JAMES, APPOMATTOX, CHICKAHOMINY RIVERS AND CHICKAHOMINY LAKE
Capt. Art Conway of Conway’s River Rat Guide Service (804-514-1486), out of Ed Allen’s Boats and Bait, reported that Chickahominy Lake midday water temperatures were in the high 50s in the lower end and in the mid 50s in the upper end of the main lake Wednesday. The lake level was about even with the top of the dam, and the water was medium brown and slightly cloudy in the central lake with murkier water on some downwind shorelines.
Blue cats and bullheads were scattered on flats, along drop-offs and in channels in the main lake and in creeks and were hitting live minnows and cut bait. Some crappie were along shorelines, on flats, on drop-offs and in channels in the main lake, especially near cypress trees and other wood cover, while some crappie were in the lower parts of major creeks. Activity varied, but more active crappie were hitting live minnows, Wright Bait Co. and Southern Pro curlytail jigs, small tubes, Kalin crappie scrubs and small swimbaits. Yellow and white perch were scattered or in loose aggregates on flats, drop-offs and channels in the main lake and some creeks and when active were hitting live minnows, small swimbaits and small jigs. Most larger bluegill had moved slightly away from the shoreline and were in 2 to 8 feet of water, sometimes on brush piles. Bluegill were hitting live worms and crickets, flies, Nikko nymphs and small swimbaits. Some bass and pickerel were along shorelines, on deeper flats, along drop-offs or in channels in the main lake and in creeks. When active, bass and pickerel were hitting live minnows, spinnerbaits, swim baits, stick worms, crank baits, jerk baits and jigs.
Fishing with Capt. Conway, Abe Longmire, John Longmire and John McDaniel had 38 bluegill, two shellcracker, 16 crappie and a roach minnow.
Ed Allen’s Boats and Bait reports that water level is normal with clear waters, and the temperature is in the mid-to-upper 50s. Three boats reported catches of more than 50 bass on Saturday, while pickle and bowfin action has been good with minnows and spinners. Catfish action has been good on minnows and cut-bait crappie are hitting on minnows around brush piles of 7 to 10 feet of water.
Notable catches: Chris Winkler 6-pound bass; John Lots 6.1-pound bass; Garrett Gouge 5.9-pound bass, 5-pound bass, 18.2-pound bag; Jed Dickerson 5-pound bass; Mark Fahnert and Nate Kirby 12.9-pound bag; J. Dickerson 18.1-pound bag; Ron Crum and Bryce Henley 12.6-pound bag; Mark Nearly and Greg Ball 12.4-pound bag; John Goodfellow 30 bluegill; William Allen 6.1-pound bass.
GREEN TOP REPORT
Stan Cobb of Green Top Hunting and Fishing (804-550-2188, greentophuntfish.com) reports the following:
SALTWATER: There’s been a spike in flounder catches lately that we don’t commonly see this time of year, and anglers have been catching them from the Chincoteague area, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel and Rudee Inlet. Ocean structures are producing these fish also, which is typical this time of year. Ocean catches should continue through the winter. Rockfish catches are becoming more prevalent, but there’s also more people targeting them. Trolling inside the Rappahannock and the Potomac has been productive for keepers. Folks are casting to the rocks and light lines of the Bridge–Tunnel at night with varied success. The outgoing tide has been better lately, and the Hampton Roads Bridge–Tunnel and farther inside the James and York are producing keepers. The speckled trout have been making a good showing the last couple of weeks, and folks fishing from Buckroe Pier have been doing well with small keepers, but limits are being had. Bigger fish tend to come from places like Lynnhaven Inlet and Mobjack Bay, which are good areas for puppy drum. The Eastern Shore creeks have been good for better quality speckled trout, also. Soft plastics, such as sea shads, are a good option. Suspending jerkbaits are starting to produce, but a few are still being caught on topwater baits. The topwater action shouldn’t last much longer, though. Look for the tautog bite to increase as the water continues to cool and for more anglers target them. Anglers often will try to catch their limit of rockfish then try for the tautogs. There’s been plenty of bluefish caught from the Hatteras surf lately. The inshore boats at Nags Head and Hatteras are doing well with speckled trout and puppy drum. The offshore boats are doing well with blackfin and yellowfin tuna and Mahi Mahi.
FRESHWATER: Kerr Lake is at 307.06 feet, and recent reports say the fish are everywhere. However, with the lake level dropping, the breaklines farther out typically hold the better fish. The higher levels have many anglers using spinnerbaits and Texas-rigged plastics. Many species of fish, including stripers, bass and crappie, are moving shallower at Anna. Baitfish are on the move as well, so covering a lot of water is important in fall patterns. Overcast days tend to be better for shallow flats, whereas the channel edges are typically better on sunny days. The shallower bridge areas uplake tend to attract the crappie in big numbers. Crappie also hang near or on stump rows along channel edges. Shallow docks are also good for crappie, but good skipping techniques are often needed for the bigger ones. Lipless cranks are good for bass, especially along grass edges. The tidal James is in good shape for the Elite 70 tournament this weekend, and solid weigh-ins are expected. The bass seem to be spread out, so multiple patterns should be expected. Many will run to the Chickahominy, where vegetation is more prevalent, and there is an abundance of wood cover. There are several two-day events on the river this weekend, so expect a lot of bass boat traffic. The Potomac continues to produce quality bags, which would be a good alternative to the James as the Potomac may not have the volume of traffic to deal with. The upper James looks really good, and the water temps are falling, providing great conditions for big smallmouth bass. Spinnerbaits, chatterbaits and crankbaits tend to get thrown first for catches. Clear and calm days usually call for smaller, slower presentations such as finesse jigs and grubs. Natural colors, like smoke and dull greens are typically best.
LAKE COUNTRY, KERR RESERVOIR, LAKE GASTON
Jeff Crow (rtdoutdoors- @gmail.com) reports the following from Lake Country in southern Virginia:
Kerr Reservoir has been on a slow drop after rising to around 314 feet last week following Hurricane Michael. At the beginning of the week it was around 308 feet. Lake Gaston has been holding steady just below 200 feet normal pool. Water temperatures have dropped substantially and are in the lower to mid 70s. By the end of the month, with dropping air temperatures and shorter days, the water temperatures should be in the 60s.
At current water levels on Kerr, most cover is still in fairly deep water and it is tough for anglers to get to the bank. This will continue to change, and anglers should watch for levels in the 303- to 305-feet range for the best shoreline cover fishing. Until then, fish still are being caught in flooded pockets and coves. Anglers should follow the baitfish as this is what the game fish are doing, and that means migrating to the backs of creeks and coves. In October, bass and stripers will feed heavily on baitfish such as shad and herring. Creeks in the midlake to downlake areas are fishing well right now as long as clear water can be found. Over on Lake Gaston, the water has a stain to it but the fishing remains good. Reports came in from Lizard Creek and also down lake creeks that the bite was good on soft stock baits cast around docks and rock piles.