Leesville Reservoir

Leesville Reservoir is a 3,400-acre impoundment located near Altavista Virginia. This reservoir straddles the Pittsylvania, Campbell and Bedford County borders. Leesville Reservoir is owned by American Electric Power and is managed primarily for hydroelectric power generation and to pump back stored water into Smith Mountain Lake for additional hydroelectric power generation. There is limited development along the shoreline at this time but residential development is increasing. Facilities are limited primarily to two DWR boat ramps, a picnic facility and fishing pier, and one marina.

This reservoir experiences water level fluctuations of 1 to 10 feet per day. Dramatic water fluctuations are a result of power generation and pump back storage for Smith Mountain Lake. The headwaters of Leesville Reservoir sustains substantial flows and cool water temperatures throughout the year due to discharges from Smith Mountain Lake. As a result, the upper reaches of the reservoir contains limited fish habitat and spawning success due to these dramatic water level and temperature fluctuations.

Largemouth bass are the most sought after species by anglers at Leesville Reservoir. According to DWR electrofishing samples, fish populations vary depending on lake area. The lower half of the reservoir (Leesville dam end) contains bass, catfish and sunfish populations that are similar to other nearby reservoirs. However, the upstream half of the reservoir has a poor fishery dominated by white perch, bluegill, and redbreast sunfish.

Leesville Reservoir can be a pleasant change from most busy reservoirs especially if you are looking for little competition with other anglers and boaters. Keep in mind; frequent water level fluctuations can make patterning fish more difficult. Boaters also need to watch for floating debris that is a routine occurrence on this reservoir.

Maps & Directions

No commercially produced maps are available.

Tri-County marina is located on the North side of the reservoir; from Rt 43 in Leesville, turn onto Route 630, left onto Route 733, and left onto route 834.


Largemouth Bass

The best largemouth bass population is from Leesville dam to the vicinity of mile marker 8. Most bass are between 9 and 14 inches but there is a fair number of larger fish up 22 inches. Water temperatures, high flows, and level fluctuations are not conducive for a good largemouth bass population in the upper reaches (Smith Mountain Lake Dam end) of the reservoir. The largemouth bass population in the lower portion of the lake (Leesville Dam to mile marker 8) is very good with catch rates from DWR sampling rivaling nearby Smith Mountain Lake and Philpott Lake. Most fish species at this lake do not move up and down in the water column as the lake levels fluctuate so anglers should concentrate their efforts in deeper water when lake levels approach full.

Striped Bass

The current state record striped bass was caught from Leesville Reservoir in 2000. This reservoir does support a fair striped bass population but capitalizing on this fishery can be a challenge. Striped bass seasonally utilize the cooler water in the upper reaches of the reservoir during the summer months for thermal refuge. However, forage is very limited in this area of the reservoir and most striped bass move downstream to utilize additional forage when water temperatures are cooler during the late fall through early summer. DWR has recently been experimenting with increased stocking rates and protocols to improve the striped bass population at Leesville Reservoir. Initial evaluations have shown a substantial increase in the striped bass population beginning in 2011. Striped bass fishing should be very good for fish 20-25 inches with limited numbers of larger fish.


Leesville Reservoir also supports a limited walleye population including a few fish up to six pounds. The best concentrations of walleye are between Leesville Dam and mile marker 7. Walleye fishing can be challenging due to rapidly rising and falling water levels. There is no natural reproduction of walleye so the population is sustained with fingerling stockings.

White Bass/White Perch

The white bass population at Leesville Reservoir has severely declined with only a few remnant individuals remaining, which is too low to sustain a fishery. Recently, there has been a major increase in white perch in Leesville Reservoir. All of Virginia’s reservoirs have experienced similar declines in white bass populations following expanding white perch populations. However, there are high numbers of white perch which can make for busy fishing when finding schools of these aggressive fish. There is no size limit or creel limit for white perch.


There are three primary catfish species at Leesville Reservoir; channel catfish, blue catfish and white catfish. The blue catfish population has been expanding with good numbers but most fish are 12-20 inches. Channel catfish have been stable for many years averaging 14-20 inches. White catfish are smaller but abundant, averaging 10-16 inches. Flathead catfish are present but in much lower numbers.

Other Species

Yellow perch numbers have also declined sharply in recent years, similar to white bass declines, with very few yellow perch currently available. Black crappie are the dominant crappie species and average about 10 inches. The crappie population does provide a limited crappie fishery but this lake generally does not provide high numbers.

Biologist Reports


Black bass

(Largemouth & Smallmouth)

  • 5 fish per day, including the two bass less than 14 inches
  • Two bass less than 14 inches

Other Species

Striped Bass

  • 4 fish per day
  • 20 inch minimum size limit


  • 25 fish per day
  • No size limit


  • 5 fish per day
  • 18 inch minimum size limit

White Bass

  • 5 fish per day
  • No size limit


  • 50 fish per day
  • No size limit


  • 20 fish per day
  • No size limit

White Perch

  • No Creel Limit
  • No size limit

Other Nongame Fish

  • 20 fish per day
  • No size limits

Facilities, Amenities, and Nearby Attractions

Facilities are limited primarily to three boat ramps, two DWR ramps and one marina ramp. The DWR boat ramp located next to the dam can be accessed by taking Rt 29 to Rt 642 and then to Rt 754. Another public boat ramp located near the upstream area of the reservoir and can be accessed by utilizing the following roads: take Rt 799 North off of Rt 40 between Gretna and Union Hall, right onto Rt 605, right onto Rt 608, right onto Rt 768, follow 768 through Pittsville to the boat ramp. Tri-County marina located on the North side of the reservoir can be reached by turning off of Rt 43 in Leesville onto Rt 630, turn left onto Rt 733, and turn left onto Rt 834.

There is a day use area and picnic facility located near the Leesville dam on the Pittsylvania County side near the DWR boat ramp. A  fishing pier was added to this picnic facility during the winter of 2013.

Tri-County Marina
1261 Sunrise Loop
Lynch Station, VA 24571

More Information

For additional information contact:

1132 Thomas Jefferson Road
Forest, VA 24551
Phone: (434) 525-7522
Biologist: Dan Wilson