This is scary water in a canoe.
I probably can end the discussion with that one comment.
The Basswife and I have lived around the Northern Virginia area since 1988 with a 3 year detour up to New Jersey when I was at the tail end of my Army career and then another 3 year combined diversion to Boston and Richmond in my second career. In all that time, we have known that Lake Anna is a short drive south and had wondered about the fishing possibilities… or even the second home possibilities down there. Spurred on by driving across it on the way back from Smith Lake, we finally decided to throw the basscanoe on the truck and check it out in August.
While there are a number of commercial boat launches, Lake Anna has a pretty good one. I always ask if I can dump the canoe in the water for free and always get the answer of “no”. If you are going to use the launch for anything, you pay. It’s a shame that there is no easy access to the shoreline where you could just plop it in, but the shore is typically improved with a drop off and you can’t really get your truck close enough. As you can confirm from the basscanoe page on this blog, I’ve got too much stuff to haul to the boat to make long trips back to the truck. Every time I use a launch, I am massively jealous of the guys that pull up, dump their bass boat in and blaze off – all the gear stays on board. Must be nice to be able to transport your boat right side up.
As you can see from the picture below, Lake Anna is big. No way was I going to try and fish anything away from the shore on this lake – particularity after my experience at Pohick. After loading, up we headed north to get to the coves as shown on the map. I assumed that the big powerboats would stay to the middle of the lake and not be interested in the narrow and shallower water of that this stretch represented. Bad call. While the big, massive power boats were not as numerous here, their little devil offspring – the skidoos – were all over the place. It is amazing the amount of wake one of those things can throw up!
We worked the shoreline and any structure we could find pretty hard. The Basswife used the traditional crankbaits and GULP! or YUM flavored worms, while I continued to fixate on catching a monster bass on my 6wt fly rod. We were rewarded with a bass or two (although nothing really big – no “picture fish”) and a ton of bluegills. The coves to the east on the map were all reasonably deep and had plenty of overhang with rocks visible under the water that would hold fish.
The western side was totally different. It was shallow with tall grass. We picked up more fish on the east side than we did on the west. The passing bass boats confirmed that they were not having much luck beyond ours either. We fished for about 4 hours to call it quits when the rocking of the canoe from the wakes started to cause some seasickness. I wanted to hit the shore next to the island we passed on the way in, but when we got over there the big boat wakes really became terrifying. Each time one of these monsters passed by, I had to turn the basscanoe to hit the wake head on. Some of the waves that were kicked up were close to 2 feet. Realizing that we would spend more time turning the canoe than fishing, we gave up and headed back to the dock.
Now, I have no problem with the power boats or the skidoos. This is one of the few lakes where gasoline motors are permitted – so they need a place to go. However, I will not return here in the basscanoe – it’s just too dang big and dangerous. While we do carry life vests and I know how to get back in an overturned canoe, I do not relish the thought of losing all my gear.
One point to note is that there is a really nice beach at Lake Anna that is right next to the boat launch. If you want to go fishing, you can park the non-fishers in your party / family here and they can have a great day while you pursue the need to catch some nice bass!
Bottom line: Great if you have a real boat. Bad if you are going to try and go out in a canoe, kayak or pontoon. Forget it.
Getting there: You can get to Lake Anna from pretty much any direction. Here is a link to Mapquest that has the entrance to the park noted. We got there by going west on Rt 3 from Fredericksburg, turned south on Plank Road and took it to Catharpin Road (612) – be alert for the Y intersection. Follow Catharpin to Pamunkey to turn right on Post Oak Road and then just keep on 612 until you turn left on Lawyer’s Road. 612 picks up at the start of Catharpin and goes all the way down to Lawyer’s – the street name changes.
Nice beach next to the Launch area
As you can see from these pictures – big water.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore