All summer long, the bass, catfish and herring are jumping in the James. 

A Truly Perfect Place

Mayo's bridge — also known as the 14th Street Bridge — which spans the fall line of the James River, is a truly perfect place to fish. On the east side of the bridge the tidal water is green tea-colored, steeped with ocean fish and blue crabs. On the other side of the bridge, smallmouth bass leap high in frothy aerated water streaming over exposed boulders. Most saltwater fish cannot negotiate the rocks and the water flowing down from the Blue Ridge mountains. Their journey stops here. Striped bass, shad and herring begin to arrive in March to spawn. Later in the summer, crappie, largemouth bass and catfish are the freshwater species to fish for. Some trophy-sized striped bass hang around for the rest of the summer.

Anytime of day can be a good time to fish at 14th Street Bridge. But summer night fishing provides the best experience. The view from the bridge reflects the glowing Southern States grain elevators, streaming headlights of Interstate 95 and the lonesome light of a coal train spanning the river. You can bait your hook by the lights provided by the bridge. Drivers speeding along the bridge often slow down and ask: "What's biting? Catchenany?" Fellow fishermen often share secrets and even their own bait after they have filled their bucket. Some settle in for the evening and bring a date, a chair and cell phone.

Dwight Williams has fished the James River all his life. He owns a Bayliner boat with a cabin but prefers to fish on the bridge. " It's plain and simple fishing," he says.

To escape the summer heat, try catfishing at night. Just about any type of cut bait can be used including chicken livers, shrimp and stink bait. Huge Blue catfish up to 50 pounds can be caught all summer long.

Check with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries at (804) 367-9369 to find out about licenses, weights, seasons and

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