James has some very good smallmouth fishing and these fish are in shallow in the Fall, pigging out on bait for the winter months. That's where I'd be going. Fish the lower end for the smallies, particularly around the points and rock drop offs near the bank. Very clear water so think light line or fluoro leaders. Upper end of James is shallower, more of a largemouth environment.
That stretch of river below Kerr Scott we did back in the spring at the Red X get together would be my choice over the lakes. Easy put in and take out, only a couple of spots that you might call rapids but nothing more than small waves that didn't cause anyone any trouble.
I have never been to James but have heard from a few buddies that it is pretty tough... then again I know another guy who fishes there alot and catches alot of smallmouth. That might be the next trip for me to try for my first brown bass.
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