- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 10, 2006

If there’s one body of water in these parts that frequently generates heated discussions concerning its fish population, it has to be Virginia’s 9,600-acre Lake Anna, southwest of Fredericksburg, in Spotsylvania and Louisa counties. There are no ambiguous feelings about Lake Anna. You either hate it or love it.

With tongue in cheek, some anglers say if you catch 10 largemouths in Anna in one day, you might have hooked half the lake’s bass population. Others return from the lake and brag that they’ve had the best fishing day ever.

Now comes John Odenkirk, a biologist for the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, who wants us to know that Anna has lots of bass; so many, in fact, that the most recent electro-shocking study set a record. (The fish, by the way, are not injured and recover quickly.)

Odenkirk and his colleagues found that in the 2006 spring evaluation, most indices used to evaluate bass abundance and size structure surpassed those of 2005, and set new records. The surveys are conducted annually at locations in the upper, middle and lower portions of the reservoir. They’re designed to provide estimates of bass abundance and size structure. Such surveys have been conducted since 1993 and they’ve proved that the bass are now more abundant and bigger than at any time in recent history.

The 8-an-hour catch rate of fingerling fish remained nearly unchanged and was equal to the long-term average, suggesting consistent recruitment (spawning and survival) within the population. Catch rates of most other size categories were at record levels including catch of “preferred bass” (those fish longer than 15 inches) at 29 an hour. The previous record for this category was 26 an hour in 2005.

Said Odenkirk: “In addition, the total catch rate of bass was 86 an hour — an incredible increase over last year’s record-breaking 74 per hour.”

And where should you fish? The middle portion of the reservoir again was the most productive with incredible bass abundance along water willow beds near the Splits.

Deer management comments sought — The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries wants public input on its Draft Virginia Deer Management Plan. The plan was first developed in 1999, but is being revised with the involvement of public stakeholders and deer managers. The plan will guide deer management across the Commonwealth through 2015. It describes the history of whitetailed deer management, current status (supply and demand) of the deer resource and management programs.

The management plan includes four goals which specify general directions for 1) deer populations, 2) deer habitat, 3) deer damage, and 4) deer-related recreation. Public input is important. Check out the draft plan at www.dgif.virginia.gov/draftdeerplan. You’ll be able to review and submit your comments online or send them via regular mail to Deer Management Plan, VDGIF, P. O. Box 996, Verona, Va. 24482, but do it before June 16.

Black ducks grace new stamp — The 2006 Virginia Waterfowl Conservation Stamp will be graced by a pair of black ducks, painted by local artist Tim Donovan, of Lovettsville, who is no stranger to the waterfowl stamp world. Donovan won the design for Virginia’s 2000 and 2001 voluntary duck stamp. He also won the Kentucky state duck stamp contest in 2000, the Ohio state duck stamp in 1998, and placed fifth in the 2006 Federal Duck stamp contest. Donovan will be recognized at the Ducks Unlimited convention where his print will be unveiled.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]washingtontimes.com

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