Stripers – the season is definitely in full swing and they just keep coming, mostly from the Eastern Shore side of the Bay! Most of these giants are averaging around 40 pounds and anglers are having great success with live eels. Aside from that, anglers are hoping for another mild winter like the last which produced great inshore fishing. Also, speckled trout regulations have changed as of December 1. Through the end of March, the bag limit is reduced to 5 per person and only 1 of those fish may be 24 inches or longer.
(Photo: Dedicated Tidal Fish Poster Sportin’ Wood reports “Fished with the flotilla of 200 boats today, pulled a few decent fish with a couple at 44in. Heavy baits worked best. 48 ounce mojo in tandem with a smaller bait, and 16 ounces parachutes in tandem with a small bait hit well. Fish were deep (for us)”).
Tournaments & Events:
The 9th Catchin' for Kids Rockfish Tournament - December 7th – 9th.
It will be held at Vinings Landing Marina, with the Captain's Meeting on Friday evening and two days of tournament fishing for rockfish. There will also be weigh-in at Marina Shores, and night fishing has been reinstated.
Here is a brief overview:
- Captains meeting Friday evening, December 7th, at the tournament HQ.
- Fishing at any and all times you like, from Friday night through Sunday's final weigh-in.
- Oyster Roast after Saturday afternoon weigh-in.
- Barbecue cookout and awards after Sunday afternoon weigh-in.
It's a great event, put on for a truly outstanding charity. The C4K volunteers work their butts off to make this a great event, and their sponsors always come through to support it.
There will be lots of great food, raffle prizes, silent auctions, prize money and trophies, and opportunities for Calcutta entries for those who want to do so.
Ken Neill reports in from tidal Virginia:
Speckled trout regulations changed as of December 1. Through the end of March, the bag limit is reduced to 5 per person and only 1 of those fish may be 24 inches or longer. This is to protect the wintertime Elizabeth River fishery. That fishery is going great right now with anglers catching good numbers of large speckled trout. Puppy drum and small striped bass are also being caught in the Elizabeth. Some speckled trout and puppy drum continue to be caught in Rudee Inlet even though it is December. Our main December fish, the striped bass, is here in force. Jumbo-sized rockfish are mostly being caught along the bayside of the Eastern Shore and at the CBBT. Anglers fishing with live eels are scoring most of the largest fish though anglers trolling artificials in these same locations are coming in with limits of large fish. Large fish can be found along the Baltimore Channel and more are showing along the oceanside beaches. The York River has produced good catches of striped bass in the 36 to 40 inch range. Smaller striped bass can be found at the James River crossings. When you have had enough of rockfish, tautog are waiting on the CBBT and on other structures in the bay and close to the coast. They are on structures further out like the Tower Reef and Triangle wrecks also but those places are so loaded with sea bass (season closed) that catching a tog will be a challenge. The sea bass will move out deeper as the water continues to cool making tautog fishing easier in those locations. Some big bluefish are available out around the Triangle Wrecks. Bluefin tuna should be out there somewhere but I have not heard of any encounters yet. Rumor is that they have been spotted off of Wachapreague. A few boats did run south out of Rudee this past weekend and caught some yellowfin tuna in the Triple 0s area.
The following are some recent individual reports:
Dec. 4, Charles and Hunter Southall drifted eels off of Plantation. They caught 12 large rockfish to 46.5 inches long.
Dec. 4, Brandon Bartlett fished Plantation and caught 3 big rockfish to 45.5 inches.
Dec. 4, Danny Forehand eeled the Plantation area and caught 5 big rock to 46.5 inches long.
Dec. 4, Harry Hindmarsh fished Plantation. They caught about 20 large rockfish to 49 inches long.
Dec. 3, after the great rockfish action the day before, I ran out to give the bluefish another try. There were plenty of sea bass at the Triangle Wrecks (released). I jigged up a few bluefish with other bites that did not stay tight. The one bluefish I kept weighed in a bit over 16 pounds. I got no bites on the troll and there were no signs of bluefin tuna. It was calm, sunny and warm, really nice December day.
Dec. 2, Brandon Bartlett drifted eels along the Eastern Shore bayside. They caught a dozen big rockfish up to 44 pounds.
Dec. 2, David Brabrand trolled near buoy 38. They caught 8 rockfish to 42 inches long.
Dec. 2, Wes Blow drifted eels in the Concrete Ships/Plantation area. They caught a 41-inch rockfish.
Dec. 2, Phillip Neill drifted eels at Plantation. They caught 4 nice rockfish to 43 inches.
Dec. 2, Capt. Rick Wineman fished the high rise area of the CBBT. He only caught one striped bass but it was a 51-inch slob. The fish ate a live eel.
Dec. 2, we drifted eels in the Plantation area. We ended up catching 8 striped bass and missed 8-10 other bites. We kept two of the larger fish and one of the smaller, 42-inch fish. The released fish were up to 49 inches long. The two larger fish we kept weighed in at 42.25 pounds (Charles) and 55 pounds (me). Steve Martin’s largest release was 49 inches. Danny Forehand released fish to 45 inches long. Good day on the water.
Dec. 2, Harry Hindmarsh drifted eels in the Plantation Light area. They caught several big rockfish to 51 inches long.
Dec. 1, Phillip Neill fished Plantation Light. He caught 3 rockfish in the 44 to 45 inch range.
Dec. 1, Wes Blow fished the high rise and Plantation Light. He caught a single 41-inch rockfish and lost a couple of others.
Dec. 1 Harry Hindmarsh drifted eels off of Plantation. They caught 6 rockfish from 42 to 51 inches long.
From IGFA Virginia Beach Representative Julie Ball:
The Bay rockfish season is in full swing. Even more big stripers continue to filter into the lower Bay, with many fish averaging around 40-pounds, with some fish hovering to around 50-pounds in the mix. Most of the larger fish are coming from the Eastern Shore side of the Bay where fishing with live eels is the key. Many of the big fish are coming from presenting live eels along the light lines and pilings at the High Rise section of the Bay Bridge Tunnel at night on a moving tide, although some folks are also finding luck during the day. The biggest fish continue to come from drifting live eels along the channel edges off Plantation Light, Kiptopeke State Park, and Fisherman’s Island. This method has become very productive over the past week, and even with the pressure of 200 to 300 boats each day, anglers are still easily scoring with good limits of fish ranging from 30 to 50-pounds. Boats trolling in these same areas are also finding receptive fish. Although the Bay action is good, nice fish are still on their way from lower Bay rivers and from our North. School sized rockfish are also still available to anglers casting along the pilings and artificial islands of all the lower Bay bridges.
Shallow water anglers continue to experience excellent speckled trout catches of respectable fish ranging to well over 20-inches. All the popular trout holes are producing well lately, but the Elizabeth River continues to hold the most consistent action with larger fish. Plenty of anglers are scoring with specks pushing from 24 to 30-inches this week using both lures and live bait. Remember that the new speckled trout regulations allow a limit of five fish per person with only one measuring 24-inches or longer. A few puppy drum are also still coming from within Rudee Inlet and the Elizabeth River.
Flounder are available on both inshore and offshore wrecks right now, along with nice triggerfish and jumbo seabass, but the seabass are still illegal to keep. Deeper wrecks can also produce some nice tautog if you can get past the seabass. Bay tautog anglers are finding steady action on both crabs and clams lately. Big chopper bluefish are still prowling many of the deeper wrecks, and will gladly take most any fresh bait. You may even see some bluefin tuna rolling in the same areas but be sure to check the bluefin regulations before you target these brutes.
Deep droppers continue to bring in good numbers of decent blueline tilefish and blackbellied rosefish from depths of 300 feet of water or more near the Norfolk Canyon.
Not many boats have ventured offshore, but those who have are reporting little luck off of Virginia, although some yellowfin tuna came from near the triple 0’s recently.
Virginia Freshwater Fishing Reports:
POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - Largemouth bass are being caught by diehard anglers throughout the city. The bass are orienting to steep drop-offs. Fish the shallows early in the morning. As the sun comes up, shift to fishing the base of the drop-off, in 10-15 feet of water. In late afternoons, switch to the sun-warmed shallows, preferably along sand or gravel banks. When fishing the shallows, select small, dark colored plastic grubs or jig 'n pig combinations. The base of the drop-off should be fished with jig 'n pig or Silver Buddy. Better areas include the Spoils, Washington Channel, Washington Sailing Marina, 14th Street Bridge pilings, the mouth of the Anacostia River, Blue Plains, Oxon Cove, Belle Haven Cove and Fox Ferry. Crappie are found around the artificial islands in the Spoils and along the seawall in Washington Channel. Try live minnows or tiny chartreuse power grubs around the floating docks. Adjust the depth to coincide with the bottom of the docks. Crappie appear to hang just under the docks, searching for minnows feeding on algae on the docks. Channel catfish are being caught at the discharge from Blue Plains. Both bass and crappie are being caught in the "Duck Pond" (Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary), with minnows taking the greatest number. The bass are feeding in the trough between the warm water outlet pipes and the viaduct under the G.W. Parkway, while the crappie are suspended along the bank adjacent to the railroad tracks. Check the trough from the viaduct to the main river for walleye.
POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Bass are taking small, slowly fished baits, on the bottom, adjacent to steep drop-offs, from the middle to the back ends of the creeks. Main
river points are also giving up some good largemouth bass, in addition to white perch, crappie, catfish and yellow perch. Fish across the point from uptide to downtide sides, in water from 15 to 25 feet deep. Watch the line carefully as the bait drops off the downtide side of the point. This is where the hit should come. If the line moves at all, set the hook. Some of the better creeks are: Aquia, Mattawoman, Nanjemoy, and the mouths of Little Hunting and Swan Creeks. Crappie are schooled up around submerged brush piles.
OCCOQUAN RIVER - Yellow perch are showing up in the river in force, with only a few large ones at present. More fat females are showing up every day. Bass may be caught on the bottom on small plastic
worms and grubs, fished very slowly along the rock wall and around the wood structure. Flipping boat docks with tiny grubs and live minnows will produce livewells full of a wide variety of fish. Patience is the key, along with very slowly fished, small baits. Bass and yellow perch will be found on the bottom and on humps in the middle of the river, while the crappie will be adjacent to cover or suspended in open water over humps, etc. Check your depthfinder for schools of fish suspending on the lip of the drop-off into the river channel. These fish are suckers for Silver Buddies, Shakey Head lures and Drop Shot rigs.
OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - Largemouth bass have moved into deeper water in this lake. Near the dam, the bass are holding in 15-20 feet of water, off main lake points and secondary points near creek channels. Jig 'n pig, plastic grubs and live bait are the most successful baits. Uplake, the more successful anglers are taking bass from blowdowns in 12-18 feet of water, on plastic grubs, jig 'n pig, slow-rolled spinnerbaits and live bait. Crappie anglers are fishing live minnows and tiny jigs in flooded brush, standing timber and over creek channels. Good numbers of crappie are being caught, but sizes vary widely. Once a school of large crappie is found, stick with it as the school roams around. Most of the fish
in the school will be about the same size.
FARM PONDS AND SMALL LAKES - These small waters, when not iced in, are still giving up bass, crappie and bluegill to the patient angler. Live baits are best, with minnows being the top choice. Small plastic worms, grubs and jig 'n pig will produce well for farm pond bass, while tiny jigs and nightcrawlers will take the crappie and bluegill. Don't neglect the flyrod for presenting small streamers and terrestrials to the middle of a farm pond.
BURKE LAKE - Very little fishing due to the lowered water level. No reports available.
POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER - Some smallmouth bass are being taken by patient anglers, fishing small bottom-bouncing baits and live minnows or crayfish. The smallmouth are being found in the deeper holes and on points throughout the river. For larger fish, try jumbo minnows or small jig 'n pig in the areas around Edwards Ferry or the Seneca Flats. Holes in these two areas have been producing good smallmouth bass, but nothing in the citation class. Largemouth bass are taking small, slowly fished artificial and live baits along the banks and around cover in the creeks off the main river. The mouths of Goose Creek and Broad Run are producing well. Occasional walleye are being taken in the early morning and late evening in the deeper water off the Maryland shore, just below Edwards Ferry. Drift a smallwhite grub just off the bottom, along this drop-off. Allow the grub to drift with the current. Do not add any motion to it. When a definite pull is felt, set the hook lightly and bring the fish in. The mouth of the Dickerson Power Plant warmwater discharge canal is holding good numbers of large channel catfish as well as some smallmouth bass. Nightcrawlers and live minnows will take both species, while plastic grubs bounced along the bottom will also take the smallies.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - Tidal sections of the river are giving up some good catfish on bottom-fished cut bait and nightcrawlers, and bass on bottom-fished minnows, jig 'n pig or plastic grubs. Most of the
bass are concentrated in schools on the outside bend drop-offs, adjacent to blowdowns or other structure, while the catfish are located in the deeper holes of the river. Crappie schools are positioned near submerged brushpiles and will take small minnows or jigs. Yellow perch are beginning to appear in the river in force, but most of the fish are still small. Above the city, smallmouth bass are taking minnows, crayfish and bottom-fished artificials. These baits should be fished in the deeper holes and below current-breaking structure.
SHENANDOAH RIVER - Those few anglers out on the river this past week were reporting some smallmouth bass from the deeper holes below riffles. Most of the anglers were using live minnows, madtoms, crayfish and plastic grubs. Reports of occasional sunfish and catfish taking madtoms and nightcrawlers.
LAKE ANNA - Fishing is excellent at this nearby impoundment. Schools of shad are roaming the lake and all the gamefish are feeding heavily upon them. Finding the shad will almost guarantee fish. Start at the Route 208 bridge and head either way for 100-300 yards. This area should yield at least one large school of shad. Fish under the shad for the gamefish. Medium to jumbo minnows and Swimbaits are working best for stripers and larger bass. Smaller fish are taking smaller minnows, small plastic grubs and small
Hopkins jigging spoons. Lots of jumbo white perch, yellow perch, and crappie are to be had in the creeks on jigging spoons, grubs and minnows. Large catfish are still being taken on nightcrawlers, cut bait, and chicken livers throughout the lake. Trophy bass fishermen should concentrate on main lake points from mid-lake to the dam. These points should be fished with jumbo minnows, large plastic worms or jig 'n pig baits in deeper water.
JAMES RIVER - Smallmouth bass are being caught on live minnows in the city and above. Below the city, the tidal section is producing good numbers of crappie, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. Best
success is on live minnows, drifted along the steep dropping banks. Patience is necessary, but good stringers are common. Blue catfish are THE fish for anglers. The Dutch Gap area is the scene, and cut
shad baits, fished on the bottom of the outside bends of the river channel is the method. Large gar are also being taken.
LAKE CHESDIN - Anglers fishing this lake are reporting few bass, but lots of crappie and a bunch of stripers.
CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - Small bass, catfish, crappie and yellow perch are the fare here. Best action is centered on the upriver creek mouths, with live minnows on a moving tide, being the best method.
Trollers are still catching stripers throughout the river. Crappie anglers around Walkers Dam are filling coolers on live minnows and tiny jigs.
CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Anglers are catching lots of bass, crappie and pickerel around the submerged brushpiles on points. Live minnows are producing well, although crappie jigs are taking numbers of
fish after they are located. Large bass, pickerel and bowfin are being caught deep-jigging.
BACK BAY - Anglers fishing the creeks are catching some bass, stripers and white perch. Crappie anglers are rewarded with large catches of good sized fish. Yellow perch are moving in, but the majority are small.
SUFFOLK LAKES - Stripers to 15 pounds are being taken in Western Branch Reservoir. Largemouth bass to eight pounds are also being caught on jumbo minnows. A couple of large gar were also caught last week. Remainder of the catches included some large yellow perch and a few crappie. Lake Prince reports some large crappie, although numbers are not there. Nice crappie are also reported at Lake Cohoon, along with some pickerel and small bass. Lakes Smith and Whitehurst report small bass, a few crappie and some pickerel.
LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR - Bass anglers are taking lots of bass on jerk baits, crankbaits, slow rolled spinnerbaits and live minnows, fished in seven feet of water on grass edges and points. Crappie and yellow perch are showing well in the catches. Try fishing small minnows in the Beaver huts and other hard cover. Crappie anglers, fishing from the pier, have done well.
LAKE GASTON - Excellent crappie fishing. Most of the catches are being taken from schools suspended over creek channels around mid lake. Small minnows and tiny jigs are the key. Some success by
striper fishermen using live bait and large bucktails in the main river channel and below the dam. Some good white perch are reported from the main lake and from Pea Hill Creek.
BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - Stripers are hitting trolled crankbaits and bucktails in the vicinity of Bluestone Creek and Clarksville, while the mouths of Rudds and Grassy Creeks are producing stripers on
live shad, Storm swim baits and four inch Sassy Shads. Crappie are thick around bridge pilings and brushpiles. No reports of bass catches this week.
BRIERY CREEK AND SANDY RIVER RESERVOIRS - Anglers are catching bass in the 4-6 pound range on jumbo minnows at Briery Creek. In addition, lots of crappie are being caught on small minnows, along
with 3-4 pound bass.
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Striper action is in full swing. Lots of good fish are being caught on topwater baits and live shad throughout the lake. Try the back ends of coves with standing timber on the bottom. When schools of shad are found, the stripers will be under them. Largemouth and smallmouth bass are also being caught on live shad and jig 'n pig baits, fished on the rocky points throughout the lake. Some white bass, in the two pound class, were caught this past week. Crappie anglers are catching lots of fish on small minnows.
PHILPOTT LAKE - Live crayfish are taking a few smallmouth bass in the 3-4 pound class, along with a few walleye and some big crappie. Lots of trout are being caught in the Smith River, on Berkley Power Baits and nightcrawlers.
CLAYTOR LAKE - Fishing for smallmouth bass and stripers is fair to good. Most of the bass are being taken on live minnows and jig 'n pig, in Dublin Hollow. Crappie fishing is excellent throughout the
LAKE MOOMAW - Bass activity and resulting catches are improving. Jigging Silver Buddies or Hopkins spoons, and fishing with jig 'n pig and live minnows are the better methods. Crappie and yellow perch activity is also on the increase, mainly on live minnows. A few trout in the 3-4 pound class have been caught, deep trolling.
TROUT STREAMS - Water levels are ideal but conditions are mixed. Sticking to the larger streams will result in trout catches. Be careful as banks are fairly slick due to the earlier rains.