Here’s what we’re hearing about fishing in the Commonwealth’s lakes and streams. Remember that colder water temperatures mean slower fish metabolisms, so match your techniques accordingly.
Smith Mountain Lake
Largemouth and smallmouth bass are pulling off deep points and drops. Delicacy techniques seem to work best.
Striped bass are hitting umbrella rigs and live baits. It is also effective to fish in the moonlight or during the halibut.
White perch congregate over deep humps. They will easily take fish, nightcrawlers or mealworms fished on or near the bottom.
Crappie are placed deep in the spawning areas. They can be caught on fish or small machines.
Bass can be caught deep jigging. Look for them in the deep end of the points. Slow running stickbaits can also be effective.
Some point walleyes are being ripped off. Search the lake to go up the lake to the spawning grounds. Trolling stickbaits or diving cranks can lead to success in targeting pre-spawn walleyes.
A few walleyes are starting to move into the spawning areas, especially below Buck Dam, Fries Dam and below Foster Falls. The numbers should increase through February and into March. These fish can be targeted by trolling or casting stickbaits. Jigging with soft plastics or fish can also be effective. Walleye fishing will improve through late winter in the area from Foster Falls to Claytor Lake.
Smallmouth are held in deep holes. The finesse techniques will bring them.
There are reports of muskies following and occasionally taking slowly presented swimbait.
James River (upper)
Smallmouth bass fishing has been slow as water levels fluctuate. Ned rigs and other slow finesse techniques are the way to target them.
Mosquitoes are being seen, and a few are being caught. They will start feeding heavily in anticipation of their spawning in March and April.
James River (Lower)
The Blue Cats provide fast-paced action from below Richmond to Jamestown. Cut bait is the way to go.
Some stripers move upriver.
Bass and walleye can be caught from creeks and other tributaries that enter the river.
Bass and panfish are held in deep holes.
Trout anglers will find fish in Salem’s late harvest areas. Artificial lures can only be used to target these fish, and must be returned to the river by June. The put and take areas in Roanoke and Salem should be averaged.
Glade Creek and Tinker Creek
Both streams are intended for trout stocking. Neither has received fish since before Christmas. Both are input and output streams. Some bass are being jigged near the confluence of Tinker Creek and the Roanoke River.
Narrow your presentation to target the bass. Finesse approaches are catching some fish.
Panfish will take live baits and small rigs presented in deep, close cover.
Smallmouth fishing is slow in the lower Jackson as these fish enter classic winter patterns. Some muskets are being seen.
In the upper Jackson from Lake Moomaw south to Covington, brown trout are cooperating. Stickbaits and spinners presented slowly will catch fish. Swinging streamers and woolly bugs will get them going on the fly. There are some rainbows in the mix.
Striped bass and striped bass hybrids are being caught on reduced live bait. Umbrella rigs or slow shiners will also cause hits.
Smallmouth and largemouth have their classic winter patterns. They can be taken from deep cover and tips on slow crankbaits, jigs and fine soft plastics.
While channel cats slow down in the winter, some are being taken deep on cut baits.
The stretches below Philpott Lake and below Martinsville Dam are some of the best brown trout waters in the Commonwealth and produce browns year-round. Fish can be caught by swinging streamers or casting spinners or small stickbaits.
Walleye should start congregating near rocks and rock ledges in anticipation of the spawn this month and into February. Hooked swimbaits, stickbaits and Carolina rigged floating heads with fish tip or twist tails are a good way to target these fish.
Bass are holding in deep holes, but can be enticed to hit delicately presented lures.