Virginia.gov

Lake Burton - Fishing Opportunities

Turbid water and an abundance of undesirable fish species have resulted in an unbalanced fishery. The only highlight to this fishery is the abundance of larger bass. A high percentage of the bass are 3-6 pounds but larger bass are available. However, the larger fish may be difficult to catch due to the large quantity of forage. In an attempt to resolve some of these problems that have persisted for many years, DGIF initiated a series of new management strategies such as carp removal, fish stockings and more restrictive regulations for largemouth bass.

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass reproduction and recruitment has historically been poor. The abundance of crappie, bluegill, carp, and suckers reduced reproductive success for largemouth bass. An experimental stocking of largemouth bass was conducted in 2004-2006 to improve the bass population and has improved the fishery.

Largemouth bass growth rates at Lake Burton are outstanding from the abundant forage. The average size of adult bass (bass > 8") has remained stable at approximately 15 inches with the largest fish typically at 8-9 pounds. These fish average 16.2 inches in length at age five. Largemouth bass are most abundant in the lower half of the lake where depths are generally more favorable. Bring a camera along in case you catch one of these trophy bass since it is illegal to harvest or retain bass in your livewell.

Largemouth bass collected during Lake Burton electrofishing surveys. The top row is the inch group and the additional rows are the number of fish collected per hour of sampling for each size group.

Size (Inches)121314151617181920212223
20126664712936420
20115368105785551
2010128378107127231
20095157811652300
2008355678633010
2007215434432200
2006342753312100
2005697444235120
2004443333521100


Crappie

White and black crappie are both present Lake Burton. Crappie in this lake are abundant but are growing poorly. For good growth, crappie must convert to a primarily fish diet by the time they reach 6-7 inches. Since these fish are too abundant, their growth stops when they reach approximately seven inches for both black and white crappie. It is very common for crappie to be overabundant and stop growing at this size. When this happens they do not die from lack of food, they just stop growing. The crappie growth has moderately improved recently, providing better fishing opportunities, but there are still few crappie over 8 inches.


Crappie (black and white) collected during Lake Burton electrofishing surveys. The top row is the inch group and the additional rows are the number of fish collected per hour of sampling for each size group.
Size (Inches)6789≥10
20123403926
201020992015
2009955216
20087581910

Sunfish

Sunfish are also very abundant. The overabundant bluegill population is a result of limited predation from largemouth bass and interaction with other species. Sunfish growth is poor and levels off at age 5 when they are 6 inches in length and is not expected to improve without considerable increases in the bass population. Even with increased bass predation, sunfish in this lake would likely continue to experience limited improvements due to forage competition with gizzard shad. There are very few redear sunfish (or shellcracker) available and most bluegill at Lake Burton do not exceed 6 inches.

Catfish

Bullhead catfish are the dominant catfish species at Lake Burton and average 11 inches in length. There are a few channel catfish in the lake but not adequate numbers for a good fishery with only an occasional fish caught.