August 2006 Fishing Report
Virginia Fishing Report –August 2006
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By Jack Randolph
Here we are in the “Dog Days.” Actually, I always thought that the Dog Days occurred exclusively in August, but I was wrong. According to the dictionary they run from early July to early September.
Virginia’s August is an exciting time for saltwater fishermen. If all goes well, August can bring us the best offshore fishing of the year. It can also bring trouble because August is right smack dab in the middle of the hurricane season and even a near miss can mess up our offshore fishing.
Under the best conditions this is the time when the white marlin and some blues appear in force. The whites, in particular, seek out schools of baitfish which form tight balls as they gather for a perceived safety in numbers. When the marlin are found in these numbers it is possible to catch and release a dozen or more in a day.
In addition to the billfish, Virginia’s offshore waters in August offer good fishing for dolphin, yellowfin tuna and wahoo. Closer inshore there should be false albacore, king mackerel and barracuda.
Around the wrecks we will continue to find spadefish, probably small ones, sheepshead, bluefish, sea bass and tautog.
Moving into the bay this is the time to catch big golden spot. Croakers will be present, but they will also be in the ocean waters on the Eastern Shore. Both, the mouth of the Rappahannock and the Reedville area will have croakers, flounders, gray trout, bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Speckled trout will be in the grassy shallows.
Cobia will begin to hear the call of the south as they stage close to the surface around buoys and pilings. In such places they may find themselves gill to gill with king mackerel or barracuda. On the Eastern Shore visiting tarpon will also be packing up to run to more southerly waters for the coming winter, but there will still be enough to fish for.
We often think of August as offering typical summer pattern bass fishing. If you are not familiar with the term, “summer pattern” is the old method of fishing with top water lures at dawn and dusk and going deeper during the day. The advent of large plastic worms has made deep water fishing much more effective in recent years.
If you want really big bass you might do well on Briery Creek Lake near Farmville where August is beginning to turn out some healthy fish. In 2004 there were bass weighing 13-6, 10, 9-6, and 8-4 caught from Briery Creek Lake.
Lake Chesdin, near Petersburg, is a “sleeper” for striped bass. On three August nights a couple of years ago two anglers landed 37 stripers weighing up to 24 pounds! Most hit top water offerings. Of course, you can always depend upon Buggs Island Lake, Lake Gaston, Lake Anna and Smith Mountain Lake for good summer landlocked striped bass action.
Walleyes are quietly gaining ground in Virginia. At Flannagan Reservoir night trolling with nightcrawler rigs on lead core lines is effective. Deep trolling in the channels at Lake Gaston between Holly Grove Marina and the Railroad Bridge also produces nice walleyes. Deep running redfins are the favored baits.
If you would like a new experience try trolling at Buggs Island Lake for white bass. Check with Rusty Rutledge at the Buggs Island Bait and Tackle for the low down. For shellcrackers Lake Prince at Suffolk is a good August bet. And we mustn’t forget the catfish. This is a fine time to load up on flatheads in the James River within the Richmond city limits and in the Staunton River and upper Buggs Island Lake. In the tidal Rappahannock, Mattaponi, Pamunkey and the James River below Richmond look for big blue catfish, quite a few over 50 pounds.
Finally, if you have always wanted to catch a musky, the New River at Redford offers up a few good ones in August. A 32-pounder was taken here in ‘04.
By the time you read this the seasons for hunting resident geese, early teal and webless migratory birds will be published. Also, shortly, look for the seasons for hunting migratory waterfowl to be published. Normally, you can expect to be hiding out in the fields for resident geese very early in September and for dove a few days later. In the meantime it’s smart to spend a few days busting claybirds to ensure those clean kills that are the mark of a sportsman.