Much needed rain this week has brought the mountain streams back to great fishing levels. Many flies are hatching including March Browns, Cahills and numerous caddis.
Angler’s Lane in Lynchburg reports that the rainbows and browns in the lower Jackson are feasting on a good caddis hatch, which makes for more strikes. Try a Purple Haze, Green Monster or a Rubber Leg Stonefly for best results. The water is in the low 50s, clear and low. Mountain trout are taking Little Yellow Stoneflies.
Murray’s Fly Shop notes that the stocked and delayed harvest streams in the Valley are in really good shape. The water is 62 degrees, clear and at a normal level. Good flies are: Casual Dress, size 12; Murray’s Dark Stonefly Nymph, size 14; and Murray’s Pearl Marauder, size 14.
With lots of fresh water, this weekend should offer ideal conditions. Below are the recent trout stockings.
Albemarle Co.: Moormans River (N. Fork) (4/26); Moormans River (S. Fork) (4/26); Sugar Hollow Reservoir (4/26)
Alleghany Co.: Clifton Forge Reservoir (4/26)
Augusta Co.: Back Creek (4/25); Lower Sherando Lake (4/25)
Bath Co.: Douthat Lake and Wilson Creek (Fee Area) (4/26); Bullpasture River
Bland Co.: Wolf Creek (4/23)
Buchanan Co.: Dismal River (4/26)
Carroll Co.: Crooked Creek (4/27); Little Reed Island Creek (4/27)
Floyd Co.: Burkes Fork (4/26); Little River (4/26)
Highland Co.: Bullpasture River (4/27)
Lee Co.: Martins Creek (4/27); North Fork Powell River (4/27)
Montgomery Co.: Toms Creek (4/25)
Nelson Co.: South Rockfish River (4/25)
Patrick Co.: Dan River (below Powerhouse) (4/25)
Roanoke Co.: Glade Creek (4/26); Tinker Creek (4/26)
Rockingham Co.: Briery Branch Lake (4/26); Hone Quarry Lake (4/26)
Washington Co.: Big Brumley Creek (4/25); Big Tumbling Creek (4/25)
Wise Co.: Middle Fork Powell River (Appalachia) (4/27)
Wythe Co.: Cripple Creek (Rt. 94) (4/27)
Another awesome week of fishing on the way. A variety of lures will work, as fish are shallow and starting to spawn.
Water temperature is in the mid to upper 60s.
To sense the mood of the fish, start with moving lures. Lucky Craft LVR D-7 lipless crankbaits will come through grass better and 14 pound test GAMMA Edge fluorocarbon line allows snapping free. Pop and pause for bites. Consider changing hooks to Mustad short shank triple grips as they hold better. Double willow, white skirt, 3/8-ounce spinnerbaits allow slow retrieves through the grass. Try 30-pound test Torque braid to rip spinnerbaits out of grass. At lower tides, Mann’s Baby 1-Minus crankbaits, also on Edge, will work over grass or wood cover.
The key to staying on bigger fish is to be patient and fish slower. Texas rig Mizmo tubes with 3/16-ounce weights on 16-pound Edge. Make short pitches to milfoil clumps and drag into the bottom of the clumps and shake. Look for openings in grass clumps, likely a bass bed.
Drop shots are very effective. Use 20-pound Torque braid with 14-pound Edge leaders, 2/0 Mustad Mega Bite hooks, and 3/16 or 1/8-ounce weights. Shake and let baits sit. Centipedes are good baits, soaked in garlic Jack’s Juice. Spinning gear is best.
It’s a good idea to release fish as soon as possible to allow them to get back to their nests.
Capt. Steve Chaconas is a guide on the Potomac River. Go to email@example.com
Darrell Kennedy of Angler’s Landing (540.672.3997) says that the water is clear with the temperature in in the mid 60’s. Largemouth bass and crappie are in all phases of the spawn with plenty of fish shallow and ready to be caught. Bass are hitting on soft plastics, with top water action during low light periods. Crappie are taking small minnows from the bank out to about 10 feet of water. Some nice walleye have been caught this week with night crawlers and live minnows. Catfish are picking up with the warmer weather biting night crawlers and chicken liver.
Ed T of Front Royal Canoe files this report on a 4-20 float from State Park to Karo Landing.
The water level is still reasonable through this stretch of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. I was able to get through without dragging the canoe over shallow spots, but it was a close call in a few places. The water is still clear of floating debris. Throw in some nice sunny weather and it all adds up to real nice conditions. The water had warmed somewhat, so I was expecting to see improved fishing. Instead, it was somewhat slow. In fact, the fishing was very similar to my trip last week. I used mostly a #3 Mepps spinner and small crankbaits, mixed with a couple caught on Zoom Super Flukes (green pumpkin magic). The smallmouth were in a roaming mood. I saw them swimming around, dashing here and there, sometimes in schools. I saw some fairly large bass in the mix. I caught most of my fish in the edges of fast water below rock ledges, so there was some pattern working. Not much luck around the banks or the deeper pools. So many times I saw smallmouth following my lure, only to turn away. Even more irritating were the fish that would swim up, tap the lure, and then swim off. Lots of that junk going on yesterday. Caught four smallmouth before noon, three on the spinner and one on a bottom-fished Fluke. One was a little eight-inch smallmouth; the others ran twelve to fourteen. I was hoping the bite would pick up after noon, but it remained about the same. A fish every once in a while, but not very hot fishing by my standards. Caught a couple in the afternoon on a Rebel Wee-Craw. I landed a fifteen-inch smallmouth on a Fluke that I let drift for lord knows how long. Turned out to be the biggest fish I caught. The rest of the afternoon catch was on the spinner. I hooked up with one truly large smallmouth. I know it was a big bass because it nearly cleared the water when it burst out and shook the spinner loose. Oh yeah, I got a good look at it, but only from a distance and only for a second. Just like last week, another one that got away story.. Size was decent yesterday. Like I said, a fifteen was the biggest, but the eight inch in the morning was the only bass under twelve inches. I caught one nice size bluegill on the spinner. End of trip count was twelve smallmouth, one bluegill. A so-so day of fishing.
Capt. Art Conway out of Ed Allen’s Boats and Bait reported that most blue cats and bullheads were on flats and channel edges in the main lake and scattered in creeks, and were hitting live minnows and cut bait. Crappie action was fluctuating, with scattered fish and loose aggregates in creek channels and in main lake feeding areas. 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. Small to medium bluegill and shellcracker were in loose clusters on some shorelines in major creeks and in the main lake and were hitting live worms and small swim baits, jigs, and flies. Some bass, pickerel, and bowfin were along shorelines, on lily pad flats, and along drop-offs in the main lake and major creeks. When active, bass and pickerel were hitting live minnows, spinnerbaits, swim baits, stick worms, crank baits, jerk baits, and jigs.
Fishing with Capt. Conway, Jack and David Pong had 130 bluegill, 7 shellcracker, 1 crappie, 1 yellow perch, 1 white perch, and 2 bass. Capt. Bill Buck and Malcolm Turnbull had 32 bluegill, 1 shellcracker, 1 roach minnow, 2 fliers, 10 crappie, 2 yellow perch, and 2 bass.
Little Creek Reservoir
Park Ranger Bill Kurak says that lots of crappie are falling to minnows and jigs. The bass bite isn’t quite as hot as the crappie, but plenty of anglers are having good days with minnows and special homemade lures. Pickerel are going for the same things. There has been next to nothing about cats and nothing at all about bream. The water is very clear, in the low 60s and at a normal level.
Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers
Jeff Turner spent the 10th through the 11th, then the 14th through the 16th on the Nottoway in the Courtland area. Water temps ranged between 54 and 57 degrees. Air temps from 36 to 70. The USGS gauge in Sebrell was averaging 7.26.
“First leg I got skunked with the fishing. Second leg I caught a lot of largemouth from 4 inches long to 2 pounds. All caught on a Mepps spinner or AC Shiner. Downriver from Courtland was better than upriver.
Then we spent the 20th to the 21st on the Blackwater near Joyners Bridge. Water was 64 degrees. I caught several largemouth and two citation chain pickerel, one weighed 4.10. All were caught on either a Mepps Minnow or A.C. Shiner.”
Upper James River
Rusty Stiltner says that with nearly perfect water levels on the Upper James, bass have enjoyed ideal spawning conditions and will continue to move on and off their beds for the next month. He had the opportunity to fish in the islands up from Watkins Landing this past weekend and caught two trophy citation fish, both over 20 inches. One of the big females was bleeding from her tail and lower/upper fins, an obvious sign she had been fanning the bottom of the river’s rocky bottom, this fish was over 21 inches and at 10 to 13 years old she knows what she is doing. Water levels at this time (week ending 4/22) are just under 3 ft. at Cartersville, 3.6 ft. at Bent Creek and 4 ft. at Scottsville. The year 2016 looks like it’s going to be a quality spawn on the Upper to Middle James.
James at Lynchburg
Reports Tom Reisdorf at Angler’s Lane, (434) 385-0200, www.anglerslane.com. The smallies in the James are “aggressive”, which is making for some fun fishing. Crayfish Imitators and Senkos work well. The water is clear, low and warming.
Holly Grove Marina says the largemouth bite at Gaston is very good. Bass are mostly still on their beds and will go for spinners, cranks and jigs. Crappie can be found around structures. Minnows and jigs should work for you. Cats can be found in the river channels. Fish them deep during the day and shallow at night. Traditional baits like chicken livers and clam snouts are producing well. No real word on bream. The water is clearing, at a normal level and in the upper 60s.
Tangent Outfitters says that the smallies are “on fire” and are taking everything from soft plastics to jerks to spinners. The muskie bite is improving and will only get better. They are still slow to attack, but may go for a bulldog, glidebaits and big inline spinners. The water is clear, around 60 degrees and at a good level.
Upper New River
Captain Forest Pressnell notes that the Upper New River is still crystal clear after moderate rains, and the flow is still below normal pool levels. Smallmouth, walleye and muskie fishing has been outstanding on most days. Our best smallmouth this week was an impressive 23-inch lunker caught by Bill Sturgeon from Charlotte, NC with a fly rod.
The fishing on the Occoquan River has really been heating up. The shad bite has been outstanding but should be coming to a close any time now. Bass fishermen are reporting very good catches on Senkos and those looking for snakeheads are beginning to report these fish in the shallows taking Senkos, chatterbaits, and spinnerbaits. Anglers are taking some number of nice yellow perch. Shore anglers are having success with the catfish on an assortment of bait. Chicken livers are working well.