2015 Walleye Fishing Forecast
- South West Virginia
- South Central Virginia
- Northern Virginia
- Eastern Virginia
South West Virginia
Upper New River
Walleye fishing on the Upper New River from Buck Dam downstream to Allisonia should improve in 2015. Department fisheries biologists suspended walleye stocking in 2012 and 2013 to determine if the walleye were spawning naturally and based on our evaluations, the walleye population is not spawning naturally, so stocking resumed in 2014. The 2014 stocking at Allisonia should produce good numbers of young walleye this year all the way to Buck Dam. Walleye fishing from Fries Dam to Byllesby Reservoir will not produce as many walleye due to a lack of stocking over the past 3 years, but future stocking will enhance the walleye population in this area.
Anglers catch most walleye in the Upper New River from February to April, but walleye are also caught throughout the year. Crankbaits, jigs, and live minnows work well for catching them during the late winter and spring season. Ivanhoe, Foster Falls, and Allisonia are all good areas to fish. During spring 2014 walleye sampling, 61% of the walleye collected were between 14 and 19 inches and 37% were between 19 and 28 inches. While anglers will have to return 19 to 28 inch walleye under the spring season size limit (explained below), they should catch plenty of walleye under 19 inches.
When you fish for walleye on the Upper New River, follow these size and creel limits:
- From Buck Dam downstream to Claytor Lake Dam: From February 1 through May 31: All walleye 19 to 28 inches caught must be released unharmed. Anglers may keep 2 walleye per day less than 19 inches or over 28 inches. From June 1 through January 31: A 20-inch minimum length limit with a five per day creel limit is in effect.
This regulation allows anglers to harvest a few smaller male walleyes (typically less than 19 inches) or a trophy female walleye (typically greater than 28 inches), while protecting the best spawning-size walleyes during the spring months.
- From Fries Dam downstream to Buck Dam: A 20-inch minimum length limit for walleye, with a 5 per day creel limit is in effect year-round. This regulation is designed to protect the walleye population stocked in Byllesby Reservoir that runs upstream to Fries Dam.
Biologists tagged walleyes in the Upper New River from 2008 to 2012 as part of a statewide walleye research project. A cash reward of 20 dollars will still be offered for the return of these tags with catch information. Anglers can remove the tag by cutting through the monofilament attachment with scissors or a knife. The fish can then be released or harvested (the length limits listed above apply). Return the tag and catch information to the address printed on the tag. Catch information includes: date, time, and general location of catch; "Was the fish harvested or released?"; "Were you fishing for walleyes?" and "Did you catch other walleyes on this fishing trip?"
South Holston Reservoir
South Holston should provide excellent walleye fishing in 2015. During sampling in 2014, biologists collected 90 walleye. Of these, 51% were 18 inches or larger. Anglers can expect good catches during the spring spawning "run" on the South Fork Holston River. Anglers congregate near the community of Alvarado from February through April to catch walleyes on the spring spawning "run". During May and June anglers find walleyes feeding along the shorelines of the lake. The post spawn top water bite in the lower lake will yield the best walleye fishing Virginia has to offer. When walleyes move deeper during the summer months, successful anglers troll crawler harnesses on lead core line or use jigging spoons to reach the depths. Fall and winter fishing call for jigging spoons or jigs and live minnows. Walleye growth is outstanding, so anglers should find plenty of fish larger than the minimum size of 18 inches.
Walleye are still providing good fishing opportunities for anglers willing to target them. The catch rate for walleyes was down slightly from previous years, but this may be partially attributed to saugeye (walleye x sauger hybrid) being stocked in place of walleye in 2013 as a result of hatchery availability. Juvenile walleye (Age 1+) typically account for 20-25% of the fish observed during sampling, but these fish would have been absent in the 2014 sample. Despite the slightly lower abundance of walleye, approximately 52% of the walleye observed during sampling were 18 inches or larger and 14% were 20 inches or larger. Anglers can expect good catches during the spring river run in the Cranesnest River, and post spawn walleye are great for night top water action. Summer trolling for walleye in the main lake is productive and continues to grow in popularity. The saugeye stocked in 2013 appear to have had good survival and should reach legal size in late 2015 - early 2016.
Hungry Mother Lake
This 108-acre lake provides anglers with a great opportunity to catch walleyes in a small lake setting. Located in Hungry Mother State Park, the lake is also a great destination for families. The walleye population is stable or slightly increasing. There are good numbers of fish up to 20 inches and just enough larger ones to cause anglers to lose some sleep this summer. Walleyes up to 28 inches in length have been landed in recent years. April, May, and June are the three best months, with night fishing generally being more productive. Most anglers' use artificial lures, but live shad, minnows, and night crawlers are also very effective.
The Clinch River will provide some good walleye fishing in 2015. Walleye are native to the Clinch River and are available in low densities throughout most of the river. Walleye fishing is improving as the population continues to be enhanced through stocking. Walleye collected in the 2014 samples ranged from 18 to 23 inches. Late winter and early spring time is the best time to target walleye. Anglers should focus their efforts at the times and locations that concentrate walleyes. Walleyes often congregate in pools just below significant ledges and shoals during daylight hours, and then move into shallow water at dusk. Another good location is where a creek enters the river.
South Central Virginia
The 2015 fishing season for walleye at Leesville Reservoir will be very good compared to previous years. Fishing has historically been challenging due to sporadic stocking and poor survival of stocked walleye. This fishery has contained a limited number of primarily larger fish, but the overall numbers of walleye has been very low compared to other Virginia walleye lakes. However, fish stocked in 2013 did very well and produced the highest number ever recorded in DGIF sampling. Fish stocked in 2013 will be 14-20 inches with most falling just below or near the 18-inch minimum size limit, but some of these fish will be legal size.
While the bulk of the walleye population is in the 14-20 inch range, there are some larger fish still available, with an occasional fish in the 5-6 pound range. Walleye at Leesville have good growth rates and typically reach 18 inches between their second and third year. Although there is a limited number of older and larger walleye available, approximately 50% of the walleye over 18 inches in length are at least 20 inches and about 7% of the population is over 22 inches.
The most productive walleye fishing is typically between Leesville Dam and mile marker 6. Night fishing in May and June, with floating or shallow running plugs cast to the shoreline, should not be overlooked. Walleye often frequent water less than 2 feet deep during the dark spring and early summer hours. During daylight hours in the spring, fish the shoreline contour, targeting depths of 10-20 ft., then move deeper if those depths are unproductive. Walleye are very light sensitive and prefer dark or shaded habitat; consequently, these fish will frequent shallower depths if the water is shaded or stained, but will remain deeper during the day if the water is clear. Rock cliffs and steeper shorelines should be the most productive, with some coves also holding additional walleye. As water temperatures increase in late spring and throughout the summer, walleye move deeper, seeking cooler water, and become most active during nighttime hours.
Leesville can be a challenge due to extreme daily water fluctuations, but anglers who spend time learning productive walleye angling techniques for Leesville and concentrate on areas and habitat that hold walleye, may encounter a number of these elusive fish. Leesville Reservoir experiences very light fishing pressure and can provide solitude for anglers looking to avoid crowds and boating traffic.
With one of the better walleye populations in Virginia, walleye fishing at Philpott Reservoir should be good in 2015. This fishery has been stable and consistent for the past ten years, and the 2014 gill net sampling catch rates were slightly below the long term average for Philpott Reservoir. Most legal size walleye are between 18 to 21 inches. This fishery does not contain many large fish due to heavy angling pressure, but does support good numbers. Walleye reach 18 inches at about 3 years of age and most male walleye grow very slowly after reaching this size. Female walleye typically grow well for another few years, with some achieving larger sizes.
Anglers who spend time learning angling techniques that are productive for walleye, find areas that are productive, and fish between late May and September, should have successful fishing trips. Top water night fishing is very popular and productive in May and June, during the alewife spawn. By late June, walleye start moving into deeper water and are caught on nightcrawler harnesses and plugs trolled in deeper water. As water temperatures increase throughout the summer, walleye continue to move deeper seeking cooler water. Anglers must fish deeper throughout the summer or fish at night to capitalize on this fishery. Catching a few walleye per outing is considered good, and catching a limit of five walleye, is very good.
Lake Brittle continues to be one of the best places in the northern Virginia piedmont to catch a walleye. Anglers targeting walleye report good success at this small impoundment, with most fish caught in the 2 to 3 pound range, and the occasional fish up to 5 pounds. Fish sampling continues to document good survival of stocked walleye fingerlings, with a strong population of walleye up to age 5 residing in Lake Brittle. Recent data from the ongoing tagging study has shown that angler catch and harvest rates for walleye are higher than previously thought and, as a result, an 18-inch minimum size limit was put into effect in 2009. Angler success seems to be the highest during the late spring and early summer.
Biologists will continue tagging walleyes at Lake Brittle again in 2015 as part of an ongoing tagging study to evaluate stocking densities in small impoundments. A cash reward of 20 dollars is offered for the return of the tag and catch information. Anglers can remove the tag by cutting through the monofilament attachment with a knife or scissors. The fish can then be released or harvested. Return the tag and catch information to the address printed on the tag. Catch information includes: date; general location of catch; "Was the fish harvested or released?"; "Were you fishing for walleyes?" and "Did you catch any other walleyes on this fishing trip?"
Burke Lake is located in Fairfax County-a stone's throw from Washington D.C. Anglers in pursuit of walleye can expect to find most fish in the 2 to 3 pound range, with some fish as large as 7 pounds. An 18-inch minimum size limit is in place at Burke.
Burke Lake is also included in a tagging study that began in 2014, to evaluate stocking densities in small impoundments. A cash reward of 20 dollars is offered for the return of the tag and catch information. Anglers can remove the tag by cutting through the monofilament attachment with a knife or scissors. The fish can then be released or harvested. Return the tag and catch information to the address printed on the tag. Catch information includes: date; general location of catch; "Was the fish harvested or released?"; "Were you fishing for walleyes?" and "Did you catch any other walleyes on this fishing trip?"
Anglers hoping to catch decent walleye, while fishing for multiple species, should look no further than Lake Orange. Walleye have been stocked into this northern piedmont impoundment for years and current management includes annual stockings of walleye fingerlings. Generally, survival of stocked fingerlings is good and the current age structure is comprised of fish up to age 15, with most of the population less than age 8. Walleye growth at Orange is fast up to age 4, averaging 20 inches and 3 pounds, but growth slows beyond age 4, with fish seldom reaching 26 inches. Anglers occasionally catch walleye in the 6 to 8 pound range. Most walleyes are caught during the late spring and early summer by anglers fishing Lake Orange for bass, although a few anglers do specifically fish for walleyes at this location. Anglers should also be aware that an 18-inch minimum size limit was placed on all walleyes caught at Lake Orange in 2009.
Beginning in 2014, Lake Orange is included in the walleye tagging study to evaluate stocking densities in small impoundments. A cash reward of 20 dollars is offered for the return of the tag and catch information. Anglers can remove the tag by cutting through the monofilament attachment with a knife or scissors. The fish can then be released or harvested. Return the tag and catch information to the address printed on the tag. Catch information includes: date; general location of catch; "Was the fish harvested or released?"; "Were you fishing for walleyes?" and "Did you catch any other walleyes on this fishing trip?"
Little Creek Reservoir
Little Creek Reservoir is a 947-acre water supply impoundment for the City of Newport News located within James City County. The reservoir provides a great opportunity for anglers to try their luck at catching walleyes. The walleye population continues to show signs of improvement. Little Creek Reservoir typically receives 94,700 walleye fingerlings each May, with fish stocked in a pelagic manner to allow for greater dispersal. The 2014 stocking consisted of 97,000 saugeye fingerlings, which are a hybrid between a female sauger and a male walleye. DGIF has stocked saugeyes into various impoundments during 2013 and 2014 in hope of establishing strong populations and exciting fishing opportunities.
Some of the best walleye action has come from anglers that slow troll their baits in the 15 to 20 foot depth range within the western half of the reservoir. Additional success has been found from anglers using deep diving crank baits originally intended for largemouth bass. One of the keys to fishing on Little Creek Reservoir is to concentrate on the deeper edges in and around the numerous points that line the shoreline. Anglers that fish Little Creek Reservoir for the first time should be aware that the reservoir is trolling motor use only. Anglers must also adapt to the clear water conditions in order to find walleyes holding in deep water habitat most times of the year.
Because the 2014 spring electrofishing survey was delayed until the early part of April, the majority of the walleye concentration had dispersed to deeper water. Walleyes will congregate along the southern shoreline of the reservoir in their classic pre-spawn pattern from March to early April. There are no large tributaries that flow into Little Creek Reservoir, so the walleyes will target various rock shelves in their attempt to spawn. The collected walleyes ranged from 8 to 23 inches with the average length at 19 inches. The average weight was 2.4 pounds with the largest walleye weighing 4.8 pounds. The fall gill net survey provided some additional insight into the walleye population. A total of 22 walleyes in the 20 to 25 inch range were collected, with the majority found off main lake points in the western half of the reservoir. The two largest walleyes (4.97 and 5.07 pounds) were both caught from the eastern creek arm. The 4.97- pound walleye was tagged on November 14, 2014 and was caught by an angler on February 8, 2015. The fish exhibited excellent growth and weighed in at 5.94 pounds. The walleye population feeds heavily upon the schools of blueback herring that are present. Relative weight values showed a great increase when compared to past surveys. DGIF biologists have tagged walleyes over the last couple of years as part of the state wide tagging study and anglers that catch a white-colored reward tag can receive a $20 reward after the tag is returned with some catch information.
Over the last couple of years, Lake Chesdin has benefitted from the great production of walleyes and saugeyes in our DGIF hatcheries. Lake Chesdin is stocked with surplus fish from various hatcheries when conditions are favorable; receiving 109,440 saugeye and 57,000 walleye fingerlings in May 2013 and 58,025 saugeye and 67,000 walleye fingerlings in 2014. These consecutive stocking efforts should allow for a respectable fishery to be established, with the fall electrofishing survey of Lake Chesdin showing favorable results. A total of 43 walleyes were collected for a catch rate of 21.5/hr. These fish ranged in size from 6 to 15 inches with the majority of the 2014 year class in the 8 to 9 inch range. The 2013 year class was represented by fish in the 13 to 15 inch range. The survey collected 12 saugeyes for a catch rate of 6/hr. These fish ranged from 9 to 17 inches in total length. The fall gill net survey recorded 9 saugeyes that measured in the 13 to 15 inch range. The survey also produced a total of 5 adult fish from previous stockings measuring in the 20 to 22 inch range. Lake Chesdin has a strong gizzard shad population that the walleye and saugeyes will target for forage. An angler was able to catch an 8 lb. 4 oz. trophy walleye from Lake Chesdin on July 6, 2014. This fish is an example of "you never know what you might catch until you try".
For more information, contact the following offices:
|Leesville and Philpott Reservoirs||Forest Office: (434) 525-7522|
|Lakes Orange, Burke, and Brittle||Fredericksburg Office: (540) 889-4169|
|Little Creek Reservoir and Chesdin||Charles City Office: (804) 829-6580|
|Upper New River and Clinch River,
South Holston Reservoir,
Hungry Mother Lake
|Marion Office: (276) 783-4860|