By Chris Craft
BASS- Start looking for the bass to be shallow and very active. You can catch them in super shallow water on Squarebill crankbaits, Rat L Traps, Dave’s Tournament Tackle Tiger Shad Spinnerbaits, Damiki MTB Noisy Buzzbaits, Damiki D Pop and Don Iovino Splash It Poppers and Damiki Rambler Walking baits and my favorite, Damiki Armor Shad Soft Jerkbaits. As always, Shakey Head Plastics will also catch their share of fish. Start looking in the back third of all major creeks throughout the lake.
The bass will be on laydowns, willow grass, rocks and boat docks. Look for rocky points with deep water nearby – same for boat docks. The deep water will come into play when a cold front comes through. With water temps dropping, they will be feeding heavily in advance of the cold weather to come.
STRIPERS- The line-sides will start to make their move up into the rivers early this month. Look for them to be chasing shad and herring early and late in the day. A 4-inch paddle tail swimbait rigged on a ¼-oz. jig head is my bait of choice. Start looking for birds to give away locations. Be respectful of other anglers already fishing in an area. Do not run all the way into them with the big engine, this will spook the fish and then you will be dealing with an angry angler. Once the heavy feed has ceased, locate them on your electronics and drop a Toothache Spoon to them.
Towards the end of the month, you should be able to find stripers around the bridge in Terry’s Run, the S-Turns to Little Florida in Pamunkey and around the 522 Bridge to the mouth of Goldmine Creek over on the North Anna arm of the lake. They should stay put in these areas all the way through November or until the water cools down to below 40 degrees.
CRAPPIES- The specks will remain on bridge pilings, deep boat docks (12-20 feet) and rock piles early in the month. As the water temps drop into the upper 60’s, look for them to make a move to shallow feeding ( 3-8 feet) areas up lake. Try skipping a 2″ Curly Tail Grub on a 1/16-oz. jig head under boat docks in the upper North Anna arm, same with Pamunkey and Terry’s Run. Small minnows rigged on slip bobbers will also produce some of the best eating fish in the lake.
The rivers now have water, the temperatures are dropping and the smallmouth fishing is excellent on the New, James and Shenandoah rivers. Muskies are stirring on both the New and James. Hurricane Matthew might wash out Saturday’s trips, but the coming week should be excellent.
The brook trout streams on the eastern slope received some welcomed rain and the coming aftermath of the hurricane could add some more, making the small trout streams fishable again.
The South River in Waynesboro, Mossy Creek and the Jackson below Gathright are all fishing well.
Capt. Art Conway reported that Chickahominy Lake mid-day water temperatures were in the low 70’s in the lower main lake on Wednesday.
Most blue cats and bullheads were on flats and channel edges in the main lake and scattered in creeks and hitting live minnows and cut bait. Some crappie were scattered in major creek channels, some were along shorelines in the main lake, and most had accumulated on mid-depth wood cover and along drop-offs in the main lake. 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 were scattered or in loose aggregates on some main lake flats and in channels and on flats in major creeks and were hitting live minnows, small swim baits, and small jigs.
Fishing with Capt. Conway, Jeff and Ford Brooks had 3 crappie, 1 white perch, 1 bullhead, 1 blue cat, and 1 bass. Tom Porter had 23 bluegill, 16 crappie, and 3 white perch.
Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler’s Landing (540-672-3997). The water temperature is in the upper 70’s and cooling with the recent rains. Fish are locked into a fall pattern with bass moving shallow to feed for the winter. Crappie are moving shallow as well, feeding on small bait fish. Catfish are hitting chicken livers.
“We will be closing after this weekend,” Darrell said. “Thank you for all your support. It has been a great season. We’ll be in touch when we open up in mid to late March.”
High muddy water could be an issue this week. Go big, bulky and loud.
With any cloud cover or chop on the water, stained water sets up for spinnerbaits. At higher tides, go with 3/8-ounce baits with white skirts and gold Colorado blades for more vibration. Using 12 pound test GAMMA Edge fluorocarbon line will deliver better hook-sets. Black and blue Chatter jigs with bulky craw trailers also on 12-pound edge will cover water. Slow retrieves if the water is really stained.
Crankbaits also work on the same line. Red Mann’s Baby 1-Minus close to cover and snapped out of grass remnants or bounced off cover will trigger strikes. To go a bit deeper, use Lucky Craft 1.5 crankbaits also in red patterns. Lucky Craft lipless crankbaits like the LVR D-7 can cover a deeper range. Slow retrieves and contacting grass or wood cover works.
There is still scattered grass remaining. Some milfoil and coon-tail might be visible. Pitch black/blue jigs on either 14-pound Edge or 50 pound test GAMMA Torque braid. Look for clumps or shallow wood. Also try Texas rigged black with red flake Mizmo tubes on a 3/0 Mustad Mega Bite hook. Allow baits to sit in the stained water. Keep them in cover a while. A good soaking of all baits in Jack’s Juice garlic bait spray will help.
Capt. Steve Chaconas is a guide on the Potomac River. email@example.com