While October’s forecast centered on water temperature, November’s centers on approaching cold fronts. November is a month that can be either productive or not so productive. Certainly water temperature is going to be down which eliminates many species except in an around the ocean ports. Even then, the number of species will be down. Primarily we are looking for a promising month for striped bass, tautog, sea bass, tilefish, bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, spotted trout, and bluefish. Water temperature, as of the middle of October, is holding, and many fishermen are reporting some excellent catches of fish not normally caught this late in the year. However, with the possibility of two cold fronts a week from now through March, expect things to change, and be pleased if they don’t.
Dr. Wolfgang Vogelbein with VIMS wants all striped bass fishermen to be aware of the possibility of catching a green tagged striper during these final months of fishing. These fish are a part of VIMS study of how Mycobacteriosis is affecting the fish of the Chesapeake Bay. These green tagged fish are NOT part of your creel limit; however, you are being asked to call toll free 1-866-845-3379 and report any such fish caught. It could mean a reward of up to $20.00.
Capt. Mike Handforth (757-336-6861), back from a well-deserved vacation, is hopeful that the water remains warm for at least a part of the month. Normally it does not. Should it, flounder within the sound is a possibility. Mike is certain that striper fishing will be their mainstay, though snapper blues are likelihood and a blitz of larger blues a real possibility. Offshore, everyone is anticipating the return of the tuna. Bluefish have been the only species of consistency and should continue into November.
Jim Brincefield (252-336-4296) will be seeking tilefish and sea bass off of the deepwater wrecks when weather allows. Inshore, Jim will be fishing for striped bass and bluefish. Capt. Max King (757-650-3176) will fish for tuna off shore and big striped bass inshore. Max says that he will be live lining with eels. He says things were so good last year that he plans to keep fishing until he runs out of eels. Capt. Kenny George (757-548-6991) plans to fish for stripers and tautog. Capt. Ron Bennett (757-681-4744) will also be fishing for stripers and tautog. Capt. Nolan Agner (757-200-0200) will offer both offshore and inshore trips. Off shore Nolan will be primarily catching tuna. Inshore, he will target striped bass and bluefish. Capt. Steve Wray (757-481-7517) will be fishing for tuna offshore as well. Inshore, he will be taking his clients wreck fishing for flounder, tautog, sea bass, and striped bass. Capt. Rob Wilhoite (804-399-3587) will be fishing the wrecks off Virginia Beach for flounder and sea bass. Capt. Joe Ferrera (757-572-9236) will be fishing for tuna offshore and stripers inshore.
Capt. Chandler Hogg (757-876-1590) fishes for tautog, bluefish, and striped bass. Capt. Bill Mershon ((757-229-2878) has taken delivery of a new 30’ Island Hopper. He plans to troll for striped bass with up to six customers. Capt. Jerry Olson (757-288-1081) will be fishing for striped bass and tautog, while Capt. William Seymour (804-387-8848) will be fishing for stripers and sea bass. Capt. Keith Miller (757-220-3540) fishes his 40’sportfisherman out of Gwynn’s Island. He plans to be trolling between the Hole-in-the-Wall and Cape Charles for stripers. Capt. Michael Quade (804-694-9052) will also be fishing strictly for stripers. He will be trolling and live-lining with eels.
Capt. Bill Bailey (804-776-0255) plans to fish for stripers, with the hope that some gray trout will still be around. Capt. Percy Blackburn (804-240-6756) plans to troll for stripers, while Capts. Carlisle Bannister (804-353-2143) and Don Bannister (804-776-0629) plan to cast, jig, live-line, and troll for stripers around structure this month. Both will be awaiting the larger ocean dwelling fish that should arrive close to Thanksgiving. They have a friendly rivalry going with Capt. Glenn Hubbard (804-337-6357) who says that he will do whatever it takes to out fish the Bannister boys. Don says that will never happen.
Although it has an effect on the total Bay, the Northern Neck captains know that the final two weeks of the menhaden season often determines whether the larger fish can be expected to show in late November. If water temperatures, salinity, etc. keep the baitfish within the rivers and upper reaches of the Bay, as it did last season, then the larger fish will come the 55 or so miles up the Bay to forage on their favorite food. If the baitfish come down early, their numbers are often depleted by the menhaden fleet to the point that the larger fish make only a token visit, if they make a visit at all. Until that time, Capts. Bob Reed (804-435-9785), Jim Deibler (804-580-7744), Joe Shelton (804-580-9800), Ferrell McLain (888-229-3474), and Jr. Fisher (804-580-4342) will be chumming, live-lining, and trolling for striped bass and the occasional bluefish. They will be jigging for gray trout, also, should there be fish coming down from Maryland. Capts. Ryan Rogers (804-453-5812), Danny Crabbe (804-453-3251), Jeff Gurr (540-825-2804), and Leroy Carr (804-453-4040) will begin to troll for the larger fish that may invade Maryland waters somewhat earlier in search for the schooled menhaden. A reminder of the CaseyNeal Rogers Memorial Tournament slated for November 17; details can be found within this magazine.
Let’s hope the cold fronts allow us to fish. Ideally, we want warm weather to continue for us, and cold weather to affect those states to our North. Don’t hesitate to call any of the aforementioned captains to find out how the fishing is progressing. Believe me, they will be out there and in the know. For additional captains, check their websites at www.fishva.org.
Virginia Freshwater Fishing Report
By Missy Fike
The warm temperatures seem to be postponing some of the fish’s normal fall pattern. If November cools off and stays cooled off, then the fishing action should pick up tremendously. When the fall cold fronts start moving in most species of fish will move up into the shallows and feed to thicken up for the upcoming winter months. Good luck!
Burke Lake anglers will see bass hitting jigs and deeper running cranks in November. The key here is to be deep and slower in your presentation. Stealthy anglers that make longer casts may catch some musky.
At Curtis, newly opened Hunting Run and Orange the crappie will be schooled. Try small minnows moved slowly back and forth at the depth you mark fish. Bass will hit deep cranks, spoons and jerkbaits at the proper depth. Fish slower than you did last month.
On the upper Rapp and Potomac smallmouth have moved to deeper haunts as well. The river is low and anglers should take the time to photograph the structure exposed. You might even be able to walk to your favorite spot instead of canoe! Drop shot rigs, live minnows and even jigging spoons will create great fishing opportunities in pools and especially near treetops and boulders. Be sure to fish areas thoroughly.
On the tidal Rapp the fishing is still good for crappie near wood structure. Try for bass in the same areas with dark colored plastics and spoons or jigs. Catfish are a sure thing if you have any live or fresh bait. If not go with the frozen baits. Fish just before fronts and during fronts when possible.
On the tidal Potomac the bass angling will switch to drop offs and structure this month. Jigs and cranks are def. the way to go. Crappie in Aquia Creek and Occoquan will be hitting too. Striped bass may even be caught around the King George area. Catfish will hit bait on the ledges this month.
Lake Anna is very low and many fall hangouts are out of water. Find drop offs and structure in what is now the back of coves or the headwaters of the rivers. Smaller cranks and jerkbaits are a good bet as are spoons this month. The splits and uplake areas are holding nice striped bass. Look for bait and then cast to them or use fresh caught bait to get some of the nicer stripers of the year right now. Crappie will be on deeper docks and around the bridge pilings. Find ‘em on the finder and put minnows right on them to get a strike.
In the Northern Neck area, RW’s (804-529-5634) reported that when the water temps drop the fish in the ponds become more active again. The largemouth bass will be in the shallows and should be hitting well on topwater lures and shallow divers. If the largemouth bass are not hitting well on the top water lures then a good alterative is to try a crankbait, a plastic worm or a jig. The crappie will hit anytime as long as you can find a school.
Russell at Surfside Bait and Tackle on the James River (804-730-2238) states the catfish have been slow but will pick up when they get a good strong cold front. Stripers on the lower part of the river will really pick up on Rebel crankbaits, deep diving crankbaits and Rattletraps. Any type of big topwater baits and bucktails also work well. Smallmouth will come farther down river and hit well on small crankbaits and rooster tail spinner baits.
Mark at Coleman’s on the James River (434-286-2547) reports that November is the best time for Smallmouth. The smallmouth will pick up and bite well on live baits as well as pumpkinseed color grubs. Shallow diving crankbaits like the Speed Shad will work well on the lakes. The smallmouth fishing this year has really done well. Crappie turned on and will continue biting well through November. Crappie should bite well on small minnows and crappie jigs. The flathead catfish will also pick back up before winter sets in. They will eat more actively to fatten up before winter. Fall is a good time for fly fishermen to get out and be successful. Just keep in mind that the river is extremely low because of the lack of rain. Most people fishing down the river are having to use small rafts and canoes.
On the Chickahominy fishing is great and should pick up and be fantastic, according to Mike at Riverside Camp Grounds (804-966-5536). The bass are schooled up and biting really well on anything that resembles small baitfish. This is the time of year when the fish swim and feed off the small fry and baitfish in the water so using lures that resemble that will prove successful. The crappie will be coming in more and can be caught on small minnows and minnie jigs.
The stripers can be caught trolling using Redfin style of lures or by jigging using blade baits like the Ripper. Let the bait go all the way to the bottom and bounce it up about 3-4 feet. They also hit well on small grub heads with a buck tale on it. Stripers bite well on either tide as long as the tide is moving. The bigger blue catfish will turn on and be hitting very well. They are active and bite really well from October – April. The bass will be schooled up and should continue biting well on through to December. The river is tidal so the time of day isn’t as important as the flow of the tide. Usually the last 2 or 3 hours of the out going tide is best.
Over on the Virginia Beach/Suffolk area we usually contacted Bobby at Dashiell’s Sporting Goods (757-539-7854). I was unable to contact him this month but I’m sure if you would like to know what’s biting in his area you can call. Last month he reported that the bass will move into the creeks as the water temperature cools down into the 60’s. Shallow running crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jigs used along the shores will prove to be successful. Crappie will also move into shallower water and can be caught on minnows as well as jigs. Stripers also become more active as the water temperature cools. I think since it’s November and we are still waiting on the water temperatures to cool the report from last month is probably still accurate.
Down at Buggs Island at Buggs Island Bait and Tackle (434-374-8934) crappie fishing around bridges and brush piles with minnows and jigs should make for a successful trip. The largemouth bass will be hitting well on top water lures, artificial worms and crank baits. The stripers should have already begun their fall migration following the shad up the rivers. White bass and white perch will be hitting on the main lake points.
The Tackle Box at Smith Mountain Lake (434-239-1710) reports that the striper will be biting well early mornings, late evening and more and more throughout the day. They will respond well to live bait, bucktails and flukes. The flukes are a soft rubber jerk bait and the color that seems to be more successful is the white and light colors. The largemouth bass will respond well to Shakey Head lures. It’s a small grub with a worm on it and they will also hit well while jigging. The largemouth bass seem to really start picking up in November because they are feeding and thickening up for the colder winter months ahead. The color that seems to work well is the green pumpkinseed and watermelon colors. The topwater lures work well around brush piles and lily pads off the deep points. The blue, flathead and channel catfish will be biting well on shrimp, chicken liver and a lot of the catfish packaged baits. Crappie will be biting well when you can find them. They are in the 10 – 15 feet range of water and will be schooled up. The lake is 3 – 5 feet low in most places because of the lack of rain and this may come into play and affect the fish’s normal fall pattern.