By Dan Michelson/DWR
The Staunton River has become a walleye fishing destination. Increased stocking into Leesville Reservoir and into the river itself has resulted in an exceptional fishery, especially in the early spring months. Fisheries crews have been busy monitoring the walleye population in the Staunton for the past three years and began a reward tag program in 2020 to determine the amount of fishing pressure the fishery is receiving.
As of February 2022, 900 reward tags have been placed in Staunton River walleye with each tag worth $25 if returned to the address printed on the tag. Reward tags are yellow in color and located on the back of the fish next to the dorsal fin. Early results show that fishing pressure has increased as anglers are discovering this high quality fishery. In 2020, 15% of the walleye tagged were caught and in 2021 that increased to 19%. Fish caught and kept to eat also increased as fishing success improved with a harvest rate of 24% in 2020 and 49% in 2021. We are continuing the study through this year and expect the increasing trend in fishing pressure to continue.
Walleye up to 24 inches are present in the Staunton River and anglers can expect good success in the upper river stretch below Leesville dam and in the Brookneal area. During the spawning run, late February through March, the fish are abundant in those areas. Anglers interested in catching walleye can use a variety of lures including swimbaits (soft plastics), crankbaits, jigs, and live minnows. For information on catching walleye in the Staunton:
Please come out and enjoy this excellent fishery and the beauty of the Staunton River.