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October 2007 Fishing Report

Virginia Fishing Reports – October 2007


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Northern Neck Charter Boat Directory


Saltwater Fishing Reports

By Captain Rick Lockart

October’s forecast is primarily the reverse of April’s. In April we were awaiting the arrival of many species, due primarily to water temperature. During October, we can expect to see the departure, or decline, of many species of fish that we have come to enjoy over the past six months. This departure will be accelerated by coastal storms and/or cold fronts from Canada. In recent years, regardless of the reasons, October has been relatively mild. This really had a positive effect on the Bay last year for the menhaden were later in schooling, then later in their leaving the shallow waters for the deeper, warmer waters. Ultimately, their movement from the rivers and the upper reaches of the Bay was delayed. This delay led to one of the best striped bass seasons in Virginia’s Bay in recent memory. Many are hoping that the mild weather that we are experiencing in September will have the same affect this fall. Anyway, I digress. The cooler waters of October can see the elimination of spot, croaker, puppy drum, bluefish, and flounder in the Middle Bay

Striped bass will be the mainstay of this portion of the Bay. Experienced gray trout fishermen will be hoping that their object of affection will be found along the drop offs and under the marauding schools of stripers; however, the past few years have not been the best. The Lower Bay may not see elimination of the aforementioned species, but there will be a decrease, on that you can bet. Size, however, may increase. Off shore, the numbers of billfish, wahoo, and dolphin will also decrease. Many off shore anglers look for an increase in the tuna strikes, particularly the bluefin tuna. Though their size won’t rival those that slide through in December, their numbers can be worth the trip. Inshore, the cobia, jack crevelle, Spanish and king mackerel will start their migration southward, while the flounder, sea bass, spot, croaker, spotted and gray trout, and red drum numbers should hold their own early in the month, then tail off toward the end. Notable citation awards in October, 2006, went to spot (41), spotted sea trout (56), flounder (37), and red drum (89), most all caught toward the mouth of the Bay. Larger bluefish will start to move closer to shore. Last year their numbers exploded with the arrival of colder water. 

October 4 begins the second season for stripers. However, by the time this magazine goes to print, VMRC’s meeting to alter the Bay’s December fishing for stripers will not have taken place. At present, it is likely that the recreational fishermen of striped bass will lose a full week of the season (season ending Dec. 24) or will lose a fish/person/day beginning Dec. 9. In either case, the 28”-34” slot will still be in effect along with the 18” minimum. Look for the results of the Sept. 25 meeting on the VMRC website or in next month’s magazine. Generally, few fish of slot size or larger are caught in October, but it must be remembered that the slot is in effect from the beginning of this second season. Traditional methods of catching the striped bass include casting, jigging, live-lining, trolling, and chumming. 

Eastern Shore

Capt. Mike Handforth (757-336-6861) is hopeful that the water remains warm throughout the month so the flounder will remain within the sounds. Mike is certain that snapper blues, spot, croaker, gray trout, and a few triggerfish will stay around long enough to keep his customers smiling. Striped bass from the northern states will not likely show during October, and the resident fish will not often challenge the 28” limit. Mike wants people to know of the artificial reef at Blackfish Bank. He claims it is worth a try in October. Capt. Dale Ballard (757-641-5094) will be moving his operations from oceanside to bayside for the month of October. He will be fishing primarily for Flounder and Tautog. 

Offshore, things have been slow. All of the trollers are hoping for a return of the tuna. Bluefish have been the only specie of consistency.  


Capt. Nolan Agner (757-200-0200) will offer both offshore and inshore trips. Offshore for Nolan will be primarily tuna, though wahoo might still be around should the weather cooperate. Inshore, he will target bluefish, red drum, and king mackerel. The flounder bite has the potential to be excellent. Capt. Steve Wray (757-481-7517) will be fishing for Atlantic swordfish offshore. Inshore, he will be taking his clients wreck fishing for flounder and king mackerel. Farther inshore, Steve will fish for stripers and red drum. He noted that the red drum fishing has been red hot from the surf at Sandbridge. Capt. Jim Brincefield (252-336-4296) will be seeking tilefish and grouper off of the deepwater wrecks when weather allows. Inshore, Jim will be fishing for gray trout, flounder, and black sea bass. Capt. Kenny George (757-548-6991) has high hopes that striped bass, flounder, and tautog will be the ticket for his parties, while Capt. Max King (757-650-3176) will fish for tuna offshore and striped bass inshore. 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, bluefish, and gray trout during the month of October. Capt. Bill Mershon (757-229-6244) will continue to bottom fish for spot and gray trout as long as the fish cooperate. 

Middle Peninsula

One of the most scenic of rivers of the Middle Peninsula is the Piankatank; however, I don’t know any charter boaters who actually fish the reaches of this river. Nevertheless, I want to share with you Capt. David Lee (804-776-6181) who offers excursions and cocktail cruises up this beautiful, placid river. David also runs the Deltaville Inn (804-776-6665), a bed and breakfast of the Middle Peninsula, from where you can hook up for these tours. Capt. Bill Bailey (804-776-0255) plans to still be fishing for spot early in October. He will concentrate on stripers and gray trout after the spot leave. Presently, Bill is catching some 10-16 keeper gray trout a trip. This is the best that I have heard of this year in the Middle Peninsula. Let’s hope it continues into and through the month.  

Capt.s Don Bannister (804-776-0629) and Bobby Jenkins (804-314-4799) say “stripers, stripers, stripers.” Both are likely to look for gray trout should they catch their limits early. Capt. Randy King (804-239-2990) is hopeful that the spot will be around through the first half of the month, along with some gray trout. Once this fishery vanishes, he will start into his striped bass season. 

Northern Neck

The Northern Neck is not a large expanse of water, at least not in length. It stretches from the Potomac to the Rappahannock, a distance less than 20 miles. Yet, it produces two often different classes of fishermen. Capt.s Hunt Burress (804-333-5567), Danny Crabbe (804-453-3251), Leroy Carr (804-453-4050, and Ryan Rogers (804-453-5812) often concentrate their early October fishing efforts in Maryland waters. Their targets include striped bass, bluefish, and gray trout. Capt.s Roy Amburn (804-453-4265), David Fisher (804-580-2548, Bob Reed (804-435-6907, and Woody Robertson (804-453-4608) will fish almost exclusively in Virginia waters, though their targets and methods of fishing will be virtually the same. As the waters cool during the month, reports of larger fish being caught in Maryland will filter their way down the Bay. This will cause many fishermen in the northern Virginia waters to catch a partial limit of schoolie stripers (generally chumming or jigging) and leave a slot or two open for the big boys (generally fished for by trolling). Many will go home without their limits, but the thought of what’s to come always seems to push some of us to give it a try just a little too early.  

In the farthest most southern part of the Northern Neck is Capt. Carroll Webb (804-347-3970) who fishes for stripers in the same manner as the others, but also offers the opportunity for one to two people to fish for spotted trout with him in his flat bottom skiff. He is hopeful that the trout will stay into November. As stated at the beginning, it’s all going to be dependent upon water temperature.

Virginia Freshwater Fishing Report
By Missy Fike

As the temperatures started dropping last month the fish started becoming more active. The water temperatures will continue to drop. In most areas the fish will move to the shallower waters and feed on the minnows and baitfish. October is a great time of the year to work the shorelines. October is a peaceful time of year as well with the weather temps dropping and the scenery starting to change colors.  

Northern Virginia

Lake Anna should be cooling down which means the striper and crappie fishing will heat up. Look for bait being busted in the creeks and on primary and secondary points from the Splits uplake. Try around the Power Plant in the early mornings for stripers too. Bass will move shallow temporarily and will hit surface lures and then cranks off points. Be sure and fish around structure this month too.  

Lake Orange will be much like Anna but on a smaller scale. The walleye will be available to slow trolling deep cranks or jigs with a minnow or large crawler. Try jumbo minnows for crappie near brushpiles. 

Lake Curtis is a good spot this month. Bass will be likely found in the timber and along the dam. Use RatLTraps and other silver or gold colored cranks. Crappie will be after minnows and bream will also hit well on crickets.  

The northern lakes such as Frederick, Germantown and Thompson cool off much sooner but the fishing is still good. Use light test line and make long casts as the water clears.  

The upper Rappahannock and Rapidan are excellent this month. The smallies are pretty and the sunfish are scrappy. Use poppers on warm days and spinnerbaits or jerkbaits in the riffles. Deeper holes are best fished with crayfish or minnows. Nice fish can really be hauled in this month. Fish slow and enjoy the scenery.  

The upper Potomac River usually turns on for both bass and catfish. The bass move more towards wood structure and creeks but bridge pilings and rubble are good bets too. The catfish are going to be feeding a little shallower. Focus on ledges near shallow flats. Use fresh bait. Crappie are also a good target this month. Go back to the headwaters of the creeks to find them. Finally, the fishing is so much better this month due to less boat traffic.  

Motts Run will pick up quite a bit. Everything will become more active as the water temps continue to drop. The fish will stay in the shallows and feed to store fat up for the winter months that are coming. Largemouth bass will be biting on topwater lures, artificial worms and shallow diving lures. Channel catfish will continue biting on chicken liver. The bream will bite well on small lures like beetle spins or night crawlers 

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.  

Mark at Coleman’s on the James River (434-286-2547) reports that the cool weather of October makes the fish more active again. The smallmouth will pick back 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 this year have really done well. Anglers in the past few years were doing well if they caught 25 per day. Lately the anglers are able to pull out around 50 per day. Fall is a good time for fly fishermen to get out and be successful. The flathead catfish will also pick back up before winter sets in. They will eat more actively to fatten up before winter.  

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 swarm 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 season opens back up at the beginning of October and they can be caught trolling using Redfin style of lures or by jigging using blade baits like the Ripper. Bream will start getting scarcer but some will still be caught and the blue catfish will be picking up. They are active and bite really well from October – April. 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 contacted Bobby at Dashiell’s Sporting Goods (757-539-7854). He reports that the bass will move into the creeks as the water temperature cool down into the 60’s. Shallow running crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jigs used along the shores will prove to be successful. Crappie will also move a little shallower water and can be caught on minnows as well as jigs. Stripers also become more active as the water temperature cools.  

Down at Buggs Island I talked to Rusty at Buggs Island Bait and Tackle (434-374-8934) He reports 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 Striper will begin 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 through out the day. They will respond well to lures like the Silver Buddy. The largemouth bass will respond well to Shakey Head lures. It’s a small grub with worm on it. 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. 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. 

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