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OVERVIEW: Labor Day weekend brought a great mix of weather conditions and fishing continued
to move toward late-summer patterns. Fish are becoming more active at the water temperatures cool. Many species will begin to depart the rivers and bay over the coming weeks. September is a great month for fishing.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: Big catfish are being pulled from the river by patient anglers. Plenty of small catfish are also available. Bass are becoming more active for the fishermen that are targeting them. Crappie have not really turned on yet, but that should change soon. Smallmouth bass action has been very good and should remain so.
POTOMAC RIVER: Top water action continues to start most days on the river. Poppers and buzz baits call up strikes throughout the morning hours. Concentrate on grass beds with visible bait fish activity. Wacky rigged stick worms and small white spinner baits also work well. Grass bed fishing can be slow at times so you may want to try switching to hard cover during slack times in the grasses. The rocks are providing a mixed bag of species: bass, stripers (most sub-legal) and an occasional redfish attack mid depth running crank baits along the rocks. Jig and craw combo’s continue to provide action as well. Jig worms fished along creek ledges are still a good way to catch fair numbers of bass. Lots of undersize rockfish, along with a few keepers are being caught throughout the river. Spot, croakers, white perch are also being caught consistently. Puppy drum seem to be very abundant this year.
LAKE ANNA: Chris Craft reports that the largemouth will start to make their move to the backs of the creeks this month. They will be following the baitfish migration to the cooler water. There are several ways to catch these fish. Once you locate the bait, if the fish are actively feeding, top water is the most exciting way to catch them. Soft jerkbaits work well. With the cooler nights and dropping water temps the stripers will start getting very active. You can find them schooling from the splits all the way to Dike 3. Put the baits 100 feet behind the boat and troll at an idle speed. Toward the end of the month, look for the linesides to start making the annual fall move up in the feeder rivers of North Anna and Pamunkey. The tastiest Lake Anna morsels will start to make their move up to the shallow water haunts that they occupy towards the end of the month. They will be on shallow boat docks, brush piles, rock piles and up in the water column on the bridge pilings. Small minnows rigged on a slip bobber usually work. Use a -ounce jig head for a slower fall on artificial baits.
CHESAPEAKE BAY: Many summer favorites are beginning to show more late summer patterns as they stage to leave for the season, according to Dr. Julie Ball. Making up for a less-than-favorable summer showing, cobia of all sizes are surfacing all over the lower bay and along the oceanfront as they prepare to migrate south. More of the larger fish are around this week, with several fish pushing over to 60 pounds. Chummers are also faring well, while those working the oceanfront continue to encounter good shark catches of varying species and sizes. Flounder are behaving in the lower bay again lately as they continue to assemble along channel edges, shoals, and along the CBBT area. Live bait and jigs are still working well on structure and wrecks, with most anglers reporting limits of fat keepers up to around 24 inches. Expect some nice sea bass and triggerfish as a by-catch on many of the same wrecks. Sheepshead are still around, with decent fish taking fiddler crabs, crab, and clams along the entire span of the Bay Bridge tunnel and all the tubes of the artificial islands. Trigger fish are still everywhere, often becoming a nuisance to anglers targeting other species. Spot are gaining more attention with good hauls of decent fish coming from the local inlets, Willoughby Bay, and the lower bay rivers. A few speckled trout are still mixed in with the spot.
—Compiled by Michael O’Malley