Predicting fishing is harder than predicting the weather, but there are definitely several bright spots on this year's angling horizon.
One should be Lake Manassas, which at the end of last season was loaded with bass in the 11 - to 13-inch class. The minimum keeper size in Virginia is 12 inches. Last year, in a typical experience at Manassas, in two hours of fishing with minnows I caught and released about a dozen bass. Most of them were a shade undersized, so this year area fishermen can look forward to a good crop of thre-year-olds from 12 to 15 inches. Don't count on lots of lunkers - just lots of fun.
Bass fishing in general has been spotty so far this season, but it should pick up with the first string of warm days. Warm surface water brings the fish into the shallows. Look for good midday fishing along the shorelines on any warm day. For example, Lake Anna produced some excellent stringers last weekend but the action slowed during mid-week with the cool spell.
A second hot spot this season should be Rock Gorge and Tridelphia Reservoirs, which during April and May of last year produced a good number of norther pike. Most Washingtonians have never fished for northerns because they are not native to this area. But three years ago the WSSC stocked them in the two reservoirs to help control the overabundance of crappies. The northerns have prospered, and this year should produce a lot of fish above the 20-inch minimum size limit. The most consistent area last year was in the stream below Brighton Dam at Tridelphia.During April the northerns from Roaky Gorge move into the stream to spawn; they can be taken on spoons, daredevils and large minnows.
On the Bay we can expect to see another phenomenal year of blues - abundant bluefish and regrettably few rockfish. The five-to-ten-pound blues should be moving into the Bay now and should start providing spectacular sport around mid-month in the lower part of the Bay. Last year also produced an excellent run of sea trout in the lower Bay. Look for those fish to return in late May.
Finally, trout enthusiasts can look forward to improved fishing in two of the best streams in the East, both in Pennsylavnia.
First, the Letort Spring Run near Carlisle saw little pressure this winter. According to Charlie Fox, the Letort's self-appointed river keeper, there was not only a good spawn of brown trout during December, but the last good spawn four years ago is now reaching the 15- to 18-inch class. During April try baetis nymphs and little olive dry flies, both size 18, on cloudy mornings.
Second, Falling Spring Run near Chambersburg was returned last year to native trout status, so there will be no ignorant stocked fish. The stream-bred rainbows are coming back strong, according to Doug Jones of Arlington, who fishes there regularly. Best April flies will be small nymphs, particularly pheasant tail and sulfur nymph patterns, size 16.
Both streams are fly fishing only and only one trophy over 20-inches can be kept. The wild, wily and well-known trout of the Letort and the Falling Spring should not be missed by any fly fisherman strong enough to take the continual humilation the fish wreak upon their pursuers. Catch, and release, a large Letort brown or Falling Spring rainbow and your ego is set for a month.
The shad run in the Rappahannock River this weekend, but last year the best fishing, which wasn't very good, came in the third week of April.Try small spinners in the holes and riffles during the early morning and just before evening.