The James River begins in the Appalachian Mountains and flows 348 miles to Chesapeake Bay. The river length extends to 444 miles. It is the longest river in Virginia and the 12th longest river in the United States that remains entirely within a single state.
Before the ‘new world’ strangers sailed her, she was home to the Powhatan Confederacy. The native nation called the river “The Powhatan River” for their chief. The James was central to the tribes for everyday life and leisure from the fall line at modern day Richmond to the Chesapeake Bay.
This historic river has been instrumental in the development of our nation and played a critical role through many significant periods from the past. Captain John Smith, with the support of the Virginia Company of London, established the first permanent settlement in the country in 1607. James town may be miles away from our fishing grounds, however, an equally historic site is within our reach. The “Citie of Henricus” was established in 1611 by sir Thomas Dale.
Along our fishing adventures you are like to encounter many points of interest. Many you may know, some you may not. In any event, the examination of these places from the water will afford you a fresh perspective.
City point at Hopewell although established by sir Thomas Dale, is perhaps most notable for being the Civil war headquarter of General Ulysses S. Grant during the siege of Petersburg. This port at the confluence of the Appomattox and James rivers was one of the busiest in the world in the 1860’s. Look for it on our way out. Be sure to ask about the confederate sabotage that nearly destroyed the port.
Many plantations can be seen during our trips. Including Shirley Plantation. Shirley Plantation is THE oldest family owned business in North America and can trace its heritage to 1614. Many of the lands and landmarks along our journey will be denoted by the term hundred. For example, Shirley was often referred to as “Sherley Hundred”, or Flower Dew “hundred’ etc. The areas we target were prime centers of commerce and activity during the 1800’s.
Signs of bustling commerce linger now in the forms a multitude of barge, packet boat, and ship wrecks, who's bulks are still plainly visible.
Your party will enjoy more than fish on our adventure. Expect to take in a vast array of flora and fauna. There are majestic Birds of prey in the form of the regal Bald Eagle, the hard-at-work fishing Ospreys, Peregrine Falcons, and even the rare Golden Eagle. Vast herds of deer may be seen in the open water making spectacular river crossings. Nearly every aquatic bird species native to the Mid-Atlantic region can be spotted in a single outing. During our night excursion expect to hear at least 3 species of owls calling, together with the eerie songs of howling coyotes. In the warmer months one can catch a glimpse of the largest fresh water fish in the world: The Atlantic Sturgeon. These true river monsters may attain a length of 8 feet or more, and will tend to ‘breach’, often in close proximity to our watercraft. Throughout the year various interesting trees and flowering shrubs will be both visible and perfuming the air with sweet effervescence.
The mighty Blue Catfish is the largest species of catfish in North America. In fact, it is one of the largest fresh water species of fish in North America. Attaining weight well in excess of 150 lbs. And a length of 65 inches or more. They were introduced in the early 1970’s as new source of recreational game fish. They quickly came to dominate the tidal waters of Virginia and got the unfortunate label of invasive-species. Thanks to a lot of hard-working scientists and careful wildlife management, the blue cat now enjoys a special protected status. The knee-jerk reaction was to immediately assume them to be apex predators that were mindless eating machines. Science has now revealed them to be herbivorous and omnivorous, eating vast amounts of hydrilla and Asian Clams.
Flathead Catfish are known for their ‘shoulders’. The tenacity of these fish is often compared to that of the saltwater Cobia species. Pound for pound, it is hard to find a more powerful freshwater fish. The monster will routinely top 40-50 lbs. and test your forearms.
The channel catfish although actively out competed by their sister species, are still caught in abundant numbers in the waters we will frequent on our fishing odyssey.
Striped Bass can often be an unexpected welcome bycatch. Their size can range from 20” to 48”, and never fail to disappoint in providing a strong battle for the able-bodied fisherman.
Longnose Gar have essentially remained unchanged in 150 million years. The dinosaurs of the deep may have a mouth full of razor blade teeth, but it will not stop the occasional landing of the acrobatic torpedoes. Plan to tangle with these “Fresh Water Marlins”, as Captain John calls them, in the warmer months.
Large Mouth Bass? Yes, believe it or not, these prime-time Primadonnas may sometimes be had when the bucket mouths turn their attention to American Gizzard Shad.
The elusive Walleye is a welcome catch to any outing. Although rare, the odds are more than zero that we will catch one of these toothy saugers.