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Virginia Fishing Reports – May 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. 

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Virginia Saltwater Fishing Reports

By Captain Rick Lockart 

May's Forecast

Virginia's trophy striped bass season opens May 1, and its general season opens May 16. Spring regulations remain the same, trophy fish must be 32” or larger, one per angler per day, general season is 18” to 28”, two per angler per day; however, one of the two fish may be larger than 32” (that means a 32” fish is illegal). If lucky enough to catch a fish larger than 32”, it must be reported to VMRC. Only change in other fishing regulations that I am aware of is that black sea bass minimum has been raised to 12 ½ inches and there is no closure for flounder during 2009. Check regulations regularly for any changes.

Eastern Shore
Capt. Mike Handforth (757-336-6861) is hopeful that the reduction in the flounder catch last year will mean a return of larger fish to the Eastern Shore. Striped bass should add to the excitement, though the number of fish 28” or larger will be minimal.

Croaker may show and redfish and spotted trout will be sought by the many recreational fishermen of this region.

Offshore, things will start to pick up.  Trollers will be looking for both bluefin and yellowfin tuna.

Pictures Courtsey of Capt Ryan Rogers

Capt. Steve Wray (757-481-7517) will be fishing for large flounder, redfish, black drum and striped bass.  Capt. Jim Brincefield (252-336-4296) will be seeking much the same, but will keep his eyes open for the opportunity to sneak offshore for swordfish. Capt. Kenny George (757-548-6991) has high hopes that striped bass, flounder, redfish, black drum, and tautog will be the ticket for his parties, while Capt. Ron Bennett (757-681-4744) will be fishing for stripers and tautog.

Lower Peninsula
Capt.s Chandler Hogg (757-876-1590) and Jerry Olson (757-288-1081 fish for flounder, tautog, black drum, redfish, and stripers.

Middle Peninsula
Capt. Bill Bailey (804-776-0255) and Bobby Jenkins (804-314-4799) will be searching the river for striped bass and croaker. Capt.s Don Bannister (804-776-0629) and Glenn Hubbard (804-337-6357) will be fishing for either large flounder or striped bass.  Recreational fishermen will be awaiting the return of the spade fish and spotted trout.

Northern Neck
Capts. Danny Crabbe (804-453-3251) and Leroy Carr (804-453-4050) will most likely concentrate their efforts in Maryland waters, looking for large striped bass.  Capt.s Roy Amburn (804-453-4265), David Fisher (804-580-2548), and Bob Reed (804-435-6907) will concentrate mostly in Virginia waters for large striped bass. All will turn their attention to chumming for the smaller fish once the large fish become scarce.  They will also be on the lookout for large croaker.

Virginia Freshwater Fishing Report
By Missy Fike

Near D.C. May brings the bass anglers to the post spawn phase of fishing. Start fishing the weedlines with plastics to get good results.  Crappie will still be available in the very backs of creeks and some striper action can be had downriver.  Local lakes such as Burke will also produce some nice bass action but the lake does get pressure. Fish slower and try midweek for better fishing.

Lake Orange, Lake Curtis, Motts Run and Hunting Run anglers will have to switch over to deeper crankbaits, live bait and plastics to catch bass. Topwater is good early in the morning or late in the evening.  Bream action will be hot this month in all lakes. Crickets and red wigglers will take some nice fish. Crappie will be hitting well on small minnows. Anglers should be successful using these same tactics in ponds.

The upper Potomac River and Rappahannock River will be prime for a float trip. Smallies will take jerkbaits, spinners and live bait with gusto. Try live bait such as crayfish and hellagramites for both sunfish and smallmouth. Some redeye can also be caught. Fish log jams and eddies behind rocks.

On the middle Potomac and tidal Rappahannock the catfishing is going to be touch and go. I would say mostly a go but some fish will begin spawning this month. If you are after a trophy use fresh caught bait and be patient. The smaller eating size fish are easy to pick up on live bait.

Largemouth bass are up and coming on the lower Rapp. Fish the tidal tribs and the mouths of these with crankbaits and spinnerbaits.  Look out for Mr. Bowfin too! RW’s (804-529-5634) reports that generally in May the largemouth bass respond well to buzz baits and crappie should respond well to beetle spins or small minnows in the ponds.

Surfside Bait and Tackle (804-730-2238) on the James River reported that May 1st will be the start of the trophy striper fishing and they can be caught on bloodworms on the James and Pamunkey Rivers.  The largemouth bass will be hitting really well on large minnows and top water baits. The crappie will be off the beds and be biting. The best way to catch crappie is to first find them using small minnows, Silver Buddies and jigs. The big catfish will be biting well using herring, shad or eels.

The smallmouth will be biting well if the water stays up on the river. They will hit well on deep diving crank baits like the Bandit 300 or Bandit 200 in the perch color or the crawfish pattern. The fishing in May usually follows this pattern. Sometimes during these spring transition months it hard to predict because so much of the fishing depends on the weather, water temps and depths of the river. If anglers have any questions Surfside Bait and Tackle welcomes their calls.

Mike at Riverside Camp Grounds (804-966-5536) on the Chickahominy reports the largemouth bass will be moving off the beds and should be biting well on artificial worms, night crawlers and small minnows. They like structures like duck blinds, cypress roots, brush piles and the lily pads. The bream and bluegill will be hitting really well on night crawlers. Pan size catfish in the 2lb – 5lb range will hit well on night crawlers. The crappie will be doing well on small minnows and small grubs.

In the Virginia Beach area the chain pickerel will be biting well on minnows, spinner baits and soft plastic type baits in the back coves early in the month and moving out to the points as the water temperature goes up. The Largemouth will start to hit on top water lures such as, crank baits and plastic worms. 

Water temperatures and the lowpressure systems passing through the area effect how the fish respond.  As the water temps warm up the fish become more active, if a cold spell falls on us then they may slow down. The full moon in May generally marks the beginning of the best shellcracker fishing. Anglers are successful using nightcrawlers, red wigglers and can catch fish in excess of a pound. It is nothing to catch 25 citation shellcracker fish in a half days worth of fishing.

Buggs Island the largemouth bass will be moving to the shallows. They will be biting well on spinner baits, plastic worms and grubs. The crappie will be in the shallows on brush piles and will respond well to small minnows. The blue catfish will be biting well on cut bait and the flatheads will hit live bait. Striper will be returning from spawning up river and will be biting well at the upper part of the lake on live shad, buck tales, Red Fin lures and plugs work well.

Marvin from The Tackle Box (434-239-1710) at Smith Mountain Lake reported the walleye and stripers usually go up Stanton River when the dogwoods bloom. Largemouth is biting well on jigs; Hopkins spoons, jerk baits and deep diving crank baits. The bass will be in the shallows and generally go on their beds for spawning towards the end of May. When the water temps  get to 50 degrees then a lot will move onto their beds. The crappie should be in the shallows for spawning also when the dogwoods are in bloom.

Stripers will be biting well on Hopkins spoons, lead heads with flukes and crank or jerk baits. Bluegill as it warms will be moving up into shallower waters and will be easier to catch on small spinner baits and night crawlers.

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