Capt. Art Conway of Conway’s River Rat Guide Service out of Ed Allen’s Boats and Bait reported that Chickahominy Lake mid-day water temperatures were in the low to mid 80’s in the central lower lake and major creeks on Wednesday, back up 10 degrees from last week. The water level was about 6 inches above the top of the dam and the water was light to medium brown and slightly cloudy in the central lake.
Many blue cats and bullheads were along drop-offs and in channels in the main lake, but some were on flats and in creeks. When active, cats were hitting live minnows and cut bait. Most crappie were on deeper main lake flats near creek mouths or on channel edge brush piles, but a few were on deeper shorelines with wood cover. Active crappie was hitting live minnows, Wright Bait Co. and Southern Pro curly tail jigs, small tubes, Kalin crappie scrubs, and small swim baits. White and yellow perch were scattered or in loose aggregates on flats and drop-offs in the main lake and creeks and when active were hitting small live minnows, swim baits, and jigs. Moderate numbers of bluegill, fliers, and shellcracker were along main lake shorelines and in the lower areas of major creeks, in loose schools holding around wood cover or vegetation. When active, bluegill and shellcracker were hitting live worms and Nikko nymphs, flies, and small swimbaits. Pickerel and bass were located around cypress trees, on flats, along shorelines, and on channel edges, especially near the mouths of 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 and John Longmire, 20 bluegills, 18 white perch, four crappie, a shellcracker and a yellow perch; David Ross, 34 bluegill and a yellow perch; Brian Dementi, Mickey Cleveland, Bennett Harris, 18 bluegill, nine white perch, two crappie, and a shellcracker; Mickey Cleveland, 10 bluegill, seven crappie, a pickerel and a bass.
Jeff Crow reports the following from Lake Country in southern Virginia: Kerr Reservoir rose sharply and was in the range of 311 feet earlier this week. The guide curve begins heading to the summer draw down level of just under 300 feet later this month, but with all the rain, we are well above this level. Anglers should check the latest level before heading to the lake. Lake Gaston was above normal elevation earlier in the week and was in the range of just over 200 feet. Water temperatures have been in the upper 70s lower 80s recently. With all the incoming water, both lakes are high and stained.
The largemouth bass fishing reports continue to come in from Kerr and anglers are having success on either main-lake points and rocks or down in Nutbush Creek, using Texas-rigged plastics or Carolina rigs. Many midlake creeks remain clear and fishable, and fish are being caught on jigs and swimbaits. Most have been in the one to two-pound range. A key pattern right now is looking for windblown points with spinnerbaits. With the high water, shallow bass will be an option in the flooded brush and trees even though the water temperatures are rising to summer levels.
Even with the high water, crappie fishing on Kerr Reservoir is good to excellent right now and fishermen are catching them again this week on bridge piling and brushpiles. Many anglers just use jigs this time of year without tipping them with a minnow. As we move into summer, live bait will become less important than in the spring. Anglers report catching up to 80 crappie a day on a range of colors from green and yellow, blue ice or black and chartreuse. The best depth right now appears to be around twelve feet and crappie up to fifteen inches are common. Stripers are being caught in major creeks again this week in 25-35 feet of water on bucktail jigs, umbrella rigs and swimbaits. Anglers are typically using either leadcore or downriggers at speeds of 2-3 mph.
Topwater lures around rocks and bridges are effective for the largemouth bass over on Lake Gaston. Getting to the lake early in the morning before the sun gets too high helps not only the fishing but also minimizes boat traffic. Many anglers try to fish early or late because the lake is not so crowded. A lot of the fish are now headed toward their summer haunts and moving deeper so good catches are typically on deeper docks and points. Carolina rigs and deep diving crankbaits are becoming more important and anglers need to stay two casts off the bank in most cases.
GREEN TOP REPORT
Saltwater: We are seeing remarkable catches of cobia throughout the bay. Loads of nice fish are being caught by both chummers, and sight casters. So far, a 92-pounder is the biggest we’ve heard of. A few good places to try for cobia by chumming, are Latimer shoals, Bluefish Rock, and Windmill Bar. The shallower areas are usually better for chumming. Elevated towers are a great advantage while sight casting, if seeking cobia without a tower, anchoring, and chumming may be the best bet. A tower is also invaluable for spotting schools of drum, which has occurred quite a bit over the last few days.
Many different baits will work for hooking up with the drum, but keeping the bait up in the water column is best. Some folks actually use topwater baits. Catches of spadefish continue to occur at the Chesapeake Light Tower and has increased at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Spotting the spades from a tower is useful, but good electronics are advantageous on any boat. Side imaging can be used to locate fish without running over the areas. Side imaging is also useful to locate hard structure, which is desirable for many species, especially flounder. Vertical jigging with 1-3 oz bucktails, dressed with fresh strip bait or Gulp! baits can be quite productive.
Flounder catches have increased on some of the artificial reefs in the lower bay. Many prefer to drag flounder rigs, or three-way rigs, over known structure areas, covering lots of water. This is a time-honored tactic that works well also. Folks are having good success with Spanish mackerel throughout the bay. Clark spoons and Drone spoons are what is mostly dragged behind in line weights or diving planer boards. Surface birds are another good method of presenting baits for the mackerel and bluefish. Good areas are Hampton Bar, York Spit, Windmill Bar and the outer spans of the CBBT.
Speckled trout are being caught by those seeking them in the shallower areas, and inlets with grass. Some of the piers on the west side of the bay, are reporting catches of specks. Croaker catches seem to be hit or miss, but the York River always seems to produce for those “in the know”, of which areas produce throughout the season. The yellowfin tuna bite has been hot. Charters are returning with loads of nice yellows. Mixed in with the catches of tuna are mahi and some large wahoo. For those venturing out for bottom fish, the golden tilefish bite has been hot also. The seabass action has been good also. For the Outer Banks surf anglers, one can expect to bring in puppy drum, pompano, sea mullet, and Spanish mackerel, just about any day.
Freshwater: Kerr Lake has jumped back up to high levels again. The lake is currently at 311 feet. Still, many are reporting catching plenty of bass in the 2-pound range, by pitching soft plastics to the flooded cover. The bigger bass seem to be much harder to find. Lake Anna bass are holding steady, as five-bass limits in the 15-pound range, are taking top honors in the evening tournaments. With all the heavy boat traffic and hot weather, the tournaments have been shortened to half day, and evening events. The stripers have been biting well for the guides, and anglers using live bait. They have been returning with limits in a matter of hours, in some cases. The Elite 70 event was held on the James River over the weekend, with a winning weight of 18-plus pounds. Anglers were able to fish the James, Appomattox, and Chickahominy rivers. A 16-pounder won a Federation event on the James, out of Osbourne Landing in Varina. Overall, solid weight is being brought to the scales from the tidal rivers. On this list, is also the tidal Rappahannock, which many overlook as a quality bass fishery. Solid weights of 18-19 pounds are taking top honors here. These rivers are good for big blue catfish, which has been in a decline recently, but big catches are still being made.
The upper James is on the fall after rising to 12 feet last week. Hopefully by the weekend, the levels will be back down around the 5-6 foot marks. Local ponds and smaller lakes are a good bet right now, as they do not receive the pleasure boat traffic. Slow trolling small jigs is a good method for locating schools of crappie. Multiple lines can be let out with varying colors and weights to determine the preference for the day. Drifting minnows, or night crawlers, can also be good for locating fish, especially large shellcrackers and bluegills.