I knew the Main Stem of the Shenandoah was running a little bit high, but decided to take a chance and head out to see if we could drop the canoe and chase some smallies. After grabbing a quick lunch at the subway in Wal-Mart just off exit 6 from I66, we drove down the back road that parallels the golf course hoping that the access to the river would be open. Unfortunately, the county still has the chain up that prevents access to the nice concrete boat launch.
Some poor soul’s truck with four skidoos was parked at the launch; I guess he was trapped because unless you undo the wood fence and drive across the golf course, there is no way out. I need to follow up with the county and find out when this thing opens up as it is ideally located in the flat water section just underneath I66. The basswife has an aversion to anything that looks like whitewater so I keep trying to find places on rivers where I can still go after smallies and keep her happy. After all, the saying certainly is true that “if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”
Since the chain was up, I decided to take a run up route 340 and check out Lake Frederick. The turn into Lake Frederick is not well marked. There is a small brown sign on the right-hand side of the road pointing you to a public fishing lake, but that sign appears without any warning. It’s a short ride to the lake once you make the turn.
The parking lot is decent and there’s even a small bait store perched on the hill overlooking the fishing dock and boat ramp. I was startled to see the intense traffic and activity buzzing around the lot. It was full of cars, trucks and boat trailers with people spread along the shore fishing, sunning and having a good time. I looked out onto the lake and, as far as I could see, there were boats and canoes whipping fishing rods at the deep green shoreline. Well, we were here, so we threw the canoe in the water and decided to head up the east finger.
Our first challenge was to find an open slot in the line of boats that were working up the bank. There was a brisk wind blowing that forced us to fish the west bank of the east finger to keep from getting pushed all over the lake. It was a bit of a run up the lake, but I finally found a 200 yard area that was clear and joined the queue fishing up that bank. In the back of my mind, all I could think of was “how many people had already fished the shoreline this day?” There are literally 10 boats within sight — tremendous pressure!
My gloomy thoughts came true and the skunk got us big time this day. Granted, I only fished the lake for about two hours because I just knew it was not going to be productive. Every once in a while you have a sixth sense that tells you you’re just wasting your time and burning daylight — may as well head someplace else.
The lake itself is pretty nice. As we ran up the eastern finger, I was favorably impressed with the density of the structure along the bank. For most of the distance, there’s a dense weed bed that grows 10 feet out from the shore into medium depth water. We tried working some top water plugs on the weed bed as well as buzz baits, spinners and plastics around the fringes with no result. My fishfinder decided not to work so I am unable to tell you what the typical depth is. I’ve got to get the multimeter out and do some checking to see where the circuit is broken.
One other fact about the lake is that the water was startlingly clear. I could easily see 5 to 10 feet down. Obviously, that puts the fisherman at a disadvantage and I can only imagine what the fish think as they see the motion on top from all the boats, hear all the sonar pings on the depth finders and the whining buzz of electric motors. I’m sure they were huddled deep in those weed beds just waiting for us to go away.
Bottom Line: This is a pleasant lake but the intense pressure will keep me from coming back unless I happen to be in the area.
Getting There: Take exit 6 from I66 heading north on Rt 340. Go almost 6 miles and turn left onto Lake Frederick Road and follow it to the parking area.
Google Local Coordinates: 39.042253,-78.157082
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented on the Virginia VDGIF
Date Fished: 05/31/2009
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View up the west finger
View up the east finger – the haze around the shoreline is weed type structure
Closer view of the weed bank that stretches up most of the east finger
Looking south from the upper end of the east finger
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore