Sunday, April 21, 2013


Photo by Matt Reilly
    When the temperatures rise, the cold winds of March subside, and the warm April showers fill the air and waters with inklings of summer, the fishing in Virginia takes off.  

The Old Dominion’s many small lakes and ponds can provide quality fishing in the spring months.  Here are just 10 destinations that should be on every fisherman’s calendar this month.

Lake Robertson

    Contained by the Blue Ridge’s rocky skeleton, Rockbridge County’s 30-acre Lake Robertson is an overlooked place to catch big fish.

    Beaver huts, hinge-cut trees, and large emerging weed beds provide ample structure for spawning bass; and, coupled with the crystal clear water, suggest a great place to sight fish for one of the many 10-pounders. 

Photo by Matt Reilly
    Walleye also cruise Lake Robertson, and fish are caught up to seven pounds annually.

    Redear Sunfish are particularly active on Lake Robertson later this month.  Leave an insect imitation
motionless on the lake bottom for a scrappy fight from one of these bottom feeding customers.

    The lake also sports good populations of Bluegill and Channel Catfish.

    Gas motors are prohibited; but a concrete boat ramp and boat rentals make this gem an accommodating destination for anyone.

Lake Burke

    Located in Burke Lake Park in busy Fairfax County, 218-acre Lake Burke is one of the most fished lakes in the state.  This threat is met by a strict management practice to ensure the health of the fishery for years to come.

    Lake Burke is known for its Largemouth Bass fishing; but Musky, Walleye, Bluegill, Crappie, Yellow and White Perch, and Blue and Channel Catfish all fin the lake.

    No gasoline motors are allowed.

Lake Frederick

    With or without a boat, Lake Frederick of Frederick County can provide some great fishing.

    Its 117 acres are filled with standing timber, which hides a multitude of species.  Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, Black Crappie, Channel Catfish, Walleye, and the occasional Pike can all be caught from the bank of Lake Frederick.

    Gasoline motors are prohibited, but if you own a boat with an electric motor, cast to standing timber for one of the 10-pound Largemouth that gave the lake its reputation as the best bass fishery in the Shenandoah Valley.

Harrison Lake

    If you’re looking for a peaceful place to fish or paddle, Harrison Lake in Charles City County might be your next trip.  At 82 acres, Harrison Lake is the epitome of larger tidewater fisheries like Chickahominy Lake.
Photo by Matt Reilly

    The usual tidal customers occupy the lake, including Chain Pickerel, Warmouth, Bluegill and Redear Sunfish, Flier, Bullhead, Bowfin, Crappie, and Largemouth Bass.  While the lake is not known for trophy sized fish, its inhabitants are known for the sport they provide. 

    A boat ramp and piers for the handicap or bank fishermen provide access to the lake.

Germantown Lake

    100-acre Germantown Lake is located in Fauquier County’s Crockett Park.

    The small lake is known for its thick population of trophy Largemouth; and produces several fish a year approaching 10 pounds.

    Germantown also supports the traditional southern mixed bag of Bluegill, Crappie, and Channel Catfish.

    Gas motors are prohibited; but the park provides boat rentals and a fishing pier.

Skidmore Reservoir

    A big part of spring in Virginia is trout fishing—Skidmore Reservoir offers just that.  The 120-acre, Harrisonburg impoundment is a put-and-grow fishery, and therefore, offers opportunities for excellent Brook Trout fishing year round.  Brook Trout reach three pounds in the reservoir as a result of good management.

    Fisheries biologists have recently noted an emerging pike fishery within the lake.  These toothy fish spawn in April, and can be caught shallow on spoons.

    Skidmore also boasts a host of warm water species such as Largemouth and Rock Bass, Crappie, Bluegill, and Bullhead.

    Gas motors are not permitted on the lake.

Hungry Mother Lake

    Hungry Mother Lake is a very diverse and unique lake.

    The Walleye fishing here takes off this month, with night fishing yielding the best results.

    Trophy Musky are taken from the lake annually as well—some reaching 48 inches and beyond. 

    Largemouth, Smallmouth, Spotted, and Rock bass all inhabit the lake, as well as Crappie, Channel Catfish, and Sunfish.

    Gas motors are prohibited.

    Located in Hungry Mother State Park, camping is permitted and boat rentals are available.  A minimal fee is required to gain access to the lake; but the promise of great fishing is well worth the charge.

Lake Orange

    Spring wouldn’t be spring without Crappie fishing.  Papermouths are in very good condition in Lake Orange, and offer good sport on light tackle.

    The Largemouth Bass population is just as successful, and the lake has produced 11-12 pound fish.
Lake Orange’s Walleye fishery also deserves attention.  Walleye are stocked yearly, and anglers have a fair chance to catch 4-5 pound fish.

    Sunfish, Channel Catfish, Northern Pike, Chain Pickerel, Yellow and White Perch, and Warmouth provide a further mix of species to the lake.

    Gas motors are prohibited; but boat rentals are available, and a pier provides access to some outstanding fishing.

Little Creek Reservoir

    A small lake in Southeastern Virginia, Little Creek Reservoir offers quality fishing for the tidal species:  Largemouth and Striped Bass, Crappie, Chain Pickerel, Yellow Perch, Sunfish, Blue Catfish, and even Walleye.
Photo by Matt Reilly

    Little Creek is a relatively deep lake containing little structure.  Most fishing is done along points and drop-offs, but in the spring, surprising Crappie and perch fishing can be found in the shallows.

    It is worth noting that gas motors and bank fishing are prohibited.

Lake Shenandoah

    At 36 acres, Rockingham’s Lake Shenandoah is the second smallest on our list.

    What makes this lake special is its Musky fishing.  Most other species in the lake are of small size; but the Musky thrive in the small impoundment on small Bluegill.  The toothy critters spawn in April, so catch them on spoons and big spinners near the grass.

    Gas motors are prohibited because of the lake’s size.

    Biologists are currently pondering a renovation of the lake, so have your chance at a trophy Musky before it’s gone!

Get it Before It’s Gone

    April can be a dynamite season for bass anglers.  With the first wave of spawners moving up onto beds and the water, subsequently, reaching prime temperatures, largemouth bass and our state’s other favorite fish species are reaching the apex of activity—and small bodies of water concentrate this action splendidly.  Get out before the summer heat sets in and land both size and numbers of fish.  And always, always, take pictures—and send them in!

First published in Woods & Waters Magazine

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