During the past few years I have really enjoyed putting together this article, which runs each February. The challenge is to limit the fishing picks each month to three. Our sources are a great help and we feel confident that you will find these choices well worth a day on the water this year.
Lake Moomaw is located in a remote but beautiful portion of Virginia. With its beauty comes some great fishing. If the lake is not iced over in January, the brown trout fishing can be fantastic, according to VDGIF fisheries biologist Paul Bugas. Anglers itching to get out of the house or wet a line will find that the brown trout are feeding on alewives at approximately 20 feet at this time of year. A good fish finder will show the bait balls and fish feeding. Anglers can take two fish 16 inches or longer, per day. Local ice and lake conditions can be had from the Army Corps of Engineers at 540-965-4117.
February can be a fickle month but often brings with it a few days of warmer weather. On a string of warm days, urban anglers that desire to wet a line without suffering too much will find very productive fishing in the urban lakes near Richmond, Fredericksburg, in the Tidewater region and in Northern Virginia. VDGIF stocks a number of small lakes and ponds located near urban areas with a variety of trout, including rainbow, brown and sometimes golden trout.
A light- or medium-action rod and some brightly colored spinners, spoons and even small jigs will put fish in the bucket. Popular baits include Berkley Power Bait in the trout formula, salmon eggs or red wigglers. Sometimes shiners will work too. See http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/fishing/trout/urban/ for a list of waters near you. This is an easy to fish destination that can be done from the bank.
The New River
This first month of spring is a hot time for prespawn smallmouth action on the New River below Claytor Lake according to John Copeland, fisheries biologist working the southwestern area of Virginia.
“At this time of year the fish are still in the deeper, slower water but are concentrated in holes with structure prior to the spawn. Anglers need to be aware that the water levels tend to fluctuate in this section of the river,” Copeland advised.
He went on to say that the possibility of catching a quality bronzeback was quite good. Some fish stretching over 20 inches are available thanks to a record 2004-2005 year class and spawn.
“There was little competition for food with the 2006 year class. But the 2007 year class was the third best and those fish should be in the 8- to 11-inch range now,” he added.
The 2010 spawn here was the second highest recorded. The future bodes well for smallie anglers on the New River.
A float trip from Eggleston to Pembroke should be productive. Work eddies and ledges with tube baits in a very slow drag or hop fashion to sink a hook in a nice fish. Soft plastics may also be worked the same way. For bait fishermen, jumbo minnows and crayfish will rarely disappoint. Take pictures of the largest fish and release them when possible for another day and another angler.
Briery Creek Lake
Briery Creek Lake pops up as a good destination many months in this publication and for good reason. The trophy largemouth fishing in this impoundment is arguably the best in the state. During April the largemouth will be spawning so look for fish in less than five feet of water. Given all the standing timber they can be found anywhere so no certain portion of the lake will be much better than the other.
Vic DiCenzo, fisheries biologist, highly recommends using soft plastic baits or jigs with a subtle approach when fishing the spawn. The largest fish will spawn in early to mid April so the potential for a trophy is quite good. A slot of 14 to 24 inches is in effect. Remember to take your camera with you!
Find the top spots for Virginia Fishing in 2012 for May, June, July, and August on page two!