Sandy Bottom Park Pond
Sandy Bottom Nature Park consists of 465 acres and was established in the early 1990’s. It houses a diversity of habitats, plants and animals. A wetland mitigation project has resulted in the creation of 52 acres of wetlands.
The 12-acre fishing pond located in this park was formed from a borrow pit that was originally excavated to help with the construction of Interstate 64. Initially, no authorized stocking took place in this pond. However, certain fish species soon became established. The Department stocked channel catfish in an effort to increase diversity. Channel catfish survival was limited, so stocking efforts stopped. The City of Hampton has stocked largemouth bass, as well as grass carp to control excessive growths of milfoil. No recent stockings have occurred in the last few years. Present fish populations are controlled by the success of natural reproduction and the productivity of the fishery.
The main species that anglers target are largemouth bass and bluegill. American eels, warmouth and pumpkinseed sunfish may provide some additional action. Anglers can consider themselves really lucky or extremely talented if they catch any channel catfish or black crappies.
Maps & Directions
The park is located at 1255 Big Bethel Road, a few minutes from I-64 (exit 261) by way of Hampton Roads Center Parkway West exit.
This is essentially a bass and bluegill dominated fishery with a few other species of low abundance.
The 2007 electrofishing survey revealed a slight decrease in catch rate of largemouth bass when compared to the 2005 survey. A complete shoreline survey collected a total of 33 largemouth bass on April 9, 2007. The expanded catch rate of 79.2 bass per hour showed a decline from the 2005 survey (83.3 bass per hour). The majority of the bass were in the 14 – 18 inch range with a low abundance of bass less than 12 inches. Only 4 bass less than 12 inches were collected. The average-sized largemouth bass measured an impressive 15 inches in length. The largest bass measured at 18.5 inches and weighed 3.4 pounds. Anglers must remember that a catch and release regulation is in place for all largemouth bass greater than 14 inches in length. The current bass population would be assisted if anglers released all bass due to the low abundance of bass less than 12 inches in length. The relative weight values for bass showed great improvement from the 2005 survey. Bass are taking advantage of the abundance of small bluegills that have survived from the 2005 and 2006 spawning seasons.
The bluegill population is dominated by fish less than 5 inches in length. The 2007 catch rate of bluegills showed a major improvement from the 2005 survey. A total of 155 bluegills were collected for an expanded catch rate of 372 per hour. This catch rate is much higher than the 2005 survey (108 per hour). Only 5 quality-sized bluegills were collected during the 2007 survey. These fish measured in the 6 to 6.5 inch range. Anglers should not expect to catch too many trophy bluegills from Sandy Bottom Pond.
The sample showed some diversity in the collection of limited numbers of American eels, pumpkinseed sunfish, warmouth and eastern mudminnow. A total of 11 American eels were collected. The eels ranged in size from 8 to 24 inches with the average size at around 12 inches. Numerous other eels were seen on the outside edge of the electric field. One pumpkinseed sunfish of 6.25 inches in length was collected. The one warmouth measured a whopping 3.15 inches and the eastern mudminnow measured 2 inches in length. No black crappie or channel catfish were collected during the both the 2005 and 2007 samples.
The overall abundance of fish and their size structures have been limited by low productivity. The nature of the burrow pit pond has very little nutrients being washed into the system. These nutrients are needed at the base of the food chain for phytoplankton growth. The overall biomass of the fishery could be increased if more nutrients were present.
Catch and release fishing is mandatory for largemouth bass over 14 inches in length.
The park is open from sunrise to sunset every day except Christmas. The fishing pier is open to pedestrians for fishing 24 hours a day.
Private boat launching is prohibited. The park offers jon boat rentals for fishing opportunities on Sandy Bottom Park Pond. Canoe and pedal boats can be rented for use on the adjacent recreational pond.
Shoreline fishing is only permitted off of the fishing pier on Sandy Bottom Pond.
The park offers a variety of activities for outdoors enthusiasts. There are trails for biking and hiking and a newly created multipurpose trail that will accommodate hiking, biking and horse riding. Facilities include a boat rental, a fishing pier, an interpretive center, picnic areas, primitive camping areas and tent cabins.
Department fisheries biologists conducted an electrofishing survey of Sandy Bottom Park Pond on April 9, 2007. The sample showed that the majority of the bass were in the 14 to 18 inch range. This will be good news for anglers fishing the pond. The new management report will eventually be posted under the “Biologist Report” sidebar. The survey revealed a major increase in the catch rate of bluegills. The last two spawning seasons have produced an abundance of small bluegills. The largemouth bass are taking advantage of these bluegills. The relative weight values for bass showed a favorable increase when compared to the 2005 survey.
Department fisheries biologists plan to conduct another electrofishing survey of Sandy Bottom Pond during the spring of 2008. More data will be gathered to analyze the recruitment strength of the bass population.
For further information please contact:
Sandy Bottom Nature Park
1255 Big Bethel Road
Hampton, VA 23669
Phone: (757) 825-4657
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
3801 John Tyler Hwy.
Charles City, VA 23030
Phone: (804) 829-6580, Ext. 129