Virginia Fishing Reports – August 2007
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Northern Neck Charter Boat Directory
Saltwater Fishing Reports
By Captain Rick Lockart
The “dog days” of August seem to have a slowing effect on the number of large fish caught in Virginia, according to statistics compiled by Claude Bain of the Virginia Saltwater Tournament. Based on Claude’s records for 2006, August is the month of the white marlin. There were 145 white marlin released in august of last year, an increase of more than 100 fish caught and released in July. Wahoo was the only other fish showing a significant increase in August; however, its numbers continued to increase into September while white marlin numbers decreased dramatically. Flounder, with 215 citations continued a strong showing into August, though their numbers dropped from July’s high of 339. Cobia numbers, 59, dropped by more than half the citations awarded from the previous month. Blue marlin numbers, 11, were also down more than half.
August is a transitional month in our waters. As the days get shorter, as the nights get cooler, as the water temperature starts to stabilize, the fish start to come to the realization that summer isn’t going to last forever. Therefore, by the end of the month, many species are starting to show sighs of “bag packing”, which carries over into the month of September. Expect numbers of warm water species, especially Spanish and king mackerel, to increase.
Jack Crevelle will also make an appearance. Inside the Barrier Islands a month of intense tarpon fishing will take place. Spotted trout numbers increase along with the “newcomer” to our waters, sheepshead. Whiting, particularly along the coast, become more prevalent, and spot make a strong showing in the rivers, preparing for their departure from the Bay. Gray trout numbers remain down, but far more are caught in August than in earlier months, particularly in the rivers and Middle Bay. For the avid fisherman, August can be a “hot” month. Though size may decrease, don’t give up on the spadefish, croaker, tuna, or dolphin. Remember, if things get too hot, pour cooling water on both the back of your neck and on your reels. If you are in need of information and/or someone to take you fishing, check out www.fishva.org for an up-to-date list of Virginia charter boat captains.
Capt.Len Buchta (757-824-4427) will be fishing offshore for tuna and wahoo. Len will chunk for the bluefin and yellowfin if the fish are schooled. He offers free lodging to those who are willing to venture to the Peninsula. Capt. Mike Hanforth (757-336-6861) continues his inshore fishing for croaker, whiting, affectionately known as roundheads, flounder, bluefish, sea bass, spot, and sugar toads (blowfish). Capt. Rob Savage (757-678-0063) is one of the few charter captains that targets tarpon during this month. He also offers his services for red drum, spotted trout, and sheepshead. Capt. Bill Letora (888-389-5603) will be trolling for marlin, tuna, wahoo, and dolphin. He also will chunk for tuna if their numbers allow.
Capt. Nolan Agner (757-200-0200) trolls for marlin, tuna, wahoo, dolphin, and bluefish offshore. Inshore he targets spadefish (early in the month) shark, amberjack, cobia, and Spanish mackerel. Capt. Ron Bennett (757-588-4198) fishes inshore for flounder, spot, croaker, red drum, and cobia. Capt. Steve Wray (757-481-7517), like Nolan Agner, fishes both offshore and inshore. Inshore he target primarily large flounder and the several varieties of shark found in our waters. Offshore he trolls for marlin, tuna, dolphin, and wahoo. Capt. Jim Brincefield (410-867-4944) also fishes both offshore and inshore. Offshore, however, Jim will offer the opportunity to deep wreck for blueline tilefish and black sea bass. He will also take night trips for the elusive Atlantic swordfish.
Capt. Chandler Hogg (757-876-1590) will offer a wide variety to his customers, sheepshead, cobia, flounder, king mackerel, amberjack, Spanish mackerel, spadefish, bluefish, and red drum. He mentions that sheepshead have been available for a number of years now, but their numbers and size appear to be increasing yearly. Right now, their size is the largest on the East Coast. Capt. Jerry Olson (757-288-1081) also targets sheepshead, cobia, flounder, spadefish, Spanish mackerel, and bluefish. Jerry offers the somewhat unusual opportunity to fish at night. This eliminates some of the August heat, yet often accelerates the numbers and size of the fish targeted. Capt. Bill Mershon (757-870-7265) offers fishing to groups as large as 20 anglers. He targets primarily the tasty spot that congregates in and around the York River. This species often becomes very numerous in August, and their ability to bend a rod for their size makes them a favorite of many Virginia anglers.
Capt. John Augustine (804-740-3528) fishes the Rappahannock River for flounder, spot, croaker, and trout. Capt. Ian Bailey (804-776-7129) fishes the Rappahannock River and Middle Bay for spot, croaker, and trout, while Capt. Donald Bannister (804-776-0629) and Capt. Glenn Hubbard (804-337-6357) venture across the Bay for large flounder, spot, croaker, and trout. Both occasionally fish for cobia when their clients desire.
Capt. Fred Biddlecomb (804-453-3568) states that he would be fishing for anything that had scales and a tail. In reality, the Middle Bay will be providing Spanish mackerel, bluefish, croaker, and an occasional trout during the month of August. Capt. David Fisher (804-580-2548) will also target the Spanish mackerel bluefish, croaker, and trout. David said he would be making an occasional run down to the Rappahannock to chum for bluefish or bottom fish for spot as well as running into Maryland waters to fish chum or troll for striped bass. Capt. Leroy Carr will concentrate his fishing to Maryland waters, looking for Spanish mackerel, bluefish, striped bass, croaker, and trout.
Virginia Freshwater Fishing Report
By Missy Fike
Some of our sources say fishing in August is harder than other months. The fish tend to go down into deeper depths and aren’t as active during the day. I can’t say I blame them though. The best time to catch fish during the hotter months is at daybreak, early mornings and late evenings at the edge of dark. Or as one gentleman told me, when the bugs come out and get thick then the fish get turned on and start biting. So maybe a few citation size bug bites are worth the fish that you land. Stay hydrated and good luck!
Lake Anna striped bass fishing is decent if you catch live bait and put it right down on top of stripers which seem to be holding in 30+ foot of water. Catfish are also following bait at Lake Anna and can be caught on the bottom. These fish are nice and fat. Largemouth are on humps mid lake near the channel during the later morning hours.
Motts Run has had quite a number of nice largemouth taken on topwater lures near grassy edges. This should continue. Crappie fishing slowed up considerably but still are available. White perch are biting at Motts too. Channel cats are hitting chicken liver.
Lake Orange, Curtis and Germantown Lakes are producing panfish on crickets in deeper water. Bass are on structure in deeper water now and some crappie are coming in.
The upper Potomac near DC is good for bass if you are into catch and release. The fish are under the vegetation mats. Use heavy weights to get the plastic baits through. Catfish are hitting all over the river now. White perch are also hitting in the tidal reaches.
The upper Rappahannock is low again due to the heat and dry weather, but the fishing is very good in pools and riffles in the early morning. Try Tiny Torpedos and then swap over to jerkbaits. Live bait is very good too. Nice sunfish are taking worms and spinnerbaits near woody debris and behind rocks. In the lower river the pan size catfish are biting well in the creeks. Try shrimp or the new Fishbites catfish bait. Worms work too. There are lots of bass hitting in the lower river on plastics and the smaller spinnerbaits. Some nice bowfin are turning up to the chagrin of bass anglers. Gar are also present. Large catfish are hitting live bream.
Local ponds in the region are good for bream in deeper water with crickets and small crayfish. Hoppers are working well too.
Fishing has slowed down for Northern Neck anglers this month. RW’s (804-529-5634) reported that the largemouth bass are going to be hiding from the heat. Best time to go is early mornings at the break of day and later in the evenings. The bass generally will hit top water lures early in the mornings. As the sun comes up switching to artificial worms or crank baits generally work better. Crappie will be biting well on small spinner baits and small minnows.
Debbie at Surfside Bait and Tackle (804-730-2238) on the James River, reports that it’s very tough. Largemouth bass will be hanging out on the drop offs deep down. The best lures to use are the deep diving lures or Carolina rigs. For those enthusiasts that are up and out early, top water lures at daybreak should prove successful. Catfish are going to be hiding in deep holes. Cast lines in the deep holes late in the day or at night.
In the Scottsville area on the James River, I talked with Mark at Coleman’s.(434-286-2547). Smallmouth has been really good this year and if the conditions in the river stay good they should continue to do really well. If the river gets low and full of grass then the smallmouth fishing will be affected. Catfish should continue to bite well. The channel cats and flathead cats bite really well on live gold fish. They also bite well on cut baits such as bream or other small baitfish.
On the Chickahominy fishing is doing well and should continue to do well, according to Mike at Riverside Camp Grounds (804-966-5536). The bass are on their regular summer pattern. They will best be caught around the lily pads. They are hiding around piers and structures. They are hitting on worms, artificial baits and top water buzz baits. The river is tidal so the time of day isn’t as important as the flow of the tide. Out going tide is generally best. Bream will be hitting well on light tackle like beetle spins, crickets, and nightcrawlers. The blue catfish have been doing well year around and will continue well in August. They hit well on eels and large minnows. They hit well on just about anything that has some odor to it.
Over on the Virginia Beach/Suffolk area we got in contact with Bobby at Dashiell’s Sporting Goods (757-539-7854). Bobby reports that the largemouth bass will come up into the shallows early morning and respond well to top water lures. As the sun comes up they move back down into deep water and it’s best to switch to artificial baits. Panfish will also move deeper too. They respond well to crickets and worms on the bottom usually in about 10 – 15 foot of water.
Down at Buggs Island I talked to Rusty at Bugs Island Bait and Tackle (434-374-8934) Rusty is easily reached, so helpful and has been a really a great source for this article. He reports crappie fishing around bridges and brush piles should land the angler a successful trip. Bass will be hitting well on top water lures early morning, and then switching to artificial worms and crank baits as it warms up is best. White bass and white perch are scattered. The stripers are following the baitfish to eat. The blue catfish are hitting in deep holes.
Marvin from The Tackle Box (434-239-1710) at Smith Mountain Lake says the largemouth bass respond well to the dark color topwater lure early in the morning and late evenings/night. The stripers feed more at night and hit on topwater lures as well. Catfish hit at night on live bait or cut bait in the rivers and lakes. They stay down deep. The pansize catfish can be caught during day on cut bait and live bait. They don’t stay holed up as much as the large ones.
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