Lake Burke - Fishing Opportunities
The largemouth bass population of Burke Lake is in excellent condition with bass averaging around 3 pounds and 6 pound bass common. In the spring 2010 electrofishing sample, fisheries biologists collected 143 largemouth bass per hour of sampling. The bass looked to be in great shape with the size structure of the population evenly distributed from 12 to 22 inches. The data revealed the CPE-P to be 42. CPE-P is the index used in analyzing sample catch rates. It stands for the "catch per effort of preferred fish." The CPE-P for LMB is the number of bass 15 inches or larger that are collected in one hour of electrofishing. Based on CPE-P, Burke Lake is ranked fourth out of 20 popular northern Virginia impoundments sampled by VDGIF biologists during the years 2005-2012.
Due to the combination of fishing pressure and abundant forage, largemouth bass are difficult to catch at Burke Lake as bass feed heavily upon schools of gizzard shad. Anglers should concentrate their efforts along the willow weed beds that line the banks of the cove across from the park boat ramp. Anglers are encouraged to try different techniques not normally used by average fishermen. The use of a different lure or retrieve may turn out to be what the bass are looking for. A good fish finder will allow you to find schools of shad and the bass feeding on them. Anglers should try a variety of shad/bait fish imitating lures such as crank baits (lip-less and diving) and soft plastic jerk baits as well.
Burke Lake provides a trophy muskie fishery with numerous fish in the 20-25-pound range. Muskie were initially stocked into Burke Lake in 1966 and have been stocked annually at a rate of 2/acre. Stocked muskie tend to run about 6 inches on average. In 1997, a gigantic 49 and one quarter-inch muskie was caught in a trap net. Anglers have annually caught several citation size muskie. A citation size muskie is a minimum of either 40 inches or 15 pounds. The largest muskie caught at Burke Lake was a 26.5-pound trophy in 1985.
Muskie can be caught with large buck tail spinners and crank baits by casting in late fall to early spring. Burke Lake normally stratifies (by temperature layers) in late spring. The thermocline is established about 10 feet down, and muskie tend to hang just above this layer. Anglers have success trolling large crankbaits and buck tails from late spring to fall, targeting the muskie hovering above the thermocline in the cooler water that still has sufficient dissolved oxygen. Anglers should target points and vegetated flats early in the year before trolling near creek channels and break lines as the year progresses.
Burke Lake walleye were initially stocked in 1979 to provide a diversified fishery. Walleye have been stocked in numerous lakes, as these excellent eating fish have become a prized game fish by many anglers. However, walleye are stocked annually at a rate of 100/acre to maintain an acceptable fishery. The average size of stocked walleye runs about 1-1.5 inches and can quickly grow to 9 inches by the end of the first year post stocking. Burke Lake has produced large walleye over the years with some over nine pounds sampled by Department fisheries biologists. The largest walleye ever sampled was caught in a trap net and weighed 10 pounds.
Anglers have consistently caught walleye in the 4-7-pound range over the last few years. The lake record walleye was an 8 lb. 12 oz. trophy caught in 1990. Anglers are encouraged to try trolling deep diving, fire tiger colored crank baits and spinner rigs around the lake off deep water break lines and points adjacent to deep water. Anglers should try a variety of soft plastic grubs on jig heads and slowly jig them over the bottom. Anglers should also remember that Burke Lake stratifies during the summer; walleye and most other fish stay above the thermocline (usually about 10 feet down) during this time. Serious walleye anglers can try fishing Burke Lake at night, when walleye actively feed. The Department ramp is open 24 hours a day to fishing and launching boats only.
Burke Lake provides a good channel catfish fishery. The lake was initially stocked with channel catfish in 1964 and receives an annual stocking of 10/acre. The lake has produced numerous channel catfish in the 10-15-pound range. The lake record is a 21 lb. 8 oz. channel catfish caught in 1999. Anglers are encouraged to fish along the shore to find that perfect little hot spot.
Burke Lake provides a decent bluegill fishery with an abundant population. Anglers have a high success rate in catching bluegill, but they tend to average only 5 to 7 inches. Electrofishing by Department biologists yielded high catch rates of small bluegill. No bluegill over 8 inches were collected in the 2010 sample. The bluegill population is suffering from the effects of living in an ecosystem with gizzard shad and white perch. The competition between these species usually leaves the bluegill small and slow growing. The average size bluegill harvested is about one-quarter pound. The lake has some large redear sunfish that might make up for the lack of size in bluegill. Redear sunfish will fall prey to the same baits fishermen use for bluegill. The lake record sunfish weighed 2 pounds, and a few redear sunfish over a pound have been caught recently.
Burke Lake provides a decent black crappie fishery with numerous fish in the 6-8-inch range. Crappie tend to average on the small side, but the lake has produced fish in the 2-3 pound range with the lake record crappie being 3.5 pounds. Anglers are encouraged to try fishing small crappie jigs and tubes or jig heads tipped with small minnows around fish structure habitat or off the fishing piers. Anglers should not overlook effective lures like the Beetle Spin for catching Burke Lake crappie.