Lake Anna - Fishing Opportunities
Largemouth bass, striped bass, and crappie are the main species of interest at Lake Anna. Opportunities also exist for anglers to catch bluegill, channel catfish, walleye, white perch, and yellow perch. This fishery is very diverse and offers something for every angler's taste.
Lake Anna is a top bass fishing destination for anglers residing in central and northern Virginia. This reservoir frequently is host to local and regional fishing tournaments, and for good reason; Anna consistently ranks in the top three statewide for numbers of citation largemouth bass. Intensive fishing pressure is the norm at Anna, but this reservoir maintains very high catch rates and good numbers of fish in the 4-6-pound range.
Routine population sampling conducted by fisheries biologists provides the Department with information pertaining to the status of the fishery. Comparisons can be made between electrofishing samples conducted during different years, which allows biologists to assess changes to the fishery. One index used by biologists is the CPE-P or catch per effort of preferred fish. The CPE-P for largemouth bass is the number of fish 15 inches or larger that are collected per hour of electrofishing pedal time. Lake Anna, with a CPE-P of 28, ranked sixth in the District (out of 19 reservoirs surveyed) in 2009. This CPE-P was a near record. These data suggest that bass size structure recently shifted upwards, and overall catch rate of bass was also above average in 2009 indicating that the reservoir is full of bass of all sizes. Anglers should experience consistent, good bass fishing for years to come.
Heavy fishing pressure and boater use combined with abundant forage may make it difficult to consistently catch fish at Lake Anna. Patience is the key, and anglers willing to try different techniques and lures to match the prevailing conditions should find success. Largemouth bass typically are found in transition areas between different habitats, particularly around heavy cover and off points. Anglers should concentrate their efforts in these areas, fishing with a variety of lures such as plastic worms, jigs, spinner baits, or crankbaits. Anglers looking to get away from the crowds, especially the heavy boat traffic may consider fishing during winter and summer nights.
The striped bass population is maintained by annual stocking. Stripers grow well in Lake Anna, at least for the first few years, and quickly attain the legal size of 20 inches in about 30 months. However, growth of older fish slows due to the lack of good striped bass habitat (cool, well oxygenated water) during summer and early fall months. However, an excellent fishery has developed within the capacity of available habitat. A major winter fishery has developed when stripers can be observed feeding near the surface. These fish can be caught with lures (e.g., sassy shads, redfins, bucktails) or live bait (gizzard shad or blueback herring, with the nod going to the latter if you can catch them). The outlook for striped bass is bright, as netting in winter 2008 indicated population density was above average with ample adult fish, and exceptional year classes recently established were nearing harvestable size.
The size structure and growth of crappie in Lake Anna is good. Populations of crappie tend to be cyclical in nature - kind of a boom/bust situation. Netting data from winter 2008 suggested that crappie abundance was average, while size structure was at a record level. This means there should be more slabs in the creel during 2009. Anglers interested in pursuing this tasty fish should have no problem catching a mess of them at Anna. Sometime around mid March to early April, crappie move into shallows (5-6 feet or less) to spawn. Recent angler creel survey data shows that crappie numbers have been good in the Christopher Run area of the North Anna arm. They have also been observed in recent years in late April and early May in coves and creeks along main lake channels in very shallow water along water willow beds. Anglers should concentrate their efforts around structure such as fish attractors, brush piles, boat docks, or bridge pilings. Crappie can be successfully caught by a variety of methods ranging from small jigs, spinners, or flies fished with ultralight spinning gear, or anglers may desire more traditional tactics such as fishing small minnows with a cane pole and bobber. Remember that crappies are a schooling fish, and once a fish is caught, it is likely that several more will be caught within close proximity.
A fair bluegill population is available at Lake Anna; however, it would not be a recommended lake for this species. Bluegill populations are usually suppressed in large reservoirs with complex fish communities such as Lake Anna. Fair numbers of bluegill are found in the 5-6 inch range, which provides anglers some opportunity to fish for this delightful panfish. Bream fishing does not have to be complicated. Anglers may use live bait such as worms or crickets with hopes of enticing a strike. Some anglers prefer to use ultralight spinning gear or fly fishing gear to present small lures or flies. Pound for pound, there's not a fish that fights any harder than a scrappy bluegill. Bream are easy to catch which makes them ideal for introducing young children to the sport of fishing. Best of all, if you're at the lake and nothing else seems to be biting, you can normally count on catching a few bluegills.
Channel catfish were first introduced into Lake Anna in 1972, and since that time a naturally reproducing population has developed. Netting data from 2008 suggest that the catfish populations in Lake Anna are now at greater levels than previously documented. Most catfish range from 14-20 inches and average 2-4 pounds. Many anglers pursue channel catfish during summer months when fishing success decreases for other species. Catfish anglers usually bottom fish using a slip-sinker-rig offering live bait (shiners, nightcrawlers), cut bait (herring, shrimp), or dough baits. Chicken livers are also an excellent choice here. A potential state record (and possible world record) channel catfish was caught and released by biologists in a gill net in December 2002 during a routine survey near Dike III. This monster was released and should still be swimming the depths of the old quarry near the dam. Anna also has a large population of white catfish as well as two species of bullheads. Blue catfish have been documented in Lake Anna, but current abundance is very low. The source of this population is unknown, but it is possible they migrated downstream from Lake Orange where they were stocked during the mid 1980s.
Walleye stockings were discontinued in Lake Anna after 2007 due to changes in management philosophy and the apparent poor survival and growth of stocked fish. Consequently, a directed fishery was never established. Anglers could still catch remnants from the last few stockings through at least 2012.
White perch are caught in good numbers during late fall and winter. Angler creel survey data collected by Department biologists has shown that November is the best month to catch white perch at Lake Anna. Night crawlers and bloodworms are effective baits for this small member of the striped bass family.