For the fly angler, spring is almost too good in central Virginia.
With so many excellent fishing options, time available to spend on the water is the only constraint. In the interest of brevity, I will stick to the fishing right around my home in Richmond.
The real jump start to the season is always the annual Shad run on the James. Starting in March, deep sinking lines and bright flies can take these fish downstream of Ancarrow’s Landing. As the temperatures warm, and the fish move up to the 14th St area, hundred fish days on the fly are common. Around the time this fishery is in full swing, the river also boasts a hefty striper population. Instead of the small flies and 5 weights, 8 or 9 weights with Half & Half flies are the standard. With reasonable water levels, these fish will hang around until the beginning of June.
While all this is going on, local ponds and lakes are also home to some equally eager fish. The popper bite begins to pick up for largemouth bass, chain pickerel, and panfish. Throwing streamers, such as Murdich Minnows, Deceivers, and Kreelex’s can make for some outstanding action. Local lakes like Swift Creek Lake, the Powhatan Lakes, and the Chickahominy Reservoir all boast outstanding fisheries easily taken advantage of with a fly rod.
Towards the end of April, water temperatures rise enough to make wading or floating for smallmouth a more viable option. The James upriver of 14th street in the city holds some trophy smallmouth bass.
Smallmouth and hellgrammite imitations are key, as are larger baitfish patterns. Don’t be surprised if you hook into a wayward striped bass or large flathead with these patterns. The James is full of surprises. Smaller rivers in the area also pick up at this time for smallmouth bass. The North Anna and South Anna are at their best floatable levels this time of year and the bite can be very good.
Patterns much like those for the James are in order, though these waters call for smaller rods and smaller flies. Wading these rivers for bass a great fly fishing experience; boulder-strewn pools broken up by riffles make an easy-to-read fishery for those used to trout fishing.
If you have any questions about these fisheries, would like to know more information or want current conditions, stop by and talk to one of our fly fishing guys, Gabe, Josh, or Tyler.