Sandy Bottom Nature Park consists of 465 acres and was established in the early 1990’s. It houses a diversity of habitats, plants and animals. A wetland mitigation project has resulted in the creation of 52 acres of wetlands.
The 12-acre fishing pond located in this park was formed from a borrow pit that was originally excavated to help with the construction of Interstate 64. Initially, no authorized stocking took place in this pond. However, certain fish species soon became established. The Department has stocked channel catfish and bluegill over the years. Channel catfish are presently stocked every fall. The City of Hampton has stocked largemouth bass, as well as grass carp to control excessive growths of milfoil. Present fish populations are controlled by the success of natural reproduction and the productivity of the fishery.
The main species that anglers target are largemouth bass and bluegill. American eels and warmouth sunfish may provide some additional action. Anglers can consider themselves really lucky or extremely talented if they are able to catch a black crappie.
Maps & Directions
The park is located at 1255 Big Bethel Road, a few minutes from I-64 (exit 261) by way of Hampton Roads Center Parkway West exit.
This is essentially a bass and bluegill dominated fishery with a few other species of low abundance.
The largemouth bass population within Sandy Bottom Pond is extremely abundant. Anglers can expect to encounter high numbers of smaller bass with an outside chance of catching a more respectable bass in the 3 to 5 pound range. The 2018 electrofishing survey collected a total of 176 largemouth bass for a catch rate of 376 fish/hr. This catch rate showed a large increase when compared to the 2016 survey (CPUE = 244 fish/hr). Such an elevated CPUE in 2018 revealed the unbalanced state of the fishery. The bass population had been protected under a Catch & Release Regulation for many years and this allowed the standing bass stock to become overcrowded with an abundance of small bass. The C & R regulation was lifted by park staff in 2017, but the shift in population structure is still present. The size distribution of collected bass was 5 – 20.5 inches. The majority of the bass were stock-piled in the 9 to 11 inch range. The survey revealed the limited presence of quality-sized bass with only 7 bass greater than 12 inches collected. Due to the large influx of bass in the 9 – 11 inch range, the average-sized largemouth bass measured only 9.93 inches in length. The largest bass measured 20.5 inches and weighed 4.71 pounds. The relative weight value (Wr = 87) for bass showed a large decline from the 2016 survey (Wr = 97). The overcrowded bass population has decimated the bluegill population which could lead to high bass catch rates for anglers.
The bluegill population has historically been rather limited in Sandy Bottom Pond. The 2018 survey revealed the collection of only 48 bluegill for a CPUE of 102 fish/hr. Never a good sign when the catch rate of largemouth bass is greater than three times the catch rate of the primary forage base of bluegill. The size structure of collected bluegill ranged from 2 – 8 inches with a majority of fish in the 4 – 6 inch range. The collection, although limited in abundance, revealed the size structure to represent a high proportion of larger fish with a favorable PSD value of 41. Anglers may catch a few decent bluegill from Sandy Bottom Pond, but should not expect to catch too many trophy bluegill.
The sample showed limited diversity with the collection of only five fish species. The majority of the action came from the 176 largemouth bass and the 48 bluegill. The remaining diversity came in the form of 6 American eels, 1 creek chubsucker, and 1 warmouth sunfish.
The overall abundance of fish and their size structures have been limited by low productivity. The nature of the burrow pit pond has very little nutrients being washed into the system. These nutrients are needed at the base of the food chain for phytoplankton growth. The overall biomass of the fishery could be increased if more nutrients were present.
Bowfin: Catch & Release on all bowfin caught
Channel Catfish: 15” minimum size limit and creel limit of 5/person/day
State Wide Regulations apply to all other fish species
The park is open from sunrise to sunset every day except Christmas. The fishing pier is open to pedestrians for fishing 24 hours a day.
Private boat launching is prohibited on Sandy Bottom Pond except for kayak fishing. Anglers can purchase a yearly kayak permit for $35. The park offers jon boat rentals for fishing opportunities on Sandy Bottom Park Pond. Canoes, kayaks, and pedal boats can be rented for use on the adjacent recreational pond (Crystal Lake), but no fishing is permitted on that lake.
Shoreline fishing is only permitted off of the fishing pier on Sandy Bottom Pond.
Department fisheries biologists conducted an electrofishing survey of Sandy Bottom Park Pond on April 23, 2018. The sample revealed that the fishery has become extremely overcrowded with largemouth bass in the 9 – 11 inch range. The catch and release regulation on the bass population was lifted in 2017. Anglers should feel free to harvest 5 bass/day if they so desire. Selective harvest of these abundant smaller bass will actually aide in the growth rate potential of the surviving segment of the bass population. The survey revealed a limited abundance of bluegill, but a favorable size structure of fish up to 8 inches in size.
Facilities, Amenities, and Nearby Attractions
- Fee ✘
- Parking ✔
- Handicap-Accessible ✘
- Food Concession ✘
- Picnic Tables ✔
- Grills ✘
- Restrooms ✔
- Hiking Trails ✔
- Bike Trails ✔
- Viewing Blinds ✘
- Observation Platforms ✔
- Fishing Pier/Platform ✔
- Boat Ramps ✘
- Motorboat Access ✘
- Horsepower Limit ✘
- Electric Motor Only ✘
- Paddle Access ✔
- Camping ✘
- Primitive Camping Only ✘
The park offers a variety of activities for outdoors enthusiasts. There are trails for biking and hiking and a newly created multipurpose trail that will accommodate hiking, biking and horse riding. Facilities include a boat rental, a fishing pier, an interpretive center, picnic areas, primitive camping areas and tent cabins.
For further information please contact:
Sandy Bottom Nature Park
1255 Big Bethel Road
Hampton, VA 23669
Phone: (757) 825-4657
Department of Wildlife Resources
3801 John Tyler Memorial Hwy
Charles City, VA 23030
Phone: (804) 829-6580, Ext. 126