Fishing the Fifty

My Quest to Fish All 50 States

Virginia

Brown Trout

2019 started off amazingly.  For my first trip of the year, Eric Gibson and I headed to the South River to target trophy brown trout.  Virginia's 25-inch minimum for trophy browns is relatively high; there are only four states in the country with higher minimums.  Fortunately, Eric's and my persistence was rewarded when I caught a 25-inch brown.  This was my 16th different Virginia species with at least one citation.  As an excellent bonus, I followed it up with a 24-inch citation rainbow and a 23-inch citation rainbow.

My 25-inch citation brown trout.  This fish gave me citations in 16 different Virginia species.

My 24-inch citation rainbow trout.

My 23-inch citation rainbow trout. 

Longnose Gar

The excellent start to 2019 continued.  Shortly after catching a trophy brown trout (my 16th Virginia species), I fished the Potomac River with Jason Kintner (capitalcatfishing.com).  Jason is a master at putting clients on trophy blue catfish, but I was looking for gar.  I had never caught a longnose gar anywhere before, but Jason knew a few spots for them.  After catching four citation blue catfish and a 31-pound citation carp, I caught my first gar.  My next fish was an even bigger gar, right at the 40-inch citation minimum, giving me 17 species with at least one Virginia citation.  We finished the day with four more citation blue catfish (the biggest being 44 pounds) for a total of 10 trophies.  This was the first time in my life I caught trophies in three different species on the same trip.

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My 40-inch citation gar.  This fish gave me citations in 17 different Virginia species.

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My 31-pound, 37-inch citation carp.

The biggest of my eight citation blue catfish from this trip, 44 pounds and 44.5 inches.

Fallfish 

While the biggest news from the start of 2020 was definitely my older son's first fish, my season started off fantastically as well.  I fished a new section of the North River and caught a 21-inch, four-pound brown trout, a 14-inch brook trout, and a 16.5-inch, two-pound fallfish.  Virginia had just added fallfish to its trophy-eligible species list, and my fish easily exceeded the 14-inch minimum.  I was very happy because this meant I have now caught at least one citation in 18 different species, putting me only two species away from Master Angler Level IV.

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My 21 inch, four-pound brown trout

My 16.5-inch, two-pound citation fall fish

White Crappie 

Another change made by VDGIF was breaking out white and black crappie as distinct citation-eligible species, but you have to catch a trophy of each in order to get credit for a new species.  Mission accomplished on Buggs Island with Butch Arthur of Arthur's Guide Service.  I caught three citation black crappie, including my personal best at 16+ inches, and one citation white crappie.  I now stand at 19 different species with at least one citation, one species short of a Master Angler Level IV.

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My biggest citation black crappie and personal best crappie at 16+ inches.

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My four citations from the day.

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My 15-inch citation white crappie, which is my 19th species.

Black Crappie

I headed back to Buggs Island to try my luck at freshwater drum.  Crappie master Butch Arthur catches several citation drum each year on his crappie trips.  I did catch my first freshwater drum and white bass in Virginia, but they weren't quite big enough.  The big news though was that I caught my personal best crappie, a massive 3.06-pound, 17.5-inch post spawn black crappie.  On average, only one or two post-spawn 3+ pound crappie are caught in Virginia every year.  I was ecstatic.  I also caught two smaller citation black crappie and two citation white crappie, along with a huge trophy gar, dozens of blue catfish, some white perch, and over 100 smaller crappie.  It was an absolutely amazing day on the water.

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My personal best crappie, 3.06 pounds and 17.5 inches.