With the cherry blossoms blooming and daylight savings extending light for us fishermen, it’s just about time for fishing to take off!
An often overlooked fish is the chain pickerel, the smaller cousin of the northern pike and musky. They don’t get super big, a 20 inch fish is pretty nice one, but they make up for it in their voraciousness hitting attacking a fly. Spring is the best time of the year to fish for them and they are active before every other fish. This year is no different! Several waterways in central Virginia hold them, but the Chickahominy River and Reservoir have very strong populations.
Everyone is always asking about shad… generally they will be here for the middle two weeks of April. They best fished in the James up to the fall line from a boat.
Smallmouth in the James and other rivers have yet to consistently begin eating. Depending on who you ask, the magical water temp for them to start the prespawn feed is between 55-60 degrees. The spawn usually last through end of April and then pick back up in May. Usually in May we find the water is warm enough to wade for the smallmouth, so long as levels remain stable!
Farm pond action is just starting to get going! Right now you can find largemouth bass and bluegill slowly moving into the shallows to warm themselves in the mid day sun and prepare to spawn. If they aren’t on shallow flats yet, look for drop offs adjacent to those flats.
A recent trip revealed that crappie are in full on feasting mode. If you catch one, don’t move! They are a schooling fish and you can get 3, 4, 5 or more in the same spot. Crappie love to eat minnow flies.
I find the best retrieve was with very short strips, causing the weight fly to jig. These fish loved the IC Fly, which is a very simple guide fly to tie. Tail is 8-12 rubber strands, a body of ice chenille and a cone head!
Don’t forget, one of the most magical ways to catch a fish is on a fly a fisherman has tied himself. It’s a whole separate aspect of the sport that provides hours of creative enjoyment in off hours when not fishing, like winter or evenings. We’re happy to help teach beginners or experts how to tie flies with our one on one tying classes. Shoot us a message for questions about tying!