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February Fishing Report

February, as usual, is essentially the same as January. Not a lot of new patterns happening while the cold remains over our area. Tightly schooled fish are still feeding on the warmer days, and have moved deeper on the cold ones. Find a creek, mud flat, and deeper water close by, and you have a better chance of finding one of these schools. Lynnhaven and Rudee are still offering "singles" occassionally, but almost all of the fish remain schooled together and what you'll find in almost all of our local waterbodies. The difference in temperature in the backcountry and out in the Bay can vary widely on the extreme days, so consider the tide and time of day when trying to follow fish to the warmest waters.  When shallow, these fish are holding tight to the bottom, want a subtle fly/lure and a SLLLLLLOOOOOWWWWW presentation. Once you're fishing painfully slow; slow down. Small Zman jerk shads, Mirrolure Lil’ Johns, and ned rigs are good options. For one of the best value options (10 in a pack, long-casting and scent-infused), the VB Ocean's East store has Saltwater Assassin's Lit'l P&V lures in stock, and there's been a lot of local success with this brand new rat tail/twitch bait lure.  Flies should also become more subtle.  The water clarity we enjoy during the winter means natural colors should take precedence over the purple and chartreuse options that help when we are competing against an abundance of bait in the water. With that being said - a warm stretch can turn on schooled redfish to the point they'll even swipe at topwaters.

Speckled Trout are still biting, and the cold has thinned out the ridiculous crowds at the most popular launches on the Elizabeth. Depth is going to be dependent on relative temperature, and when it comes to trout, ledges are never a bad spot to spend considerable time exploring.  Slick Lures and Paul Brown “Devils” remain this year's most popular, but the Paul Brown “Fat Boy” and a wide variety of suspending crank baits work well, along with, shocker, MirrOlures, like the 17MR (don't sleep on the 19's or 22's, though) .  Topwater strikes are not as effective as they were, but on overcast days during a warm stretch, they can produce - any hit that does happen won't come from a small fish.  Fly anglers need sinking lines (give it actual time to sink... not just after your cast, but at times during a retrieve) and patterns that suspend with action. Large deceivers, EP patterns, and big articulated patterns are ideal.

The rockfish have found their way to the mouths of rivers already, and in normal fashion, steep ledges and structure are the place to be. The season is closed inside the bay and it's tributaries, so make sure any fish you do bring in swim away. The HRBT and MMBT are providing opportunities already and should only get better before they really start heading up towards their spring spawning locations. A paddletail on a heavier jighead can work well as an efficient way to get to the depth you’re looking for. When a deep school is found, jigging big spoons can be very productive in enticing big fish, as well.  For fly anglers it’s nearly impossible to beat any variation of a Clouser Minnow when it comes to stripers. Wish them luck as they start the process of heading up rivers to create a foundation for the fishery moving forward.

On the freshwater side of things, the large catfish action is afoot in the James River, and fly anglers are looking forward to the shad migration and knocking some dust off the 6-weight sinking line. The James, Nottoway, Rappahannock, and more provide great action starting somewhere between the end of this month and mid-March, running through the beginning of May! Take advantage of one of Virginia's most time-honored angling traditions this spring. "Wooly Jiggers" in a size 4 or 6 with varied colors usually bring many fish to hand. Their preferences seem to change annually, but chartreuse and orange, and red and white are almost always favorites (depending on water color/clarity). These same fish can usually be found towards the end of February locally at a few spots... the Rudee Inlet Bridge is a great holding location if you can find a time when boat traffic allows you to fish. The Virginia Coastal Fly Anglers (VCFA) had a local outing this month down to Back Bay Wildlife Refuge, successfully targeting pickerel and small bass on mud minnow patterns and small wooly buggers. The largest pickerel of the month can be worth as much as 5 points in their Annual Fly Angler of the Year Tournament. For questions about the tournament reach out to the club via their website or facebook page.

We’re lucky enough to live in a 12-month fishery, so take advantage of it when you can!  Happy Valentine's Day to everyone. And, Honey, if you're reading this, a nice TFO fishing rod makes a way better gift than a box of chocolates!

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Amazing as always, keep up the great guiding!

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