait. The round head deflects off bottom cover and acts like ballast to keep the bait upright. Gold willow/Colorado blades with white skirted spinnerbaits can be slowly dragged along shallow areas and down drops. Casting parallel to drops works too. Use the rod to slowly drag the bait with frequent pauses. GAMMA Edge fluorocarbon line, 12 pound test, helps keep lures down, making strike detection and hook sets easier.

Crankbaits like Lucky Craft Slim Shad D-9 are working. This bait has a lot of action, tight wiggle at a slow speed. Even lighter line, down to 8-pound test GAMMA Copoly or Edge, helps with long casts and allows the bait to dive and stay deeper. It also enables fish to take baits deeper. Make sure hooks are sharp. Also give suspending Lucky Craft Bevy Shad crankbaits a try. Cast them and crank down slowly. Lift up to impart action and let baits pause. In all cases, I prefer spinning gear for long casts and for thinner lines.

Mann’s 3 inch avocado Stingray Grubs on 6 pound Edge rigged on a 1/4 ounce ball head jig can be worked slowly down drops. Slowly, slightly lift and glide for bites. Adding garlic Jack’s Juice Bait Spray will get fish to hold on longer. Keep hooks sharp! Using 15 pound test GAMMA Torque braid with a 6 pound Edge leader will help with strike detection and hook sets.

Find shallow fish first! Then work deeper. Capt. Steve Chaconas is a guide on the Potomac River. info@nationalbass.com. For more info call: (703) 360-347 or (703) 380-7119.

 

 

Orange County High School Angler’s Club Sponsors 13 Annual Fishing Expo March 11-12

DGIF will hold a Boating Safety Class and Conservation Police Officers will be on hand to answer your boating and fishing questions. Photo by David Coffman, Editor TOR
DGIF will hold a Boating Safety Class and Conservation Police Officers will be on hand to answer your boating and fishing questions. Photo by David Coffman, Editor TOR

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: www.ochsanglers.com

 

Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

To increase awareness of the activities of our dedicated Conservation Police Officers (CPO), previously called game wardens, the “Virginia Conservation Police Notebook” provides an overview of the variety of activities encountered by our officers who protect natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation in the fields, woods and waters of Virginia. These reports are prepared from the officer’s actual field notes by Kim McCarthy, Executive Assistant to Captain Clark Greene, Acting Chief of Law Enforcement Division VDGIF. These CPO reports show the value of concerned citizens, landowners and true sportsmen in providing tips to law enforcement officers on suspected violations by lawbreakers who give other outdoor enthusiasts an undeserved bad reputation. Don’t let the actions of a few outlaws tarnish the reputation of Virginia’s sportsmen!

 

 

The 30th Annual Western Virginia Sport Show will be held February 24- 26, 2017, at Augusta Expo in Fishersville, Virginia (I-64, exit #91).   Show Founder and Manager, Mark Hanger proudly notes, “This 30th Show will be a unique world-class event for the entire family and any serious outdoor enthusiasts.  We feature more big names and attractions than any other show in the region and this year is no exception.    Conservation Police Officers and Complementary Work Force Volunteers from the VA Department of Game & Inland Fisheries www.HuntFishVA.com, celebrating its 100th Anniversary, will be on hand to answer questions and provide information on hunting and fishing opportunities and Agency programs to manage fish and wildlife resources, including the Elk Restoration effort in Southwest Virginia, feral hog damage control efforts, K9 demonstration, high tech investigation equipment and One Shot Spring Gobbler Hunt.  New this year is the addition of more fishing guides and suppliers with the latest in lures, rods and gear.   Popular attractions include The VA Waterfowlers Association Traveling Duck Blind, Parker Bows Test Shooting Range, indoor trout fishing tank, Annual Big Buck Contest and South River Taxidermy’s display featuring the Top 10 Whitetail Mounts in the world. In addition, spectators can enjoy FREE seminars from the pros throughout the weekend.   The Dennis Campbell ClassicVirginia Open Championship Turkey Calling Contest will be held Saturday.   Visit the Show’s website for details on celebrities, seminars and other attractions featured during the three day event.

 Region I – Tidewater 

We Will Find You! – On January 1, 2017, Senior CPO Whirley and CPO Webb were on patrol when they received a trespassing call in Prince Edward County. They contacted two unarmed suspects and started interviewing them. A few minutes later, the female landowner who called, observed a third suspect walking in the woods holding three guns and was dressed in hunting attire. She yelled to him and he took off running. She chased him through the woods and began screaming at him to stop. Hearing the yelling, Officer Whirley ran into the woods and located the landowners 11 year old who ran behind his mother in the woods. Not knowing if there were any more people in the woods, Officer Whirley did not feel comfortable leaving the child and took the child back to her father’s vehicle. Officer Whirley got into her patrol vehicle and searched a second road that traveled into the property. Officer Whirley made contact with the female landowner who informed her that the suspect stopped, talked with her for a couple minutes and observed him throw marijuana in the woods before leaving 2 of the 3 guns on the road. He then proceeded into the woods again with a third gun in his possession.

Sgt. Slaughter, K921 and State Police responded to the area to assist. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts to track the suspect, Whirley interviewed the suspects again that were found unarmed. After multiple denials of knowing anything about a third person, they finally admitted to meeting the third person at a local store but denied knowing anything about him, including his name.  One of the suspects also provided a name and told her the second phone located in his vehicle was his work phone. It was later determined he was untruthful about the suspect’s name and phone.

After several failed attempts to locate the suspect, Sgt. Slaughter had everyone meet at the store the suspects’ referenced. Officer Webb recovered a picture from the store surveillance system of the third suspect who was missing. It was determined that both suspects had been together prior to stopping at the store. After talking to store owners, the fleeing suspect was correctly identified. Officer’s Whirley and Webb went to the Farmville Police Department the next day and created a photo lineup which then was shown to the female landowner. The suspect was positively identified. The identified suspect is a four time convicted felon. Charges were obtained and the suspect was later arrested for felony possession of a firearm, trespass, hunt without a license and possession of marijuana. The suspect at the scene that gave Officer Whirley false information was charged with obstruction of justice, trespass and possession of marijuana. The last suspect was charged with trespass to hunt.

Possible Fugitive Camping on Posted Property – On Feb. 6, 2017, Senior CPO Jeff Green received a trespass and camping call on posted property in Powhatan County. The caller stated that the suspect, a person Officer Green had dealt with in the past, may be a fugitive. Officer Green responded and requested assistance from Powhatan Sheriff’s Office. About a quarter mile back in the woods off Manakintown Ferry Road, Officer Green spotted an SUV and a pull behind camper. Officers approached and cleared both the vehicle and the camper. A check of the camper’s tags revealed the camper was reported stolen out of Hanover County. The Government tags on the 2017 Tahoe were run and they came back to a different vehicle. So the vehicle’s VIN was run, and the vehicle came back stolen out of Chesterfield. Inside the vehicle and camper, officers found numerous police mobile and portable radios which had been stolen from several different police departments. Hanover and Chesterfield detectives responded to process the scene and take custody of the stolen items.  The estimated amount of recovered property was $140,000.00. Several felony charges are pending.

Region II – Southside

Joint Investigation with Tennessee – CPO Fariss was notified by a Tennessee Wildlife Officer in November 2016 about possible wildlife violations that occurred in Prince Edward County, VA.  The TN officer had uncovered the information while conducting his own investigation on the same subjects for hunting violations in TN. The information consisted of very detailed pictures and captions on Facebook where turkeys and deer were harvested. Officer Fariss began searching the online game check system as well as a local check station near where the subjects hunted. The investigation quickly began to build and resulted in the discovery of several unchecked turkeys and deer, as well as license violations that included borrowing and lending a license. Officer Fariss obtained a total of 19 charges on a father and son duo for numerous violations.

Region III – Southwest

Felony Arrest – On February 3, 2017, CPO Cody Hash was on patrol in Smyth County when a call came out from the Sheriff’s Office about a pursuit coming from Washington County. The subject had attempted to break and enter into a residence and fled the scene when law enforcement arrived. The pursuit was coming toward the officer, so he set up on the side of the road. After an update came in, he repositioned and just seconds later a car matching the description came through the intersection and slammed into a dirt embankment. The car then backed up and started coming at the officer’s vehicle, only swerving to miss it at the last second, and continued to speed away. Officer Hash joined the pursuit with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. The driver continued to run through the Town of Saltville and into the Rich Valley section of Smyth County. The pursuit ended when the driver went up a dead end road, through a farm gate and crashed into a creek bottom. The occupants attempted to flee on foot but were quickly apprehended. Multiple charges were placed including attempted capital murder, felony eluding and several misdemeanor driving charges.

Unpermitted Activity – On February 3, 2017, Senior CPO Dan Hall and Officer Nikita Burke completed an investigation into taxidermists in Smyth County with non-renewed permits. The investigation lead to a charge of practicing taxidermy without the required permit on one individual found to be in the process of mounting white-tailed deer after his permit had expired and not renewed for several months.

Sportsmen Banquet and Wild Game Dinner – On February 3, 2017, CPO Andy Rutledge and Senior Officer Troy Phillips attended the annual Sportsmen Banquet at Riverview Baptist Church in Giles County.  The annual banquet hosted 900+ guests and multiple volunteers as well as Giles County Sheriff’s Office.  Officers Rutledge and Phillips provided Hunting and Fishing Regulation books to the participants as well as answering many questions related to hunting, boating, and fishing.  Each guest had the opportunity to win door prizes while enjoying food provided by hunters and fishermen throughout the county.

 

Musky Season is in Full Swing

DGIF biologists are tirelessly braving the elements to monitor the musky populations in the South Fork Shenandoah River, Main Stem Shenandoah River, and James River. Each musky they catch is tagged with one or two yellow reward tags worth $20 each. If you are lucky enough to catch a musky with one of these tags, cut off one or both of the tags and mail them in to the DGIF regional office in Forest VA to claim your reward.

Check out the reward poster for more information on this program »

Fishin’ Report

Jarrett from Mt. Solon, VA, is the 1st place winner of the 2016 Kids n' Fishing Photo Contest in the 1-5 age category.
Jarrett from Mt. Solon, VA, is the 1st place winner of the 2016 Kids n' Fishing Photo Contest in the 1-5 age category.

2016 Kids ‘n Fishing Photo Contest Winners

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Kids ‘n Fishing Photo Contest! Check out all the winners here and learn more about the 2017 contest.

Sarah White’s Fishing Guide’s Notebook

Sarah White has collected the latest fishing reports from over 20 fishing guides, marinas and avid anglers for major rivers and lakes listed by geographic region throughout the state this week for posting here in the Fishin’ Report. With cold winter temperatures  slowing activity a bit  and deer season ended in most of the state, take advantage of any 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.  Be aware of the dangers of frost bite and hypothermia.  Always wear your life jacket and let someone know know where you are going and when you plan to return.  Check conditions before you venture out.  The websites and telephone numbers for the guides and marinas are listed here- contact them for the latest conditions.  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.

Winter Safety Note…

Before we begin the Fishin’ Report, a word of caution. One slip and fall into the water this time of year can bring on deadly hypothermia in a very short amount of time. Please bear in mind that neither the water, nor the air temperature needs to be freezing for hypothermia to set in.  One thing,  that I recommend is some form of dry bag. These containers vary in price, size and effectiveness, so do some thoughtful research before you buy.  But buy one you should!   Having a dry set of clothes to change into can quite literally save your life. Another thing you must have is water proof matches in some sort of protective container so that you can start a fire. And don’t forget your thermos of hot coffee. I’m not trying to talk you  out of winter fishing – far from it. What I am asking is that you bear in mind that different seasons of fishing call for different preparations. Fish safe and have fun!  Sarah

Region 1: Tidewater

Little Creek Reservoir:  Park Attendant  Carson Grainer told me that 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. Chris Eckstein, From Gloucester County a winter regular at Beaverdam has been dedicated to fishing all winter when he is not out hunting deer or rabbit. Chris has stayed loyal to the lake and she has finally repaid his commitment. Chris has caught several lone crappie citations this winter but this past week he finally got on to a pack of fish. He caught two more citations and a cooler full of crappie.   The perch can be found by accident while you are out searching for the crappie, they are still being caught in large numbers right outside of the channel. The lake can be a challenge for a new fisherman, she is full of hale and hearty fish that can be a bear to find. Beaverdam has coves and curves, timbers, underwater springs, shallow water, hidden structures and sudden drop offs. There is nothing basic about this lake. She is captivating and with devotion she will make your time worth your while.  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 mmmaynora@gloucesterva.info.

Cat Point Creek: Contributed by local guide Penn Burke of Spring Shad Charters (804) 354-3200. Penn has no report.

Chesapeake Bay: Contributed by Dr. Julie Ball. February is here, and according to Punxsutawney Phil, we have six more long weeks of winter. And with limited choices on the saltwater fishing front, many folks are hopeful that the spring will hold better options. But lawmakers are not offering inspiring news for the 2017 fishing season. As for now, fishing regulations seem to be only tightening. With a closed cobia season in federal waters, a likely reduction in sea bass limits, more pending decisions for flounder and deep dropping species, and with several already established closures, opportunities could be slim.

Unfortunately, the striped bass fishery is not happening this winter, with schools of big rockfish lingering well out of reach of boats offshore. It seems the only hope now is to intercept the schools of rockfish as they head into the Bay to spawn in early spring. In the Bay, catch and release could be a possibility if there is any interest.

Although the tautog bite in Bay waters is slowing with the cooling water temperatures, some decent fish are hitting for anglers on a few Bay and inshore structures. Deeper wrecks are producing the larger fish, but reaching them can be a challenge this time of year. When boats can get out, anglers are finding some nice fish, with a few tog weighing over 11 pounds reported this week. Sea bass will also take your offerings on many of these structures, but they are still out of season. Remember, you can only keep three tog per person at 16 inches or longer.

Other anglers are turning to inshore opportunities. Though it depends on the day and who you ask, some anglers are finding some agreeable speckled trout in Lynnhaven Inlet, along with puppy drum and some school sized striped bass. The folks at Long Bay Pointe Bait and Tackle report that Lynnhaven specks averaging around 16 to 18 inches are responding to Mirrolures and Gulp lures, with a few larger fish in the mix. The pups are hitting mostly cut bait within the Inlet lately.

Bluefin tuna likely passed us by, with catches of nice tuna materializing off North Carolina right now, where Captain Jake Hiles reports boating a big Bluefin while fishing out of Wanchese aboard the “Toros” this week. Boats targeting swordfish have had some success with daytime trips in the Norfolk Canyon recently.

When boats venture out to scour the deeper ocean floors, blueline tilefish, black bellied rosefish, and scattered grouper and wreckfish are around. But the invasion of dogfish is discouraging to many anglers, and all sea bass must be thrown back right now. For more info check out Dr. 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 Friday 2/3/2017 mid day water temperatures in Chickahominy Lake were in the low 40s in the main lake and up many creeks.  The lake level was a few inches above the top of the dam.  The water was light brown and very slightly cloudy.  Winter patterns were in place, and action 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.  Most crappie were on mid-depth flats, along drop-offs, and in channels in the main lake, especially near wood
cover, but on sunny days after several days of stable conditions, crappie
have been moving onto shallow flats and into creeks.  Active crappie were
hitting live minnows, Wright Bait Co. and Southern Pro curlytail jigs, small
tubes, Kalin crappie scrubs, and small swimbaits.  Small to medium yellow
perch were apparently in spawning mode, scattered or in loose aggregates in
creeks, especially up the lake, and were hitting live minnows, small swimbaits, and small jigs.  Most bluegill and shellcracker were along channel
edges in the main lake and were occasionally hitting small jigs, Nikko
nymphs on drop shot rigs, small swimbaits, 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 entering spawning mode and were
in many creeks on shorelines or around wood cover, especially up the lake.
When active, bass and pickerel were hitting live minnows, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, stick worms, crankbaits, jerkbaits, and jigs.

Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers: Contributed by Riverkeeper Jeff Turner.   Contact the Blackwater-Nottoway Riverkeeper’s website for more information:  www.blackwaternottoway.com. Nothing this time.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life’s Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518, www.lifesrevengefishing.com.  Captain Mike has no report this edition.

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 . No report this time.

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 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 will be closed until mid February. To leave a message call (434) 636-3455.

Smith Mountain Lake: Contributed by Captain Travis Patsell of Cats N ‘ Stripers Fishing Charters (540) 580-3487. www.CatsNstripers.com. Nothing this time.

Region 3: Southwest

Claytor Lake:  Rock House Marina . For more info call at (540) 980-1488, or go to www.rockhousemarina.com. No report this edition.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415   tangentoutfitters@gmail.com.  Shawn has nothing to say this time.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274. For information go to www.newrivercharter.com.  No report this time.

Top New River:  Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC., newrivertrips@gmail.com.  The “Top New”, Mouth of Wilson to Fries, is running about 25% below average. Water clarity is good. No ice in the river or local trout creeks, so trout fishing is a good option for this area. Late February through March is a good time for a walleye/muskie/smallmouth trip so let me know if you would like a multispecies adventure. Be extra careful when out on the water this time of year.   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!  No report this time.

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.

Region 4: Northern Piedmont

 Tidal Potomac: Contributed by local guide Captain Steve Chaconas Another great week for winter fishing

Winter is not getting a foothold. Water is staying above freezing, opening up the tackle box for more aggressive presentations. Expect water in the mid 40s and warmer in the discharge areas.

With 45 degree water, toss a 3/8-ounce Mann’s Classic spinnerbait. The round head deflects off bottom cover and acts like ballast to keep the bait upright. Gold willow/Colorado blades with white skirted spinnerbaits can be slowly dragged along shallow areas and down drops. Casting parallel to drops works too. Use the rod to slowly drag the bait with frequent pauses. GAMMA Edge fluorocarbon line, 12 pound test, helps keep lures down, making strike detection and hook sets easier.

Crankbaits like Lucky Craft Slim Shad D-9 are working. This bait has a lot of action, tight wiggle at a slow speed. Even lighter line, down to 8-pound test GAMMA Copoly or Edge, helps with long casts and allows the bait to dive and stay deeper. It also enables fish to take baits deeper. Make sure hooks are sharp. Also give suspending Lucky Craft Bevy Shad crankbaits a try. Cast them and crank down slowly. Lift up to impart action and let baits pause. In all cases, I prefer spinning gear for long casts and for thinner lines.

Mann’s 3 inch avocado Stingray Grubs on 6 pound Edge rigged on a 1/4 ounce ball head jig can be worked slowly down drops. Slowly, slightly lift and glide for bites. Adding garlic Jack’s Juice Bait Spray will get fish to hold on longer. Keep hooks sharp! Using 15 pound test GAMMA Torque braid with a 6 pound Edge leader will help with strike detection and hook sets.

Find shallow fish first! Then work deeper. Capt. Steve Chaconas is a guide on the Potomac River. info@nationalbass.com. For more info call: (703) 360-347 or (703) 380-7119.