By Mike Bednarski, DWR Chief of Fisheries
The morning started with the launch of the electroshock boat. A half-hour later, an assortment of fish were in the tank—largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, black crappie, channel catfish, brown bullhead, common carp and a few bowfin. Of the 30 or so bass captured, a half dozen were 3 pounds or better, with two fish near 5 pounds. Bluegill were very abundant, and the bowfin were all 20″ or longer. Were we sampling Chickahominy Lake? Kerr Reservoir? James River? No, we were at Lake No.1 at Three Lakes Park, a 7-acre lake owned by Henrico County and located in metro Richmond.
Three Lakes Park is one of the best bets in the Richmond area for a bass over 5 pounds, and during our sampling, we saw an angler do just that fishing a plastic worm from one of the fishing piers. To catch bass and bowfin at Lake No.1, target laydown trees and brush from the many access sites along the shoreline. Fish a spinnerbait or a small jig in the brush, or fish a popper or wacky rigged stickworm in more open areas. If sunfish are your target, fish a worm under a bobber on a #8 hook or try a 3-weight fly rod with some small dry flies, such as a #14 black gnat. For catfish, which are most abundant after the annual fall stocking, try bottom fishing with chicken livers on a #2 hook.
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) works hard to maintain quality fishing opportunities in water bodies located in or near developed areas, such as Three Lakes Park. The same techniques used to manage larger waterbodies—stocking, regular assessment, and habitat management—are all used in these smaller waterbodies. In fact, because of the interest that these ponds receive, many are stocked at higher than normal rates to make sure that fish are available for anglers. You don’t have to drive far to find fish as quality opportunities exist in your backyard, no matter where you live in Virginia.
To better connect anglers with these opportunities, DWR recently launched the FishLocalVA initiative. Check out the FishLocalVA page on our website for all the information you need to have a successful trip. We’ve set it up so that you can find waterbodies by location, county, or species to help you connect with quality fishing opportunities that are close to home. You will find detailed reports on the fish population in any of the more than 80 waterbodies in FishLocalVA, prepared by the biologists responsible for their management.
FishLocalVA goes beyond just connecting anglers to fish—it also provides detailed information on what other outdoor opportunities exist in and around the waterbodies. While FishLocalVA waters provide the information that you need to find a place to fish when you only have a few hours, it also gives you the information that you need to plan a day outside with your family and friends. Each FishLocalVA page contains information on what amenities are available, so if you like to hike, picnic, camp, or kayak, you can find the info on the site. After you find a water body, click on the Facilities tab to get information on what’s available, and click on the link to Nearby Attractions to find out what other interesting places to visit are in the area.
If you catch a fish in a FishLocalVA waterbody, share it on Instagram with #fishlocalva and you could be featured by DWR. To fish FishLocalVA waterbodies, you need a freshwater fishing license at all times and a trout license during stocking season. No fishing license will be required during the annual Free Fishing Weekend, which runs from Friday, June 4 through Sunday, June 6. Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to take a friend or a family member out on one of the FishLocalVA waters to get a “free sample” of what it’s like to go fishing!