The dogwoods are getting ready to bloom, and to a fisherman that means one thing. The shad are on the way.
Shad are an anadromous fish that spend most of their lives in saltwater, but make a springtime run up freshwater rivers like the Appomattox, Rappahannock, James and others. This is when anglers pack their gear and head out for a little shad fishing, often wading side by side with a bevy of other anglers. But it’s worth the crowds and the trouble when a shad latches on to the end of your line. Often called a poor man’s marlin, shad are – pound for pound – one of the fiercest fighters of all. And their roe makes a mighty fine breakfast alongsides a mess of scrambled eggs and some hash browns.
We have two types of shad in our rivers – American and Hickory. American shad, generally the larger shad, are currently protected and must be released.
The shad are just beginning to now on the James River and the first wave has arrived on the Rappahannock in Fredericksburg. High water encourages upstream movements, so the rain expected this weekend should only improve the outlook. Right behind the shad will be white perch and then stripers.
Bass and crappie fishing is turning on big time throughout Virginia. Crappie are headed for the shallows to spawn and big female bass are doing the same. Lake Anna has been a hotspot for bass, crappie and stripers in recent days. Good reports are coming in from both Buggs Island and Gaston. Smith Mountain is also starting to produce.
With a couple days of warm weather in the forecast, ponds and small lakes should really turn on. It looks like spring is on the way.
Tautog and Tuna
As water temperatures in the bay rise this month, look for the tautog bite to really pick up. Also called tog or blackfish, they are arguably one of the best tasting fish in the bay. Their feeding activity is based on water temperature. When the water is above 44 degrees they should be available. When the bay temperature reaches 50 degrees the rock islands of the CBBT is an ideal location, but they can be found anywhere there’s structure. Popular areas include the CBBT, Back River Reef, the Cell, Tower Reef, the Concrete Ships, Cape Henry Wreck, the Santore, the Winthrop, the Triangle Wrecks, and any other wreck or structure you can find. The best baits are crabs – blue crabs, fiddlers, green and mole crabs. Strips of clam and whelk will also work.
There have been some good speckled trout reports coming from the rivers, but nothing much to speak of in the inlets so far. It should pick up any day.
OBX surf anglers are catching dogfish up and down the beach. At the Point in Buxton they are catching puppy drum, sea mullet, and blow toads. Some big trout showed at the Little bridge to Manteo – a great sign!
Crews fishing offshore from the Outer Banks are catching limits yellowfin, blackfin, school size bluefin tunas and an occasional wahoo! False albacore, yellowfin tuna were caught offshore on Wednesday and there was a blue marlin released.
Sea mullet and puppy drum were reported in the Frisco area.