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.
January was for many years a time of watching professional football while repairing or refurbishing tackle for the coming spring season. Only the hardiest recreational angler or the commercial waterman dared brave the elements for the scant number of fish that were available to Virginians. After all, the striped bass and the cod had disappeared. Now, however, with the return of the striper, the discovery of the blueline tilefish, and, perhaps, the result of global warming, fishing doesn’t have to end with the coming of the New Year. Though it is true that most have winterized their boats and have their equipment placed before a television set, there are still many boats still on trailers or sitting in their dock awaiting the call of their master, particularly along the Eastern Shore or Virginia Beach/Norfolk areas.
There was also a time when many of the Virginia charter boaters would either haul their boats for the winter or set sail for warmer climates. Many, however, are available for hire all through the winter. Though the striped bass season ends in the Bay with the passing of the old year, many Bay charter fishermen move their boats to Little Creek, Lynnhaven Inlet, or Rudee Inlet marinas for the month of January, and on some occasions into the month of February. I am encouraging those of you who have not experienced the ocean portion of Virginia’s striped bass fishing to visit the many ads found throughout this month’s magazine, or visit the VCBA’s webpage at www.fishva.org.
You will find that some of Virginia’s best striper fishing is available during the month of January. For those of you who are not into trolling for large striped bass, fishing the deep water wrecks for large sea bass and blueline tilefish is an alternative. There are not too many captains willing to take the time to make this trip. However, if the chance to catch a citation sea bass or a world record tilefish is up your alley, give Capt. Jim Brincefield(252-336-4296) and Capt. Steve Wray(757-481-7517) a call. They may have some days set aside for this fishery.
Also, if the weather doesn’t cooperate, or the fish have moved south, don’t forget the fishing seminars found throughout the state. All should be mentioned in the magazine. These are very informative and offer a great deal to all Virginia fishermen. Your equipment can be refurbished and repaired in February.
On the tidal Potomac the bass angling will switch to drop offs and structure this month. Taylor’s Grocery (540-659-2347) reports that the crappie in Aquia Creek will be hitting on minnows. The bass on the Potomac will deeper on slower Pig N Jigs. Catfishing can be outstanding on calm days on the river. Find a drop off and fish the edge. If the sun is up and we are in a warm spell try a nearby flat where the water can warm a few degrees.
At Lake Anna the striper and nice size largemouth bass will be hitting for determined anglers. The lake will be wide open for fishing since few will go out to wet a line or ice a line depending on the weather. A few crappie will also hit. On days when the water temps drop below 45 degrees it makes it harder to get the fish to hit. Working for the fish may be necessary. One side of the lake may have colder water temps then the other side. As well as deeper parts of the lake will have colder water temps then shallow areas.
Surfside Bait and Tackle (804-730-2238) on the James River stated the catfish would still be biting well on eels and cut bait with the colder temperatures.
Coleman’s (434-286-2547) on the James River reported that hardcore fishermen will catch smallmouth bass using spinner baits like Strike King in the white color, minnows or mad toms, and pumpkinseed color grubs. If we get any extended warm spells in January the largemouth bass will turn back on and can be caught using artificial baits. Trout are stocked three times per year in the Hardware River Wildlife Management Area. The trout cannot be harvested from October 1st – May 31st. The trout is catch and release until June and can only be caught on artificial lures.
On the Chickahominy, MikeatRiverside Camp Grounds (804-966-5536) reported the bass being caught are in the 12–15 inch range and thick framed. The largemouth bass still had lots of lilies and grass to hide in during December. As the temperatures continue to drop and the vegetation dies off the bass will move to deeper waters. A good bait to use on the bass are grubs. A few crappie are being caught on small minnows and tiny jigs. The bigger blue catfish have turned on and are hitting very well on eels and cut shad. Jason Hall caught 2 really nice cats. One fish was 39 inches long and weighed 29.5 lbs. The other fish was 41 inches long and weighed 31.5 lbs. People are also catching catfish off the pier using clam snouts. The catfish are active and bite really well from October – April. Some people may catch a few ring perch in January but they usually will liven up more in February.
Over on the Virginia Beach/Suffolk area we contacted Dashiell’s Sporting Goods (757-539-7854). Reports that crappie are hitting now but once the water temps drop below 50 degrees the fishing slows down until the water temps rise again in February.
Marvin at The Tackle Box (434-239-1710) at Smith Mountain Lake reports that this is the time of year for citation bass and yellow perch. The crappie will be biting well on John Deere Grubs. Stripers will be biting well on Hopkins spoons or trolling with live bait. The largemouth bass will respond well to jigs and can be caught off the docks. They will be moving deeper as the water temps continue to drop. The striper and largemouth are fatting up for the winter months and some really nice fish can be pulled out for the determined fisherman that can stand being out in the colder temperatures.
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