Sandy River Reservoir - Fishing Opportunities

Largemouth bass

The largemouth bass fishery at Sandy River Reservoir is excellent with fish of all sizes well represented. The population has been developing for the past eight years with sizes and numbers that rival many of the best lakes in Virginia. Bass up to eight and nine pounds and over 20 inches are becoming more and more common. The future of the fishery is looking pretty bright too with numerous smaller fish coming in behind the lunkers. Sandy River bass are growing faster than almost any other waterbody in the piedmont, and this trend should continue for several years to come. The largemouth bass fishery is managed with a 14-20 inch slot to improve quality fish catch rates and still allow for some harvest. As with most fish species, the best action for largemouth bass fishing is in the spring, but good action can be found in the summer fishing mornings and evenings and in deeper water.


The black crappie population size is at a very high level with much of the fishery being supported by one year class of fish. The 1994 year class still accounts for the bulk of keeper size crappie at Sandy River. Currently, the fishery is becoming dominated by smaller fish as the large, fast-growing 1994 crappie begin to disappear due to natural and fishing mortality. Crappie populations are characterized by dramatic fluctuations in numbers based on good and bad spawns and survival. Another strong year class will come along to carry the fishery into the future. For now, anglers should expect to catch high numbers of small-sized crappie. Crappie congregate on submerged trees and other structures and can be caught on live minnows or jigs. Best fishing for crappie is in the early spring. Sandy River also provides an excellent opportunity to catch good numbers of large redear. The bluegill fishery is also good with best fishing for both bluegill and redear from late April to June.

Channel catfish

Catfish are currently being stocked annually and has really become a quality fishery. Anglers are reporting very nice fish being harvested with fish from two to five pounds becoming pretty common. Take advantage of the flexible hours at Sandy River Reservoir and try your luck fishing catfish at night with your favorite bait (chicken liver is always a good choice) or concoction.

Chain pickerel

Chain pickerel are fairly abundant in Sandy River Reservoir. Fish over 20 inches are present in the impoundment.