Freshwater fishing is up and down throughout Virginia with one exception – catfish. The whiskered bottom feeders are hitting cut bait, chicken livers and home concoctions across the sate. One hotspot has been, and continues to be, Lake Orange,
Darryl Kennedy at Angler’s Landing Marina at Lake Orange reports that the catfish action has been excellent all week following the Fourth of July. Fishing is good throughout the lake for anglers using chicken livers and live bait.
Lake Orange is a 124-acre lake owned and operated by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. As such, it is stocked annually with catchable size catfish, averaging 12-inches. But with a good forage base of shad, perch, minnows and other baitfish, the catfish grow quickly. There are some real bruisers in the lake. Lake Orange is also open 24-7, so a catfish angler can fish all night. Yet, the daylight hours also produce good catches, especially early morning.
Kennedy reports that walleye have really turned on in recent weeks with some good size fish coming to the scales. Bass are in a summer pattern, but are taking topwater lures early and again later in the day. Crappie have gone deep for the summer. Bluegills and redear sunfish have finished the spawn and have also moved to deeper water.
Currently, the water at Lake Orange is slightly stained with temperatures in the mid 80’s. Angler’s Landing rents boats and sells bait and snacks. To reserve a boat, or for more information, Call Darryl Kennedy at (540-672-3997),
The Potomac is clearing up nicely, but water levels remain higher. A good time to go full contact!
Early morning low tides are perfect for topwaters. Water is around 75 degrees. Cool and stormy on Monday, with overnight lows in the low 70s and highs in the mid to upper 80s the rest of the week. Chance of storms in the afternoon on Wednesday and Friday.
Hollow frogs, buzzbaits and Lucky Craft G-Splash poppers worked over grass, wood and docks should produce in low light. Under cloudy skies, also use 1/4-ounce Mann’s Classic Spinnerbaits around shallow cover. As the tides rise, use the spinnerbaits when there is chop or cloud cover. Try the larger, 3/8-ounce size to reach grass. Gold blades with white skirts are best. For frogs and buzzbaits, use 60 pound test GAMMA Torque braid. Use 12-pound Copoly for the popper.
After tides rise and sun is up, go to a chattering jig or a swim jig. Craw skirts on both. For bladed jigs, use a Sharpie to paint the blades black. Lift and drop or slowly swim to get the mood of the fish. With high sun, go to the bottom with stickworms on 3/0 Mustad Ultra Point Mega Bite hooks, weightless. Mizmo tubes on the same hook with a 3/16-ounce weight. Pitch to grass edges or clumps and target docks. GAMMA 14-pound test Edge fluorocarbon line allows baits to sink faster and can horse fish out of grass. Shaky head green pumpkin worms on 1/8 ounce Mizmo BarbWire heads with 8-10 pound Edge or Edge with 15-pound test GAMMA Torque Braid.
Capt. Steve Chaconas is a guide on the Potomac River. firstname.lastname@example.org
Larry Wollersheim and Preston Cox had an impressive catch for the recent Tuesday Night Tournament out of Anna Point, weighing a 5-fish limit at 17.38 pounds. Their big bass weighed 4.73. Guide Shawn Blankenship has been putting clients on lots of stripers including a limit catch of 12 for a party of three. P.J. Cox weighed a handsome 6.3 bass at Anna Point. Catfishing is very good and if you want to catch a big carp, now is the time, Some anglers are using fly rods to battle big carp up to 20 pounds.
Ed T out of Front Royal Canoe had this report for a July 7 float from State Park to Karo Landing. “I found nice conditions when I hit the water yesterday. The river was a little below the two foot level, with a fair amount of rocks showing, but it was still easy to float through this section of the South Fork. The water was lightly stained with very little algae or debris. You won’t find river conditions much better than this for summer fishing. I got a nice ten-inch smallmouth on my very first cast with a #3 Mepps spinnerbait. Yes! Let’s get this party started. I fished the rest of the State Park with the spinner, mostly running it at a 45-degree angle or near parallel to the rock ledges. I had little luck near the banks, but I did get a couple in areas of flat water. By the time I floated out of the park I had caught nine smallmouth and a few nice bluegill. Pretty good, right? Well, here’s the qualifier. Six of those nine bass were less than eight inches long. Some of them were absolute dinks, about six inches long. If I had been fishing for dinner I would have been in bad shape. It was a good thing I only do catch and release. I figured part of the problem might be the spinner, since sometimes it seems to get only smaller bass. I had already tried soft plastics, with no luck, so I tied on a Bomber Square Bill crankbait, a silver color called Foxy Momma. Where do they get these names? I was catching smallmouth with both the spinner and the crankbait. The crankbait was getting slightly larger fish but not much. It was a little weird to catch a six-inch smallmouth on a fairly large crankbait. By eleven o’clock, I had caught thirteen smallmouth, the majority eight inches or smaller. I call that a dink swarm. Sometimes while watching the lure coming up to the canoe, I could see four or five other little dinks chasing the one that was on the hook. Not too long after I started using the Bomber, I snagged it and had to dive down under water to get it out of the rocks. Shortly thereafter I snagged it again and lost it. I had just bought it at Bass Pro two days earlier. So I tied on a Bandit 200 (silver shad) and lost that after about ten casts. I bought the Bandit the same time as the Bomber. After losing those two, I tied on a Bomber Shallow A in a citrus color I think they call Oxbow. Shortly after eleven, the Shallow A hooked a sixteen-inch smallmouth. After so many small bass, it looked like Godzilla. Was it time for some good size bass? Well, no. After noon I started getting a few more in the ten- to twelve-inch size, but the operative word here is few. I continued fishing the same pattern, catching most of my fish in the slack water around the rock ledges, a few on the flats. I had very little luck in the deeper pools and no luck with soft plastics. I did get a nice big smallmouth in one deep pool on the spinner. I played it a long time with the drag loosened. Tightened the drag up and got it about six feet from the canoe, where it tugged real hard and snapped the line. Bye-bye (followed with a short burst of cursing). I was catching LOTS of smallmouth during the afternoon hours, but the majority were less than eight inches. I was switching back and forth between the Shallow A crankbait and a Rebel Wee-Craw crankbait. When the smallmouth seemed to slow up a little on one crankbait, I would switch off to the other. I kept using the spinner as well. At one point, around three o’clock, I caught a few on 7″ Berkley Power Worms (green pumpkin) on 1/8 oz. split shot rig. Seemed to get some better size, including one fifteen-inch smallmouth. But after a few bass in that one medium deep flat area, there were no more bites on the worm. I went back to throwing crankbaits and spinners for the remainder of the trip. I caught over fifty smallmouth and a handful of bluegill, but the majority of the bass were eight inches or less. I could have filled a few sardine cans with some of the really little guys. It’s been awhile since I caught so many dinks on one trip. Back in the 90’s, that was a pretty standard affair. Most of the time back then I would catch tons of fish every trip, but most of the bass were small. It was rare to catch larger bass. Gradually the bass population changed in the South Fork to less fish, but better size. So it was kinda’ odd to catch a bazillion small fish yesterday and it brought back memories of when I first fished this river. But have no fear; there are way too many large smallmouth in the Shenandoah at this point for that to become the norm. It was just a freak day. It was fun, too, in its own way. It was the most smallmouth I have caught in a single day in a really long time. I caught a couple of nice size fish as well. Nice hot sunny day. How many of those have we seen lately? In closing, may I remind you of a couple of things dear to my heart? Number one, most importantly, don’t litter the South Fork. It’s a beautiful place, a gift. But every year the trash gets a little worse. Take your trash home with you, including your castoff fishing line and cigarette filters. Number two, catch and release, especially the big ones. When you catch a big one, throw it back in and give someone else a chance to enjoy the same pleasure. My advice is make some time to get out on the South Fork for some good fishing and a peaceful time on a beautiful river. Good luck with your fishing.”
The James has been up and down throughout the spring and early summer. Just as the water clears and fishing picks up, a gulley washer muddies the water, raises levels and disrupts fishing plans. When the water is clear, smallmouth are coming to the top, looking for damselflies. Muskie action has been good, but warming temperatures will likely slow that bite.