Diascund Creek: Quiet Water, Big Bass

Diascund Creek Reservoir, and electric trolling motor-only lake, offers anglers a rare combination of quiet and top-quality bass.

Photo by Ron Sinfelt

By Marc N. McGlade

Many bass anglers are in love with fast boats, so they snub electric-only lakes for bigger bodies of water. In fact, ask most bass anglers how far they drive on average to fish, and you'd be surprised to hear of the extensive mileage and wear-and-tear they put on their tow vehicles and trailers. For some reason, driving further from home and going to bigger lakes makes anglers think they'll catch more and bigger fish. Maybe anglers in the Richmond and Williamsburg areas should think again.

Diascund Creek Reservoir, an electric-only lake home to some big bass, is close to Richmond, Williamsburg and parts of Tidewater. Diascund spans 1,110 acres and straddles New Kent and James City counties in southeastern Virginia. It's one of several City of Newport News water supply reservoirs.

The largest creeks on this quiet fish factory are Diascund Creek, Timber Swamp, Beaverdam Creek, Wahrani Swamp and Barnes Swamp. There are a host of no-name arms and coves that hold fish too.

BIOLOGISTS HAPPY WITH DIASCUND'S PLUMP BASS
"The bass population in Diascund Creek Reservoir ranks as one of the better fisheries in the state," said Mukhtar Farooqi, a fisheries biologist with Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF). "It ranked sixth in the state for bass citations issued by the Angler Recognition Program in 2001."

Largemouth bass aren't stocked in this reservoir. Bass populations normally don't need to be supplemented because they readily develop self-sustaining populations, Farooqi notes.

"The growth data we have from 1999 showed age 1-, 2- and 3-year-old fish grew at rates well above average for Virginia's Coastal Plain, and subsequent age classes grew at rates comparable to average," he said. "The oldest fish we sampled was 8 years old."

VDGIF measures their catch rate, when electrofishing, by "unit of effort." In this case, a unit of effort equals one hour of electrofishing time.

"The catch rate in our 2001 survey was 73 fish per hour. This is high," Farooqi said, "because we had a higher percentage of fingerlings in the sample. If we look at what are called 'harvestable' fish, those greater than 12 inches, then the rate is 13 fish per hour, which is still quite good."

Of course, this is not the same as angler catch rates - they are much lower, even if your skill level is that of a tournament pro.

VDGIF usually samples four sites on Diascund Creek Reservoir. Their studies continue to illustrate that the Diascund Creek branch of the reservoir (upstream of the Route 627 bridge) is the most productive in terms of quantity and average size.

Said Farooqi, "There is more structure here including logs, trees and lily pads. On occasion, we have found that the lily pads hold many fish. This area is shallow and much of it was left dry during October because of reservoir drawdown. At other times, a few larger fish have been found associated with logs in about 10 feet of water in the middle of the reservoir. The largest bass caught in recent years by sampling was a 7-pounder."

VDGIF carried out their last creel survey in 1999. The average weight of a harvested largemouth from Diascund weighed a tad over 2 pounds. Although there is bank fishing on either side of the boat ramp, 91 percent of anglers fished from a boat.

As for forage, adult bass here can choose bluegill, redear, gizzard shad, golden shiners, Eastern silvery minnows and any young yellow perch or black crappie. Blueback herring may also be readily available at certain periods, Farooqi said. Studies show that bluegill, redear and gizzard shad are the primary forage for bass.

Farooqi added, "The future looks bright at Diascund Creek. Our 2001 survey showed good signs of reproductive success and a decent proportion of bass were over 12 inches in length. All fish appeared to be healthy at the time of sampling. Water and habitat quality is good and prey are abundant."

HOW-TO TECHNIQUES FOR DCR'S BASS
Unfortunately, there isn't a commercially produced topographic map for Diascund; therefore, a depth finder becomes even more important. There are many contour changes in this reservoir that lies out like a much bigger body of water than its 1,110 acres would suggest.

Diascund's deepest location is approximately 24 feet, near the pump house. There are a few other holes in the same depth range, but overall, Diascund is relatively shallow.

This reservoir has many classic-looking secondary points, flats, ledges, humps, brush piles and bridge crossings. In order to reach many of these areas, visitors might consider adding a second trolling motor for extra speed or at least bringing a backup deep-cycle battery.

Unless a gullywasher hits, Diascund is a clear lake by Virginia standards. This can benefit astute sight-fishing anglers since good numbers of bass will still be very shallow during May. Many bass will have spawned-out, while others are just now taking to bed.

Bass spawn here during the latter half of April, continuing into May. If colder-than-normal weather conditions present themselves, spawning can linger through much of May.

Multiple fish can use the same spawning nest; once a pair spawns and moves to the nearest drop, then other pairs will move in and use the same nest. When they've completed spawning, another pair could conceivably use it as well. Therefore, bass are constantly in a pre-spawn, spawn and post-spawn cycle from mid-April throughout much of May. Bass also will spawn at different times depending on their location on this reservoir. The northwest coves and creeks are the first to warm in the spring due to the sun's angle and are protected from cold northern winds.

The islands near the boat ramp are good spawning locations for bass, although they're less protected from wind. There are nice drop-offs near these islands that bass use to move up and back, depending on the weather. Any of the major creeks, main-lake guts and coves holds fish this time of year and can be good. There are numerous bays and depressions - rich with bass - scattered throughout the major creek arms.

As VDGIF statistics illustrate, the Diascund Creek branch of the reservoir - upstream of the Route 627 Bridge - has proven itself the most productive.

As f

or lures and techniques, early and late in the day usually means topwater time. Propeller baits, buzzbaits, chuggers, stick baits and jerkbaits (hard and soft) all work well. If conditions are cloudy or if the day is cool, the topwater bite can last the all day. Bass this time of year are very aggressive, so don't put away the topwaters too early or wait too long to cast them in the early afternoon.

Other good choices are white spinnerbaits with willow leaf or Colorado blades, Carolina-rigged lizards, shad- or bream-pattern crankbaits, jig-and-pig combinations, plastic worms and floating worms.

Search baits like the Carolina rig or crankbaits help find bass fast. You can cover lots of water with either lure and at the same time locate your quarry. Floating worms can be used as search baits too, and white ones prove deadly in Diascund. Clean, clay banks that appear devoid of visible cover can sometimes prove to harbor the mother lode of bass. Floating worms can often be the lure that hoodwinks these stout fish.

Areas that have spawning fish also have post-spawners nearby. Target the first drop near the spawning sites. Oftentimes, post-spawn fish will suspend on that first drop.

Due to Diascund's clear water, pumpkin, junebug, purple or watermelon color patterns work best for plastic worms and lizards. Key on structure with a Texas rig worm, pitching and flipping to shoreline cover.

FOR YOUR INFORMATION
Diascund is open for fishing from one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset and is trolling-motor only. For fisheries' information, contact the VDGIF's regional office in Williamsburg at (757) 253-7072 or visit their Web site at www.dgif.state.va.us.

Although Diascund is electric-only, it has a nice boat ramp and courtesy pier for larger boats wishing to launch.

Directions to Diascund Creek Reservoir from Richmond are as follows: take I-64 East to Route 155 South (Exit 214) towards Providence Forge. Continue on 155 South to the first traffic light in Providence Forge. Turn left at the light onto Route 60 East. Follow 60 East through the town of Lanexa, then a left onto Route 603. Continue straight until you reach a stop sign and turn right, and then take an immediate left. Stay on Route 603 for one-half mile. The VDGIF ramp is on the right.



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