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Virginia Fishing Reports – December 2008


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Northern Neck Charter Boat Directory


Virginia Saltwater Fishing Reports

By Captain Rick Lockart 

December's Forecast

December is a slower month for fishing reports. Nevertheless, striper season is in full swing. Though the striped bass will no doubt be the primary target of most fishermen, there are still other species to be targeted. Water temperature will dictate whether the flounder will be in the shallows or making their way offshore.  Recent years have found more and more flounder caught during the month of December in and around the CBBT and inshore wrecks.
Post-Turkey Day on Chesapeake Bay
The spotted trout should be in abundance from Mobjack Bay south. Of particular interest will be the Lynnhaven area. Sea bass will be concentrated on the wrecks before their trek to deeper waters, and tautog will again become the target of many that lost interest with the rising water temperatures of early summer. Offshore, the recreational fishermen have been awaiting the return of the tuna. Reports of big bluefish working their way down the coast have surfaced; therefore, the bluefin can’t be far behind, but stories of yellowfin have not been cause for much excitement. December has to be the month for more consistent action.

If you have already winterized your boat, you might want to give the local charter boaters a try. Visit to locate a boat close to you, or close to where you would like to fish.

Eastern Shore
Capt. Mike Handforth (757-336-6861) indicates that many of the Eastern Shore captains have closed up shop for the year by the time December rolls around. Mike will continue to fish for the larger rockfish (Eastern Shore fish have to be 28” or larger) into December. The large fish migrating from Maine have to go past the Eastern Shore. Mike also reports that large bluefish have been spotted about a week away. This could make for an interesting December. The offshore boys are awaiting a consistent bite of tuna, according to Mike. Capt. Rob Savage (757-678-0063) has just completed his spotted trout portion of his season and is looking forward to fishing for tautog, which he says will not reach its fall peak until the water temperature reaches 42 degrees.

Norfolk/Virginia Beach
Capt. Nolan Agner (757-200-0200)
will be fishing for tuna and wahoo out of Oregon Inlet, but he plans to be back at Rudee by the middle of December. At that time he will be targeting the striped bass through trolling, casting, and jigging. Capt. Neal Taylor (757-646-4449) will be wreck fishing for tautog and sea bass. He will also be fishing for striped bass. Fishing inshore, Capt. Joe Ferrara (757-572-9236) will be taking his crews to the CBBT to cast and jig for striped bass, while Capt. Max King (757-650-3176) will be live-lining eels. Capt. Herman Bunch (757-481-4298) also enjoys eeling for stripers. Herman will move to trolling the ocean once the really large fish move into the area.

Weekend's Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Busy at the Rod and Reel

Lower Peninsula
Because of its close proximity to the ocean waters, much of the Lower Peninsula’s fishing is similar to that of Virginia Beach. Capt. Chandler Hogg (757-876-1590) will be fishing primarily for striped bass; but will fish for tautog and/or sea bass. Capt. Jerry Olson (757-288-1081) is one of the few captains I know that fishes for stripers at night. He loves to chunk. Jerry also trolls, casts, and uses live bait during his day trips.

Middle Peninsula
December for the Middle Peninsula fisherman is strictly striped bass. Capt. Don Bannister (804-776-0629) says he will continue to fish the Bay until there are no more fish to be caught, and then he will move his boat to Virginia Beach. Capts. Bill Bailey (804-776-0255) and Ian Bailey (804-776-7129) will fish for migrating fish. Both will troll for the big fish.

Northern Neck
The Northern Neck doesn’t differ much from the Middle Peninsula. Capts. Jim Deibler (804-580-7744), Gene Pittman (804-453-3643), Billy Pipkin (804-580-7292), and Bob Reed (804-435-9785) will troll primarily between Smith Point Light and the Cut Channel, while Capts. Danny Crabbe (804-453-3251), Ryan Rogers (804-453-5812), Chuck O’Bier (804-529-6450), and David Rowe (804-529-6725) will troll primarily in Maryland waters until the fish are no longer available.
The End of November ... Now Dec???
That is a generalization, for any of these captains can be found wherever the greatest concentration of fish is to be found. Many will move their boats south when the Bay season ends, some prior to its ending.

Take advantage of the often mild weather experienced in December. Catch a fish. It’s better than work.

[Pictures courtsey of Capt Ryan Rogers and the Midnightsun Fishing Charter]

Virginia Freshwater Fishing Report
By Missy Fike

December can be a rough month to fish but there are some standouts that make a trip to the water worth your time. Don’t put away the rods yet!
Here is an overview and below a few specifics.

Catfish –The smaller cats are less inclined to steal your bait now and the larger fish tend to be more cooperative if that is what you are after. The lower James, Chickahominy, Rappahannock and Potomac River are all great destinations. The Potomac can be colder due to its location and the wideness of the river, which allows a good wind to whip up. Fish ledges near deep water with fresh bait if possible. If you cannot get fresh bunker or mud shad try eels.

Striped bass –Striped bass are very active this month in landlocked lakes and Virginia is blessed with more than a few. There are several places around Virginia Beach, Buggs Island, Smith Mountain and Lake Anna all offer good action. Fish cranks deep and look for bait or fish on your finder. Jumbo minnows are also very good this month. Trolling will work but that makes for colder and slower paced fishing. The lower tidal rivers are also open season for a while too and there are definitely fish there to be had. Sassy shads on jigs, spoons or long crankbaits will do the number.

Chain Pickerel –The tidal portions of Virginia are excellent places to cast a spoon, thin crankbait or minnow for these toothy game fish. Use slow retrievals. The Chickahominy, lakes around Virginia Beach and the sloughs and creeks off the Potomac River will draw strikes. Fish next to cover. These fish love cover to ambush prey in December. They taste the best out of cold water so don’t overlook broiling a few for supper this month.

Crappie –Cold never really shuts down the crappie bite for long. Any of your favorite crappie haunts to include Briery, Sandy River, Anna, Buggs, Smith Mountain, Occoquan or ponds are great places to SLOWLY drag or troll a minnow for crappie this month. Mark fish on a finder near structure and you know where to start. They can be picky about the offering so use bright colors or white and get it precisely to their depth. This may mean you need to count out the line by the foot or pulls from your reel. Get a line counter if you need to. It will be well worth it.

Smallmouth –Smallmouth fishing this month will slow some and the bite will turn softer too. Keep a tight line or an eye on your line as you drift soft plastics, jigs or minnows through backwashes or pools along the upper rivers such as the Potomac, Rappahannock, James, New or Shenandoah. Choose sunny areas if you can and make long casts to avoid spooking the fish. Fish slowly to get the best hits. Some of the largest smallmouth are caught this way each winter. If you want to use a plug try a suspending model in a chartreuse color.

Largemouth –Over the years we have collected reports we noticed that the bass in the bigger lakes and reservoirs tend to be caught deeper in 15-20 feet of water off points, ledges or other structure. Stumps are good as are boulders. Successful anglers fish slow with jigs, soft plastics or spoons. Minnows will work too. Don’t be afraid to run a crank down that deep if you can but think about how far you are going to have to cast to allow it time to get down to the proper depth.

Fish caught at this time of year are tasty coming out of cool water. The meat has a cleaner taste and a firmer texture and after eating your fill of turkey, duck or venison throw a fish fry and watch eyes light up! Merry Christmas 

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