Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) aquatic biologists spend considerable effort and resources to manage, enhance, and protect Largemouth Bass populations in Virginia’s public fishing reservoirs, lakes, and ponds. Most of these waters are sampled each year, or every few years, to assess current Largemouth Bass or Smallmouth Bass population parameters such as age and growth, spawning success, and size distribution. These population samples are generally collected using daytime, boat electrofishing gear targeting bass and are conducted in a manner that allows several comparisons to be made concerning fish populations. Since many Virginia anglers target Largemouth Bass, and fish larger than 15 inches are considered “preferred” nationwide; the following summary contains information about bass over 15 inches collected per hour of electrofishing (CPUE). Memorable sized Largemouth Bass are larger than 20 inches. A few small impoundments contain Smallmouth Bass instead of Largemouth Bass. Smallmouth Bass larger than 14 inches are considered “preferred” and Smallmouth Bass larger than 17 inches are considered “memorable”.
Several factors can bias these data (e.g., weather conditions, fish behavior), but samples were conducted with efforts to minimize these biases. The following is a summary of these data with lakes ranked by CPUE of Largemouth Bass greater than 15 inches and 20 inches and Smallmouth Bass greater than 14 inches and 17 inches. Lakes are divided into the four management regions of the state. Those lakes ranked at the top of the table will provide excellent opportunities for anglers to catch quality Largemouth Bass. You might notice that some of the large lakes are ranked lower than you might expect. Smaller lakes or ponds normally have higher sampling efficiency and will thus rank higher based on this evaluation. This is a guide for anglers to use and not necessarily the entire picture of Virginia bass fisheries, but it will provide a good place to start. If you have specific questions about a particular waterbody or its regulations, don’t hesitate to contact the local DWR Regional Office or check out the DWR website. We hope you find this useful.