Chesapeake Bay – There seems to be plenty of small Rockfish (18”-26”) being caught throughout the bay, but the bigger Rockfish are few and far between. Eels are mainly responsible for the big fish, but unfavorable conditions and a lack of big fish have anglers frustrated. Trollers inside the Rapp, James, and Potomac are able to find keeper fish with Stretch 25’s and small bucktails, but many are puzzled as to where the big fish are. The bay season ends soon, so we can only hope for a spike in the action. The best news is coming from Speckled Trout anglers inside the Elizabeth River. Trophy sized fish are being caught daily. Shiners are being used heavily, but jigs, jerk baits, and Mirr-o-lures are taking their fair share also. Fish over 5lbs have been fairly common. There’s also some Trout being caught inside the James. Tautog are a good option at the CBBT structures. Frozen crab and clams are available as an alternative to fresh crab, which is hard to get now.
Ocean – Seabass are still available on ocean wrecks and structures but the season closes on December 31. The Nags Head surf is giving up good catches of Trout and Puppy Drum, with an occasional Big Drum caught on cut bait. Most of the Trout are good size and are being caught on Gulp! baits and Bass Assassin sea shads.
Fresh – The upper James is in great shape right now with the level being 5.87’ at the Westham Gauge. This fishery remains good through the winter and is convenient to the Richmond area. Jigs, crank baits, and live bait are the most commonly used. The Chick River and Lake are another good option through the winter. The Chick Lake Winter Tx. on the 15th was won with 12.7lbs. Jerk baits, jigs, and silver buddies are some preferred baits. Blue Cats are an excellent option for truly giant fish over the winter months on the lower James, Chick, and Potomac rivers. Channel points and bends are good places to set up with fresh shad or eels. The Lake Anna Winter Series out of Sturgeon Creek Marina was won with 20.53lbs on December 15. The big fish was a 7.32. Silver buddies, jerk baits, jigs, and shaky heads are all taking fish. The Stripers are responding to live bait over everything else, but schooling fish can be found by following seagulls, as they often locate feeding fish. Stubbs Bridge is a steady place for numbers of Crappie. Small minnows on slip floats at 15-25ft. are good now. Swift Creek Reservoir is a great option for Bass, Crappie, and Chain Pickerel. Don’t overlook places like Sandy River and Briery Creek for trophy Bass and Crappie through the winter.