Yes it's winter, but lately it hasn't been feeling like it----and even in the colder months, you can still find some fresh water fishing to enjoy as we find out in this segment we like to call, Keepin It Reel!
News 3's Kurt Williams headed out on a small boat on Lake Smith in Virginia Beach with Zach Bowles from Oceans East Bait and Tackle, in search of crappie or bass. It's important to note, while Lake Smith is in Virginia Beach, Norfolk owns the waterway and so if you're using a boat, you need a boat permit from the city of Norfolk. If however you're fishing from land, all you need is a current Virginia freshwater fishing license.
Zach recommended a favorite live bait for crappie: minnows, "Today we are using live shiners--freshwater shiners." He adds, run a small hook from the bottom of lip out through the top lip." Zach says make sure you don't take the hook too far in on the fish head to avoid running the hook through the minnow's brain, "You want your minnow to swim around and be lively."
Once your minnow is on your hook, make sure you use a bobber. At Lake Smith, we spaced ours about three feet from the bait, but you may have to test out different depths if you're striking out---you definitely want to make sure your bait is not dragging on the bottom.
Where's the best place to find crappie once you're ready to cast out your line? Zach and I tried a number of spots around Lake Smith where we noticed underwater debris, like lily pads, weeds as well as tree limbs. We also cast our lines near bushy areas in coves of Lake Smith.
And even though crappie spawn in abundance during the spring, making it easier to hook them---they are also fairly active in the winter as well.
Plus, since they don't put the same fight as, say a large mouth bass---you don't need heavy fishing tackle. Zach and I did quite well with a light rod and reel combo, that priced for less than $30.
And while Zach and I practiced catch and release on our fishing trip, crappie are known to be a quite tasty, sought after fish.