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OVERVIEW: The leaves are changing colors and starting to fall, and so are the water temperatures. The next few weeks should really crank up the fall season. A lot of fish are willing biters this month, so don’t give up yet.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: Plenty of catfish are available right now. Some nice fish are being caught, along with plenty of small ones. Bass fishermen are also doing well on numbers. Soft plastics, crankbaits and spinners are good bets. The crappie bite has not turned on yet, but it should be any day as the water temperature is rapidly falling. Minnows and jigs work well.
POTOMAC RIVER: Reel Bass Adventures reports early mornings, coupled with the beginning of an outgoing tide, has stripers hitting top water poppers along bridge pilings and bulkheads. As the tide falls, the action picks up on rock jetties and rock piles. Most of the stripers are sublegal. The grasses in creeks and along the main stem of the river continue to produce bass that like plastic baits or jig and craw combo’s as well as swim baits and spinner baits. White and yellow perch are showing up in more numbers along the edges of grass lines in shallow water. Some perch are large enough to hit top water baits intended for bass. Rockfish are picking up in the lower part of the river. Very few big fish are being reported but that should change has the water temperatures fall.
LAKE ANNA: High Point Marina reports that the bass are continuing their move from deep water to shallow. They are scattered in depth from topwater to 20 feet. Typically the younger, smaller, more aggressive fish are in the shallower water, but not always. Get away from the main lake and move into the creeks. Fish any type of dock or structure. In deeper waters use jigs and 7-inch worms in darker colors. In shallower water pitch a small plastic worm to docks and jig as it falls. Stripers are on the move too, heading uplake following the bait run. There are fish all over the lake, however, much action around the bridges above the splits. Best to start at the splits and work your way up. Stay in the main lake and fish the upper water column, topwater during low light conditions. There are lots of crappie around bridges and docks in 10–15 feet of water. Small and medium minnows and 2-inch grubs work best.
CHESAPEAKE BAY: This is always a transitional time in Virginia waters, providing good opportunities for anglers targeting the migrating species. It’s hard not to notice the red drum bite thriving in the lower bay and along ocean shorelines. Anglers are intercepting huge reds near the 2nd, 3rd and 4th islands, and the Nine Foot Shoals as schools of reds patrol the Bay Bridge Tunnel. Surf and pier anglers are excited about the showing of the much anticipated reds in the surf off Sand Bridge last week. Anglers are catching bulls from both the Little Island Fishing Pier and the adjacent beaches on fresh filets of mullet and spot. Cobia action is winding down. Anglers getting in on this action are finding respectable fish as they locate pods and pairs of fish meandering southward. King mackerel activity is showing promise, with some decent fish up to 30 pounds boated off Sandbridge. Speckled trout activity is spot-on as anglers enjoy some nice catches in the lower bay shallows. The Elizabeth River is hosting specks stretching to over 25 inches. The bay striped bass season kicked off this week. Anglers can expect to find plenty of schoolies around the islands, tubes, and pilings of the lower Bay Bridge Tunnels, especially at night. Anglers can keep two fish per person ranging from 18 to 28 inches (one fish may exceed 28). The lower Bay is still hosting decent-sized spot, with the bite heating up with each northerly blow. Big croaker are still available in the lower Bay, with some fish weighing to around 2.5 pounds coming from Lynnhaven Inlet, the HRBT, the CBBT, and off Fort Story. Flounder reports are rare, but folks are still finding nice sized fish in all the usual hot spots. Coastal and deeper wrecks are still a main stay for nice flounder, along with seabass, triggerfish and tautog. Anglers can still find some big amberjack at the Southern Towers as well as The Chesapeake Light Tower and Reef area Runs to the blue water are still providing opportunities for releases of white and blue marlin. A few spearfish are still around, and swordfish continue to respond for overnighters. Bailer and gaffer dolphin are still a sure bet, and a few yellowfin tuna are available, but scattered.
—Compiled by Michael O’Malley