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Fishing NOVA 101: Getting Started

By Dan Grulke

Perhaps the best way to get your family hooked on fishing is to hire a guide. There are multiple reasons for this: 1) they provide the equipment which can be expensive, including rods, reels, and tackle and 2) they have expertise and experience that will provide you with an exceptional outcome; leading to a desire to fish again. However, in today’s economy not everyone can afford a fishing guide which leads me to write this article Fishing NOVA 101: Getting Started.

There are many places to fish in Northern Virginia including small ponds, large reservoirs, flowing rivers, and even the Tidal Potomac. For this article I will focus on areas to fish from the bank as well as tactics and tackle to use for waters in the Northern Virginia area.

Located in the area of Burke, Virginia you have a couple of nice small lakes that are owned by the Fairfax County Park Authority that are great for shore fishing. The names are Wood Glenn Lake, Royal Lake, Huntsman Lake, and Lake Mercer. For routes of access purchase a Fairfax County road map and locate where the lake you want to fish intersects with the County Park.  These lakes offer fair to good fishing for largemouth bass and sunfish/bluegills. I prefer to fish these lakes with a 6’ 6” med power fast action graphite rod rated 8-14 pound line and lure weights 3/16 to ¾ ounce lures.  Because rod ratings vary from manufacture to manufacture I recommend using a St. Croix or Gator Rod in these rod ratings. A great all-purpose line to fish these lakes is Sufix pro-mix in 10 pound test or Sufix Siege in 10 pound test and I prefer the line in the dark green color. For lures I primarily fish 2 ¾ inch and 4 inch Mizmo tubes Texas rigged with a pegged weight, Case Magic Sticks  in the 5 ½ inch size on a 3/0 VMC hook, Rapala dives to Fat 1, and of course the Rapala X-Rap in size 6. For plastics I prefer green pumpkin or purple colors and for hard baits a natural silver/black or silver/olive color.

My experience has been that most of the large fish I have caught at these lakes have been in the vicinity of the dam area, because of the deeper water, and within 20 feet of the bank. Therefore I work my baits/lures parallel to the bank at about a 45 degree angle and then with each cast progressively reduce the angle to shore. Other areas I focus on are downed trees, sharp drop offs, and rocky banks. I will first start off with a Mizmo tube and slowly drag this lure across the bottom. My next lure of preference is a Dives to Fat 1 that dives to about 1 foot and creates a bulge in the surface. I have caught more bass on these two lures than any others at these lakes. The one exception is during the spawn in late April early May I will predominately through a Case Magic Stick in green pumpkin gold fleck for spawning bass.

If your goal is to get your children started fishing then by all means go the live bait route. Use worms for bluegills/sunfish or with minnows for bass. For the bass you can use the same rod mentioned earlier but for bluegills/sunfish go with a light power moderate action rod in the 6 foot range with a line rating of 4-8 pounds and lure ratings around 1/16 to 3/16 ounce. For the minnow I prefer large minnows and fish them three feet below a slip bobber on a 1 or 1/0 VMC hook. For the worm rod I would use a size 6 or 8 VMV Aberdeen hook. Remember to also bring a rod to cast lures with as the wait for a bite on live bait can take a while and the down time can be a great time to teach the youngsters how to fish with a lure.

Because we have a limited amount of space for these articles I have left out some details and specifics. If you have questions about this article, locations of these lakes, lures or techniques I use please contact me. Life Outdoors Unlimited Guide Dan Grulke can be reached at musky13@yahoo.com or via phone numbers listed under the LOU web-site www.penrodsguides.com.