From hidden gems tucked away in nature’s embrace to vast lakes reflecting the vibrant skies, Virginia offers a true paradise for fishing enthusiasts. So grab your gear, bring your enthusiasm, and get ready to experience the magic of fishing in Virginia’s top 10 lakes!
1. Claytor Lake
Claytor Lake is a stunning mountain reservoir that offers a serene getaway for camping, boating, and fishing. Sprawling across 4,500 acres in the southwest region of the state, this picturesque lake attracts outdoor enthusiasts seeking respite from the chaos of everyday life.
Anglers are in for a treat with over 60 miles of shoreline to explore. The shore provides ample opportunities to reel in their prized catch. Numerous boat launch ramps are available around the lake, offering both free and paid options. Whether you prefer kayaks, canoes, or fishing boats, you’ll find easy access to this river fishery, with boat docks, trees, and fish habitats serving as ideal hiding spots for various species of fish and baitfish.
Claytor Lake offers an exciting fishing experience with a variety of species to catch. Anglers can reel in largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass, in addition to channel and flathead catfish. Other prized catches include walleye, black crappie, bluegill, yellow bass, white bass, yellow perch, hybrid striped bass, and striped bass.
Claytor Lake is not only known for its fishing opportunities but also for its scenic beauty and recreational activities. The lake is surrounded by the lush landscapes of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The mountains provide a picturesque backdrop for camping and other outdoor adventures and water sports. So, this is the perfect location for families and big groups, as it caters to everyone.
2. Kerr Lake
Kerr Lake, situated on the southern border of the state just off Interstate 85, is renowned for its exceptional largemouth bass fishery, making it one of the finest in the country.
Spanning an impressive 50,000 acres, this huge Virginia reservoir boasts a fertile environment teeming with abundant fish and baitfish populations. Anglers have the opportunity to explore its extensive 850 miles of shoreline, providing the perfect setting to cast their lines.
To better your stay at John H. Kerr Reservoir, you will find a range of services readily available, including guided fishing trips offered by Virginia fishing guides.
It is worth noting that Virginia fishing licenses are valid across the entire lake. Additionally, North Bend Park provides a fishing pier that is handicap accessible, catering to anglers with special needs. For your convenience, numerous boat launch ramps, parking areas, campgrounds, and public access points are also present, ensuring hassle-free access to the reservoir.
Kerr Lake is a fishing paradise, offering a vast range of species to target. From the popular largemouth bass and smallmouth bass to the whiskered catfish trio of channel catfish, flathead catfish, and blue catfish. Anglers can also reel in the elusive black crappie and its counterpart, the white crappie. Other exciting catches include white bass, bluegill, white perch, walleye, and the mighty striped bass.
3. Lake Anna
Contrary to popular belief, Lake Anna is not just a renowned bass fishing lake but also a perfect vacation destination for the whole family to enjoy the great outdoors.
Spanning an impressive 9,600 acres, this lake offers fishing enthusiasts an extensive 250 miles of shoreline, much of which is adorned with aquatic vegetation, providing an ideal habitat for a variety of fish species.
Additionally, numerous boat docks can be found along the deeper stretches of the lake’s banks. There are a few designated areas that allow for bank fishing.
Whether you prefer a fishing boat, pleasure boat, pontoon, kayak, or canoe, you’ll have ample opportunities to launch your vessel at the conveniently located boat ramps, which can be found at marinas, campgrounds, and the Lake Anna State Park. Near the lake, you’ll also find marinas, stores, camping facilities, lodging options, and boat rentals.
When it comes to fishing at Lake Anna, there is an exciting array of fish species to target. Anglers can target channel catfish, largemouth bass, blue catfish, black crappie, white catfish, walleye, redear sunfish, bluegill, redbreast sunfish, striped bass, hybrid striped bass, and white perch. Plenty of exciting options for fishing enthusiasts!
4. Lake Gaston
Lake Gaston, located on the southern border of Virginia, is a magnificent 20,000-acre lake that offers a haven for fishing enthusiasts. With its vast 350 miles of shoreline, this picturesque lake provides ample opportunities to explore and indulge in the joys of angling.
Access to the lake can be obtained at the public DGIF boat launch or Holly Grove Marina near Tanglewood Shores Country Club. For those who prefer to rent boats or kayaks, Holly Grove Marina offers convenient options. Moreover, if you wish to extend your fishing adventure and spend the night surrounded by nature, Lake Gaston Americamps provides lakefront camping facilities.
When it comes to finding the best fishing spots, creek channels, areas with abundant aquatic vegetation, and boat docks are the primary targets. Lake Gaston offers a fantastic fishing experience with a huge variety of fish species to target, including catfish, striped bass, largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, walleye, white bass, and chain pickerel.
Additionally, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) consistently stocks walleyes in Lake Gaston. If you visit during February and March, the upper end of the lake typically offers the most rewarding walleye fishing experiences.
5. Smith Mountain Lake
Smith Mountain Lake, situated in the beautiful south-central region of Virginia, is a beloved destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Covering a vast expanse of 20,000 acres, this breathtaking lake boasts an astounding 500 miles of stunning shoreline.
Renowned as one of Virginia’s premier fishing spots, Smith Mountain Lake provides exceptional opportunities for anglers and a wide range of recreational options.
With over half a dozen convenient boat launch ramps, visitors have effortless access to the lake using a range of watercraft options. Whether you prefer canoes, kayaks, power boats, or fishing boats, you’ll find it easy to embark on aquatic adventures. Moreover, the lake is surrounded by numerous public and private boat ramps, marinas, lodging facilities, and campgrounds, ensuring convenient access for all.
For those who prefer to fish from solid ground, the well-maintained fishing piers at Smith Mountain Lake State Park are readily accessible.
Anglers at Smith Mountain Lake are treated to a remarkable assortment of fish species. From the coveted largemouth and smallmouth bass to the elusive muskie, and from the feisty catfish varieties to the colorful crappie and sunfish, there’s a fish to suit every angler’s taste and skill level.
6. South Holston Lake
South Holston Lake, spanning over 7,580 acres, is a reservoir located predominantly in Tennessee. There is a Virginia portion offering anglers more than 1,600 acres of water to explore. When it comes to shoreline habitats, the lake presents a diverse array of structures, including shale banks, flat clay points, and rock bluffs.
To facilitate fishing expeditions, the lake features marinas, boat launches, and campgrounds scattered throughout its vicinity. Additionally, there are several convenient spots along the shore where fishing can be enjoyed. It’s important to note that due to the lake spanning two states, it is advisable to check both Virginia and Tennessee regulations before engaging in fishing activities
South Holston Lake is particularly favored by bass fishermen, as the quality of bass found here compensates for slightly lower quantities. South Holston Lake is a haven for anglers, providing a chance to catch a diverse range of fish species. From bass to catfish, crappie to trout, walleye to sunfish, this lake offers an excellent opportunity for a thrilling fishing adventure. Cast your line and reel in a memorable catch!
7. Lake Chesdin
Lake Chesdin in Virginia’s east-central region is a haven for water enthusiasts, offering an array of exciting activities such as water skiing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. Spanning a vast 3,100 acres, this lake is ideal for family outings.
Anglers aboard their boats can explore an impressive 340 miles of shoreline. Some of the shoreline is accessible from the bank for fishing. Additionally, a dedicated fishing pier is available, ensuring everyone can enjoy a great fishing experience.
The public boat ramp and handicap-accessible fishing pier remain open around the clock. Furthermore, visitors can find convenience in three private marinas that provide amenities like boat ramps, rental boats, bait, tackle, camping facilities, and picnic areas
When it comes to fishing, Lake Chesdin presents a diverse range of species to target. Anglers can try their luck at catching channel catfish, largemouth bass, black crappie, walleye, white crappie, striped bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, pumpkinseed sunfish, white perch, and saugeye. With such a variety, every fishing excursion promises excitement and the opportunity to reel in a memorable catch!
8. Western Branch Reservoir
Located in Suffolk, VA, Western Branch Reservoir is a hidden gem for fishing enthusiasts seeking solitude and abundant catches. With a sprawling area of 1,300 acres, this stunning lake offers an incredible 40 miles of shoreline. To make your visit smooth and hassle-free, it’s important to obtain a Boat Permit from the City of Suffolk beforehand. Please note that these permits cannot be purchased on-site, so be sure to plan!
Western Branch Reservoir offers a tranquil and scenic setting for anglers to enjoy their fishing experience. The reservoir is surrounded by natural beauty. There are wooded areas and peaceful waters, creating a serene atmosphere for fishing enthusiasts seeking solitude.
The reservoir’s vast size and limited accessibility contribute to its low fishing pressure. It creates an environment with fewer crowds and ample fishing opportunities. While bank fishing is prohibited, the prohibition serves to maintain the serene ambiance of the lake. In line with conservation efforts, boat motors are limited to a maximum of 9.9 horsepower. A permit is mandatory for all watercraft.
Western Branch Lake is renowned for its diverse fish population. It offers anglers the chance to reel in trophy-sized bass, striper, and muskie. Additionally, the lake is teeming with sizable sunfish and perch. A variety of species, including bass, catfish, crappie, stripers, perch, bluegill, and sunfish, can be found within the lake’s pristine waters. For convenience, a single boat launch ramp is available at the fishing station.
9. Lake Moomaw
If you are looking for a remote fishing experience, Lake Moomaw is a must-visit destination. It spans over an impressive 2,530 acres with a maximum depth of 152 feet. The lake’s shoreline extends for approximately 43 miles, providing ample opportunities for exploration amidst its untouched woodlands.
This scenic destination offers a range of facilities to enhance visitors’ experiences. Access to the lake is subject to a fee. Parking is available, and the site is handicap-accessible.
With three convenient boat ramps, a marina, and the option to rent boats, accessing the lake is a breeze. For those seeking an extended stay, camping facilities are available nearby, ensuring a complete outdoor experience. Additionally, the vicinity offers a selection of restaurants and supplies to cater to various needs.
One of Lake Moomaw’s claims to fame is its exceptional trout fishing, attracting avid anglers far and wide. Alongside trout, the lake boasts an abundance of bass, catfish, and crappie, making it a premier destination for diverse species of fish. Bluegill, sunfish, and chain pickerel fishing can also yield rewarding results.
Lake Moomaw, located within the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, offers more than just fishing opportunities. The lake is surrounded by pristine wilderness, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Visitors can enjoy activities such as hiking, camping, picnicking, birdwatching, and wildlife viewing in addition to fishing.
10. Leesville Lake
Leesville Reservoir, situated in the scenic south-central region of Virginia, is a true gem for both hydroelectric power generation and avid fishing enthusiasts. Covering an expansive area of 3,400 acres, this reservoir offers a wide variety of fish species.
When the reservoir is brimming at full capacity, anglers have the opportunity to explore an impressive 110 miles of shoreline, unveiling countless fishing spots.
Whether you prefer casting your line from the bank or enjoying the convenience of a fishing pier near the Leesville Dam, there are plenty of spots for anglers to choose from. Moreover, the presence of the Leesville Lake Marina & Grill ensures that visitors have access to essential amenities. The marina offers a store where you can find fishing tackle. You can also gather provisions like food, groceries, and marina services.
At Leesville Reservoir, you’ll find an amazing variety of fish species that are sure to delight any angler. From the channel catfish and popular largemouth bass to the impressive white catfish, blue catfish, black crappie, walleye, white crappie, yellow perch, bluegill, white bass, redbreast sunfish, white perch, striped bass, and saugeye, this reservoir offers something special for everyone.
It’s worth noting that fishing regulations and licensing requirements apply to Leesville Reservoir. Anglers should familiarize themselves with the specific rules and regulations set forth by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (VDWR) to ensure compliance.
Summary Of The Best Fishing Lakes In Virginia
|Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, walleye, black crappie, bluegill, yellow bass, white bass, yellow perch, hybrid striped bass, striped bass
|Halifax, Charlotte & Mecklenburg Counties
|Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, blue catfish, black crappie, white crappie, white bass, bluegill, white perch, walleye, striped bass
|Orange, Louisa & Spotsylvania Counties
|Channel catfish, largemouth bass, blue catfish, black crappie, white catfish, walleye, redear sunfish, bluegill, redbreast sunfish, striped bass, hybrid striped bass, white perch
|Mecklenburg & Brunswick Counties
|Catfish, striped bass, largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, walleye, white bass, chain pickerel
|Smith Mountain Lake
|Franklin, Pittsylvania & Bedford Counties
|Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, muskie, catfish, crappie, sunfish
|South Holston Lake
|Bass, catfish, crappie, trout, walleye, sunfish
|Dinwiddie & Chesterfield Counties
|Channel catfish, largemouth bass, black crappie, walleye, white crappie, striped bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, pumpkinseed sunfish, white perch, saugeye
|Western Branch Reservoir
|Bass, catfish, crappie, stripers, perch, bluegill, sunfish
|Trout, bass, catfish, crappie, bluegill, sunfish, chain pickerel
|Bedford, Campbell & Pittsylvania Counties
|Channel catfish, largemouth bass, white catfish, blue catfish, black crappie, walleye, white crappie, yellow perch, bluegill, white bass, redbreast sunfish, white perch, striped bass, saugeye
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Erin HG/Shutterstock.com
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.