Foul weather has held many anglers back, as road conditions and ramp conditions have not been favorable. However, those that have ventured out have had good luck with the Largemouth Bass. Lake Anna has been good, as has Kerr Lake and Lake Gaston. Hybrid Stripers have also been very good at Lake Anna.
The best lures for the Bass and the Stripers have been swim baits on 3/8-3/4 oz jig heads, suspending jerkbaits, spoons, silver buddy baits, and the Alabama rig. Crankbaits are working well in the shallow to mid depth areas with rock and clay. Lipless crankbaits should not be overlooked during this time, as they can be fished at almost any depth.
Water temps have been in the 39- 46 degree range lately. As water temps drop further, look for Shad kills to occur. This can be difficult to compete with, as fish gorge themselves on the easy, dying prey. Matching the bait size can be critical for success. The tidal rivers will still produce great fishing at this time, especially in areas of warm water discharges, such as the Dutch Gap area of the James River.
The pits will draw much of the attention of anglers, as there are a few to choose from close to Dutch Gap. The Yellow Perch bite has yet to fire up. But with the new moon this week, the next 2 weeks should improve the action on the tidal rivers—particularly the Rappahannock and Chickahominy Rivers.
The Blue Catfish bite remains good on the Rapp and James as the cats remain active through the winter. The upper James has elevated again and may rise even more, as the forecast is not favorable for the upcoming weekend.
Under tough conditions, live bait can be a day saver. Large minnows are a good bet for the Smallmouth. Control drift fishing with just a split shot can be the ticket, as can a slip float. When the water levels are normal, the Smallmouth action can be strong during February. Good water temperatures are the 41-47 degrees during this time. Be safe, and wear a PFD.