- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 28, 2008

If you are a newcomer to Northern Virginia or even if you have lived here all along, you might not know which of the many fishing lakes in your home area is best for largemouth bass. There are a few changes in the rankings this year, although the top two of years past remain the same.

John Odenkirk, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries biologist in charge of such things in the northern portions of the state, has conducted a series of electro-fishing tests since 2005. The “shocking” of the bass - no harm comes to the fish - is aimed to gather information regarding the number of 15-inch-and-longer largemouths that are found since those are the sizes most desired by bass anglers.

Occoquan Reservoir (2,100 acres) in Fairfax/Prince William counties continues to hold the top spot with a relative stock density of preferred fish (RSD-P) of 52 and a catch per effort of preferred fish (CPE-P) of 39. The numbers reflect how many such preferred bass were collected by the scientists in various one-hour periods of electro-fishing.

Actually, Burke Lake, a 218-acre impoundment on Route 123 near the Occoquan Reservoir, had a better RSD-P with 55, but its catch-per-effort number was lower than its neighbor’s. Mountain Run Lake (75 acres) in Culpeper County continues to rank third with a relative stock density of only 21 but a high catch-per-effort number of 37.

Motts Run Reservoir (160 acres) in Spotsylvania County is the fourth best with good bass density and catch rates and 350-acre Beaverdam Creek Reservoir in Loudoun County improved in 2008. It now is in fifth place with an RSD-P of 47 and a CPE-P of 28. Pelham Reservoir (255 acres) in Culpeper County is in the sixth spot, but Fauquier County’s Germantown Lake (109 acres) has moved into seventh place. It was not nearly that good in past electro-shock studies.

The worst in the list of 17 sampled bodies of water? All of them are in Stafford County. No. 15 was 47-acre Breckinridge Reservoir, followed by 477-acre Lunga Reservoir and 250-acre Smith Reservoir.

The biggest in the lot, 9,600-acre Lake Anna in Spotsylvania County, ranked ninth, which should not be alarming because large bodies of water are more difficult to cover while fishing from a small boat.

“It is not entirely appropriate to compare them head-to-head [with smaller lakes],” said Odenkirk, who pointed out that Occoquan’s No. 1 rating then is even more impressive.

If you are interested in more information about the bass samplings, call the VDGIF Fisheries Division in Fredericksburg at 540/899-4169.

- In answer to a number of e-mails and phone calls, the weekly fishing report will resume tomorrow in two versions. The print editions of The Washington Times will carry a general roundup of weekend fishing possibilities, and our Web site, washingtontimes.com, will have the detailed summer report. Go to “Sports,” then click on “Weekend Fishing Report.”