Due to the weather, some customers may experience late delivery of The Roanoke Times. We apologize for the delay.
Here’s a look at some of the state’s best fishing options.
The Roanoke Times | File
Walleyes are among the many species of fish that can reach trophy proportions in Claytor Lake. But the lake can be a challenge.
MARK TAYLOR | The Roanoke Times
Angie Bushcar of Roanoke County works a Berkley Gulp! minnow through a run while targeting trout on the Roanoke River in Salem on Thursday.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Now that decent spring weather has finally arrived in Western Virginia, the region's anglers are eager to get on the water.
Granted, the most serious among them have already been out there this year.
But warming temperatures are the trigger for the start of the fishing season for many fishermen, as fish are more active and modest weather makes being out there chasing them more tolerable.
Where to go and what to chase?
It depends on the goals.
Here's a look at some of the state's best fishing options.
Best place to catch a trophy largemouth bass
For many years, Virginia's top trophy largemouth water has been Briery Creek Lake near Farmville.
The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, which owns the reservoir, created the trophy fishery by stocking the relatively small lake with Florida-strain largemouth bass.
As the reservoir has aged, the trophy bass fishing has waned. Last year, the DGIF registered just two bass from the lake topping 10 pounds in the agency's Virginia Angler Recognition Program.
For anglers who crave a 10-pound-plus largemouth, it's still the best public option.
But for fishermen who are content to tangle with bass that are merely big and not monstrous, it's tough to beat Smith Mountain Lake.
Last year the lake produced 24 registered citations.
Given the amount of tournament angling, and the fact that few hard-core competitive fishermen register their eligible fish for formal awards, there's no doubt the lake produced many times that many bass topping 22 inches or 8 pounds.
A great time to target those beefy bass is now, early spring, as they ready for the spawn.
Once bass hit the spawning beds, it's a good time to sight fish for the big ones, which most anglers are happy to release after a quick measurement and photo.
Best place to catch a mess of crappies
You'd think that after all the attention Buggs Island Lake has been getting for its crappie fishing, heavy fishing pressure would have taken its toll. Nope.
Year after year Buggs Island Lake, which is also known as Kerr Reservoir, is the state's best crappie lake, in part because fishing pressure keeps crappies from stunting.
Not only does it produce lots of nice fish in the 1-pound range, but it regularly gives up citations topping 15 inches or 2 pounds.
Last year it gave up 51 registered citations. That's hardly a record, but, again, doesn't take into account the dozens upon dozens of citation-worthy fish that go straight into the frying pan.
While March is often the best month to catch 2-pound-plus crappies as they stage before the spawn, the chilly spring has delayed the best fishing this year.
Get there in the next month, take lots of jigs and minnows, a cooler and a sharp fillet knife.
Best place to take a kid fishing
Hungry sunfish and clear water - so the youngsters can see the fish - are the ideal combination for fishing kids.
The bluegills at Carvins Cove's reservoir aren't big, but there are lots of them. Schools of stunted sunnies are always milling around the pilings at the fishing piers near the recreation area's boat launch area.
Those little fish can be stubborn, though, so a walk either direction along the shoreline will take you to dumber fish.
Tackle can be as simple as a little piece of worm under a small bobber.
A summertime alternative for those who have boats is to target green sunfish along rocky rip rap at Smith Mountain Lake.
Greenies are so aggressive they will often gobble a bare hook.
Best place to catch a trophy trout
We're not talking about private pay-to-fish water here. If you've got the cash and want to use a rod and reel to do your grocery shopping, go for it. Forty bucks or so will get you onto some big trout.
As for public waters, Lake Moomaw rules.
It's far from as good as it once was, but Moomaw's chilly, deep waters still hold some behemoths. Two brown trout topping 12 pounds have been caught in the past year.
Trolling spoons is one way to catch them, as is dunking live bait.
Best place to catch a limit of trout
DGIF tank trucks stock roughly 40 waters a week during the peak of the season in the spring.
Because so many places are getting fish daily, waters typically hold fish for a while because the hard-core trout crew is constantly on the move going to the most recently stocked ponds and streams.
Whether you cast small spinners, spoons, flies or pieces of bait, put in your time and you will usually get your six trout.
Find the latest stocking information on the DGIF's web site at www.huntfishva.com , or by calling the recorded hot line at 434-525-3474.
Best smallmouth bass water
It's got to be the New River, right?
While the New remains a solid bass fishery, several poor year classes have contributed to a decline in the presence of trophy-sized smallmouths topping 5 pounds or 20 inches.
Last year the New produced a relatively tame 43 smallmouth citations.
Meanwhile, the James River continued its impressive comeback from fish kills, producing 95 registered citation smallmouths.
Slowly working jigs through deep pockets is a great way to catch heavy smallmouths this time of year. During the summer, hit the river at night and cast big topwater plugs or thumper spinnerbaits.
Best grab bag fishery
Claytor Lake has a reputation for being finicky.
Clear and cool, the lake can be tough.
But it's got a great variety of fish, and some big ones.
Last year Claytor fishermen registered for trophies in an impressive 12 different species, and was the state's top trophy walleye water and one of the best for tasty yellow perch.
Weather JournalMany very icy despite 'bust' claims