Located in the heart of Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield County, this 156-acre impoundment of Swift Creek provides an aesthetic angling resource for central Virginia. Because it gets relatively low fishing pressure, it is typically an enjoyable place to fish. The reservoir is very narrow for its size. It is open for fishing from dawn to dusk, virtually year-round. The park rents canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and paddleboats from Memorial Day through Labor Day at the Lake. There is a boat ramp where private boats may be launched, but gasoline motors are prohibited. Only electric motors may be used. There is a 15-inch minimum size limit and 2-per-day creel limit on largemouth bass.
Because it is fed by a relatively large creek and the reservoir itself is “creek-like”, large populations of non-game fish have always overshadowed and competed with the game fish populations.
The latest electrofishing survey was conducted on June 7th, 2018. The survey collected a total of 1,252 fish over the course of four, 15 minute survey runs. The collected fish biomass was dominated by the presence of gizzard shad and bluegill. A high level of diversity was detected with the collection of 14 fish species. Species collected in order of abundance were: gizzard shad, bluegill, redear sunfish, largemouth bass, yellow perch, black crappie, common carp, golden shiner, American eel, brown bullhead, yellow bullhead, creek chubsucker, white catfish, and warmouth sunfish.
Maps & Directions
Pocahontas State Park is on Beach Road (Route 655) west of Chester (south of Richmond); follow signs to the boat ramp.
The electrofishing survey of 2018 revealed some changes to the current fishery based on a comparison to the 2015 survey. The catch rate of gizzard shad (CPUE = 619 fish/hr) showed a large increase from 2015 (CPUE = 371 fish/hr). The catch rate of bluegill (CPUE = 363 fish/hr) showed an increase from 2015 (CPUE = 297 fish/hr). Black crappie abundance revealed a large decline from 113 fish/hr in 2015 to 23 fish/hr in 2018. The schooling nature of black crappie may be at hand with this decline in catch rate.
The electrofishing survey revealed a fair abundance of largemouth bass with the collection of 70 bass (CPUE = 70 fish/hr). This catch rate almost matched the 2015 survey (CPUE = 72 fish/hr). A look at the length frequency distribution revealed the presence of numerous year classes of bass even though very few bass greater than 15 inches in length were detected. CPUE of preferred bass (fish ≥ 15 inches in length) was 7 fish/hr. This catch rate showed a slight decline from 2015 (CPUE-preferred = 8 fish/hr). An earlier survey toward the middle of April might have revealed a higher concentration of larger bass. The post spawn time period most likely accounted for the larger bass to be off the banks and holding in any deeper water that they could find. Large schools of shad were shocked along the shoreline, but no bass greater than 2.4 pounds was collected in 2018. The fishery supports larger bass, but the survey failed to encounter any of them.
Bluegill and Redear Sunfish
Swift Creek Lake has historically had an abundance of small bluegill. The 2018 survey collected a total of 363 bluegill over the hour of sampling. This collection was not overwhelming by any means since there were few bluegill less than 3 inches in length. The majority of bluegill were in the 4 to 6 inch range, with the two largest bluegill measured at 7.52 inches. The bluegill population can be attractive for young anglers that are interested in keeping busy catching fish or anglers that are not overly concerned with catching large fish.
The redear sunfish population appears to be holding steady in catch rate and overall size distribution. The survey collected a total of 110 redear sunfish (CPUE = 110 fish/hr), which was reasonably close to the 2015 survey (CPUE = 105 fish/hr). The vast majority of collected fish were in the 5 to 7.5 inch range. The largest redear sunfish came at a surprising 11.14 inches. The redear sunfish will provide some additional excitement for anglers that are targeting the bluegill population.
The black crappie catch rate showed a decline from 2015 (CPUE = 113 fish/hr) to 2018 (CPUE = 23 fish/hr). This may be a reflection in several weak year classes as crappie recruitment can be highly variable or it may just reflect the schooling nature of black crappie. Survey totals can be elevated if a school of crappie are detected along a stretch of shoreline. Collected crappie ranged in size from 4 to 11.7 inches. The majority of collected crappie were in the 7 to 9 inch range. The fishery has produced a handful of larger black crappie over the years, but the majority of the population appears to be stunted fish less than 10 inches in length. Whether the smaller crappie will advance to larger sizes depends on the future availability of food resources. The survey did not reveal a surplus of juvenile bluegill less than three inches in size. Relative weight values of black crappie (Wr = 85) continue to be below the desired range (Wr = 95 – 100), which means that the standing stock of black crappie are not finding enough forage of adequate size that they can utilize for growth.
Fishing allowed during daylight hours.
Largemouth bass: There is a 15-inch minimum size limit and 2-per-day creel limit.
Sunfish: Creel limit of 50 per day.
Crappie: Creel limit of 25 fish per day.
Chain pickerel: Creel limit of 5 fish per day.
Catfish: Creel limit of 20 fish per day.
Facilities, Amenities, and Nearby Attractions
Pocahontas State Park offers a wide variety of outdoor opportunities and facilities including camping, a pool, a lake, trails, meeting facilities, etc. The campground has all electric and water hookups, centrally located restrooms with hot showers, grills, picnic tables and lantern holders. The park rents canoes, kayaks, rowboats and paddleboats from Memorial Day through Labor Day at the Lake. There is a boat ramp where private boats may be launched, but gasoline motors are prohibited.
For more information, please contact:
Pocahontas State Park
10301 State Park Road
Chesterfield, VA 23832-6355
Phone (804) 796-4255
Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources
(804) 829-6580 ext. 126