Shad are making their move into Virginia freshwater. The herring, hickory shad, white perch and striped bass are now in the waters above Key Bridge in DC. Shad and herring have also arrived on the Rappahannock River at the U.S. Route 1 Bridge in Fredericksburg, with good concentrations of shad under the bridge and upstream in the rapids. Herring are also present in force. The Mattapponi and Pamunkey are also reporting shad and herring with stripers nipping at their heels. It won’t be long till shad make it up the James River to Richmond.
Spring is right around the corner.
Capt. Chaconas notes that fish are shallow, but triggering bites is tricky. Some react to moving presentations. Others need to be hit on the head. Cold water has slowed them down.
For reaction lures, try lipless cranks, 1/4 ounce in water less than 4 feet. Spool 10-pound Edge fluorocarbon to feel cover better and snap out of grass. Square bill cranks like Mann’s Baby X on the same line can bring strikes with repeated casts to the same cover. In grass, an upward snap will free baits from grass and allow the bait to suspend.
Water temperatures are rising and smallmouth are starting to hit small, smoke colored grubs fished in the deeper holes. Catfish are taking nightcrawlers and cut bait. Sunfish are taking small minnows, spinners and tiny grubs.
Bass fishing is great, with big fish goimg for crankbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic worms in the shallows. Lots of spawning fish are being found in the coves and creek arms throughout the lake. Stripers are hitting Sassy Shads in the Dyke Three area and in the “S” turns in the Pamunkey. Crappie are moving in on boat docks and beaver lodges.
Still a little cold for smallmouth in the Upper James, but big blue catfish don’t mind chilly water and are taking cut shad in the lower river. White perch fishing is good around the I-95 Bridge. Above Richmond, smallmouth are being caught on jig ‘n pig baits and live minnows in the deeper holes.
The river is clear and crappie fishing is excellent. Live minnows fished at high tide on the cypress knees are bringing in the larger fish. Topwater baits fished in the lily pads are taking good numbers of bass. Catfishermen are doing well on cut eel.
Crappie, bass and pickerel are biting, with live minnows being the preferred bait. Some big bass are taking rattling crankbaits, spinnerbaits and live minnows, while yellow perch are going for live minnows.
The water level is slowly rising. Currently, it stands at 303 feet. Stripers are biting on live shad from Buoy 10 to Bluestone Creek. Fishing is good in the upper end of the lake, as the stripers continue their spawning run. Red Fins and small Shad Raps are the best lures, while three inch Sassy Shads are taking white bass from Bluestone Creek upriver. Largemouth bass are very active, in a pre-spawn pattern. Speed Shads and plastic grubs adjacent to the willow bushes on main lake points are productive.
Largemouth bass fishing continues to be excellent. Small jigs and pumpkin, blue-flash or smoke colored, four-inch plastic worms are working. Stripers to 20 pounds are being caught between the islands at the lower end of the lake in shallow water. Stripers are also active on the points in Craddock and Witcher Creeks. Crappie fishing is excellent, with lots of big fish in the mix.
Brown trout to five pounds are being caught at Moomaw. Smallmouth bass action is also picking up. Some citation yellow perch are being weighed as well.