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Virginia Fishing Reports Ė April 2009

The lastest Northern Neck Chesapeake Bay Saltwater Fishing news and advice from Capt Rick Lockart plus Missy Fike's Freshwater Fishing Report for the Neck and Northern Virginia.  Also available are the archived reports back to 2006 for those wishing to track or review trends. 

Click here for Fishing Report Archives        Click HERE for Freshwater Fishing Report


Northern Neck Charter Boat Directory


Virginia Saltwater Fishing Reports

By Captain Rick Lockart 

April's Forecast

Eastern Shore
March will be a month in which most captains will be preparing for the up coming fishing season.  For the few who are ahead of the game, or have kept their boats in the water, striped bass are available, though few if any are keepers. Flounder may start to show, depend ing upon water temperatures, but again, few will be keepers. Offshore, sea bass may start to show on the inshore wrecks, and tautog will be available as the weather permits.

Several captains, Steve Wray (757-481-7517), Chandler Hogg (757-876-1590), and Jim Brincefield (252-336-4296) will continue to offer deep wreck fishing until the action inshore becomes consistent. Capt. Jim may have started a whole new fishery with his world record blackbelly rosefish. We donít see too many of these in the Bay, but it gives the deep droppers something to strive for. If there is one out there, there are bound to be others. Many will be awaiting the return of the black sea bass to the inshore wrecks, or will be fishing for tautog, or hoping that an occasional striped bass remains in the area. Stripers can be caught by the C/R fishermen throughout the lower Bay region.

Again, as with the Eastern Shore, water temperature will play a role in many success stories. The Hot Ditch may remain a spot drawing the attention of spotted trout fishermen; however, late in the month could see a return of these fish, along with some red drum to the shallows of Lynnhaven or Rudee Inlet.

Lower Peninsula
The Lower Peninsula will find most captains working on their boats. For those few, croakers may be a target late in the month. The recreational guys are anxiously awaiting the return of the yellow perch, herring, and hickory shad. Some striped bass may be caught by the C/R fishermen.

Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck
Most of us will be getting our boats ready for the opening of Marylandís Trophy season in the middle of April. White perch, herring, and an occasional hickory shad might be available up the Piankatank, Rappahannock, or Potomac Rivers.

All in all, winterís grip on the fishing of Virginiaís saltwater regions continues into March. Should the month not come in like a lamb, fishing will continue to be slow. Should the weather prove to be better than an ticipated, the fishing could show marked improvement.  In either case, March remains my least favorite month.

Virginia Freshwater Fishing Report
By Missy Fike

Northern Virginia and Fredericksburg anglers will find March to be much more to their liking. Crappie action really heats up in area lakes,  ponds and even the river.

Lake Orange gives up the biggest specks of the year this month. Quite a few approach three pounds! Get your minnows and head to the country to get in on the action.  If you are coming from the east and cross Lake Anna, consider stopping there to get a load of fish. The crappie this month are piling up around the bridges, docks and boulders all over the lake but mid to uplake areas are prime. Check out any structure that is shallow, particularly at the end of the month. Some of the reservoirs and lakes to include Motts, Lunga, Germantown and Burke are also well worth a trip. Take a hard look at Aquia Creek for specks on the Potomac.

Bass anglers will also find March to be very productive. These green fish are fattening up with roe as they go to prespawn mode. Ponds are the first hotspots.  Try live bait if you want a fast catch citation. If wiles and skill are your tactic give plastics and lipless cranks a shot.  The same reservoirs listed above will turn on later in the month and anglers can find great fishing through early May. Lake Anna is a great place to fish in March. Try to find ledges, stumps and isolated structure near deep water but in shallow water on warmer days. At Lake Curtis anglers will find some nice bass along the rip rap and next to the trees still standing across from the ramp.

Striper anglers at Lake Anna will find fish near the power plant, near the Splits and in the back of coves chasing bait this month. The blueback herring are running soon and this gets the hungry stripers moving around.  Use your fish finder to find bait balls and ease up to the fish to cast.  Catfish are turning on fast as the herring and shad begin showing up. Try fresh cut bait to get the best fishing. Larger fish will take large bait but anglers may have to wade through the little fish to get them. The Rappahannock and the Potomac are both great fishing.

White perch and yellow perch are still hitting well. For the yellow perch fish downriver of Port Royal and try the tidal creeks with red wigglers, minnows or crickets. White perch will be hot on the Potomac River creeks, the Rappahannock from Port Royal to Fredericksburg and in tidal sloughs downriver of Port Royal all month. Popular places to fish include Old Mill Park, The City Dock and Hopyard on the Rappahannock.

If shad and herring are your thing then Old Mill Park, The City Dock, the banks of the Rapp in Fred ericksburg and over on the Potomac River anglers catch nice shad near Chain Bridge quite often. Remember to check the regulations for creel restrictions, particularly up river and on the Potomac River.  

Heading south to the tidal James and Chickahominy the catfish action has already heated up. Capt. Mike Ostrander told my husband last month that the angling near Richmond is very good in March. Be sure to fish the ledges and other structure such as wing dams etc.. See the article Mark wrote for this issue of the Chesapeake Angler Magazine.  Anglers fishing the Chickahominy will see plenty of big blue cats as well. Eels work great for catching the big catfish. Clam snouts work well if anglers do not wish to target the big catfish and would like to take home some good eating size catfish. Ring perch should continue to hit well until about mid month on small jigs.

Remember the eating advisory on the James and the Chick for these fish. Herring and shad are also on the way and some anglers will be catching some of the early arrivals as you read this report!  Crappie anglers find that the Chickahominy Lake is very good as is the area just down from Walkerís Dam. Go to the headwaters if you are on the river and find old duck blinds, Cyprus trees and logs to find the fish.  Bright jigs and minnows do the trick every time. Fish tight to structure.

Bass fishing on the James will be really good according to our contacts at Surfside Bait and Tackle. The ring perch will be in full swing. Small jigs like the silver buddies and medium size minnows work well for catching them. The crappie will also be biting well and they also can be caught on minnows and small jigs. The bass will be biting well on crank and spinner baits. They will be really active on the Mattaponi and  Pamunkey Rivers as well as lakes and ponds.

At Buggs Island, fishing continues to improve for crappie this month and some of the largest ones of the year are taken in March. Fish the creeks heavily right up on the bank. If you can find a brushpile in shallow water it is all the better.  Bass anglers will find fish in the creeks and off points near drop offs. Fish the tributaries more than the main lake though. Rattle traps and spinner baits are good choices to use. The Catfish will be biting really well also on cut bait. The stripers will be hitting well trolling and using bucktails.

Briery Creek is the HOTSPOT this month for trophy bass angling. April is great too. There is so much cover at Briery that anglers can get frustrated. Work your way around slow and enjoy the beauty of the place. Crappie can also be taken this month at Briery. Fish the sunny side of stumps with jigs and minnows. 

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