The Basswife and I did not have a lot of time last weekend, but the quest to see and fish new water continues to be an imperative that drives me. I looked at the list of the top 10 bass lakes in Northern Virginia and realized that Burke Lake was just up the road from where I live.
I was exceptionally skeptical of visiting this lake since the VDGIF website admits that while it is a productive fishery, it is heavily pressured. But, time being short and the need to wet a line intense, we loaded the canoe and headed up the road.
A key point is to be sure you turn into the lake by following the posted Public Landing sign that is just north of Hendrickson Road. If you go in the next entrance north, you will find yourself in the Burke Park property and have to pay a pricey entry fee of 8 bucks to get into the park and another 5 bucks to put your boat in the water. The VDGIF ramp is free with no entry fee.
We popped in the water and spent about 2 hours touring the lake and fishing where it looked good. We did not catch anything. In fact, I did not get even one hit. The shore of the lake has a good layer of aquatic plants which provides good cover for the fish. However, when you look at the pictures below and see all the other boats on the lake, you have to wonder how many lures these fish have seen.
There is also an island in the middle of the lake that has lots of overhanging trees and bushes that provide shade to the bass during the hot summer days. The depth of the lake ranges from 5 feet in the fingers to 30 feet in the center, so there is plenty of water at all temperatures for the fish to move around in. We fished the island and the eastern shore as shown on the track to the right.
The VDGIF claims this is a good fishery and that they manage it closely to withstand the pressure. Sadly, we did not enjoy the benefit of that management. There were at least 10 other fishing boats active on the lake when we got there in the afternoon. That pressure was compounded by the 15 or so other boats full of folks just having a good time and rowing around. The problem is that there is not anything interesting to do in the middle of the lake, so they cruise the shoreline and stir up any fish that are hanging under the structure. The pleasure boats in the middle of the lake were all parked or orbiting around the fish attractors – we could not win…
If you do go into the park (which we did not), it looks like there are plenty of facilities. We kept hearing train noises and realized when we got to the northern end of the lake that the park has a small train ride for kids. Looking at the built up area on the shore, they have a large pier with boat rentals and plenty of picnic space. But if you do not need to take advantage of any of that, put your boat in at the other ramp. There are no facilities other than plenty of parking at the VDGIF ramp.
For the runners and walkers out there, it there is a nice trail that runs around the lake. In fact, you can watch the runners go by as you fish. The noise they make is probably not a good thing for catching anything, but there is certainly nothing you can do about it.
Switchfisher’s bottom line: Nah. Even though the lake is pretty and close, there are better places in the Northern Virginia area where you do not have to fight off so many other boaters.
Getting There: From 123, look for the sign for the boat ramp. If you are coming from the north, you will pass the small public golf course and the main entrance to the park before you roll up on the turn. From the south, Hendrickson Road is your landmark – make a right after you see that intersection.
VDGIF boat ramp. It’s a nice concrete ramp with plenty of room to get a boat into the water
Looking south towards the birm at the bottom of the lake
The island sports pretty good structure. I can’t imagine how beat to death it is – probably like the Prettyboy section of the Gunpowder on weekends.
Typical shoreline. Nice weed cover that even the waterfowl like.
Just some of the many, many other boats hovering over the fish attractors
Shore facilities look pretty robust if you want to pay to go into the regular park
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore