Capt. Art Conway of Conway’s River Rat Guide Service out of Ed Allen’s Boats and Bait reported that Chickahominy Lake midday surface water temperatures were in the middle to upper 80s on Wednesday. The lake level was about an inch above the top of the dam. The surface water was light brown and slightly cloudy in the central lower lake, with darker and more cloudy water deeper, on windy shorelines and in some creeks.
A few small blue cats and bullheads were on flats, along drop-offs and in channels in the main lake. When active, they were hitting live minnows and cut bait. Crappie were in multiple patterns and moderately active. A few crappie were in creeks, usually in deeper areas near wood cover. Most crappie were near creek mouths, on flats or on channel edges in the main lake. Fishers frequently found them around cypress trees, wood cover such as brush piles or near the dam. Others were scattered on shoreline flats in the main lake, especially early in the day. Active crappie were hitting live minnows, tubes, curly tail grubs and small swim baits.
White and yellow perch were scattered or in loose aggregates on flats and channel edges in the main lake, with occasional fish in creeks. Active fish hit on small live minnows, swim baits and jigs. Moderate numbers of bluegill, shellcracker and flier were in creeks and on main lake shorelines and flats, with most larger fish away from the shoreline but still in the neighborhoods of spawning locations. Bluegill and shellcracker were hitting live worms, wet flies, Nikko nymphs, Wright Bait Co. one-inch curly tail grubs and small swimbaits. Pickerel and bass were in creeks and around cypress trees, on flats and on channel edges in the main lake. When active, bass and pickerel were hitting live minnows, spinnerbaits, swim baits, stick worms, crank baits, jerk baits, jigs and topwater baits.
Fishing with Capt. Conway: Brian Dementi, Ben Harris and Chandler Mitchell had 14 crappie and two white perch; David Coates had five bluegill and three largemouth bass.
Jeff Crow reports the following from Lake Country in southern Virginia: Kerr Reservoir was in the range of 300.7 feet earlier this week. The guide curve dictates a late summer target of just under 300 feet. The powerhouse has been pulling about 15,000 cfs for about nine hours a day recently, typically in the afternoon and evenings. Lake Gaston was fairly steady and just under the 199 feet level this week. Water temperatures were up this week and well into the 80s in many locations. Due to the boat traffic this time of year, many anglers opt to go early or late and get off the lake during prime pleasure boating time. Many say the lakes are more crowded than in previous years, so safety is a top priority. It is also the time of year that many anglers choose to fish at night, and, while this helps avoid crowds, it can also be dangerous. Anglers should always have proper lighting and take all the necessary safety precautions.
Good bass fishing continued this week. Joseph Sharpe and Flash Butts won the Piedmont Bass Trail Tournament on Kerr Reservoir with 22.62 pounds. Big fish of the tournament was 6.09 pounds. With temperatures over 90 degrees, it is unusual to have the biggest bag of fish of the year in July, but that is exactly what happened. Many report that not all fish are deep and some are finding schooling bass — often schools of big bass. That being said, it is still the time of year to fish deep, and anglers should target long tapering points that drop off into deep water and channel swings where the channel swings close to the bank. A range of lures work in these situations, from big Texas-rigged worms to Carolina rigs or deep diving crankbaits. Fishing shallower with topwater lures can prove effective early and late, particularly when fish are schooling. Over on Lake Gaston, anglers are reporting that deeper docks are productive, as well as the upper section of the lake. Jigs fished on drops have been productive.
Catfish reports are coming in from the upper lake area and anglers are having success drifting. A lot of smaller cats up to 10 pounds are common, and it is good up above the bridges around Bluestone and Buffalo Creeks. But big cats are also in the mix, as indicated by the recent North Carolina state record caught on the Roanoke River. The fish weighed in at 127.1 pounds.
Kerr Reservoir is giving up good crappie in the mid-lake creeks such as Ivy Hill and Island Creek, and anglers are reporting good results on brush in sixteen to twenty feet of water. Some report up to 70 crappie a day. For casting to the deeper brushpiles, anglers use a light jig and bring it across the top of the brush to get a reaction strike from the fish. In addition to casting jigs, some anglers are opting for vertically fishing a spoon over the brush.
Green Top Fishing Report
Saltwater: A good run of Spanish mackerel catches have been happening along the Virginia Beach oceanfront. Anglers fishing off the Virginia Beach Pier have been doing well. Casting Gotcha plugs has been the way to go. The Spanish bite has been — and still is — very good throughout the Chesapeake Bay. From the entrance of the bay, to the mouth of the Potomac River, folks have been doing well with the macs.
Anglers have been crushing the cobia also. Excellent catches will continue throughout the summer and into September.
The flounder bite has been much better during the last week or two. The CBBT is perhaps the most popular area, as there is an abundance of fish-holding structures. The CBBT has been giving up nice-sized spadefish, flounder and sheepshead. Targeting the spades around the pilings and behind the islands is highly popular. Fresh clam is what is mostly used.
For the flounder, many prefer to slow drag strip bait or minnows along the bottom with some type of bottom maintaining rig. The three-way rig is one such rig that works well. Others prefer to jig with 1-3 ounce bucktails dressed with Gulp! baits or strip bait, such as Croaker. Live spot is usually best for the biggest flounder.
The best baits for sheepshead is usually fiddler crab or sand fleas. All of these fish mentioned like to hang around the pilings of the bridge tunnel.
Good catches of puppy drum are occurring along shallow flats, especially those with submerged grass. Docks and piers are good attractors also. Casting light jigs with plastics attached is what most are using. The drum are not especially picky. So, a wide variety of baits are working right now. The Hampton area has been good for the quality sized puppy drum and trout.
The offshore boats have been returning with yellowfin, bigeye tuna, mahi and wahoo over the last few days. There have been some good catches of blue and white marlin lately also.
Certain areas of the Hatteras surf have been yielding large catches of pompano. Some scattered action for the sea mullet has been occurring. Outer Banks Pier is reporting bluefish, croaker and sheepshead hanging around the pier pilings.
Freshwater: The Chickahominy River and James River saw a lot of action over the weekend with two good-sized tournaments taking place. The winning weight on Saturday from the tournament out of Route 5 was 22 pounds. Thirty pounds was the winning 2-day weight out of Osbourne Landing. Many reported doing well with grass frogs, chatterbaits and plastics on shaky head jigs. The grass and vegetation present in both rivers played a major role in the action.
Catches have been up in the Potomac River, as the grass is more prevalent now, compared with last year. Hard cover such as wood, rocks and bridge abutments are another option for fish-holding cover on these rivers. There will be another large tournament out of Osbourne Landing this weekend.
Many anglers are targeting the snakehead on the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, as they are quite prevalent. The upper James River is low and clear, but can still be good for those wading inside the Richmond city limits. These levels can make finding the deeper holes much easier. Approaching these holes with stealth can be the key to success for the smallmouth. The best action typically occurs during low light hours and during overcast days.
The larger lakes tend to get smothered by boat traffic during the weekends. So, hitting these places during the week can be much more enjoyable for angling. Another alternative are the horsepower-restricted lakes and electric motor only lakes. Many of these are fantastic fisheries for bass and crappie. Some are even stocked with Florida-strain bass, which have faster growth rates.
An alternative to beat the heat of the day is to turn to night fishing. Bass and catfish are heavy night feeders during the summer, as their metabolism is higher now. Know the body of water prior to heading out at night. A good GPS unit is wise also, as cool air fog can set in and distort navigation. Communicating with friends or family members about fishing plans is important for all involved. Be safe, and wear a good personal flotation device.
— Compiled by Lily Betts