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Harwood’s Mill Reservoir

This 265-acre impoundment is the terminal reservoir for the City of Newport News water supply system. Water is pumped into Harwood’s Mill from Chickahominy, Diascund and Little Creek reservoirs. Harwood’s Mill Reservoir provides a scenic fishing opportunity for anglers of the greater Newport News and Hampton area. The fishery receives a limited amount of fishing pressure. Copper sulphate is applied to the reservoir by the City as needed to control nuisance algae. Oriana Road (Route 620) divides the reservoir into two sections, which also happen to differ in terms of habitat and fish population characteristics. The northern section has an abundance of cypress trees and is generally the better producer of bass, while the southern section has more open water and is generally better for yellow perch and white perch. A daily permit is required to fish the reservoir. The permit can be purchased from the concession buildings when they are open or from the campground store at Newport News Park.

Maps & Directions

The reservoir can be accessed from Route 620 off Denbigh Boulevard (Route 173) in Newport News. Map

Fishing Opportunities

Harwood’s Mill Reservoir gets limited fishing pressure. The 2007 electrofishing survey produced a total of 18 fish species. A summary of the main target species are as follows:

Largemouth Bass

The 2007 electrofishing survey was one of the best bass sampled we have conducted on any of the Newport News Reservoirs. A total of 103 largemouth bass were collected. The catch rate of 77.3 bass/hr was very impressive when compared to past surveys of Harwood’s Mill Reservoir. The overall size structure was even more impressive with many healthy bass in the 4 to 6 pound range. We were also able to collect a citation-sized bass that weighed 8 pounds. A total of 22 bass were greater than four pounds in weight. This shows a major increase when compared to the 2005 sample that only collected 9 bass greater than 4 pounds in weight. The 2007 survey collected a total of 59 preferred-sized bass (greater than 15 inches). The majority of the larger bass were collected from the lower region of the reservoir. The lower side has a far better selection of spawning areas for the bass to choose from. The upper area of the reservoir produced a fair number of bass and has plenty of cover in form of cypress trees that will hold bass during other times of the year.


The bluegill fishery is somewhat limited on Harwood’s Mill Reservoir. Only 80 bluegills were collected during the survey for a catch rate of 60/hr. This catch rate was less than the 2005 survey that revealed a rate of 90.75/hr. The 2007 survey showed the majority of the fish to be in the 3 to 7 inch range. Anglers fishing for bluegills will most likely catch their fair share of yellow perch and white perch in the process. The low productivity of the system tends to limit the production of quality-sized bluegills.

Yellow Perch

Harwood’s Mill Reservoir has an abundant population of yellow perch. The last two electrofishing surveys have shown good catch rates. The down side to the collections is that the yellow perch tend to be in the 4 to 6 inch range with a limited number of 7 and 8 inch fish. The majority of the small yellow perch will actually serve as a supplemental forage base for the largemouth bass and chain pickerel.

Chain Pickerel and Northern Pike

The chain pickerel fishery is limited in terms of overall abundance, but favors a decent size structure. The 2007 survey collected chain pickerel up to 22.5 inches in length with the average size coming in at 18.2 inches. A few citation-sized pickerel have been caught over the years. The chain pickerel’s large cousin, the northern pike are still hanging around in Harwood’s Mill Reservoir. A very limited number of northern pike are still present in the reservoir. The reservoir is no longer stocked with northern pike, but a few survivors have surprised anglers over the years. Anglers reported 3 citation-sized northern pike in 2006.

Additional Species Present

The 2007 electrofishing survey collected a total of 18 species. These species not covered above were: redear sunfish, warmouth, yellow bullhead, common carp, American eel, pirate perch, white perch, gizzard shad, banded sunfish, bluespotted sunfish, creek chubsuckers, eastern silvery minnows and brown bullheads. These species may provide some of the additional excitement to anglers that try their luck on Harwood’s Mill Reservoir.

Biologist Reports


  1. Electric motors only
  2. Private boats need a permit that can be purchased at the Newport News Park when the concession buildings are not opened.
  3. Boat rental concession buildings are open on weekends and public holidays from May through October.
  4. Anglers should be off the water a half hour after sunset.

All other fishing regulations are as those stated in the Virginia Freshwater Fishing Regulations booklet.


Boats can be rented from both sides of the reservoir on weekends and public holidays from May to October. Private boats can be launched from the ramp on the southern portion of the reservoir with a valid permit. The fee to launch a private boat is $4/day per fisherman.

Jon boat rentals are $4.30/hr. No trolling motors or batteries for rent. Anglers can use their own trolling motors if they desire.

Some shoreline fishing is available.

There are picnic facilities and a popular biking trail.

There are picnic facilities and a popular biking trail.


Department fisheries biologists conducted an electrofishing sample on April 24, 2007. This sample trip was conducted in an attempt to gather additional data on the current fishery. The sample revealed a surprisingly high number of largemouth bass in the 16 to 21 inch range. The overall catch rate for largemouth bass was much higher than past sample years. The 2007 electrofishing survey came at a perfect time for the bass sample. The majority of the bass had just started to pair up in a pre-spawn pattern. The survey revealed some really nice female bass in the 5 to 7 pound range with one bass cracking the 8 pound mark. The sample also showed successful spawning had occurred with numerous fingerling bass collected.

Catch rates were rather low for bluegill, with the majority of the sample consisting of bluegills in the 3 to 6 inch range. A decent number of yellow perch were collected during the survey, but the overall size structured favored the presence of smaller perch in the 4 to 7 inch range. The overall diversity of the reservoir was high with 18 different species of fish sampled.

The full 2008 management report can be found under the biologist’s report link. No electrofishing surveys were conducted during the spring of 2008. Harwood’s Mill Reservoir is on a two year cycle and will be sampled again during the spring of 2009.

Past citation information:

Anglers reported catching 6 citation-sized largemouth bass and one citation chain pickerel from Harwood’s Mill Reservoir during 2005. The total for citations reported during 2006 came to 8 with three largemouth bass, 3 northern pike, 1 chain pickerel and 1 yellow perch. The 2007 season was not all that productive in terms of reported citations. Only three citations were reported and they were for channel catfish, yellow perch and sunfish. One citation-sized chain pickerel has been reported for 2008 as of the end of July.

More Information

For further information please contact:

Newport News Department of Parks and Recreation
(757) 886-7912

For additional information on the fishery:

Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
3801 John Tyler Hwy.
Charles City, VA 23030

Phone: (804) 829-6580, Ext. 129