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Virginia Fishing Reports – January 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 

January's Forecast

Happy New Year! The New Year means a new license for some of us. Make certain that yours is current.

January has always been a month for the die-hard fisherman, both fresh and salt water. Even with the milder winters that we have been experiencing, January can be down right chilly. However, with the return of the large striped bass, more and more recreational and charter fishermen have deferred from winterizing their boats. With heated cabins and numerous fish found just outside of the Chesapeake Bay, many individuals that previously viewed January as a month to watch TV, attend fishing semi­nars, or prepare for the up-coming fishing season and are taking advantage of the opportunity to catch a trophy fish. Indeed, for the past several years, anglers have established new state records, and the prospect for early 2009 appears to be good.

For those who seek species other than stripers, the possibility of large flounder, tautog, black sea bass, and spotted trout may still exist, depending upon the severity of the winter weather.  The discovery of tilefish and snowy grouper far offshore has opened up a new fishery.
Several charter boaters and recreational fishermen are using this as a back-up to the striped bass fishing. If the bass moves offshore or south, the Virginia boats can head offshore for some excellent deep-drop fishing. Dependent upon water temperature in the Gulf Stream, there still exists the opportunity to catch a tuna, either bluefin or yellowfin.

For those looking to fish out of Rudee Inlet, Lynnhaven Inlet, or Little Creek, check the Virginia Charter Boat Association website sidebar for the Lower Peninsula or Tidewater. Many of the Northern Neck charter boaters, such as Capt Ryan Rogers, and Middle Peninsula charter boaters have moved their boats south for the next several months. Their ads can be found with the magazine. For those days that are too rough to fish, check the magazine for the numerous fishing seminars that can be found within the states of Virginia and Maryland.

Finally, don’t forget that the state record striped bass is a mere 68 lbs. Mere in the sense that a fish caught many years ago in North Carolina weighed in at 125 lbs. I’ll bet fish were hooked and lost last year bigger than 68 lbs, and I won’t be the least bit surprised to hear of a larger fish being caught this month. I’ll also bet that the angler that set the record last year will be out there attempting to best his record this year. Best of luck to all of you die-hard fishermen!

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

Virginia Freshwater Fishing Report
By Missy Fike

Striped Bass –Striped bass are very active this month in landlocked lakes and anglers are fortunate that there is several in Virginia. Good places to go are Virginia Beach, Buggs Island, Smith Mountain and Lake Anna. Fish cranks deep and look for bait or fish on your finder. Jumbo minnows are also very good this month. Trolling with live bait also works well. Sassy shads on jigs, spoons or long crankbaits will also be good to use. . 

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 are aggressive and like to ambush their prey. Fish along edges and in well covered areas. 

Crappie –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, John Deere Grubs work well too this time of year and they are yellow/green. It is important to get the bait right at the same depth the fish are at. A good way to do this is by counting out the line by the foot or pulls from your reel or by using a line counter. This technique works well with other species of fish when you need to get the bait right on them. 

Smallmouth –Smallmouth fishing this month I hear is really good for the hardcore anglers that get out there and fish. Anglers are successful with minnows, mad toms, pumpkin seed color grubs, jigs and spinner baits. The Strike King white color works well. If you want to use a plug try a suspending model in a chartreuse color. The water is generally clear so the fish can see you. Make long casts to avoid scaring the fish. Keep a tight line or an eye on your line as you drift through backwashes or pools along the upper rivers such as the Potomac, Rappahannock, James, New or Shenandoah. Some very large smallmouth are caught each year in these cold months. Be prepared to fish slow and take your time on your retrievals. . 

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. Some very nice size bass are caught this time of year. At Smith Mountain Lake several citation size bass are caught at the back end of the lake in Leesville

Yellow Perch –Some very nice yellow perch can be caught early in the mornings at Smith Mountain Lake. Best place to try is back end of the lake towards Smith Mountain in Leesville 

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