On the way back from Smith Mountain Lake, we tooled east on I64 with the stated intent to go to the antiques and furniture outlets in Farmville. That had the Basswife all perked up, but I was scheming all along to visit at least one more lake before we pointed the truck towards Northern Virginia.
My strategy was simple. I let her wander around to her heart’s content and did not whine or sulk at having to deal with furniture. Heck, if I was not married to her, I’d live in a trailer with a big TV and a bass boat; guys have different priorities. Thankfully, she did not see much she liked and after two hours, we were done. Heading the truck east, I commented that Sandy River was just off the road. She does like to fish from the canoe, and, with her agreement, we pulled into the very large parking area that marks the boat launch.
This is a massive lake. The map below came from the VDGIF website. This thing stretches on and on! Surprisingly, my TOPO map does not even show the lake! This is perfect for figuring out the structure and where the points are. Sadly, I did not have the map with me, so we blindly motored across the lake to the far shore.
Since this was the end of the day, we only had about two hours to spend fishing – no time to explore the distant bays with their tempting nooks and crannies. I had both my fly rod and a normal spin rod with me. I’ve concluded that until I get better at casting my sinking line from a sitting position, I will not get the distance I need to work clousers for largemouth. Think about it. If the water is 20 feet deep and you cast 30 feet, by the time it sinks, you will only have a few bumps close to the bottom before the line is back under the canoe. That limits the long rod to top water presentations at structure along the shore. I’ll work the normal plastic worms and crankbaits for the other situations.
Sticking with the dries, I tied on a terrestrial and flipped it out. Bang! The wonderful bluegills were on duty. I had a good time with them and got all warmed up. I’ve discovered that the smaller hooks result in more bluegills pulled in. So, one way to filter the really small bluegills out of the equation is to use size 6 or 8 hooks. While they snap at them, most of the times they will miss. Any bluegill big enough to crunch down on a size 6 is a fish that will be fun to catch anyway.
About halfway down the far shore as shown on the red track, I traded the long rod for my spin rod in an effort to drum up some business on the green end of the fish spectrum. Sandy did not disappoint! The Basswife and I both picked up some decent bass in this short shelf – even more notable because I believe one of the real bass boats had worked down this shoreline about 30 minutes before we hit it. I could see them disappearing around the eastern corner of the next point, when we started.
Now, I’m not a catfish guy and rarely hook into one. When you do, you know it. Those cats are mean and nasty and do what they can to pull you out of the boat. The Basswife laid into one and had a great time wrestling it into the canoe. It hit on a 7 inch red Gulp flavored worm.
The bass were active on worms as well. I usually use a brown or green colored worm when the water is clear and today was a day when that selection was the right choice. I did not catch anything big – probably because of my obsession to work the shallow water with the long rod, but certainly enough bass action to make the day a success.
The afternoon drew down, we got tired, we had fish – so – time to fight I95 on the drive back up to Northern Virginia.
Bottom Line: This is a nice lake. I am sure it is hammered with pressure based on the size of the parking lot. There are rows upon rows of elongated slots to accommodate vehicles and trailers. Mitigating this is that the lake is huge. The VDGIF is very high on the opportunities at this lake and believe it is one of the best fishing lakes in the Piedmont region of Virginia with greenies up to 10 lbs being caught in the lake. This lake is open 24 hours and has a concrete boat ramp.
Thankfully, there is a slot limit in effect on the lake and all bass between 14 and 20 inches must be released. If folks obey that rule, this lake will continue to be a great spot to fish. I know it will be hard for some to throw a 19 inch monster back, but please do. I don’t know if the regulation is tongue in cheek, but it does caution that you can only keep two bass over 20 inches each day. I wish!
Getting There: Take route 460 east from Farmville and turn south on Route 640 (Mormon Church Road). A short drive on that road takes you to Route 792 which is the access road to the lake. Turn left onto Route 792 and roll into the parking lot.
The Basswife’s catfish. She has a rule that she does not touch the fish. That’s my job.
Looking back toward the boat launch from the distant shore
Note the good tree structure along the shoreline
The lake is large, which would normally attract the big boat guys, but there is a limit of 10 hp on the lake. So, the basscanoe was just fine
The distant shore we fished – view from the middle.
Looking up the lake from the boat launch
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore