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So my local little jon boat lake I fished at regularly is now closed off to non-residents of the lake¬†ūüė£. I am super disappointed, the next closest lakes are about an hour away but I have the James river in downtown lynchburg about 20 minutes away! I usually avoid the river because I have no real understanding of how to fish it but now I dont have much of a choice. I will be taking my lil 12 ft jon boat (trolling motor powered)¬†to the james river and was hoping someone could help me out where to start. What types of things should I be doing differently, what should I look for, ect.¬†

I fished it a few times in the past from a kayak and basically just cast at laydowns and any eddy I could see. In the summer I had (some) success casting a texas rigged senko down a grass line I found. 

 I know Ill get the hang of it eventually, but would love if someone could help cut down the learning curve.

Thanks

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Nothing much different only the fish bite is a lot more dependent on the tides. Summer pattern for me is to fish outside creek bends, flip vegetation, fan cast points with deep water access, frog on the pads. Planning your fishing on an outgoing tide day will give you a better chance for success.

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He's in Lynchburg,,, there are no tides, its a actual river. Small mouth territory.
Id fish it with 2 rods, one with 10lb test and a Pop r topwater and one with 15lb or so fireline or braid with a 3-4" curly tail grub rigged texas style, throw the pop R anywhere near but not in current early, throw the grub in holes later. Lots of smallies, I love river fishing, wishing I had bought a tunnel hull john boat rather than this big water glass boat I just got.
Been getting skunked fishing for largemouth

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Lynchburg. Hummmm. Here we go.

 

1.  Its known as the HISTORIC James River.

2.  The HISTORIC James is not tidal above Bosher's Dam in Richmond as mentioned above.

3.  Smallmouth are abundant in the upper HISTORIC James so read up on catching river smallies.

4.  When the train derailed, it killed everything in the river. Throw everything back you catch just to make sure you don't poison yourself, family members or the dog.

5.  Wear your PFD at all times.

6.  Bring your needle nose pliers. Bring two if possible.

7.  Protect your self from the sun.

8.  Wear a good pair of polarized sunglasses.

9.  Have your fishing license with you.

19. If you come out of the rocks and see a ramp to the left with lots of toothless people, you have gone too far. You will be in Powhatan County at Watkins Landing.

 

As for baits, throw small hair jigs; small lipless crankbaits; small square bills; Senkos rigged weedless Wacky; and use a spinning rig to control everything better.

 

Have fun and let us know what you catch.

 

All the best for a safe adventure.

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Hey Sam,,, which areas are fishable with a Glass boat was thinking of putting in at Watkins, ramp looks ok but no idea what up and down stream look like from there, also what train where ?

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On 4/28/2019 at 8:21 AM, I'm Blue said:

Hey Sam,,, which areas are fishable with a Glass boat was thinking of putting in at Watkins, ramp looks ok but no idea what up and down stream look like from there, also what train where ?

I wouldn't go very far upriver from Watkins, but you can run all the way down to the dam downstream.

 

It gets shallow in spots along the banks, but as long as you only run the channel you won't have any problems assuming the river is not super low.  That's not to say you can't fish the banks, I just wouldn't make runs along the banks.

 

Be mindful that this section of river is tight, has a lot of pleasure boaters and jetskis on the weekends, and there will be a lot of people on paddle boards and other self propelled boats.  It can be annoying and most of these people will not respect your space.

 

The ramp itself should be fine as long as the river is not super low.

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On 4/27/2019 at 6:39 PM, Sam said:

 

19. If you come out of the rocks and see a ramp to the left with lots of toothless people, you have gone too far. You will be in Powhatan County at Watkins Landing.

 

This made me laugh.  I did a float with a buddy from Maidens to Watkins and we totally underestimated how long it would take.  Thought we could do it in 6-8 hours, way wrong.  Spent the last hour just paddling our kayaks so he could make it back in time to pick his kid up at daycare.  Multiple lessons learned on that trip...

  • Haha 1

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I haven't lived near (within 30 miles) there for more than 20 years and I'm trying to figure out where you are that puts you 20 minutes from the James, but an hour from any other place to fish.  Maybe Amherst or somewhere.  With a 12 foot jon boat, wouldn't Leesville or something be better than that part of the James?

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On ‚Äé4‚Äé/‚Äé28‚Äé/‚Äé2019 at 8:21 AM, I'm Blue said:

Hey Sam,,, which areas are fishable with a Glass boat was thinking of putting in at Watkins, ramp looks ok but no idea what up and down stream look like from there, also what train where ?

Blue, going down river towards Bosher's Dam and the City is great for all boats and fishing for both smallies and largemouths plus catfish.

 

Going up river from Watkins will introduce to many boulders and rocks and you may need a jet engine to get around safely and not destroy you boat and you will be in smallmouth heaven.

 

The DG&IF upgraded Watkins a few years ago and it is a great ramp. Good parking and easy backing the trailer to the Historic James.

 

Put in at Watkins and go down river and have some fun.

 

I put my Ranger in at Watkins and go all the way down to the dam and Tuckahoe Creek. You can fish the river all the way to Bosher's' Dam and back to Watkins.

 

And regarding the train, there was a derailment in Lynchburg that spilled some chemicals into the river. But so far, no problem with the water quality or fish.

 

Have fun!

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I have never fished the Upper James, but I assume that it is very similar to the New (which you should definitely fish if you get the chance to). Focus on rock and current this time of year to catch big smallmouth. While most recommend spinning gear for rivers, the New and James are pretty large bodies of water and I usually only take one spinning combo with me when I fish for river smallies. As others have said, topwater will work well. Don't count it out in the middle of the day either; river smallies are aggressive! My best advice is find the eddies and you will find the fish. A craw dragged on the bottom, or a swimbait slowly retrieved will catch the bigger fish, while finesse tactics like a wacky senko will catch you numbers. Have fun!

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On 5/22/2019 at 6:53 PM, Sam said:

Blue, going down river towards Bosher's Dam and the City is great for all boats and fishing for both smallies and largemouths plus catfish.

 

Going up river from Watkins will introduce to many boulders and rocks and you may need a jet engine to get around safely and not destroy you boat and you will be in smallmouth heaven.ÔĽŅ

 

The DG&IF upgraded Watkins a few years ago and it is a great ramp. Good parking and easy backing the trailer to the Historic James.

 

Put in at Watkins and go down river and have some fun.

 

I put my Ranger in at Watkins and go all the way down to the dam and Tuckahoe Creek. You can fish the river all the way to Bosher's' Dam and back to Watkins.

 

And regarding the train, there was a derailment in Lynchburg that spilled some chemicals into the river. But so far, no problem with the water quality or fish.

 

Have fun!

 

Sam,

I'm new to the site; I joined to research the James.  Looks like I came to the right place.  I'm wondering how the water is upriver from Watkins...you mentioned boulders and rocks, how deep is the water?  Are there any class one or two rapids up above?  Is there a boat ramp above Watkins I could put in my boat (1760 River Rave w/ 80hp jet Merc).  

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Hey Foo, welcome to the Forum.

 

Don't forget to introduce yourself in the Introductions section and always check out the Southeast section for information on Virginia waters.

 

I can't go up river from Watkins Landing (page 75) as I do not have a kayak or jet boat, but a lot of guys head up that way to fish for smallies in their jet boats or fight the river and rapids from Scottsville to Watkins Landing or Robious Landing (page 73).

 

Lots of rocks above Watkins Landing and water levels can get as low as one-foot.

 

May I make two suggestions?

1.  Go to Bass Pro Shop or a tackle shop in NOVA and locate the GMCO map of Upper James River. They left out the word "Historic" in the title but the map is still a good one. It will show you the Historic James River from Richmond to Scottsville. It shows the rapids difficulty classifications along the route.

 

Or, you can go to their web site and order the map of the Upper James River,

http://www.gmcomaps.com/  Check out all the Virginia maps. Upper James is on page 2 of the Virginia link.

 

2.  Go to Bass Pro Shop or a tackle shop in NOVA and locate the booklet, 2019 Freshwater Fishing and Boating in Virginia. Page 72 starts the DGIF boat ramps and access points on all bodies of Virginia waters (note page numbers above) and there are a number of public ramps listed for the Historic James towards Scottsville. Just look under the "Body of Water" column for the James River.

 

Remember, the Historic James is very dangerous from the Pony Pasture and then to downtown Richmond. I believe only those who are serious kayakers try their luck on this portion of the Historic James. Unless you are a pro who knows how to handle Class IV rapids, please keep it simple and don't go below the Pony Pasture to Richmond.

 

Kayakers put in by the Huguenot Bridge (page 76) and this is the area where people take lessons on how to use a kayak. It is extremely busy on weekends.

 

Fishing the upper Historic James River is great for smallies. As you go below Watkins Landing towards Boshers' Dam the largemouth fishing is very good, too.

 

Good luck. Have fun. Be safe. Have all your required equipment and fishing license with you as the VDGIF conservation officers will show up from time to time at the various ramps checking on the guys and gals.

 

Let us know what you find out and what you did.

 

P.S. Just thought of the Richmond Fishing Expo in January at Meadow Event Park by Kings Dominion.

 

Great people who know the Upper Historic James River and will share information with you. Here is the link to this year's past event: http://www.richmondfishingexpo.com/

 

Check it out and watch for it for the 2020 show.

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Thank you for all the info Sam.

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On 6/25/2019 at 6:16 AM, Sam said:

Remember, the Historic James is very dangerous from the Pony Pasture and then to downtown Richmond. I believe only those who are serious kayakers try their luck on this portion of the Historic James. Unless you are a pro who knows how to handle Class IV rapids, please keep it simple and don't go below the Pony Pasture to Richmond.

I read this and wondered where there were Class IV rapids on the James.  I haven't run these, but they're Class II (which can still be on the difficult side for someone just learning a SOT kayak).  A lot of other good info in your post.

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Country, as you sit in traffic you will have time to look at the map of the Upper James River by GMCO. :D


It shows the classes of the rapids along the river from Scottsville to Richmond.

 

I was incorrect. Seems the Class IV rapids are in the Richmond area. There are no Class IV rapids in the upper James.

 

Thanks for pointing this error to us so it can be corrected.

 

 

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Welcome aboard, @FooJet!

 

As to the Historic James, @Sam, that's some fine advice (esp #19 :D ).

 

I've got relatives in Lynchburg and was there in the Spring walking over the

bridge downtown. Couldn't get a good enough look as I wanted with all the 

fencing they've installed, but what I could see was delicious to the eyes as

far as smallie territory. Hope to fish it some time when we're out visiting 

again.

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13 hours ago, Sam said:

Country, as you sit in traffic you will have time to look at the map of the Upper James River by GMCO. :D


It shows the classes of the rapids along the river from Scottsville to Richmond.

 

I was incorrect. Seems the Class IV rapids are in the Richmond area. There are no Class IV rapids in the upper James.

 

Thanks for pointing this error to us so it can be corrected.

 

 

I may live in the concrete (or actually 1/4 acre manicured lawn) jungle now, but I was born in Bedford County (a good part of my family still lives there).  I used to fish out of a canoe a fair amount up around Eagle Rock, back when it was the smallmouth destination rather than the New.

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I have no idea about bass fishing on the James River, but I watch the catsandcarp youtube channel now and then and he catches some nice catfish on the James River, so if you get bored of bass fishing or just want to mix things up, try throwing some spam, boilies or chicken liver.

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On ‚Äé6‚Äé/‚Äé24‚Äé/‚Äé2019 at 9:27 PM, FooJet said:

 

Sam,

I'm new to the site; I joined to research the James.  Looks like I came to the right place.  I'm wondering how the water is upriver from Watkins...you mentioned boulders and rocks, how deep is the water?  Are there any class one or two rapids up above?  Is there a boat ramp above Watkins I could put in my boat (1760 River Rave w/ 80hp jet Merc).  

Next ramp above Watkins is Maidens Landing on Rt 522. You can run your jet there. If you are experienced, you can run Watkins to Maidens. Going upriver from Watkins you have the following ramps:

Maidens

West View

Cartersville

Columbia

Bremo Bluff

Hardware

Scottsville

Howardsville

Midway

Wingina

James River State Park

Bent Creek

Lynchburg

 

Hardware is boulder strewn and very tricky

Scottsville to Howardsville is difficult, almost impossible to not hit rocks at normal levels

Howardsville ramp is better suited for canoes and kayaks

Wingina ramp is short and can be difficult to launch a jet

 

Smallie fishing has been off this year so far. Not sure if due to all the high water or if RR spill in Lynchburg did have an effect on the fish.

 

2-3' on the Cartersville gauge, you can pretty much get anywhere with the jet. Bent Creek needs to be 3.5' or above to get around safely up that way.

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Thank you everyone for the information.  

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