Lake Brittle - Fishing Opportunities
The main target species at Lake Brittle are sunfish (bluegill and redear sunfish), largemouth bass and channel catfish. The majority of the fishing pressure is placed upon these species. The lake also provides angling opportunities for walleye, black crappie and flathead catfish.
The preferred game fish of Lake Brittle anglers have been sunfish species. Creel survey data since 1987 have shown that upwards of 60% of anglers target bluegill and redear sunfish. Lake Brittle provides good fishing for redear sunfish (a.k.a. shell crackers). Redear sunfish average about one-half pound and consistently provide good action. The bluegill fishery has suffered from the overabundance of gizzard shad and has been stunted and displayed poor size structure for many years. The average angler can catch high numbers of small bluegills. If you are searching for trophy bluegills, you might want to try another lake.
Lake Brittle continues to provide a very good largemouth bass fishery. The average bass is in the 2-3 pound size class with a decent number of "keepers" in the 3-6 pound class. Numerous creel surveys have been conducted by the concessionaire, and valuable fishing pressure and harvest data has been collected over the years. Pressure from bass anglers has been cyclic with an overall decline since 1993. However, bass harvest and average weight have remained nearly constant since.
The electrofishing sample during spring of 2010 revealed the CPE-P to be 16. CPE-P is the index fisheries biologists use in analyzing sample catch rates. It stands for the "catch per effort of preferred fish." The CPE-P for largemouth bass is the number of fish 15 inches or larger that are collected in one hour of electrofishing. Based on CPE-P, Lake Brittle ranked ranked 9th out of 20 popular northern-Virginia impoundments sampled by VDGIF biologists in spring during the years 2005 - 2012.
Channel catfish are stocked annually at a rate of 25/acre to provide increased angling opportunity. The average Lake Brittle catfish weighs about two pounds. Fisheries biologists recently concluded a catfish research project that included Lake Brittle as one of the study lakes (gill nets were used to sample the catfish population). The project indicated that the channel catfish population was in good condition with a decent number of larger fish present.
Walleye stocking began in 1979 to add diversity to the fishery along with the hope of controlling the gizzard shad population. The current walleye-stocking rate is 100/acre.
A special walleye section was published in the June 2001 issue of Virginia Wildlife, which included the findings of a recently completed research study completed at Lake Brittle and other state waters. Anglers looking to enjoy this unique fishery should obtain this handy reference from a local DGIF office. This document is also available online. (PDF - 2.8 MB).
Lake Brittle supports a stunted black crappie fishery. Electrofishing and trap net samples have failed to produce many crappie over 10 inches in length. Typically, spawning success is highly variable among crappie populations - crappie can go for a few years without having a successful spawn, and then with the right conditions, produce a massive year class. The growth rates of black crappie have historically been poor, staying consistent with that of a stunted population. Anglers are encouraged to try other local lakes if they are searching for larger crappie.
Flathead catfish were initially stocked into Lake Brittle in 1990 to help control forage fish numbers and improve fish community structure. Seventy-seven flathead catfish (averaging 2 pounds) were electrofished from the Altamaha River in Georgia and transported to Lake Brittle. Another stocking in 1994 consisted of 34 flathead catfish from the James River. Sampling of Lake Brittle by fisheries biologists has shown that flathead catfish have survived to have a positive impact on the fishery. The flathead catfish have successfully thinned out the stunted brown bullhead population. Anglers are encouraged to carefully release all flathead catfish caught at Lake Brittle.