Get to Buggs Island Lake for great crappie fishing Oct 13, 2017 17:08:22 GMT
Post by ghostcomanche on Oct 13, 2017 17:08:22 GMT
Get to Buggs Island Lake for great crappie fishing
by Jim Brewer @ www.dailyprogress.com on Mar 1, 2012
Drop whatever you’re doing. Get a half dozen poles, a bait bucket and your tackle box. The crappie are biting at Buggs Island Lake.
Normally, crappie don’t get me all stirred up and excited, but these aren’t ordinary crappie. These are Buggs Island crappie — a species often used by Virginia biologists to stock new lakes and impoundments. Buggs Island crappie can reach and exceed four pounds apiece. Now that gets me excited.
Buggs Island Lake is Virginia’s largest, at 48,900 acres. Also called Kerr Reservoir, Buggs straddles the Virginia/North Carolina line, though most of the lake is in Virginia waters.
It’s been a while, but I once had the privilege of fishing with the Crappie master himself, Bobbie Whitlow: affectionately called “Bobcat”. Whitlow owns and operates Bobcat’s Bait & Tackle on Hwy. 15 below Clarksville. Bobcat has forgotten more about crappie fishing than most anglers will ever come to know.
I had met Bobbie at The Bassarama in Richmond and he invited me down when the fish started to hit at Buggs, around the first of March.
We fished back up in Grassy Creek in a special 16-foot flat bottom boat. Bobbie fanned about 10 long poles in every direction and we prowled the creeks until we found fish. That’s when the fun started. We filled a cooler with beautiful “slabs”. Slabs, by the way, are what you call the big boys — crappie in the two-pound category.
The fishing, according to Bobcat’s, has been excellent, especially in light of the beautiful spring-like weather this year.
The fish are gathering in thick schools in about 8 to 12 feet of water, anywhere from a foot beneath the surface down to the bottom. As the water warms, the fish will move into more shallow water yet. Right now, they are hitting jigs, sometimes tipped with a minnow and sometimes not. Kalin and Uncle Henry’s jigs have been producing well. Numerous 2-plus pound fish are coming to the scales. Bobcat’s said that the biggest crappie weighed in this February was 3.42 pounds. In one week alone, they weighed four crappie over 3 pounds.
Buggs Island Lake is probably Virginia’s premier freshwater fishery. It is a first-class largemouth impoundment. During spring tournaments, it often takes a combined catch of over 30 pounds to win — that’s for a limit of just five fish. The lake is full of shad and you rarely see a skinny bass at Buggs. They are all chunks, like a football. Prime fishing for bass occurs when the water level is high and gets up on the banks behind the bushes. A jig flipped back behind the bushes often ends up in a tug of war between a lucky angler and an angry bass.
Buggs also produces catfish over 100 pounds. The state record blue cat at 143 pounds was caught at Buggs last summer. Buggs is also a top spot for stripers, white bass, and white perch. It is one of only a few lakes in the United States where landlocked striped bass successfully spawn. It’s a great fishing lake to be sure.
If you go, stop by Bobcat’s first and find out what’s happening. The difference between a killer trip and one you’d like to forget can sometimes be the difference in a jig color. Buggs Island crappie can be more fickle than a 13-month-old sorting through a plate of sweet peas.
Bobcat’s address is 12690 on Hwy. 15. If you want to call ahead, it’s 434-374-8381. They are really nice folks, always eager to help with advice and tips.
The crappie are on fire at Buggs Island Lake — maybe I’ll see you there.
If you find yourself using a bobber this year (especially when fishing for crappie) make sure your tackle box is stocked with the lighter, more stream-lined balsa corks — not the round, plastic red and white bobbers you normally see. The plastic bobbers offer much more resistance in the water than the balsa floats. It takes more effort for a fish to pull the bobber beneath the surface and that often causes the fish to spit out the bait and hook. Use the lighter floats and you’ll get more hook ups.