Last weekend, the Basswife and I headed down to Able Lake in Stafford to check it out. It is an electric motor only lake, so we were guaranteed a bit less pressure than a full fledged bass lake. We were surprised when we pulled into the parking area off VA 651 and only saw 3 boat trailers - this is a huge body of water! There were some folks fishing from the shore at the parking area - all after catfish. I spoke with another guy who was pulling in as we loaded the BassCanoe. He indicated that he had caught a few bass, but mostly catfish.
Hmmm. Don't like those cats. Anyway, we headed out and liked what we saw. There are a few high end homes that butt up to the lake, but they are typically up on the high ground, so the edge of the lake has a remote feel. The lake has a rim of vegetation growing up about 3 - 4 feed from the bottom that makes good bass cover - this was looking good.
As we worked our way down the lake, we were also impressed by the steep cliffs and the exceptionally deep channel. Clearly, this lake would take some time to get to know and identify the holding spots for the bass. We caught one small bass and a few catfish as we searched for that 10% of the lake that holds 90% of the fish.
The PiranhaMAX 30 was pinging and marking fish at about the 8 to 10 foot level. Like an idiot, I did not switch to crankbaits that would run at that level - rather continued to work the shore with plastic crawfish and worms. I bet we would have been more successful if we had changed our pattern. But, quite frankly, in 40 years of bass fishing, I have only caught one fish on a crankbait (an that was a few weeks ago) - pretty pathetic. I've got to learn how to fish them, as well as spinnerbaits better.
We also worked Scum Frogs and buzzbaits in the weeds - no hits on them. As we worked our way down the lake, we confirmed the light pressure - only 3 other boats on the entire body of water. We passed close by another canoe and chatted with them. They pointed out some good spots and moved into them. We heard the squeals of excitement from the female paddler as she hauled in a fish shortly after we parted. Marked that spot!
This is a really, really long lake. We logged over 4 miles on the route above. Make sure your battery is fully charged or you will find yourself paddling back.
Bottom line: Looks like a good lake. The steep banks pose a challenge in finding the good spots, but the potential is clearly there and worth the effort to go back and get to know the lake.
Getting there: From I95, take 17N towards Warrenton. Turn north onto SR 616 (Poplar Road) and then take a right on 651 (Kellogg Mill Road). The parking area and boat launch is a left right before you cross the bridge on Abel. You will probably miss the turnoff to the parking area as you can't see the bridge until you are on it. Make a U turn and head back, there is a very rough dirt/gravel road that leads to the parking / launch area.