Buggs Island Lake (Kerr Reservoir) - News & Reports

Regulation change for January 1, 2013

Posted: November 19, 2012

The winter size limit for striped bass will be reduced from 26 to 24 inches. The 2 fish/day creel limit will remain unchanged. The summer creel limit will also remain unchanged.

Largemouth bass virus found in Buggs Island Lake

Posted: March 22, 2011

Largemouth bass virus (LMBV) is a disease that impacts several fish species but only appears to cause death in some largemouth bass. In fact it is the only known virus to cause mortality in largemouth bass. LMBV was first discovered in Florida in 1991 in Lake Weir and the first reported fish kill occurred four years later at Santee Cooper Reservoir, South Carolina. LMBV spread throughout the southern United States and was responsible for other largemouth bass deaths in the late 1990's. However, in many reservoirs LMBV only led to a decrease in survival and growth rates and did not result in significant mortality events. When those declines occur, anglers catch fewer quality-size largemouth bass - bass greater than three pounds. The good news is that impacts from the virus outbreak are normally short lived and largemouth bass fisheries recover in about three years.

LMBV has been classified to belong to the family Iridoviridae of the genus Ranavirus. The only noticeable behavior that might be expressed by infected bass is a loss of equilibrium and fish floating on the surface of the water unable to submerge due to an over inflation of the swim bladder. No other external cues are obvious in fish infected with the virus. Disease outbreaks are most common in August through October.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) tested several reservoirs in 2001 with most either having no occurrence of LMBV or very slight infection rates. Recent virus testing coordinated by VDGIF in the summer of 2010 revealed that about 40% of largemouth bass had been exposed to LMBV at John H. Kerr Reservoir/Buggs Island Lake and the disease is likely responsible for the recent decline in the bass fishery. Largemouth bass from Briery Creek Lake and Sandy River Reservoir located just outside of Farmville in Prince Edward County were also tested and the virus was detected and confirmed. A small largemouth bass mortality event which occurred at Briery Creek Lake in late June, 2010 was most likely the result of LMBV in the population. No impacts to the fishery have been detected at Briery Creek Lake or Sandy River Reservoir.

Due to the popularity of the largemouth bass fishery at Buggs Island Lake, anglers have expressed concerns about the LMBV spreading to other area reservoirs. As mentioned, it is likely that other area lakes do have LMBV present in the population but it is unclear currently what infestation rates might be in other lakes. While LMBV is present in other lakes, it is still very important for anglers to use every precaution available to help prevent the spread to those waters that may not be infected. Responsible care and handling of all largemouth bass is vital to maintaining healthy populations regardless of the presence of disease. VDGIF maintains that this type of precaution is responsible stewardship even when fish populations are healthy. When LMBV is present in a lake, one of the best things that anglers can do for the fishery is to limit largemouth bass tournaments during the warmest months. Stress on largemouth bass is greatest when water temperatures are high and with the additional stress of disease entered into the equation, mortality rates can be very high during summer fishing trips. Tournament organizers tend to do a good job about avoiding tournaments during the heat of summer but we can always do better.

The following are several concerns that anglers have expressed to us and other agencies concerning the impacts of LMBV. These are some of the most commonly asked questions that we encounter.

Can we cure the disease? No, the virus will have to run its course and hopefully the fish will build up immunity to LMBV. So far, lakes affected by the disease in the southern U.S. have not experienced additional large LMBV outbreaks since the initial ones in the late 1990's.

Are there any risks to humans from the virus? No, fish are safe to eat and the water is safe for drinking water supply and recreation. This virus cannot be passed to humans.

What causes an outbreak of the virus? It is not fully understood what causes an outbreak of LMBV. It is likely that stressful conditions such as low reservoir levels, high water temperatures, or increased handling time make bass more susceptible to LMBV.

How can you tell if a largemouth bass that you've caught has the disease? There are very few external cues that the bass might have the disease. Fish that are very sick from the virus may appear bloated and swim erratically due to the impacts of the virus on the swim bladder.

How does the disease spread? Fish that come in close contact (like in a livewell) can easily infect one another. Transmission through the water and eating infected prey are also ways that the disease is spread.

If you have questions or concerns about any fishery in Virginia please feel free to contact any of the VDGIF offices located throughout the state.

Video about Largemouth Bass Virus from the Concerned Bass Anglers of Virginia

Kite Tubing Ban

"Kite Tubes" are prohibited on John H. Kerr (Buggs Island) Lake and Philpott Lake. The manufacturer, Sportsstuff, Inc., has issued a nationwide recall of the Wego Kite Tube. See the USCPSC press release below for more information.

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