Regional Reports-South

This month provides Virginia outdoorsmen with a wealth of great opportunities, including prime smallmouth fishing and a four-day duck season. Instead of choosing one or the other, try a cast-and-blast combo float for wood ducks and bass on any of Virginia's top smallmouth rivers. Set out early and find a logjam or a quiet backwater behind an island and throw out a half-dozen duck decoys. Get there early; the morning flight typically doesn't last more than an hour. When the action slows, however, don't be in a rush to pick up the spread, case the guns and start fishing. Late-morning paddlers will stir up loafing ducks and push them up and down the river all day. For great smallmouth action, try Tiny Torpedoes, three-inch Berkley Power Grubs and Terminator Tiny T jigs tipped with a Zoom Tiny Chunk trailer. And hunt safely. Don't try to fish with a loaded gun across your knees. Everyone in the boat should take turns after each opportunity. Although the James, Shenandoah, New and Rappahannock rivers offer great combo opportunities, they tend to get the most pressure during the early duck season, particularly on the only Saturday of this four-day season. Seek out smaller rivers that feed into those larger ones and make sure you are set up in time for the first minutes of legal shooting. Opening-day hunts can be productive on the larger rivers, but birds tend to scatter once they hear a few guns go off. Season dates weren't set at press time, but the early season usually takes place the first full week of October.Contact: Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (804-367-1000).