Somehow during this season I convinced the Basswife that the rivers in Virginia are not scary. This is been a great boon to both of us as we can now pursue smallmouth bass on the Shenandoah, Potomac, and other rivers that have relatively easy spots to paddle in. Capitalizing on her newfound comfort, I turned my attention to the largemouth bass that live in the tidal Rappahannock below Fredericksburg.
After doing some careful reading on the VDGIF website, I discovered that there was an access point called Hicks Landing about 20 miles south of Fredericksburg. It's a private launch site that charges a higher fee than a state or county side would charge. I did not know it was going to be eight dollars until I got there. Once there, you are stuck -- you have to pay it or go someplace else. Since this was a good hour and a half from my home, I decided to pay it.
Hicks Landing road switches from hardball to dirt/gravel fairly quickly after you leave Route 17. It's a straight shot down to the improved landing site that has a broad boat launch, trash bins, and porta-potties. As we looked up to the darkening sky, we realized that our fishing here may be cut short by an afternoon thunderstorm so we quickly dumped the canoe into the water and motored over to the far shore.
I was very impressed with the quality of the structure on both banks in this area. There were a number of other bass boats barrelling up and down the river, so there must be decent fishing to merit the attention of those "professionals". The river is very deep here, running 20 to 30 feet in spots. It was a little shallower over by the bank, so we started working with our normal grubs, worms and the Basswife used some Panther Martin spinners. A short distance up river from the launch, there's a broad cut where you can head back into a deep swamp. It's not a deep swamp in the Florida sense, it's more of a marsh area full pads and weeds.
Given all the big bass boats charging around on the main channel of the river, we decided to duck into the swamp where it might be too shallow for the big boys to go. It was a much shallower and there were a number of narrow channels lined with weed beds and lily pads. We worked top water plugs around all the lily pads and the edge of the weed beds with no luck. About this time, we heard a few thunderclaps and decided to call it a day and head back. As we motored out of the swamp, I drove to the other side of the river so we could see what it looked like on our way back to the boat launch.
It was identical to the east bank in that it had plenty of overhanging structure, logs fallen into the river, and brushy areas that would all hold fish. We have seen a number of the bass boats working this side of the river heavily in a short period time we were on the water.
Bottom line: While the Rappahannock down here is scenic and has the potential to be productive, it's not worth the hour and a half drive from the to get there from Northern Virginia. I'd rather go to Lake Orange or some of the other small lakes a little bit closer than have to contend with bass boats running 40 or 50 miles an hour up this water highway.
Getting There: From I95, take exit 126 onto Rt 17 east towards Port Royal. Go about 18 miles and then turn left onto Hicks Landing Road. BUT. Be sure to pay the launch fee at the small general store at the corner of Hicks Landing and Rt 17. It was EIGHT bucks in 2008 - sucks.
Hard to Find
Remember to refer to my rating explanations - these are based on what I look for - so RED for Physical Fitness translates to easy physically - you do not need to be in shape to fish this section. I prefer terrain that is tough to get into and out of.
Purchase Switchfisher's books using the links to Amazon below for:
Wade Fishing the Rappahannock River of Virginia (more info)
Wade Fishing the Rapidan River of Virginia (more info)
Wade and Shoreline Fishing the Potomac River for Smallmouth Bass
Trout and Smallmouth Fishing on the North Branch of the Potomac
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented on the VDGIF website.
Launch... costs $8!!!! Better spend all day.
Upstream from launch
Downstream from launch
Looking northwest at a channel in the swamp
Looking up into the mouth of the swamp area
Great pad fishing
Up farther into the swamp
Dense structure on the southern shore
Unless stated otherwise, this article was
authored by Steve Moore
Disclaimer and Warning: The contents of this
site reflect the opinion of the author and you, the
reader, must exercise care in the use and interpretation
of this information. Fishing is a dangerous sport.
You can slip and fall on rocks and sustain severe injury.
You can drown. You can get hooks caught in your
skin, face, eyes or other sensitive places. All
sorts of bad things can happen to you when to go into
the woods to visit the places documented here.
Forests, streams and lakes are wild areas and any number
of bad things can happen. You must make your own
judgment in terms of acceptable behavior and risk and
not rely on anything posted here. Calibrated Consulting,
Inc disclaims all liability and responsibility for any
actions you take as a result of reading the articles
on this site. If you do not agree with this, you
should not read anything posted on this site.
Finally, access points may be different or restricted
based on changes in property ownership since posting
the original article. It is up to you to make
sure you are fishing where it is legal.