Here they come!
We had just dropped one goose in a pond and Greg was in the boat making the retrieve when the honking of 125 birds got our attention.
Greg hunkered down in the boat while I knelt by the cattails at the edge of the pond. The geese set their wings and we let ‘em have it. Two more geese were down, and then another flock approached.
But Greg and I had enough geese to pick for one evening, so we let them fly.
Goose hunting, like any hunting, can be extremely exciting or dull as a cheap pocket knife. One minute you’re sitting down, shooting the breeze and the next minute the birds are all over you.
I am still amazed at how difficult geese can be to hit with a shotgun. They look like bombers overhead, so big you wonder how you could possibly miss. But you do. They fly much faster than you think, and you have to lead them a good bit. My best luck comes when they are coming straight in and I can swing the gun up on and under them and squeeze the trigger.
Greg Leffler and I were hunting in Alleghany County over New Year’s and figured there were over 200 birds that passed by. There is very little waterfowl hunting pressure in that part of the woods so the great majority of those geese will make it to spring, pair up and have a half-dozen goslings per family.
Goose season in Virginia is really just getting underway. It’s a long season, too, extending until February 24. The limit is 5 birds daily with a possession limit of 15. The Game Department and the federal waterfowl officials really encourage goose hunting, especially for the resident birds that are in and remain throughout central and western Virginia. These are the geese that do the most damage to farmers’ crops, golf courses and parks and local lakes and ponds.
Geese will respond to decoys and calls, but the best way to get some late season action is to find out where they settle in at night and set up there. Our birds came in at about 5 PM, so we are able to squeeze in a lot of gunning in a very short period of time. There is still over 6 weeks remaining in the 2016 season. If you get a chance, get out and shoot a few.
South River Fly Shop reports: Higher water over the past week has made fishing on the South River Delayed Harvest and Special Regulations areas more difficult. Larger streamers in olive and rust colors produced some nice fish. Nymphing with Rubber leg stonefly patterns, Caddis Larvae, BWO nymphs, egg patterns, and Squirmy Worms also netted some large rainbows. Water levels are coming back down and looking great for the this coming week. Water levels are great in the Shenandoah National Park and lots of brookies are being caught on Stimulators, Wulff patterns and Little Black Stone Fly dries and nymphs.
We have confirmed Pat Dorsey, Greg Senyo, and Will Turek as presenters for the South River Fly Fishing Expo. The SRFFE website is being completed and will by live by January 15th.
Capt. Art Conway of Conway’s River Rat Guide Service (804-746-2475) out of Ed Allen’s Boats and Bait reported that Chickahominy Lake mid-day water temperatures were in the mid 40’s in the main lake on Wednesday (1/6/2016), a drop of 10 degrees since Saturday. Most of the creeks and swamps were iced over, so the water temperature in the main lake will probably drop further over the next few days. The lake level was about 6 inches above top of the dam and dropping.
Fishing had slowed due to the rapid temperature drop, but the following patterns will probably resume as soon as conditions stabilize. Blue cats and a few bullheads were in channels and winter holes and were hitting live minnows and cut bait. Moderate numbers of crappie were in loose schools in the main lake on deeper flats, along channel edges, and in channels, usually at depths of 7 to 15 feet, sometimes suspended, and frequently in the neighborhood of wood cover. In areas of stronger current, most crappies were in eddies and other protected spots out of the main current. Active crappie were hitting live minnows, Wright Bait Co. curlytail jigs, small tubes, Kalin crappie scrubs, small swim baits, jigging spoons, and blade baits. Some small to medium yellow perch were scattered on deeper main lake flats and were hitting live minnows, small jerk baits, spoons, and small jigs. Most bluegill and shellcracker had moved to the deep edges of hydrilla flats, to mid-depth wood cover, or into channels and when active were hitting live crickets and worms, small blade baits, tubes, and jigs. Most bass and pickerel were on deeper flats and in channels in the main lake and were hitting live minnows, spinnerbaits, swim baits, stick worms, crank baits, jerk baits, and jigs. In areas of stronger current, many bass were in eddies, frequently in deeper water next to shoreline structures.
Fishing with Capt. Conway, Tom Porter had 20 crappie and 1 bass.
Cold Start to the Year
For the first time this season, ice could be an issue on boat ramps. Water is clearing after last week’s rain. Slow down with all presentations.
Water temperature is still in the upper 40s, but falling to lower 40s by the weekend. Mid 30s on Monday with overnight lows in the upper teens! A slight warm-up to around 50 by the weekend, but close to freezing in the morning. Should be dry all week.
Fish will be on drops and even down drops. Silver Buddy lures can probe all depths. Gold works best in stained water. Tie to 10-pound test and burp and stop on flats and down drops. Watch for bites on the controlled fall.
In clear water, try Lucky Craft Pointer 78 suspending jerkbaits on 10-pound test GAMMA Edge fluorocarbon line. Jerk and pause. Bevy Shads will go deeper. Baby bass in clear water, aurora gold in slightly stained.
Slow roll spinnerbaits on 12-pound test Edge line. Make long casts and keep in contact with the bottom, slowly dragging and stopping. Gold blades and white skirts work best. Mann’s Classic spinnerbait heads come over cover easier.
Shaky head black and blue worms on 1/4 ounce Mizmo Barbwire heads. Shake and let sit. Move baits horizontally on 6-pound test Edge on spinning gear. Soak baits in garlic Jack’s Juice Bait Spray. Grubs on 1/4-ounce heads in green pumpkin unless the water is stained, then use junebug. Mann’s avocado 3-inch Stingray grubs on the 1/4-ounce ball head jig can also be moved along the bottom. Watch line for all of these to see bites as the bite has been light.
Capt. Steve Chaconas is a guide on the Potomac River. email@example.com
Charlie Taylor reports that most of the action on Anna is below the 208 bridge. Water temps around Dike #3 are in the low 50s. Walleye action is good around the rocky points at Dike #3. Live herring is the better bait for walleye weighing four pounds or more. Stripers are also active around this dike, where the water temperature is a couple of degrees warmer than the balance of the lake. Surface activity is limited on the main lake, but the stripers do surface. When they do, Cordell Redfins are taking the big fish. Bass are located on the main lake points. Fishing Hopkins spoons, Silver Buddies and live jumbo minnows off the points, into the deeper water, is accounting for some good-sized largemouth bass. Large jerkbaits are also taking good fish, with the bass running to six pounds. Crappie are holding around submerged brush, bridge pilings and suspended over creek channels.
The hot action for Blue catfish action has not stopped, but definitely slowed a bit. A good number of citation cats were weighed in this past week. Most were caught on cut gizzard shad baits from the Dutch Gap Power Plant downstream.