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James River Overview
The mighty James River flows from the confluence of the Cowpasture and Jackson
Rivers across the state to the Chesapeake Bay. Excellent fishing exists throughout
the river. Upstream of the fall line in Richmond (Upper James), smallmouth bass
are the predominant gamefish species; however, largemouth bass, channel
catfish, a variety of sunfish species, and even musky are available. The tidal
section of the river (Lower James) below the fall line provides excellent freshwater
fishing for catfish, largemouth bass, and striped bass. Nearer the Bay saltwater
species such as spot, croaker, flounder, and trout are plentiful.
Upper James River Fishing Report and Maury River Fishing Report
Although bank and wade fishing opportunities exist along the Upper James, float
fishing in a canoe or other small boat is the preferred way to fish this section of
the river. The VDGIF web site provides maps and access points. Float trips from
a few hours to a few days are available. To visit the VDGIF site, click here. Bruce
Ingram's book Fishing the James River is the authoritative work on the James
and is a must-have for James River anglers. It is quite affordable and available
on this page and on our Products page.
Smallmouth Bass: Smallmouth bass can be caught year round throughout the
river. In cold water, try small jigs (1/8 oz - 3/8 oz) in natural colors - hair jigs, tube
baits, and jig & pig combinations can all work. Suspending jerkbaits, stickbaits,
and Senkos are also excellent choices. Focus on slow-moving water and the
deeper pools. If the bite is slow, downsize baits and slow down the retrieve.
Larger fish are often caught in cool water conditions whereas summer produces
increased numbers of fish. In warm water, grubs and jigs remain good choices,
but add small (1/4 oz) spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, and crankbaits to your arsenal as
well. Artificial helgrammites are another good choice. Of course, live bait
(minnows, crawfish, and helgrammites) will always do the trick.
Virginia Outdoors - A Resource for Virginia Anglers and Hunters
Virginia Outdoors - James River (Upper)
Fishing the Upper James River
James River Fishing Guides
May 29, 2011 Rob England of Appalachian Bronzeback Adventures
While we have still had to pick our spots between rain events and high water,
fishing has been very good when we have been able to get out. In higher flows,
spinnerbaits and crankbaits are the best bait. Our best pattern recently has been
crawdad imitation crankbaits that run for 3' - 5'. Live Target has a new series of
crawdad imitating crankbaits that have terrific action. They are relatively expensive
but have proven to be worth investment.
Always check the USGS real-time streamflow data before going out on the water
or check with an outfitter or local guide to get a recommendation on where the
best float may be currently or whether it is safe to go out. Normal flow is around 1'
- 2' and any flow above 4' gets difficult to fish. Any flow over 6' is not safe to go out.
July 25, 2012 LE Rhodes of Hatchmatcher Guide Service provided the following
fishing report for the Upper/Middle James River:
It has been hot and humid the past couple of weeks. The water temperature has
gotten into the 90s a few days. The smallmouth continue to look up and take
top-water baits. Tiny Torps, Zarro Spooks and Skitter Pops have all produced
quality fish. Fly anglers throwing size 4 or 6 poppers also have had nice fish
netted. We have boated several fish over the 19 in. mark the past two weeks. Look
at the shade lines and undercut banks for fish.
Canoe the New client James T. with a
nice SeptemberJames River smallmouth!
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