The Central Virginian

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Virginia Afield by Chris McCotter

Posted on Monday, April 7, 2014 at 12:14 pm


Big Fish Best Bets

This is the month to get out on an area lake or river and put that new fishing license to work. All across the region the waters are warming to that magic 60-degree mark when fish move shallow and spawning occurs and that desk chair is definitely less comfortable than the leanin’ post on the front deck of your rig or padded seat on the kayak.

With limited time between tasks from the boss (you know who I mean here) you need to fish in the very best places for big fish. With the numbers in from Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ (VDGIF) Director of the Virginia Angler Recognition Program Jimmy Mootz, I have some suggestions for you.

Remember, if you do land a trophy, just have it certified by a licensing agent and then consider releasing it. Mootz and his staff at VDGIF will do the rest and a fine certificate will arrive about a month after you submit the citation form.

And now, on to those big fish waters!


Largemouth Bass

If you want the best chance to land a state citation largemouth bass over eight pounds or 22 inches, you are in for a surprise. Perennial powerhouse Briery Creek was not even in the top 10 for 2013. In fact, we have a new top largemouth lake, one that I put on my “watch list” for the past two years; Sandy River Reservoir with 27 registered citations. This is VDGIF-owned and managed 740-acre lake located near Farmville impounded in 1996.

Fifty-two-year-old Smith Mountain Lake dropped to second place with 23 citation bass, followed by tiny (and private) Lake of the Woods with 19, 42-year-old Lake Anna with 15 citations and Lake Prince with 14.

Swift Creek Reservoir was sixth with 13 citations and Hunting Run was eighth with 12.

So let’s break these lakes and numbers down a bit.

Sandy River Reservoir is just 740 acres. It has a very favorable citation to acre ratio of .036. Smith Mountain Lake at, 20,600 acres is big water with plenty of access. However the citation to acreage ratio is .001. Anna’s public fishing area is around 9,600 acres so the ratio there is .001 as well.

Further on down the line we find Swift Creek (156 acres) and Hunting Run (420 acres) with ratios of .083 and .028 respectively.

What does all this mean? I think you might want to try kayak or small boat fishing in smaller lakes with more big bass in them if you want the best shot at a “paper” fish this season.

So what lake had the biggest bass? A private pond in Bumpass produced a 12-12 in 2013. Germantown Lake near Warrenton produced the largest bass for a public water at 10-12. Briery Creek’s biggest fish was a 10-4. Sandy River’s largest weighed 10-3. Interestingly Lake Frederick near Winchester – one of top big bass lakes for the past two years dropped out of the top 10 but produced a 9-13 last year.

My top picks for a citation largemouth in 2014: Smith Mountain Lake for big boats and Sandy River Reservoir and Hunting Run for small boat waters. All three are worth a few April and May visits.

To read the entire article, see the April 3 edition of The Central Virginian.