Chesdin Reservoir - Fishing Opportunities
Historically, Lake Chesdin has been considered an excellent bass fishing lake. According to some anglers the bass fishing has gotten tougher recently. This may be due to a combination of things. First and foremost, on average, the weather has not been conducive to good fishing in recent years. We've had much higher than average rainfall which has caused water levels and water clarity to fluctuate regularly. Fishing for bass is generally better when conditions are somewhat stable for a period of days. Second, our sampling does indicate that the numbers of quality and preferred size bass in the lake has fallen since 1999. However, the electrofishing catch rates observed in 1999 were, by far, the highest ever seen. So, a drop-off in fishing success was expected. Electrofishing catch rates in 2005 still indicated that the population was, at least, moderately abundant. The size structure of the bass population was excellent again in 2005. Bass were common throughout their size range, and ten fish longer than 20 inches were collected. In addition, bass were very plump and healthy looking. Because the population remains solid and more than 99% of bass anglers are releasing their fish anyway, the Board of the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries approved removal of the 12-15-inch slot limit effective July 1, 2006. Department biologists will continue to monitor this population closely for any changes.
Lake Chesdin has been known in the past for its crappie fishery. But, the average size of crappie appeared to have been declining in recent years. Sampling results were, however, better during fall, 2004 than fall, 2005. Even though sampling effort was lower in 2005, substantially more crappie were collected than in 2004. A total of 401crappie were collected in gill nets in 2005, and 19 of those exceeded 10 inches in length. Two were 13 inches long. Based on age data collected during 2004, growth rates were good through age 3, but were relatively anemic thereafter. Virtually no growth was observed after age 6, and 8 to 11-year-old crappie were only averaging approximately 8.5 inches in length. The most likely cause is the very abundant white perch population that has developed in Chesdin during the last 10 years. These fish are undoubtedly competing with crappie for food. Even so, the situation for crappie appeared to have improved some in 2005. Hopefully, this trend will continue.
Bluegill were again very abundant in Lake Chesdin in 2005. Unfortunately, their average size remains relatively small; we did not collect any over 7 inches. Given the abundance of potentially competitive species such as gizzard shad, pumpkinseed sunfish, white perch, and others in this lake, very little improvement in growth and size is expected in the future.
Due to production constraints in recent years, walleye were only stocked in Chesdin when surplus fish were available. However, walleye survival has been good enough to produce numerous fish in the 4-7-pound range in gill net samples. As a result, the Department has decided to elevate Chesdin to a higher priority water for walleye stocking beginning in 2005. Anglers should see an increase in walleye abundance in the coming years. Six walleye up to seven pounds were collected in the gill nets in 2005.
Lake Chesdin has never been known for its striped bass fishery, although an occasional large fish is caught (as evidenced by the capture of a 25-pound fish in one of our gill nets in 2005). This species is stocked annually. Gill netting has never produced a decent sample of stripers in any year since stocking began. Though they are elusive, they do support a small fishery in the lake. In the spring, some migrate up the Appomattox River on a spawning run and provide some unique angling opportunities upstream as far as the Farmville area.
Gill net sampling in both 2004 and 2005 revealed that Lake Chesdin has an awesome population of channel catfish. They were very abundant and excellent eating-size fish from 2-4 pounds were common. Numerous fish in the 4-6-pound range were also collected. These fish were typically very fat and healthy looking. Anglers are encouraged to take advantage of this under-utilized resource.
White perch is another under-utilized species. They have become more abundant in Lake Chesdin during the last ten years, probably at the expense of the bluegill and crappie populations. In fact, they were the most abundant fish in the gill nets during fall, 2004, and third most abundant in fall, 2005. White perch are common everywhere in the lake, and they are easy to catch on worms or grass-shrimp. If you want to try catching them on artificial bait, use something small like a 1/16-oz lead-head twister-tail or tube jig because they have small mouths. A few of the perch in gill net samples exceeded 10 inches. If you've never eaten white perch, try it, it's delicious!