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Nature’s Secret is Patience: Winter Fishing in #HalifaxVA

Greetings from historical Halifax County, Virginia and the waters that call it home. I am the son of both. I am native born with an unrestrained love for the waterways of my home. I have fished, hunted, or explored every mile of navigable water in and around Halifax County, VA. My name is Jonah and, in this blog, I will cover fishing, nature watching, and exploration on the waterways of Halifax County during the season of Old Man Winter.

“Adopt the pace of Nature: her secret is patience,” wrote Emerson. To the winter anglers “bassing” Kerr Lake and its mightiest tributary, the Staunton River, this insight holds special meaning. It is a time to slow your roll with finesse type baits and smaller profiles with less action for a finnickier and lighter bite. Two outstanding Winter baits are the time-tested balsa crankbait and a relative newcomer to mainstream fishing, the Ned rig. Both are deadly Winter presentations when used on rocky lake points and deeper river eddies. The tight wobble of a good balsa crank does not over stimulate the fish with noise and vibration during a time when the water is much quieter and often clearer and mimics the tight swimming motion of bait fish. Target points, transitions, and structure by starting deep and working towards shallow to maximize each situation. Rapala Shad Raps are a great bait for this technique. Sizes 05, 06, and 07 are used with remarkable success. Match with your preferred rod and reel setup, whether baitcaster or spinning and fine tune running depths of each size, other crankbaits as well, by varying the size of your fluorocarbon line. The smaller the line the deeper cranks will run. I recommend line sizes from 10 to 17 lbs. After you’ve mopped up, switch to the Ned rig for those last remaining fish. This Winter one-two punch is not only effective, but also fun for the pro and novice alike and works equally well in flat and moving water.

Wintertime and its deep chill offer an often overlooked and underappreciated time for nature watching and exploring. Here in Halifax, the season brings with it many species of migratory birds. Species of duck like the beautiful drake Woodie and the majestic Mallard along with many, many other species of migratory birds can be seen around Staunton River State Park located in Halifax County at the confluence of the Dan and Staunton Rivers on Kerr Lake. The shallow flats with nooks and crannies and hidden pools, each one with its own vigilant and cantankerous sounding Blue Herring, were created with the help of the ubiquitous willow tree, John H Kerr Dam, and Father Time. These willow flats are easily accessible by kayak and canoe from either river’s public access making it perfect for nature photographers, birdwatchers, and your general nature lover like myself. Other birds of favor include the Bald Eagle and two of Nature’s greatest fishermen: the osprey and my personal favorite, the King Fisher.

Another personal favorite for viewing wildlife is the public access ramp on Hyco River located in the eastern part of the county on Highway 58. Here the water is backed up by the mighty Kerr Lake which slows it so much that the water moves near to the speed of cold molasses. This makes it perfect for an easy and relaxing paddle. Hyco River is a favorite winter fishing spot among locals so be sure to bring your fishing pole to jig the many willows that line its banks. Crappie fishing is excellent during the winter season with catches frequently in the 1.5 to 2-pound range. Small jigs and minnows from Gene’s Orange Market or Smiley’s General Merchandise are sure to trigger a good bite. You can find both stores conveniently located on Highway 58.

If you prefer to keep your feet planted on solid ground, the shoreline of Staunton River State Park also offers relaxing views of feathered wildlife and with the leaves shed the trail system of The Park, as it is known by locals, and the Tobacco Heritage Trail of South Boston both change in form and factor. The absence of leaves creates much longer sightlines that reveal terrain features for exploring, sunset and sunrise vistas, and once hidden wildlife. With no leaves to rustle in the wind, the woods become quieter and the sounds of nature more discernable. Songs birds seem to sing with more pop and romping squirrels sound as if they are the size of black bears. Slipping quietly along, and as Emerson noted with “patience”, deer and wild turkey can be spotted in their daily routines.

In Winter, take your time and adopt the pace of Nature to enjoy outdoor relaxation; tranquility, and beauty that others often miss while waiting for warmer weather.

Jonah is a fishing guide, river guide, outdoorsman, and lifelong resident of Halifax County, Virginia. For more fishing charters or more information, visit: FISHHARDCharters.com.

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