Albemarle Lake - News & Reports
Lake Albemarle has an interesting history. Built in 1938 by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC), this 35-acre lake was one of the first public lakes in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. The dam is very well built and all of the best state-of-the-art techniques were followed in its construction, which included clearing all vegetation from the area that would be flooded. After clearing, 15 log cribs were constructed around the lake to act as spawning areas for bass and cover for catfish. These cribs still exist after 50 years. Additional attractors, consisting of old tires and cedar trees, have been constructed over the last 20 years. Only one attractor is marked and is located near the boat ramp. It consists of the steel framework of an old diving platform, enhanced with numerous recycled Christmas trees and piles of cinder block.
The Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries owns and manages Lake Albemarle. Fisheries management historically has consisted of stocking various species of fish to increase the variety of game fish in the lake. Muskellunge, tiger musky, and walleye were stocked for many years but stocking of these fish ended in the late 1980's and early 1990's and these species are no longer found in the lake. Today, channel catfish are stocked biennially and all other fish species found in the lake are sustained by natural reproduction.
Fish populations in the lake are managed to provide the best possible angling for bass, panfish species, and channel catfish. Sampling is routinely conducted every three years to determine population dynamics and then recommend any necessary regulation and stocking changes. Until the late 1980's all sampling consisted of boat electrofishing to collect largemouth bass and intensive use of trap nets for bluegill, redear, and crappie — essentially all panfish. Over the last 10 years bass and panfish have been collected exclusively by boat electrofishing in May of each year.
Lake Albemarle has always had a good panfish population and has provided anglers with many hours of enjoyment. Sampling in the year 2000 indicated that the bluegill and redear populations are doing very well and should continue to support an excellent fishery.
The bass population has traditionally not faired as well under the 12-inch minimum size limit. An over-abundant and stunted population was not supporting a fishery and in 1988 the regulation was changed to a slot limit (all bass between 12 and 15-inches must be released). A slot regulation allows smaller bass under 12-inches to be harvested, decreasing the number of small bass and providing more food for the remaining bass. The bass population usually responds with better growth rates and a higher percentage of large, harvestable-sized bass. At Lake Albemarle the bass population responded well and is now providing a much improved, better balanced population of bass that should be supporting an excellent fishery.
Plans for the future at Lake Albemarle include improving access to the lake for all visitors. The parking lot, boat ramp, and courtesy dock should be improved whenever funding becomes available. The fish population will continue to be monitored to ensure that anglers have a good angling resource to enjoy.