Green Top REPORT
Saltwater: The rockfish bite continues to improve with the dropping water temperatures. Anglers are finding them inside the rivers still, but they also are finding them in the Chesapeake Bay proper. With the water temps dropping below 50 degrees, the bigger rockfish catches should start picking up now. Big fish are largely being caught with eels. Drifting them on floats, behind side planers and tight-lining them below the boat at various depths are some of the preferred methods for presenting eels.
Folks are catching plenty of fish inside the rivers, mostly by keeping their baits on the bottom. Three-way rigs are popular now, as they can be adjusted to accommodate increased tide and current. Any weight and leader length can be utilized on this rig easily. Many use a 15-foot leader with shad baits attached, or even umbrella rigs. Mojos can be substituted for bell sinkers on the three-way rigs.
Anglers also are having good luck with stretch baits trolled long distances behind the boat. Of course, jigging is another method for bringing rockfish up from the bottom. Two- to 3-ounce bucktails will usually do the trick.
Anglers are finding plenty of speckled trout in some of the rivers and along the oceanfront. Better reports have been coming from within the Elizabeth River, Lynnhaven Inlet and Little Creek. Many inside the Elizabeth are trolling. Suspending jerkbaits are what many will use, especially during the colder periods. These areas are producing good-sized puppy drum and keeper rockfish, also. Cut shrimp has been working well for the pups.
Get in on the sea bass action while the season is still open. The season will close Dec. 31. Sea bass are excellent table fare and are readily available on ocean wrecks. Not much has been reported about the tautog bite, but this bite should not be ignored as they, too, are readily available on hard structures. Traveling far distances, like with the sea bass, is not always necessary. Tautogs are available inside the bay, on reefs and along the CBBT structures. However, their preferred bait is not always the easiest to get. Crab is usually best for the togs, but clam is also good. Then again, clam is good for just about anything.
The sea mullet bite remains strong along the Hatteras beaches and piers. The Buxton area has also been good for speckled trout, black drum and a few big reds.
Freshwater: Bass fishing has been excellent in many places this week. The winning weight from the James River tournament was 17.22 pounds. Many of the catches are occurring along the main river and inside the pits that are along the James.
The Chickahominy River also is an option for those willing to make a long run. Fourteen pounds was the winning weight from Chick Lake during the weekend. Crankbaits, jigs and A-rigs are typically the more popular presentations. Single swim baits are a good option also.
Twenty-four pounds was the winning weight from the most recent winter series tournament at Lake Anna. Two 17-pound bags were second and third. Anglers continue to do well with A-rigs, crankbaits, swim baits and jigs here also. Water temps were in the 50-degree range at the 208 bridge. This is an excellent temperature for the stripers as well. Casting swim baits to flats in the upper portions usually will produce keepers. Slightly smaller baits, like the sea shad, work well during this time. Top-water baits will still draw strikes, especially when cast to surfacing fish.
The winning weight from Kerr Lake on Sunday was 16.55 pounds. The lake level is down about 3.5 feet. Water temperatures in the lower section are in the 54-degree range. The bass are responding to crankbaits, swim baits, jigs and soft plastics, such as ned rigs and shaky heads. The crappie are biting well on brush in the 18-25 foot depths. Some of these crappie anglers are hooking up with good bass and stripers while targeting the brush piles at Kerr and Anna.
The upper James is still low and clear, making it tough for the smallmouth anglers at this time. Overcast days are usually better when conditions like this are present. Water temps are in the 47-degree range.
— Compiled by Lily Betts