Lake Laura - Fishing Opportunities
Lake Laura has one of the highest density largemouth bass populations found anywhere in Virginia. In May 2001 Department biologists collected over 400 bass in just one hour of electrofishing. The majority of the bass were less than 12 inches in length, but there has been an increase in the number of larger fish in recent years. During the electrofishing sample a few largemouth over five pounds were also collected. Largemouth bass reproduction has been consistent therefore the population should remain stable. High densities of bass can lead to slow growth rates and a "stunted" population. Therefore, anglers are encouraged to harvest bass less than 12 inches to reduce the potential of a overcrowded population. By harvesting small bass anglers can help increase bass growth rates thus increasing the number of quality-size fish in the population.
The sunfish population in Lake Laura is comprised of bluegill and pumpkinseed sunfish. Bluegill outnumber pumpkinseed by about 10:1. In most cases, when a lake has a very dense largemouth bass population the sunfish fishery is comprised of larger individuals. High numbers of predators (bass) control the number of sunfish thus increasing growth rates of sunfish. Lake Laura exhibits a quality sunfish fishery with good numbers of fish > 6 inches. The excessive aquatic vegetation that has plagued the lake in the past created to many hiding places for small sunfish. Predators could not effectively control the numbers of sunfish and they were slightly stunted. Recent vegetation reduction has allowed predators to better control sunfish numbers resulting in more quality-size fish.
Lake Laura has a modest crappie population. Only small numbers of crappie have been sampled by biologists during electrofishing and netting surveys since the Department began managing the fishery. The average size of the crappie collected by biologist in a May 2001 electrofishing survey was 9 inches. Anglers should target woody structure like downed trees and beaver lodges when looking for crappie.
Walleye do not naturally reproduce in the lake and must be stocked annually by the Department. Under the Department's walleye management plan, Lake Laura is stocked with walleye to provide angling diversity. The walleye population is small, but growth rates are excellent with fish reaching 15 inches in just two growing seasons.
Lake Laura exhibits a quality catfish fishery. Natural Reproduction of catfish is limited and to maintain a fishery the Department stocks fingerlings annually. Catfish up to 27 inches have been sampled by biologists in recent years. The Department is considering stocking larger catfish to increase survival.
Historically some northern pike we stocked in Lake Laura by an unknown source. In 1997 the Department began annual stockings of northern pike fingerlings. Pike are stocked to control sunfish numbers and to provide angling diversity.