Little Creek Reservoir - Fishing Opportunities
Little Creek Reservoir has a variety of fish species that anglers can target. The electrofishing survey of 2008 revealed the presence of 13 fish species. Information on the popular targeted species will be covered.
The collection of largemouth bass through electrofishing has been difficult over the years at Little Creek Reservoir. The clear water, steep banks and limited shoreline cover all combine to make it complicated to estimate the status of the bass population. The basic electrofishing boat is good for sampling the shoreline areas of most reservoirs with water depths in the 2 to 6 foot range. Electrofishing efforts along shoreline areas that are deeper than 6 feet tend to spook more fish than effectively shock. The 2006 electrofishing survey was able to collect only 39 largemouth bass from the 6 sites that were sampled. The 2008 electrofishing survey managed to show off some of the Little Creek's bass that were hiding the last time we sampled. A total of 101 bass were collected to yield an improved catch rate 50.5 bass/hr. The bass ranged in size from 2 to 21.7 inches with a high percentage of bass in the 12 to 18 inch range. The largest bass weighed in at 6 pounds. The sample collected 22 preferred-sized bass that were greater than 15 inches in size. Anglers are reminded that a lot of the bass action will be found in water that is 10 to 15 feet deep. The bass will take advantage of the cooler water that is present in the deeper areas of the reservoirs. The latest summer pattern passed along by Walter Elliot (James City County Parks & Recreation) is that largemouth bass are hanging below the schools of striped bass during the summer. The largemouth bass are most likely taking advantage of the striped bass and their ability to find the schools of blueback herring and gizzard shad.
VDGIF stocks Little Creek Reservoir annually with striped bass fingerlings. Little Creek Reservoir has been producing some very large striped bass over the last few years. Anglers reported 8 trophy citation-sized stripers in 2005 and they were able to match that total again in 2006. Only 3 striped bass citations were reported in 2007. The majority of the striped bass action comes from dedicated anglers that are willing to catch their own bait. These anglers use cast nets to catch their desired bait of blueback herring and gizzard shad. The striped bass anglers that frequently fish the reservoir will slow troll live herring at the proper depth to catch their fair share of stripers.
Gill net sampling was conducted during the fall of 2006 to evaluate the striped bass population. Experimental gill nets were used in an attempt to catch striped bass as well as a forage fish. Unfortunately the sampling was only able to produce a total of 13 striped bass. The largest striper went around 22 pounds in weight. Certain striped bass anglers are able to catch a couple dozen striped bass over the course of a few days on Little Creek Reservoir. The experimental gill nets have been used for the last time. Full panel gill nets will be used in the future to help with the evaluation of the striped bass population.
Little Creek Reservoir has produced some very large black crappies in the 2 to 2.75 pound range over the last few years. Anglers were able to catch 9 citation-sized crappies in 2006. A total of 5 citations were caught during 2007. The electrofishing surveys from both 2006 and 2008 yielded 29 black crappies each year for a catch rate of 14.5/hr. The majority of the 2008 sample consisting of 8 to 12 inch crappies. The largest one measured 12.5 inches. Black crappies tend to school in waters that are too deep to effectively sample with an electrofishing boat. An electrofishing survey will collect some black crappies that are within reach of the shoreline. The gill net sampling of 2006 was more productive with a total of 90 crappies collected. The majority of these fish were in the 8 to 10 inch range. The largest crappie measured 16.5 inches and weighed 2.5 pounds. Anglers are encouraged to try their luck on the outside edges of the beaver huts when the reservoir is at full pool. Crappies are similar to a lot of the other fish species that tend to hold in the 15 foot range when the reservoir is down a few feet and the water temperatures are on the hot side.
The bluegill population is dominated by fish less than 6 inches in length. The 2008 electrofishing survey collected 405 bluegills during two sample runs dedicated to complete community sampling. This catch rate of 606 bluegills/hr is extremely high. All of the bluegills were less than 7 inches in length. The 2006 trap net survey collected a whopping total of 3,076 bluegills over the course of two nights. The majority of these fish were in the 2 to 5 inch range with a few fish in the 6 to 7 inch range. The redear population appears to be doing better than the bluegill population. The 2008 electrofishing survey collected 148 redear sunfish for a catch rate of 222/hr. Although there were many redear sunfish in the 3 to 6 inch range, the sampling did show a fair number of fish in the 6 to 8 inch range. Anglers have had success with numerous citation-sized redear sunfish over the last few years. A total of 24 citation-sized sunfish (11 inches or 1 pound) were reported in 2007.
The chain pickerel population appears to be in great shape and quite abundant. Various year classes were easily seen on the length frequency histogram. There has been good recruitment over the last couple of years. The electrofishing survey collected 118 chain pickerel with the majority of them in the 10 to 16 inch range. The largest chain pickerel measured 23 inches. The catch rate of 59 pickerel/hr is higher than any other water sampled in Region 1, District 1. Three citation-sized pickerel were reported by anglers in 2007. Bass anglers that are having a difficult time trying to entice the bass to bite will most likely catch their fair share of the chain pickerel. Chain pickerel serve their role as an important part of the fishery. They help to forage upon the numerous small sunfish that are present in the reservoir. Anglers are reminded to take care of the pickerel when releasing them. Little Creek Reservoir has the potential to be one of the best pickerel waters in the state if these fish are given the chance to survive and mature over the next few years. The 2008 survey found the majority of the chain pickerel in only a few inches of water during the full pool conditions on May 1st. These fish held tight to the bank under whatever cover (sticks, grass, etc.) that they could find to create an ambush point for feeding. The chain pickerel have been reported to have switch to a summer pattern where they can be found by anglers in the 10 to 15 foot depth range. It appears that the pickerel are taking advantage of some cooler water that is found at that depth.
TThe November 2006 gill net sampling collected 19 channel catfish with bottom set nets. The channel catfish population does not appear to be that abundant, but the fish we collected were in great shape. The majority of these catfish measured in the 18 to 25 inch range. Anglers might want to give the catfish a try, as they might be surprised in what they find. The 2008 electrofishing survey did not produce any catfish as the catfish were most likely holding in deep water off of the shore.
Based on the reports of anglers, Little Creek Reservoir has a decent yellow perch population. Anglers have reported a total of 493 citation-sized yellow perch over the last 13 years. A total of 24 yellow perch citations were reported in 2007. This catch rate is very impressive and places it in a tie for 4th place with the Chickahominy River. Western Branch Reservoir came in third with 25 citations. Pamunkey River had 32 citations for second place. The mighty Lake Moomaw won first place again with 81 citations reported. Yellow perch are difficult to collect with shoreline electrofishing surveys. The 2008 survey collected only 5 yellow perch. These fish ranged in size from 8 to 10.5 inches. Fishing reports from 2008 have had decent numbers of yellow perch caught by anglers so far this year.
Walleye Fishing Forecast
Walleye have been restocked into Little Creek Reservoir. The beginning of May saw that hatchery truck once again return to Little Creek Reservoir with load of walleye fingerlings. A total of 18,000 walleye were stocked in a pelagic fashion by boat. The fish were stocked at 18 different areas around the reservoir to allow the fish a better chance at dispersing. There is still a remnant population that has survived from the stockings that ended in 2000. Anglers have had some success in catching 4 citation walleyes during the 2005 to 2006 seasons. One walleye citation was reported during 2007. Several large walleye in the 4 to 7 pound range have been caught by anglers so far this year. If you happen to catch a walleye, consider yourself very lucky or a very good walleye angler.