The authority for sports coverage in the Fredericksburg region.
OVERVIEW: Although summer has not officially begun, waters are heating up. Fishing reports are good and you should take advantage of current conditions before the dog days really set in.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: The river is in great shape, although heavy rains may cloudy things up by the end of the week. Catfish are the easiest option right now. The river is full of them. Chicken liver, nightcrawlers, shrimp and even hot dogs will catch the small ones. Bigger and fresher baits will account for the big boys. Bass fishing has also been good. Bream are available throughout the river as well. Upriver, now is a good time of year to get after the smallmouth. The water levels are good and the algae has not set in.
POTOMAC RIVER: Reel Bass Adventures reports a good morning top water bite. Slowly worked poppers are producing bass along the edges of grasses and marsh banks. Once the top water bite slows, switch to floating worms. A small white spinner bait continues to be the best producer when fished over flooded grass, around isolated pieces of grass and wood cover. Plastic worms in red shad color are a good follow up bait to missed strikes. Snakeheads are reaching nuisance proportions, so use less-costly baits in areas where this invasive predator lurks. Bow and arrow anglers are doing a yeoman’s job of eradicating some of these critters. Downriver, reports of spot and white perch have been good. Oddly, croaker seem harder to come by. rockfish are being caught trolling small bucktails. Chumming over structure will become the favored method over the coming weeks.
LAKE ANNA: Jim Hemby reports that the stripers are schooling and just about any method of fishing will produce nice catches. Stripers have migrated to the mid and down lake regions of the lake and are aggressively feeding on 25–4-foot flats gorging themselves on 4- and 5-inch herring. Stripers will chase bait to the surface and explode on them throwing a spray of water into the air which can be seen many hundred yards away. Approach the area quietly with your trolling motor so you do not spook the feeding school. Trolling is a good option, too. To catch stripers, use live bait rigged on downlines putting the baits at the exact depth the fish are using. The largemouths are in post-spawn and summer patterns now and have retreated to deeper water. They also are feeding aggressively and suckers for top water baits. The deeper the water you fish over, the slower you should work your bait giving the bass time to locate and blow up on the bait. The fish are also stacking up on ledges in the rivers 8–15 feet deep. If you fish the “hot side,” the fish will congregate much deeper under the bridges (20–30 feet). Crappie rigs (two hook rigs) tipped with minnows are deadly this month. Cats are very plentiful everywhere on the lake. They are feeding aggressively on 4- and 5-inch herring using the lower third of the water column to feed. If you can not catch herring, try large minnows rigged on downlines or use fish finder rigs.
LAKE ORANGE: Darrell Kennedy of Angler’s Landing (540/672-3997) reports the water is stained a greenish tint due to the plankton bloom. The fish have moved into their summer patterns. Largemouth bass are in 8–10-foot depths and keying on schools of bait fish. In the early morning, a top water bait is the best option for the bass bite. During the middle of the day, crank baits and soft plastics will lure them in. Crappie are still 10–12 feet deep around the fishing pier and feeding on small minnows. The cat fishing is excellent everywhere; use chicken liver and night crawlers.
MOTTS RESERVOIR: The Boathouse reports the water is crystal clear, with great fishing for panfish and channel catfish. Kids have been using red wigglers and worms to consistently catch all the bream, sunfish or shellcrackers to keep them happy. Chicken liver will do a good job of catching the catfish. Katherine Jett landed a 10-pound catfish, the largest of the week. The Weekend Bassers club had their annual tournament and 21 teams participated. Billy Dorgeloh won both the tournament and the lunker division.
CHESAPEAKE BAY: With most of the summer species now in place, all we need is consistent weather to help it all come together. When anglers are able to get out, most efforts are still turning towards the emerging cobia scene. Fish of all sizes are making appearances all over the lower bay. Boats using the chumming technique are having fair results from the Buckroe area off of Hampton, to the Inner Middle Grounds and the Nine-foot Shoals closer to the mouth of the bay. Although still available, red drum are losing popularity as other species début in the Bay. The bite on the Eastern side is still good as big reds pushing to 50 inches continue to hit along the surf and near buoys 8 and 10 off of Fisherman’s Island. Spadefish are showing up on lower bay structures, inshore wrecks, and the Chesapeake Light Tower. Anglers are hooking limits of fish (4–6 pounds) on clams, with the 4th island of the CBBT a good place lately. Sheepshead action is also on the rise along the CBBT; one fish over 13 pounds was boated last week. Nice striped bass continue to provide action around the islands and structure of the Bay Bridge Tunnels. Flounder action bounced about back about mid-week, with the biggest fish about 5 pounds. Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets are giving up above-average numbers of keepers on an outgoing tide. Many anglers are excited about the recent arrival of Spanish mackerel. These fish provide quick action, and are easy to catch. Reports of some speckled trout are still coming from within Rudee Inlet, Lynnhaven Inlet, and Mobjack Bay. Small to medium croaker are an easy target; the best catches are coming from off Willoughby, near the HRBT, the southern small boat channel, and near the 2nd island of the CBBT. The Virginia Beach Fishing Center conveys that the offshore trolling action is really picking up. Good water is hosting excellent catches of yellowfin tuna, ranging to around 40 pounds. Good numbers of gaffer sized dolphin, scattered mako sharks, wahoo, and a shot at a billfish are also keeping things interesting as reported by Dr. Julie Ball.
—Compiled by Michael O’Malley