Great Family Fishing Trips In Virginia
May 30, 2012
With June rolling around, the opportunity to catch some fish with the family is peaking. Many fish have just finished spawning, but the weather not yet unpleasantly hot and the kids are fresh out of school. Among many places for a family fishing trip, we've selected some of the best Virginia has to offer.
Anglers who enjoy saltwater action need look no further than Lynnhaven Inlet between Little Creek Amphibious Base and Fort Story Military Reservation off Rt. 60, not far from I-64 and the CBBT. The fishing pier there is nearly 1,500 feet long and has a "T" section at the end of it, offering anglers plenty of access to prime fishing waters in June in the Chesapeake Bay. The pier has been a favorite spot for decades and young and old alike can have a shot at decent spot, croaker, bluefish, some flounder, and mullet -- even a puppy drum or two can be caught at the pier.
Casting baited bottom rigs will get you any of the above-mentioned fish, but lures or spoons will also take fish. Bloodworms, GULP or FishBites will draw the best hits. Number 4 hooks or number 2 hooks work well for most species and at least an ounce of weight is best. Heavier weights will allow you to cast further out and keep your bait planted on the bottom.
The best time to fish is on the incoming tide. Tides are posted on the pier so you know when the fishing is likely to be best. Night fishing is much better than the middle of the day. Anglers will find low light periods more pleasant to fish. The charge to fish the pier is $8 for anglers or spectators 12 and up and $6 for those 6 to 11 years old; kids under 5 are free. Wristbands are issued from midnight to midnight.
The pier has a tackle shop, game room, restrooms and rentals for carts and rods and reels. Be sure to take sunscreen and a camera. Crabbing is good in June and no fishing license is required. However, you must register with the Virginia Fisherman Identification Program once a year. If you already have a Virginia Saltwater Fishing License, you are already registered. You may register by phone at 1-800-723-2728. You may register online at http://mrc.virginia.gov/fip/
Go to http://www.lynnhavenpier.com/ to get the latest post on the pier. Or call 757- 481-7071.
Scott Herrmann of VDGIF has been a great source of information for us over the past few years and he was able to help us whittle down the choices for a family-fishing destination at Woodstock Pond at York River State Park.
Herrmann's first comment about the pond was that it was "loaded with largemouth bass." That will perk any angler's ears up. The skinny on the bass in the pond is that they are very numerous in the 10-14 inch range, which is perfect to break kids in on. Moreover, if you let the youngsters talk you into keeping some for the frying pan it'll help even out the size structure too.
Bass are not the only fish that your bait will entice either.
"One of the other benefits to fishing Woodstock Pond is the great population of redear sunfish and black crappies. Woodstock Pond has secretly been one of the better ponds for producing good numbers of redear sunfish in the 8- to 9-inch range. The survey showed an abundance of black crappies too. Several strong year classes of black crappies are making their way through the system. Anglers can keep busy when they find a school of some of the older crappies that measure in the 9- to 10-inch range," Herrmann stated.
He notes that even the bluegill population is in great shape but a tad on the small side.
There are Jon boat rentals but no ramp to launch your own boat or canoe. The pond is small at a little over 7 acres, but does have some good shoreline access near the dam and on the piers and platforms. The fact that the pond is quiet and has great numbers of bass and sunfish as well as crappie make it a premier day trip or even a half-day trip if you live close by.
Bear Creek Lake State Park is another small-lake family destination for fishing and camping. The 42-acre lake is located in the Cumberland State Forest in Cumberland County and has great bass and bream fishing. The bass size distribution is excellent and there is now a two-fish-per-day limit on bass; the fish you keep must be over 15 inches.
Bass are not the only game in the lake, though. There are numerous bream that tend to be 5 to 7 inches in size, but fish over 8 inches are not uncommon. Use worms, crickets, hoppers, and bobbers to keep the kids in the action.
There are also redear sunfish, catfish and crappie available.
Anglers may only use electric motors at the lake. Bear Creek Lake can be visited by following Rt. 60 west of Richmond and Midlothian to Rt. 622. Turn north and drive to Rt. 629 and turn left.
A handicapped pier is available with a single lane concrete ramp near the dam. Camping, restrooms, a swimming area, boat rentals and other attractions are available. The park offers some cabins for rental too.
Dan Michaelson, VDGIF fisheries biologist, commented about the fishing at Bear Creek Lake.
"Bear Creek Lake State Park in Cumberland County has become a really neat fishery again. It has quality bass and bream and has all the amenities."
To get more details you can call the park at 804-492-4410 (park office) or 1-800-933-PARK (reservation line) www.dcr.virginia.gov
A second choice would undoubtedly be Holiday Lake State Park. This 145-acre lake is known for its diversity, according to Vic DiCenzo, who is a fisheries biologist. Catching largemouth, crappie, yellow perch and bream is not usually difficult here, although the yellow perch and bass are the best bet. In fact, the yellow perch, some of which exceed 12 inches, are quite tasty. Anglers are encouraged to take some home to eat. Fish the fallen trees near deeper water in the summer.
There is camping here, with restroom facilities, a swimming beach, boat rentals and other attractions. Only electric motors can be used. The park can be reached at 434-248-6308.
There are two great choices for family fishing fun in this region. First, Hungry Mother State Park at 108 acres in Smyth County offers anglers a smorgasbord of fishing. At least six species of fish can be readily caught here and four more species are also present. Bluegill and crappie numbers are good, according to VDGIF fisheries biologist Tom Hampton. Bass fishing is good with one of every five bass measuring more than 15 inches. Channel catfish, walleye and musky are stocked and offer exciting angling. In June, try fishing at night for catfish or walleye. Alewives are the primary forage for these fish.
If you have a family and are looking for a good destination for a vacation this one is perfect. Camping and cabin rentals are available and boats can be rented during the day. Other activities here that the family might enjoy include hiking, biking swimming and having fun at the playground.
It costs $2 to use the park during the week and $3 on weekends. The lake and park are just off I-81, but are in a very peaceful setting.
Only electric motors may power boats on the lake.
A second choice for family fishing in this region would be Laurel Bed Lake in Russell County on the Clinch Mountain WMA.
This lake is large at 330 acres. Hampton says that the lake and surrounding area is simply a beautiful place to fish and take a family. Smallmouth bass are large and fairly easy quarry, but catch-and-release regulations apply to them.
Rockbass are available and are both chunky and spunky fish and fine table fare. The bluegill population is tremendous and the size structure is good. Normal live bait options will keep a kid or adult busy. If you are after trout, the rainbows will take offerings of Powerbait, corn or worms in June. No trout license is needed. Rainbows are pushing 18 inches now!
Look for bank fishing near the dam. A concrete ramp is at the lower end of the lake. At the lake's midpoint boat anglers can launch from a gravel ramp.
Jason Hallacher, VDGIF fisheries technician, spent some time with me on the phone giving me some updates on various family friendly locations in his area of the state. We finally settled on Lake Arrowhead as the best bet for this year. The 39-acre lake is located near the picturesque town of Luray, which owns it. There is plenty of bank access and good fishing for bass, panfish and northern pike.
There is not much cover in the lake, but that also means that kids won't get snagged very often. In the past there was an issue with aquatic vegetation; however, grass carp have put a good dent in that so anglers should be free and clear to fish the sloping banks.
Hallacher noted that the bass population is stable and there are good numbers of average-sized bass. LThere is a "no harvest" slot limit of 12 to 16 inches in effect here. However, biologists encourage anglers to keep bass that are less than 12-inches long because that will help the remaining fish grow past the slot of 12-16 inches.
There are also above average sunfish in the lake that will readily take red wigglers, hoppers or cricket and of course worms. Line your young angler up with a small hook and live bait and they should stay busy. When the water is very clear make longer casts to avoid spooking fish.
Northern pike will take large lures or jumbo minnows.
You will need a Virginia fishing license and a permit from the town of Luray. Call 540-743-5511. Electric motors are permitted. A concrete ramp and dock are present. Swimming is permitted at the marked beach. Concessions are available and hiking is beautiful over more than 2 miles of nearby trails. Bring a picnic lunch too or grill your catch! Restrooms are nearby as well.
Lake Orange is always a good destination for fishing but it is also a great family destination because of the great fishing and because of the bank access, concession stand and restroom facilities.
This 124-acre VDGIF-owned lake is just east of Orange in a rural setting. Angler's Landing (540-672-3997) offers anglers and families food, bait and tackle from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. Darrel Kennedy runs the concession and is an avid angler. He readily offers fishing reports and advice on where and how to fish the lake. In June the fish are actively feeding.
"Live bait such as worms or minnows are great choices for a variety of species, " Kennedy reported.
Largemouth will also take plastic baits and catfish will take stinkbaits or chicken liver. The lake is fertilized regularly and supports a robust fishery for crappie, bass, catfish, walleye and bream. I have seen monster crappie come out of the lake; the bass are chunky and aggressive. The lake has a pier, ramp and boat rentals too.
Another lesser-known spot to take your spouse and kids is Germantown Lake, located in the C.M. Crockett Park in Fauquier County. At 109 acres, with rolling farmland and some residences along its banks, the lake is relaxing and yet close enough to urban areas to make it a reasonable drive. Anglers will find boat rentals, restrooms, docks and a concession. Both Motts and Germantown allow electric motors only. Contact Germantown at C.M. Crockett Park (540) 788-4867.
June is the prime month to load the family up and head for the water. Take a camera, plenty of bait and some snacks to keep everyone fishing. We would love to see the pictures of fish you caught from the trips!