Outdoors Notes April 14; Fishing & Hunting

Alleghany Highlands News

Big New River Walleye

(WFXR) — Here’s some of what we’re hearing about hunting, fishing, and outdoors sports from around the region.

Talking Turkey

We’re into the first week of Virginia’s Spring Turkey Season, and reports are good. Outstanding numbers of birds have been spotted, with very good numbers harvested. The season runs through May 15, so there’s still time to bag that bird.

Local hunter Dallas Morris with a big spring turkey

Smith Mountain Lake Fishing

Plenty of bass have been seen and caught cruising the shallows as they stage to spawn. In fact, some fish have already been seen on beds. The water temperature as of this writing is 62 degrees, so it’s in the spawning range. 

Stripers are done spawning, though plenty still remain in the upper reaches of the lake. There are good numbers also being marked in the main lake near Bernard’s and up in the Blackwater.

Some catfish and panfish are moving into the shallows.

Planer boards trolling on SML

New River Fishing

The stretch below Claytor Lake is giving up some smallmouth, though the bite is lagging a bit as those fish are more interested in spawning than eating. Above Claytor Dam, stripers, hybrids, and bass are all cooperating in the lake. Go further upstream in the reaches from Allisonia to Buck Dam and you’ll find plenty of smallmouth and a few post spawn walleye.

Eater-sized New River walleye

Leesville Lake

Dodge the debris, catch fish.  Some bass are bedding, others have the pre-spawn feedbag on. Good catches are being make. There are also reports of walleye and saugeye in the mix. Water fluctuations are something anglers have to deal with on an almost hourly basis at Leesville, so are logs and other debris that the current sweeps through the lake.

Staunton River Report

Good catches of walleye are being made from Leesville Dam down to Brookneal. There are also stripers moving up, so it’s a mixed bag. The Staunton is Virginia’s up and coming walleye fishery. Right now, it’s underfished for that tasty species, but that could change as more reports of success are generated.

James River

The upper reaches of the James are producing smallmouth, but those fish are bedding, so the bite can be tough.  There are also muskies to be had.

Dan River

Some striper catches are being reported near Danville and further downstream. Bass and catfishing have been fair. 

Philpott Lake

Walleye catches have been fair. Better stocking numbers in recent years should help to turn around what have been a down few years for the species at Philpott. Many of those fish should be of catchable size this summer. Bass catches are good.


The state stocking program continues through the end of May. Streams throughout the region have been getting regular stockings and good fishing has been reported. 

Chrissy Bailey with a big stocker rainbow

This has been a banner year for wild, native fish. Many good brook trout catches have been reported from national forest waters. You’re going to have to trek in to find those trophy fish, but it could be well worth it. 

There are also good catches of rainbows being reported at Moomaw. Trolling spoons, spinners,  and small crankbaits have taken fish.

The Smith River below Philpott has produced some monster brown trout this spring. Swinging streamers or casting spinners is the way to go.


If you follow the old wisdom, when the dogwoods bloom it’s time to target crappies.  The dogwoods are blossoming, but there haven’t been a lot of great crappie catches reported. That should change as more anglers go after the tasty panfish. 

Check any downed timber at Smith Mountain Lake for crappies. While that impoundment is probably your best bet to find good numbers, almost every lake in the region holds some crappies. 

A few sleepers for slabs are Clifton Forge Reservoir, Lake Nelson, and Holliday Lake. An added bonus at Holliday, near Appomattox, is a very good yellow perch fishery.

Feeling Salty

If you’re thinking about making the run over to the ocean, good catches of black drum are being reported in the surf. Some coastal stripers are also being taken. Flounder fishing is about to heat up, especially in the back bays around Wachapreague and Chincoteague, as well as the mouth of the Chesapeake.

Brag About It

We also want to give you a chance to brag a little. Send us your best fishing and hunting pictures, and we’ll post them on our Outdoors Bound Bragging Board, and they might even be featured on Good Day Virginia in our Big Ol’ Fish segment that runs every Friday. Send those photos to gnoleff@wfxrtv.com.

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