Sportsmen living in Virginia have a wide variety of fish to try, from trout to catfish, bluegills to stripers. One intriguing quarry that is often overlooked, however, is walleye.
Fishermen in northern states or Canada would be surprised. In these areas walleyes are considered one of the most respected fish of all. These northern areas certainly have more walleye than Virginia, but our state offers plenty of opportunities to catch these marble-eyed fish.
The rivers and lakes offer good walleye fishing prospects. We’ll run through a sample of those opportunities here, and in a later column we’ll cover a few more places to connect with walleyes.
The name of this river is misleading. The New is actually one of the oldest waterways in the world, second only to the Nile. Whatever its name, however, the New must be at the top of any list of walleye waters in Virginia.
For one, he gave up the last three state record fish. He also holds the “historic” record (captured before modern methods of weight checking were established). This fish weighed 22 pounds and 8 ounces, a mere three ounces from the world record, released from Lake Greer’s Ferry in Arkansas.
The heaviest walleyes come from this river in the southwestern part of the state in the winter. This means excellent fishing awaits anglers over the next few months, with fish weighing an average of 2-4 pounds.
Walleye action will get better and better as the weather gets colder. Some of the best fishing takes place in late December, January and February. The Fries Dam water section downstream of Allisonia is particularly productive. Use corks and minnow jigs. The latter can be angled with a minnow or nightcrawler for added appeal.
hungry mother lake
This body of water covers only 108 acres, making it a great choice if you don’t like fishing in large pools that span thousands of acres. It’s also a great place to take the family.
June and July are great months for catching walleye here, but fall can also be productive.
Hungry Mother’s main forage species is gaspereau. These baitfish are sought after by walleye as they move through shallow waters at night.
Forage fish swim in small circles and create a swirling noise that experienced anglers use to locate them and walleyes that are likely nearby. Effective offerings include live alewife as well as shad, minnows and night owls.
Walleye fishing in this lake is best after dark, but some fish can also be caught during the day. If you venture out at this time, try areas close to structures such as fallen trees. And always carry a lifeline when fishing after dark.
During the summer, oxygen levels are depleted below 15 feet. It’s best to focus on shallow water at this time, but during the fall, deeper water can also be productive.
This is another small lake with lots of walleye. Brittle is a short drive away in northeast Virginia. The fish are mostly 2-3 pounds, but occasionally you’ll hang on to a five or six pound here. Net samples that biologists have taken in recent years show a good number of fish up to five years old.
Walleye are tagged by biologists at Brittle Lake and several other walleye waters. If you catch one with a tag, you’ll get a cash reward by returning it to the state fisheries department.
Simply cut the monofilament that holds the label with a knife or scissors and return to the address given. Include information on where and when you caught the fish, if you were targeting walleyes, and if you caught any others on the trip.
This lake has been stocked with walleye since 1983. The idea behind this effort was to control the glut of sunfish in the lake. A small population of walleye still exists, and they are mixed in with a good number of bigmouths and catfish.
Recent sampling by fisheries staff on Robertson revealed several walleye over 20 inches and one that stuck at 27 inches and weighed 8 pounds.
The dam area is particularly good on Robertson. Try crankbaits, jigs, thin plugs and live minnows for walleyes. These lures and baits are also good bets for all the other waters featured here.
Award-winning outdoor writer Gerald Almy is a resident of Maurertown