Tommy Lawhorne at South River Fly Shop in Waynesboro reports that fishing on the South River has been steady for the past week. Water temps are low due to higher levels and the fish are hugging the bottom. Girdle bugs in darker colors, Caddis larvae, Zebra midges, pink or orange Egg patterns, and Worm patterns are all catching fish.
However, Reed Cranford, a Guide at South River Fly Shop, caught a 25.5-inch Brown on Saturday with a Caddis Jig nymph in olive.
The upper Jackson has been fishing well on the warmer days and Buffalo Creek has been producing good numbers and a few larger holdovers.
Alleghany Co.: Pounding Mill Creek (1/13); Smith Creek (1/13)
Augusta Co.: South River (Ridgeview Park) (1/13); North River (Upper) (1/14)
Chesapeake (City of): Northwest River Park (1/14)
Fauquier Co.: Thompson WMA Pond (1/12)
Fluvanna Co.: Hardware River (1/13)
Franklin Co.: Runnett Bag Creek (1/13); Pigg River (1/13)
Hampton (City of): Armistead Pointe Park Pond (1/14)
Highland Co.: South Branch Potomac River (1/12)
Madison Co.: Hughes River (1/12); Rose River (1/12)
Norton (City of): Upper Norton Reservoir (1/12)
Roanoke Co.: Roanoke River (City) (1/14)
Rockingham Co.: South River (Grottoes) (1/13)
Fish during the warmest part of the day, 10am to 4pm. Slow down, downsize line and be patient.
Water temperatures are dropping into the upper 30s! With temperatures only in the teens and daytime highs in the low 30s, this will be the coldest week of the winter. Later in the week highs will be in the low 40s.
Find fish on drops in out of the current areas. Look for warmed water and baitfish on depth finders. Line is crucial. Use quality spinning reels like the Quantum EXO and Real Magic line conditioner. Spool 6-pound test Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line. Or 10 pound test Gamma Torque braid with the Edge leader.
Bait choice is simple. Mann’s 3-inch avocado Stingray grubs on 1/4-ounce ball head jigs, 5 inch Mizmo Doodle worms on BarbWire shaky heads, and Mizmo tubes with 1/4 ounce insert heads. But don’t overlook Punisher hair jigs. For drop shot, use 1/0 Mustad Mega Bite hooks with Doodle worms and a 3/16-ounce Water Gremlin Bullshot weight. Use 6 inch and keep the rod lower to present the rig horizontally. Shake and leave in one spot. Soak baits in garlic Jack’s Juice Bait Spray. Let baits sit a while. Shake gently and let them sit again. Be patient! If you think you are fishing slowly, slow down some more.
The bait to always have tied on is the Silver Buddy. Use 8-10 pound test Edge. Cast to shallows and burp and allow to drop on semi slack line. Slow down and don’t overwork.
In warmer discharge areas, try Lucky Craft Pointer 78 suspending jerkbaits and Bevy Shad cranks. Pause and make slight movements.
Capt. Steve Chaconas is a guide on the Potomac River. firstname.lastname@example.org
Upper Potomac River
Some smallmouth are active, but cold temperatures have slowed the action.
The catfish don’t seem to mind the cold water and some husky fish are coming to nets. Not much action for bass but a few crappie are being caught in the feeder creeks.
Winter patterns are in full effect for largemouth bass. Fish are glued to main lake points and steep banks in 14 feet or more. Stripers have been active near the mouth of Sturgeon Creek. Live bait is attracting more bites.
The Dutch Gap area of the James is giving up some nice flathead and blue catfish on cut bait. Stripers are also in the same area.
JAMES RIVER – The only news from the James this week is the continued catches of big blue and flathead catfish. These fish are being taken on strips of cut shad and cut eel, around the outflow from the Dutch Gap Power Plant and at the Comstock area of Swift Creek. Some crappie are being taken by anglers fishing the barge pits and around the islands at Dutch Gap. Stripers are also in the area.
Reports note that a few crappie and yellow perch are hitting near Walker’s Dam. Catfish action is steady for those dunking cut bait.
Gaston and Buggs
Cold weather has kept most fishermen off these larger lakes but crappie are being caught at both Gaston and Buggs. Striper action has been good at Buggs Island near Rudds Creek Bridge
Smith Mountain Lake
Striper anglers are having success with larger fish – some up to 30 pounds. Jigs and bucktails dropped down to 20-25 feet are the best choices for lures.