I had my doubts about Lake Orange because of the additional fee you need to pay to fish here. The fact that Lake Orange is listed as one of the top bass lakes in Northern Virginia overcame that doubt. I had to check this one out.
We rolled up to the ramp were were impressed right away. The launch area is clean and clear with a decent concession stand and a nice boat ramp. After gearing up, we pushed the basscanoe into the clear, green water; watching some crawfish scoot out of the way and headed west to work the bank right at the launch. What the heck... I assumed that maybe everyone skips that section of the lake since it is only about 20 yards away from a shoreline that can become packed with guys fishing from the shore. No luck here, so we blazed out at a blistering 3 mph to work the fishing structure markers in the middle of the lake and then head back up the eastern bank.
The VDGIF or county has done a lot of work to establish hidden structure in the lake by dumping Christmas trees into piles. All of these spots are susposedly marked with the buoys that bob above them. To me, in addition to attracting fish, they have to attract every boat on the lake and you have to wonder how many fish are still there by the time you get to them. I hoped to find other spots using the depthfinder as we motored around, but did not turn up anything else. We worked one attractor, did not get any hits and, based on the assumption above, moved on.
As we turned to work the shore, I switched to the long rod and started picking up some nice greenies and the inevitable bluegill. The Basswife was doing OK as well. Between the two of us, we picked up several nice bass that were just under the slot for the lake. On Lake Orange, there is a 16 - 22 protected slot on greenies. At the same time, they want anglers to keep bass that are between 8 and 12 inches to balance the population.
From a long rod perspective, large terrestrials worked great here. The bass hit them aggressively and we found them lingering around overhanging tree structure. There is plenty of shore structure to keep you busy here. In fact, this lake is probably the opposite of Germantown Lake which I think is a disaster (even though it was highly rated). At Germantown, there is nothing to target on the shore as a result of the low water. Instead, you wander around blind and have to deal with crowds of folks splashing around in the rental boats.
Not the case here. While there were plenty of other boats active on the lake, I did not feel pressured and we never had to change our pattern or destination as a result of other boats.
The lake appears to be pretty consistent with gentle sloping banks where the water runs up to 2 - 3 feet deep back in the coves while it can range up to 35 feet in the center of the lake. The southeastern end of the lake has all the really deep water and it gets shallower as you move to the northwest.
Remember to refer to my rating explanations - these are based on what I look for - so RED for Physical Fitness translates to easy physically - you do not need to be in shape to fish this section. I prefer terrain that is tough to get into and out of.
Bottom Line: This lake is a keeper. I enjoyed fishing here and did not mind having to pay the small fee to enjoy the day. Next time, I'm going to work to the northwest faster as that is where we picked up most of our bass.
Reading the info on the VDGIF site, this is a popular lake for white bass. I did not encounter any of these when we were there, but the site indicates that the world record white bass of over 6 lbs was hauled out of here in 1989.
I also recently found out that there are Walleye in this lake! To get them, stick to the deep area. I may try some of my Lake Erie tricks on them and try and get a few into the boat!
Getting There: Mapquest yourself to Orange. If you come in from the west, stick to Rt 20 and you will see the marked (left) turn to Lake Orange. From the east, do the same except the turn is to the right. The turn is onto Rt 629. Follow it to Rt 739 and it will run you to the lake.
Secrets Revealed? No. The VDGIF Site covers this lake