The water level is up slightly and dingy from heavy rains last week. Water temperature is in the upper 40s and should get into the 50s by mid week. Fishing pressure is light. Bass fishing is surprisingly good after heavy rains and high winds last week. Five bags were reported on Saturday over 15 pounds, with the top weight being 19.1. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits and jigs were the baits of choice. Limits of crappie are still being taken in 10-12 feet of water. The crappie spawning run should start moving into the creeks when the water temperature reaches the mid 50s. Catfish, pickerel and bowfin are still being caught on minnows.
Notable catches: Billy Marshall 14-pound bag; Nate McMillan and Jeff Hubbard 50 crappie; Ron Crum and Andrew Scott 19.1-pound bag; Chris Gammon and Ron Woodfin 17.3-pound bag; Bronson Tuma and Chris Mizzell 15.9-pound bag; Danny Grattan and Ryan Grattan 15.4-pound bag; Garrett Gouge 15-pound bag; Bronson Tuma 5.65 fly rod; Ron Crum 5.39 fly rod; Ed Allen 5.2 fly rod.
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 50s in most areas in the lake on Wednesday, with higher water temperatures in some shallow flats and creeks. The lake level was about 8 inches above the top of the dam, and the water was light brown and moderately cloudy in the central lake. Current was strong at the upper end of the lake.
Most blue cats and bullheads were along drop-offs and in channels of the main lake, but some were on flats. When active, cats were hitting live minnows and cut bait.
Some crappie were still along main lake channel edges or in channels, frequently near wood cover, but others were starting to move into warmer water in the creeks. Crappie were moderately active up the lake in areas sheltered from the current and hit live minnows, Wright Bait Co. and Southern Pro curly tail jigs, small tubes, Kalin crappie scrubs and small swim baits when active. White perch were scattered or in loose aggregates on deep flats, drop-offs and channels in the main lake and hit small live minnows, swim baits and jigs when active.
Most bluegill, fliers and shellcracker were in channels but inactive. When occasionally active, bluegill and shellcracker were hitting live worms, Nikko nymphs, flies and small swim baits fished on drop shot rigs. Pickerel and bass were mostly located around cypress trees, on deep flats and in channels, but some were along shorelines and in creeks on sunny days. When active, bass and pickerel were hitting live minnows, spinnerbaits, swim baits, stick worms, crank baits, jerk baits, blade baits and jigs.
Fishing with Capt. Conway, Tom Porter had one white perch and 14 crappie.
Jeff Crow reports the following from Lake Country in southern Virginia: Heavy and widespread rain across the region recently, ranging from 3-5 inches, resulted in a 10-foot rise in the Kerr Reservoir level earlier this week. On Tuesday, it was at approximately 308 feet. The Corps of Engineers is working to bring the lake back down by discharging water from the dam at an increased rate, predicting a level of 305 by Feb. 17, contingent on additional rain levels.
The outflow from Kerr will challenge levels at Gaston, which have been running a few inches high but, as of earlier this week, was still just under 200 feet and fairly normal. Water temperatures have been in the mid to upper 40s in most areas of each lake.
All of the fresh water coming into the system will create challenges for fishermen, but there will still be opportunities to locate and catch fish. A good strategy right now is to target the lower- and mid-section of the larger creek arms, as the backs of many creeks and especially main lake areas will be heavily stained. Crappie reports are coming in from areas in 15-25 feet on small jigs.
Keith Wray of Fishdoc’s Guide Service reports that crappie can be caught in good numbers in creeks on either Kerr or Gaston as the fish head in the direction of spawning grounds. Keith reports that tight-lining is a preferred technique right now, allowing anglers to present lures very slowly and right in front of fish. A spread of 10 rods or so can be run at the bow of the boat at a speed of 0.5 mph down to a dead stop. Soft plastics in a range of colors from chartreuse, pink, red and black are recommended.
Largemouth bass are in pre-spawn, and the bigger fish typically move up first. Anglers should be checking early spring patterns, especially on warm and sunny days. It is a good time to focus on shallow crankbaits, spinnerbaits and flipping or pitching jigs, or plastics in shallow targets such as docks, rock piles, bushes and stumps.
With the water temperatures still in the 40s, it remains a great time to catch a giant blue cat. Many anglers have continued to drift all winter long with speeds under 0.5 mph and using a Santee rig. Bait of choice has been cut bait or a baitfish.
GREEN TOP REPORT
Saltwater: The seabass action is excellent now, and should remain so through February. Tautog fishing is also excellent. Both species are being caught from ocean wrecks, but seabass are usually caught much deeper. Bluefish will sometimes show up on these structures, and provide a distraction.
A few offshore boats have ventured out and have been finding blackfin tuna, amberjack and triggerfish. Some scattered catches of sea mullet have occurred along the Hatteras beaches.
Freshwater: The crappie at Kerr Lake have been suspending over the channels towards the backs of the creeks, and some have been suspended by bridge pilings. Spider rigs have been the way to catch them. This is a great method for covering different depths in a small spread. The crappie at Anna have been suspending around the bridge pilings. Fifteen to 25-foot depths are usually the norm.
The rising water levels have changed the position of stripers in the landlocked lakes, particularly Anna and Kerr. They have been releasing so much water from Kerr that the better action may be in the current at Gaston. Look for the stripers in the mid to upper portions of Anna, but there will be dirty water. Anna has a small watershed, so things may clear up sooner, as long as the rain ceases.
Bass fishing was excellent over the weekend at Anna. Several 6-to-7-pounders were weighed in, despite the lack of anglers out on the water. Jigs, jerkbaits and swimbaits have been the preferred baits. Tidal river fishing took a hit due to fast rising water. However, 14 pounds was the winning weight from the James during this weekend’s winter series.
The Chickahominy River should remain clear despite the amount of rain we’ve had the last several days. Both the lake and the river should be in fine shape for this weekend. The rising water has taken a toll on yellow perch fishing this week. The upper James is at 9.02 feet at the Westham gauge. Flood stage is at 12 feet at this station.