Virginia Fishing Reports – May 2007
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Virginia Saltwater Fishing Reports
By Captain Rick Lockart
May’s success, as in years past, will be dependent upon water temperature. It appeared as though we were facing an early arrival of many species; however, with the recent cold fronts, it is quite possible that we will have a normal May’s fishing report. If this is the case, look for some outstanding fishing for both large red and black drum this month.
Statistics from last year compiled by Claude Bain of the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament show that 199 citations were awarded during the month of May for red drum. Most were caught in waters north of and including Smith Island on the Eastern Shore. One hundred twenty-eight citations were awarded in May for black drum, while flounder fishermen were awarded 75 citations, spadefish fishermen were awarded 50 citations, and 28 tautog fishermen were awarded citations
Flounder fishermen had their good days and not so good days in April. The majority of the good days were at the Bridge Tunnel. As the waters warm, we can expect the fish to move in greater numbers up the Bay.
Offshore fishing has been iffy at best. Those captains who venture out will be hoping that the bluefin tuna will not have totally vacated the area or that they will have been replaced with greater numbers of yellowfin. By May, good numbers of chopper bluefish have usually moved into the lumps and seamounts located off Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore.
Tautog should still be active on the inshore ocean wrecks, where more and more black sea bass will be arriving with each passing day.
2007 regulations for striped bass have been set. Seasons, creels, and sizes are the same as 2006, with the trophy season (May 1-May 15) allowing for one 32" or larger fish per person per day. The remainder of the Spring season (May 16-June 15) allows for 2 fish per person per day, 18" minimum with one of the two fish allowed to be larger than 32". Striped bass season is closed from June 16 to October 3 with no fish being allowed in possession.
Last season, the first of the yellowfin tuna were caught the second weekend of May. Offshore wreck fishing trips for blueline tilefish, golden tilefish, and snowy grouper will decrease in numbers as more and more black seabass leave the deep water and return to their inshore haunts. According to Captain Jim Brincefield (252-336-4296), the success of his trips will be dependent upon the numbers of seabass and tautogs that his clients catch. Almost all of his trips will be inshore during the month of May.
Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -
Last May, the black drum season got underway about the middle of the month. The Cabbage Patch 13 held the majority of the big fish. There were also reports of decent catches of croaker and flounder all along the BBT.
Captain Steve Wray (757-318-7470) of Long Bay Pointe Marina says he will be targeting large black drum, stripers, and trout during the month. Steve shared with us the report of where to go to catch the large, release citation channel bass.
Sunset Boating Center had good early May flounder reports from Hampton Bar, the Hump and the HRBT.
The York River and the Gloucester Point public pier produced some very nice croaker last season, and there is no reason to believe that this May won’t be just as good. Fish over two pounds were common.
Cobia, spadefish, and sheepshead will not be strangers to this part of the Bay if the water temperature cooperates. All three should show up in greater numbers next month
Cape Charles/Horn Harbor
Chris’ Bait and Tackle reported black drum staged a “real good” showing off Cape Charles between buoy 13 and 16 the second week of May, 2006. They also reported that the croaker fishing was only “so, so.” Captain Bob Reed (804-435-9785), fishing out of Horn Harbor says he will be targeting large flounder, croaker, and spadefish during the month of May. He expects his flounder fishing to begin below Cape Charles early in the month and progress northward towards buoy 42 by month’s end.
Captain Don Bannister (804-776-0629) of Deltaville remembers the fishing for both flounder and croaker to be excellent last May with the majority of his fishing being on the eastern side (buoy 42) of the Bay. Don also plans to fish for striped bass if his clients indicate a desire to do so.
Virginia Middle Bay/Reedville/Smith Point
The farthest point north in Virginia’s Bay, Captain Roy Amburn (804-453-4265) will be taking his crews out for striped bass. As the month, and season, begin, Captain Roy will be targeting the larger fish, and the preferred method of fishing will be trolling. Last season was excellent for the “trophy” fish according to Roy. As the big fish move out of the Bay (again, depending upon water temperature), the preferred method of fishing switches to chumming. Fishing for croaker and trout will take place after limits of stripers have been met. Most every recreational fisherman up and down the Bay are hopeful of a return of the trout whose numbers have been down in recent years.
Virginia Freshwater Fishing Report
By Missy Fike
Another cold spell fell over our region for much of last month making the fish harder to catch. The cold spell made the bass move from their beds back down in the deeper water. The crappie that were laying right next to the banks in many ponds had moved back down into deeper waters as well. Fishing and being successful has been a little bit tricky and challenging for some folks. Hang in there anglers hopefully the warm weather is here as you read this. Look for more hot action this month. Be sure to check with our sources for your tackle needs.
Donna at Ken’s Tackle in Fredericksburg reported that ponds are hot. She is selling minnows like crazy and the crappie fishing was awesome. Bass angling in ponds will be good now that the spawn is over. Catfishing in the Rappahannock has been very good as the fish feed on herring and shad in the river. However, the spawn is nearly here and that may put a temporary lull in things. This year the herring run appears to have been much better than last year. The shad run was not too bad.
On the Potomac bass fishing is great. The fish spawned recently and are now in the creeks and the edges of the vegetation mats. Throw jigs right into the vegetation and let them punch through and catch suspended fish. Topwater was hot in the early morning hours and evening too. Buzz baits are effective.
Motts Run, Lake Orange and other small impoundments are still producing crappie and bass. Go deeper once the weather heats up. Spinnerbaits, plastics and jerkbaits are now effective. Minnows are also the old standby. Bream are on the beds in lakes now and ponds. Try crickets and red worms. Motts Run is running night fishing events for catfish now. Call them at 540-786-8989.
Lake Anna water temps are rising. As of press time they were in the mid forties. According to Striper guide Jim Hemby the fishing for all species is now great. The water temps in April were in the 60’s. Crappie were very willing all month and bass turned out too. Hemby reports that the striper fishing this year has been great. April was an awesome month. The fish were in 5-15 feet of water on flats and primary points.
Artificial fisherman will get some explosive results by throwing topwater Spooks, waking Redfins, popping chuggars and swimming Sassy Shads and Sea Shads on flats.
Bass fishing at Anna was great in April. The big Bass were roaming the shallows looking to fatten up and for places to spawn. Most anglers found them on 30 degree gently sloping banks with sand or gravel bottoms and stumps scattered about. Crankbaits and Carolina rigs cover these areas efficiently. The docks around the marinas and common areas will held some of the early spawning bass in depths up to 10 feet. Some alternative patterns that produces big bass are targeting windy rocky main lake points where the baitfish are spawning throwing big bladed spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Check out the rip rap on the bridges and dikes. Present your offering right up on the bank and try to get it back to the boat. Another very good pattern this month is paralleling rocky bluff banks with a Spook. Just about any technique you use will work this month just concentrate your efforts in 15 foot of water or less.
Walleye were still being caught at the third dike on the rocks and uplake on points in water 10 foot or less with rocks or gravel scattered around.
Fishing Report furnished by Jim Hemby of Lake Anna Striper Guide Service. www.lakeannaonline/lasgs , firstname.lastname@example.org, 540-967-3313. Check out what we are catching on my journal at www.JimHemby.com.
Northern Neck anglers have experienced a lull in the fishing in the ponds but expect them to come alive soon. Ricky at RW’s (804-529-5634) reported that the largemouth bass and crappie are being caught in the ponds. Small minnows generally work well for catching crappie and the artificial worms work well for the largemouth bass. Some of the popular worms for artificial lures are Culprit, Yum and Gary Yamoto.
Shad are running and biting well according to Debbie at Surfside Bait and Tackle (804-730-2238) on the James River, but that may change in the next few weeks even possibly by print time. Crappie are biting well on small minnows and also on small grubs. The crappie action should continue into May. The largemouth bass fishing is doing well even though some of the fish are on the beds. She had an angler that caught a 7lb 4oz largemouth. The bream action will be turning on really well through May. They will be biting well on crickets and red wigglers. Anglers are catching pickerel and they are biting just about anything that you throw at them. The rockfish trophy season will begin May 1st. The regulations are 1 fish per person at least 32”. On May 16th it will go back to 2 fish per person 18” – 28” BUT one fish of the two may be larger than 32 inches provided you do a catch report as required by law. The anglers that troll usually use Cotton Cordells or Rebels. Anglers fishing from the bank use cut bait or blood worms.
In the Scottsville area on the James River, Mike at Coleman’s (434-286-2547) reports that smallmouth bass have turned off some in the rivers from the colder weather we have experienced but by print time the action should be hot on live minnows and grubs. The largemouth bass also slowed down with the cold weather but should be picking back up when it lifts off us and hit well on spinner and crank baits in the ponds and lakes. Right now the largemouth bass that are being caught have been down about 8 – 12ft. When it warms up they will move back to the beds and be in the shallows. Crappie are hitting in the ponds and lakes on live minnows. They were right on the banks. Some have moved out of the shallows with the cold weather we have had but they should return back along the banks when we get some warm weather. The channel cats have been hitting on night crawlers and anglers have caught a few flat heads using bream and goldfish.
On the Chickahominy it has picked up from last month according to Mike at Riverside Camp Grounds (804-966-5536). The largemouth bass have gone on the beds. The herring are hitting right now but may have moved on by print time. The stripers are hitting and the catfish seem to be doing pretty well too. In May when it warms up more the bream will really turn on and can be caught on ultra lights. Small rods and reels work great for them. Bass will hit well on spinner baits and plastic worms.
Over on the Virginia Beach/Suffolk area we spoke to Drew at Dashiell’s Sporting Goods (757-539-7854). He reports that the largemouth bass are hitting on artificial bait and minnows. Crappies are hitting on small minnows. Lots of pickerel are hitting on minnows and artificial baits. White perch are hitting on the Nottaway River; they are just starting up and will continue for the next few months. Croakers are starting up the rivers and have been caught using squid. Crappie are hitting well on minnows and jigs. The largemouth bass are doing well on various artificial baits.
Down at Buggs Island I talked to Rusty at Buggs Island Bait and Tackle (434-374-8934). Crappie fishing is the best right now on small minnows in 8 ft of water up into the shallows around bridges and brush piles. Right now they are pulling water from the lake so it is best to fish the main points of the lake for largemouth bass using spinner baits and artificial baits. The blue and flathead catfish can be caught from the Clarksville Bridge up to the mouth of the rivers off of shad and bream. Stripers are being caught at the upper end of the lake on live shad or trolling using bucktails. This trend should carry through the month of May. The weather has moved some of the crappie and bass down into some deeper water but they will be back in the shallower water as soon as it warms up.
Marvin from The Tackle Box at Smith Mountain Lake (434-239-1710) reports that the weather has everything kind of a mess and it’s hard to tell what will bite right now. The bass and crappie were on the beds and they have moved off because of the cold weather. There are a few stripers being caught at Smith Mountain Lake. The stripers don’t mind the colder weather too much. The catfish has slowed down and only a few little ones are being caught. Marvin reports that as soon as the weather turns back warmer as it should for this time of year everything will pick back up and anglers will be back into some good action.