Chickahominy River - Fishing Opportunities
Black crappie numbers vary considerably year-to-year in the tidal Chickahominy. However, anglers have reported good catches of crappie in recent years. While crappie can be caught throughout the year, October - April is the primary season for this tasty species. The size structure of this tidal river crappie population is excellent, with a high proportion of the population greater than or equal to 10 inches.
The two most sought after catfish species in the tidal Chickahominy River, channel cats and blue cats, are not native to the river. Channel catfish likely became established in the river sometime between 1890 and the early 1900's. Blue catfish were stocked in the tidal James River in the mid-1970's, and they colonized the tidal Chickahominy following this introduction. Following introduction, blue catfish quickly became the dominant catfish species in the river, replacing channel catfish as the most abundant catfish species. In the spring of 2009, anglers reported catching 11 blue catfish for every 2 channel catfish caught.
Anglers catch of "eating size" 1-3 lb channel catfish by fishing night crawlers or various other cut-bait, while anglers fishing for blue cats typically use fresh bait such as gizzard shad. While trophy blue catfish to 70 pounds do occur in the tidal Chickahominy, anglers should be aware that trophy blue catfish are not as abundant in the tidal Chickahominy as they are in the James.
Generally anglers can expect good numbers of largemouth in the 1-3 pound range, with relatively few largemouth weighing over 5 pounds. This fishery is characterized by high angler catches. Of all Virginia tidal rivers, the tidal Chickahominy typically has the highest largemouth catch rates, and it is a close second to the James in abundance of bass greater than or equal to 15 inches. Angler catch rates were at record highs in the spring of 2009; double what they were in 2005, and much higher than in most Virginia bass lakes. In 2009, 73% of anglers interviewed rated the largemouth fishery as either good or excellent. This fishery should continue to produce high angler catch rates over the next several years.
River Herring (Alewife & Blueback Herring)
The spring herring run has been a tradition for many years at Walkers Dam, unfortunately angler access to the dam is closed at this time - no fishing from the dam. This is because of ongoing repairs, which will take years to complete. Even with closure of the dam, the river herring run continues to draw many anglers each spring from late March through early May. These anglers fish primarily from boats in the area downstream of Walkers Dam. During the peak of the run in April, anglers can land an abundance of these unique fish using bare gold hooks, small spoons, or shad darts. Anglers should be aware that river herring runs have been depleted along the Atlantic coast, and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is considering closing the fishery. While the fishery was open for the spring 2010 season, anglers should check with the Virginia Marine Fisheries Commission (VMRC) in Newport News at 1-800-541-4646 or on the web at: VMRC for current regulations related to this fishery.