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From the VDGIF Virginia Outdoor Report on The James River, Upper (Iron Gate to Scottsville):

Fishing in the upper James River in 2009 should be pretty good for smallmouth bass. The river went through several years (1999-2003) with below average to poor smallmouth spawning success, which means that the fish from those years aren't plentiful. In more recent years, the spawning success in 2004 was outstanding, in 2005 it was average, and in 2006 it was a little below average. There should be pretty good numbers of smallies in the 8-14 inch range. Fish bigger than 14 inches are going to be somewhat rare, but they are out there. If we get a good spawn in 2008, then fishing will continue to be good on the upper James for the near future. If the spawning success in 2008 is poor, then fishing may decline a bit by 2009-10.

In July 2006, a new size and creel limit for smallmouth bass went into effect on the entire James River above the Fall Line. All smallmouth bass 14-22 inches must be released unharmed when caught and only one fish over 22 inches in length may be kept per day. This regulation should improve the frequency of seeing trophy-sized fish, but it will most likely take at least 4-5 years to become very noticeable.

As for other species, catfish numbers (both channels and flatheads) should be a little better than they were in 2005. Panfish numbers (rock bass, redbreast sunfish, bluegill, and green sunfish) increased again in 2006, particularly in the case of green sunfish and rock bass. Overall sunfish numbers should be better than last year. Fallfish have also been increasing over the past 3 years, particularly in the river upstream from Lynchburg. Finally, numbers of muskellunge have increased slightly over the past 5 years, but they are still rare fish in the James River.

*Smallmouth fishing best at 3-5 foot level (clarity should be cloudy or clear). Virginia State fishing license required for all anglers 16 years and older.

Doug Uncapher of Keene, Virginia shows off a 21 inch 5 pound smallmouth (on right) along with another 4 pound fish. Both fish were fooled by a super fluke lure and released live back into the James River.
This image shows some favorite smallmouth lures and tackle box essentials! Items would include a good fish scales, bent angle forceps, nail clippers, tape measure, a variety of jig heads and curly tail grubs, Yamamotos, and pig tail pork rinds. Top water baits such as torpedoes, buzz baits, and Lucky Sevens will work well. Spinnerbaits are another essential along with Rapalas, and other assorted shallow dive crankbaits. Beetlespins and rooster tails work well also, but tend to catch smaller and a better variety of fish. Remember to carry a hook file to keep those hooks good and sharp and extra line for your reels. Always keep your license in a waterproof container within your tacklebox or bag. Most important of all, be sure to practice CATCH AND RELEASE so your children and grandchildren can enjoy the same thrill as you do catching the the elite smallmouth bass.














"Gunz" with a beautiful
spring 4.9 pound smallmouth!



Bruce Kranenburg had a tremendous day fishing The James River. His comments say it all:
"Jeff: My buddy Bruce Doolittle and I have taken four (4) canoe trips this year with your outfit.  We fished the nine mile stretch for smallies and made every effort to fish hard and not overlook any potential honey holes.  The information you and Marc provided us was right on the money!  Aside from some very windy days at first, our trips have been very successful.  On each trip we caught quality smallies with this last trip being our most successful yet.  I caught one just over 20 inches that weighed 3.7 pounds and a second rod bender that was 24 inches weighing in at 4.9 pounds!  Since it is post spawn I know the weights are down.  It is a thrill to land such a nice fish, photograph it and RELEASE IT!  Maybe somebody else will be able to experience the same thrill I did.  I will be back along with my partner Bruce -- again and again and again!  We couldn't be more pleased." Kevin J. Kranenburg (Gunz)









Even the occasional carp will hit hard but anglers better have some heavy rig! This one was caught on surf tackle using a special home made bread dough recipe. The carp weighed 30 pounds and was 36 inches long!











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