The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Fishing the Blue Ridge of Virginia - No Brag, Just Facts

By Susan M. Thigpen © 1990

Issue: February, 1990

Recently we received the Outdoor Report from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. It contained the total 1989 figures for the number of citations rewarded for the largest and biggest number of catches in the whole state.

From their report, it looks like something we've suspected for a long time - that the best fishing in the whole state is in the Blue Ridge. Of course there were a few good catches in other parts of the state, but we're slightly prejudiced about mountain fishing.

We thought with spring coming up, many of you will be looking forward to heading for your favorite fishing holes or looking for new ones. With our avid fishermen (and women) subscribers in mind, we thought we would print some of the statistics to inform you where the best catches were in 1989.

The largest number of noteworthy catches was at Smith Mountain Lake. They had 1032 citations of 18 species, the largest number of which were 749 striped bass. (The number 2 location, Buggs Island Lake, only had 431 total.)

We also thought you might like to know the size of some of the large catches. William Nease of Martinsville, Virginia, caught an 11 pound, 4 ounce largemouth bass at Fairystone Lake. Claytor Lake produced seven of the top ten citations for spotted bass with the biggest being a catch by Mike Radford of Christiansburg, Virginia, of 2 pounds, 14 ounces. The James River had the record number of smallmouth bass, but the New River was second. The largest from the James was 7 pounds, 15 ounces. The largest one from the New River was 7 pounds, 2 ounces.

The top two spots for crappie were Buggs Island and Smith Mountain Lakes. The largest crappie weighed 3 pounds, 9 ounces and was taken at Grassy Creek.

There were nine citation size rock bass taken from the New River last year. The largest in the state, 2 pounds, 2 ounces, was caught at Lake Moomaw.

Of the 394 white bass citations, 203 of them were caught at Claytor Lake, 91 at Buggs Island and 37 at Smith Mountain Lake. Perhaps the most exciting fishing news of the year was the new state record set for white bass, because it is a pending world record also. It was a 6 pound, 13 ounce catch of Ron Sprouse of Orange, caught at Lake Orange.

Smith Mountain Lake also had seven of the top ten catches of striped bass and 749 citation size striped bass for the year.

A new state record was set at Douthat Lake for chain pickerel. Mark Agner of Roanoke caught one that weighed 7 pounds, 1 ounce at Douthat.

There was also a new state record set for muskellunge. Ronnie Underwood of Draper caught a 45 pound one out of the New River.

There were only 24 citations for the year for Northern Pike, but Hungry Mother State Park had five of the top ten. The largest caught at Hungry Mother was 20 pounds, 10 ounces.

Smith Mountain Lake topped the state in Walleye with 105 citation size catches. Staunton River had five of the top ten, but the new state record was set with a catch from the New River. Doug Horton of Austinville set the record with a 12 pound, 7 ounce catch.

With most fishermen looking forward to trout season, last year's Rainbow Trout catches were topped at Crooked Creek (143), followed by Lake Moomaw (70) and Dan River (25). Lake Moomaw had the most brown trout (126) and seven of the top ten catches. The largest was 10 pounds, 4 ounces, caught by Mike Prosser of Roanoke at Lake Moomaw.

The largest flathead catfish (43 pounds) was taken by Teddy Tate of Wytheville at Claytor Lake. The second largest (42 pounds) was taken by Charles Mullins of Haysi at Flannagan Reservoir. The second largest number of citations for carp (24) was taken at Claytor Lake.