Briery Creek Lake - News & Reports
Regulation change for 1-1-2013
The largemouth bass slot limit will be adjusted from a 14-24 inch protective slot limit to a 16-24 inch protective slot limit. The creel limit will remain unchanged, 5 bass with only one over 24 inches.
Biologists sample Briery Creek Lake each spring with an electrofishing boat to monitor the fish populations. Largemouth bass have a balanced size structure (meaning a good balance of young "recruits" and adults), and grow fairly well. It takes largemouth bass about three years to reach 12 inches and about 8.5 years to reach 20 inches. Creel surveys are also used to collect information on the condition of the fish populations at the lake.
During creel surveys, anglers are interviewed as they leave the lake and asked things like how long they fished, what they caught, and what they harvested. It is also a great opportunity for biologists to get information on angler attitudes and opinions and determine what they would like to see done with the fishery. Here are some highlights from the creel surveys conducted in 1999 and the spring of 2000:
- Fishing pressure is highest in March, April and May.
- About 70% of Briery Creek Lake anglers fish for largemouth bass and most (82%) fish there in hopes of catching a trophy fish.
- Catch rates for largemouth bass were highest in the summer but the success on trophy largemouth bass is highest in the spring.
- On average, a trophy largemouth bass is caught for every 115 hours of fishing effort in the spring. This estimate goes up slightly in the rest of the year.
- About 70% of the trophy largemouth bass caught in 1999 was in the spring.
- About 29% of the trophy largemouth bass caught were harvested.
- Anglers from across Virginia fish at Briery Creek Lake. Additionally, anglers from at least 15 states come to fish Briery Creek Lake each year.
Fishing at Briery Creek Lake is economically important to the local community
Information from Virginia's Angler Recognition Program also demonstrates that Briery Creek Lake is one of the state's best largemouth bass fisheries. Since 1995, Briery Creek Lake has been at or near the top for "citation" largemouth bass each year. In fact, 24 of the 25 heaviest largemouth bass from public waterbodies have come from Briery Creek Lake since 1993. Additionally, 16 of the 25 heaviest largemouth bass since 1970 have come from Briery Creek Lake! Not bad for a lake that was built in 1986.
Although known widely as a trophy bass lake, Briery Creek Lake is also one of Southside Virginia's best lakes for bluegill, redear sunfish, and crappie. Biologists also use electrofishing and creel surveys to monitor these populations and all are characterized by moderate to high abundances and fast growth. Angler catch rates for bluegill and redear sunfish are best from late April to June while crappie are typically best in March and April.
Chain pickerel are fairly abundant in Briery Creek Lake but most fish are less than 20 inches. Channel catfish are not abundant but fish up to 15 pounds are occasionally caught.
New Slot Limit for Largemouth Bass in 2001
The creel surveys in 1999 and 2000 clearly demonstrated that Briery Creek Lake was one of Virginia's most important bass fisheries. Biologists wanted to determine if the 12 - 15 inch slot limit was still appropriate or if other regulations would be more beneficial. Computer models predicted that the continued production of trophy largemouth bass at Briery Creek Lake would require more restrictive regulations. Biologists implemented a 14 - 24 inch protected slot limit to replace the 12 - 15 inch slot. This regulation was more beneficial in two ways. First, it protected adult largemouth bass until they reached trophy size, which should stabilize (and potentially increase) the number of trophy fish in the lake. Secondly, the lower end of the slot limit was increased to allow anglers to keep the younger and more abundant largemouth bass. This regulation went into effect on January 1, 2001. The creel limit is still 5-fish/day but only one fish above the slot is allowed. The upper end of the slot limit is two inches larger than the minimum length for largemouth bass in Virginia's Angler Recognition Program. Anglers who catch fish that meet the minimum for this program (22 inches) but are within the protected slot may still participate in the Awards program by having the fish certified by length (either verified by a witness or taking a photo of the fish next to a measuring tape).
Tips for Proper Care and Handling of Trophy Bass:
Many anglers at Briery Creek Lake are fortunate enough to catch a trophy largemouth bass. Often times, anglers will keep their trophy in a livewell and travel to one of the local stores to have their fish weighed on certified scales. Still others may keep their catch in a livewell in hopes of catching a bigger fish later that day. Anglers not wishing to have their trophy mounted will release their fish at the end of their fishing day. However, this does not guarantee that the trophy will survive. Anglers may take precautionary measures to decrease the likelihood of delayed mortality of released fish.
Land the fish as soon as possible. Playing a fish to exhaustion diminishes its chance of survival. Having the proper fishing tackle is important.
Avoid excessive handling when landing a fish, removing the hook, taking pictures, measuring, etc. Always make sure that your hands are wet before handling fish.
If you plan on weighing a fish at one of the local businesses, do so immediately after catching it. The sooner you release the fish back into the lake, the better its chance of survival. Also, holding a fish in a livewell all day and then releasing it greatly diminishes its chance of survival.
To handle trophy fish, wet your hands, then use your thumb to clamp down on the bottom lip and support the fish's weight by placing the off-hand under the fish (toward the tail). Do not hold the fish just by the lower lip.
Water temperatures of 75°F and warmer are more stressful on fish. Run livewell aerators continuously and add ice, salt, and bacterial fungal retardant if necessary.
Fish should not be out of the water for more than 30 seconds.
Proper handling and care of trophy largemouth bass will increase everyone's chances of catching a trophy bass.