Leesville Reservoir - Fishing Opportunities

Largemouth Bass

The best largemouth bass population is from Leesville dam to the vicinity of mile marker 8. Most bass are between 9 and 14 inches but there is a fair number of larger fish up 22 inches. Water temperatures, high flows, and level fluctuations are not conducive for a good largemouth bass population in the upper reaches (Smith Mountain Lake Dam end) of the reservoir. The largemouth bass population in the lower portion of the lake (Leesville Dam to mile marker 8) is very good with catch rates from VDGIF sampling rivaling nearby Smith Mountain Lake and Philpott Reservoir. Most fish species at this lake do not move up and down in the water column as the lake levels fluctuate so anglers should concentrate their efforts in deeper water when lake levels approach full.

Striped Bass

The current state record striped bass was caught from Leesville Reservoir in 2000. This reservoir does support a fair striped bass population but capitalizing on this fishery can be a challenge. Striped bass seasonally utilize the cooler water in the upper reaches of the reservoir during the summer months for thermal refuge. However, forage is very limited in this area of the reservoir and most striped bass move downstream to utilize additional forage when water temperatures are cooler during the late fall through early summer. VDGIF has recently been experimenting with increased stocking rates and protocols to improve the striped bass population at Leesville Reservoir. Initial evaluations have shown a substantial increase in the striped bass population beginning in 2011. Striped bass fishing should be very good for fish 20-25 inches with limited numbers of larger fish.


Leesville Reservoir also supports a limited walleye population including a few fish up to six pounds. The best concentrations of walleye are between Leesville Dam and mile marker 7. Walleye fishing can be challenging due to rapidly rising and falling water levels. There is no natural reproduction of walleye so the population is sustained with fingerling stockings.

White Bass/White Perch

The white bass population at Leesville Reservoir has severely declined with only a few remnant individuals remaining, which is too low to sustain a fishery. Recently, there has been a major increase in white perch in Leesville Reservoir. All of Virginia's reservoirs have experienced similar declines in white bass populations following expanding white perch populations. However, there are high numbers of white perch which can make for busy fishing when finding schools of these aggressive fish. There is no size limit or creel limit for white perch.


There are three primary catfish species at Leesville Reservoir; channel catfish, blue catfish and white catfish. The blue catfish population has been expanding with good numbers but most fish are 12-20 inches. Channel catfish have been stable for many years averaging 14-20 inches. White catfish are smaller but abundant, averaging 10-16 inches. Flathead catfish are present but in much lower numbers.

Other Species

Yellow perch numbers have also declined sharply in recent years, similar to white bass declines, with very few yellow perch currently available. Black crappie are the dominant crappie species and average about 10 inches. The crappie population does provide a limited crappie fishery but this lake generally does not provide high numbers.