July 2006 Fishing Report
Virginia Fishing Reports – July 2006
By Jack Randolph
When we think of July we think of the big flashy fish like tarpon and cobia, but more anglers look to July for spot. With the price of real bloodworms going through the roof we are fortunate to be able to buy artificial bloodworms that are cheaper than the real thing and, better yet, they catch fish. The Fishbite Bag O' Worms continues to gain in popularity. Until this year I understand that the Fishbite bloodworms did work in water cooler than 65 degrees, but now, I hear, they are coming out with baits that work in cooler waters which is good news to the boys who fish for white perch in the spring. In any case look to the salty ends of the tidal rivers to be producing spot and croakers, as well as some gray trout this month.
Early July should still find a few large spadefish about, but as the month wears on big spades quite likely will be hard to find. A new state record, 13 pounds, 5 ounces, was caught at Wolf Trap in June, but if the pattern holds we can expect to see smaller spades from now until the end of the summer. In addition to spadefish, sheepshead showed up in late May and June. Anglers feeding clams to black drum caught some and we should see them rubbing fins with tautogs along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.
Croakers will be on the move this month and we can expect to see them appear in the ocean and inlets along the Eastern Shore where they may give flounder fishermen a hard time. Flounders should be available around Buoys 38, 42, the Cell, Cape Henry Wreck and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.
The first tarpon of this season was caught in a pound net off Virginia Beach before May was over. Generally, tarpon ranging from 40 to over a 100 pounds, are expected in the Eastern Shore inlets in early July, but they may have shown up early this year. By gentleman's agreement the sport fishery for tarpon on the Eastern Shore is strictly a catch and release fishery that continues through July into August and sometimes into September.
In the waters of the bay above the Rappahannock, especially out of Reedville, evening and night fishing trips for croakers and gray trout are popular. During the day, anglers troll for bluefish and Spanish mackerel. And if there are not trolling they are chumming.
Cobia should be in the bay in numbers. Many will be caught in the shoals west of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel as well as near York Spit Light and Bluefish Rock. Some may also be found in their old haunts off Windmill Point and off Dameron Marsh.
Red drum are still present and should be available around Smith Island Inlet while black drum are found grazing along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Offshore, amberjacks will be on the Tower and the Southern Tower Out at the Fingers look for tuna fishermen to be chunking for yellowfins and, possibly, some bluefins, too. At the Triangle Wreck sea bass, conger eels and even flounders should be on tap.
July should also see the first sailfish of the season and some blue water fishermen may put together the much sought after grand slam of a sailfish, blue marlin and white marlin, not to mention catching such "meat fish" as dolphin, wahoo and tuna.
If you have the opportunity to visit the New River around Radford you may want to try your luck with muskies. June of this year was a pretty good month for them with muskies to 21 pounds being caught. Check at Big Z's in Radford for the latest information on these great fish. Also, be advised that a 42-inch minimum size limit on muskies in the New River went into effect July 1.
Down at Buggs Island Lake this is the time big stripers are caught jigging deep in the lower end of the lake. The hot jigging bait has been the 3-1/2 ounce Mega Bait. Below Kerr Dam this is the time when Pencil Poppers at dawn catch some striped bass.
Up at Lake Moomaw, July sometimes offers up some nice trout. Check with Larry Andrews at The Bait Place for the latest information. Trolling with a lure called The Needle Fish in the chrome shad color has been effective. You can catch trout jigging and on live bait and you may catch a couple of dozen short trout before you connect with a keeper. The keepers run 3 or 4 pounds, mostly browns with a few rainbows, but a ten pounder is always a possibility. Don't let a little low water spook you. It's normal for this time of the year.
After taking the month of June off, the blue cats should be biting again this month. If you want a sure thing hire a guide and fish the waters in Richmond for flathead catfish in the 20 pound range. The headwaters of Buggs Island Lake also offers big blue catsfish and large flatheads that often weigh 30 or 40 pounds! While you are at Buggs Island Lake try catching crappie around the new lights installed at the old bridge into Clarksville. Expect to fish them pretty deep.
Little Creek Reservoir in Toano is a pretty good bet for stripers right now. The local experts catch shad using a cast net and catch stripers using the live shad. Last year Briery Creek Lake produced a few outsized bass in July. The largest went 11-1/4 pounds. No one is talking, but my best guess is jumbo minnows.
Look to Flannagan Reservoir for walleyes, especially at night. Check with Mike Mullins at the Marina for the fine points. At Lake Anna expect to find good bass fishing using top water baits early and late and going deep during the day. For stripers similar tactics are effect. Ask Carlos wood at the High point Marina for the latest intel.
On the James up at Scottsville smallmouth fishing should be prime about now, but you may also encounter a flathead or two. Jeff Schmick at the James River runners should know what's hot.
Finally, if you are up in Northern Virginia, the waters of the Potomac in the vicinity of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and downstream are excellent for bass, especially along the weed beds.
By now you should have the seasons for hunting doves, rail, snipe, early resident geese and woodcock. Before the month is over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should announce the framework for the migratory waterfowl season. The Board of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries should meet in late July or early August to set the Virginia waterfowl season within the federal framework.