Outdoors notes: What we’re hearing about fishing, hunting, and the outdoors for April 30

Outdoors Bound

Trolling for striped bass on Smith Mountain Lake

Smith Mountain Lake Report

Stripers are moving and active at Smith Mountain Lake. Weston Hartman of Hartman Guide Services has been taking fish trolling live bluebacks. Some bonus trophy sized smallmouth have been in the mix, too. Hartman says the alewife spawn should start soon, so look for big stripers up in the rip rap feeding on them. 

Captain Weston Hartman with a striped bass and a smallmouth bass

We’re also hearing about decent largemouth catches. A good number of fish had bedded, but moved off during the last cold snap. Look for those fish to get back on the beds once the water heats up.  Soft plastics and shaky heads will catch fish. 

The folks at Captains Quarters say a good number of crappie are also being caught at SML. Fish docks and downed timber. Minnows will produce. Small jigs will also put fish on the stringer. Big bluegills have also started to move shallower, and will be feeding heavily before they spawn.

Philpott Lake Report      

Good catches of largemouth are coming from the Runnett Bag Creek arm. Work the points with Texas and Carolina rigged soft plastics. Some anglers are targeting walleye by casting stick baits and cranks after dark. Those fish have been moving into the shallows to feed on baitfish near Twin Ridge and near Deer Island.

Bear Alert

VDWR reports that this is the time of year when bear cubs emerge from their dens with their mothers. If you see bears give them plenty of distance. If you find a cub alone, VDWR says many times a mother bear will tree her cubs if she senses danger, and then will return hours later for them. If you spot a cub alone, leave it alone. If a mother bear does not return after 12 hours, contact VDWR at 1-855-571-9003.

(Image courtesy of the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center).

Trout Stocking

Tinker Creek, Glade Creek, and the Roanoke River near Wasena Park all got trout stockings within the past week. We’re hearing three inch Gulp minnows, Powerbait in Salmon Peach, and cut nightcrawlers will take fish. All three of those streams got heavy stockings. Runnett Bag Creek in Franklin County and Burkes Fork in Floyd County were was stocked in the past week, as well, with reports of good catches coming from both.

Chrissy Bailey with a trophy trout she caught

Spring Turkey

The harvest has been good.  VDWR reported excellent numbers of birds in the wild, and spring hunters have been taking full advantage of it. A number of big toms have been taken from Henry County. Remember to get permission before hunting private land. The season goes until May 15.

Spring Bloom

Now may be one of the most beautiful times of the year to run a float trip down one of our region’s rivers. You can see the mountain greenery from the water that you can’t see anywhere else. Bonus! There are also plenty of smallmouth, trout, or muskies to catch, depending on which river you’re on. Some of the more popular are the James, the Jackson, the New, and the Maury.  Some of those rivers have stretches of rapids that aren’t for novices, so if you’re not an experienced paddler, you may want to seek the services of a guide. Other stretches have limited access that can be difficult to reach. However, the sights you’ll see are worth the time, effort, and money.

Jackson River near Clifton Forge shot from Appalachian Bronzebacks’ drift boat
Jackson River near Rainbow Gap

Staunton River Report

Stripers are moving into the deep water below Brookneal. Target them with stickbaits and swimbaits. Further upstream, good catches of post spawn walleye are being made. Jig and soft plastics will take fish.

Staunton River walleye/Photo Courtesy VDWR

Saltwater Report

Good catches of flounder are being made in Wachapreague and Chincoteague. The folks at Captain Steve’s Bait and Tackle in Chincoteague report the action has been picking up in recent days. The Virginia Beach Fishing Pier is open for the season. A lot of skates are being caught. Puppy drum should be moving soon. We’re hearing of fair numbers of sea trout being caught in Rudee Inlet.

Salamander Guide

The VDWR has released it’s Guide to the Salamanders of Virginia. It costs $16.95 and has photos and details about every species of salamander found in Virginia. It’s a great resource that you can use to teach children about this interesting species. You can find out more at this link.

VDWR Salamander Guide

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