Finally! At the end of April, we had a nice warm day where the temperature nudged up close to 80. In addition, the wind that had plagued earlier warm weekends was not a factor and that demanded we load the basscanoe on the truck and head to fish someplace — anyplace. We have not been to Lake Curtis in a while; so we headed there. I have always been a fan of the structure that permeates Curtis — of all the lakes in Northern Virginia, this one has the greatest density of tree stumps poking above and hiding just below the surface.
If you look at the map to the right, there are two things that should jump out. The first is at the northern/western section of the lake is shallow – something you can deduce by the distance between the contour lines. At typical water levels, you are lucky to see anything deeper than three or four feet at this end. On the other hand, the lake near the dam on the east and is generally deep — running twenty or more feet in some sections. Splitting the difference between these two extremes is the middle that is distinguished by a high density of tree stumps lurching skyward. My experience is that most of the fish hold in the east and the south and that’s where we pointed the basscanoe.
We motored quickly over to the stumps that were visible by the intake to the dam on the east side and were quickly rewarded with the sight of a large pocket of fish holding about four feet off the bottom on the depth finder. This is an area where there are still a few stumps that provide a target to keep you focused. We worked jigs, deep running crankbaits and spinners to see if we could coax any action out of the crowd on the fish finder. Since the surface water temperature was breaking 70°, I was hopeful that the fish would be stimulated and ready to strike after the long winter. Unfortunately, no joy.
As I gave up in the center, I was disappointed to see that another boat had taken a position at the good spots along the eastern shore up the bank from where it joins the dam, so I motored into a cove populated with stumps. About the time we arrived, there was a huge splash in the middle. I’d forgotten that there is a golf course bordering the lake; something you would not immediately see since the course is protected by thick band of trees.
With the center and distant end of the cove under artillery attack, we worked the points of the cove with spinners without venturing into the impact area. I was also able to identify a ridge line and a hump, but did not pick up any fish on the finder. Eventually, we had a few lazy bumps which I optimistically assumed were fish but did not bring anything to hand. The fish were moving because we could hear the people along the shore chatting excitedly every time one of them caught something. Granted, they were fishing for bluegills with worms but a fish is a fish.
Coulda, woulda, shoulda …. I know I could’ve caught something if I had my fly rod with me, but ever since I snagged a big popper on my back, the basswife gives me the evil eye if I try and bring that into the small boat. It’s amazing to me that a woman who has been through childbirth regards pulling a hook out of my back as “icky”.
We continued to work the shoreline to the north and saw a few fish moving in the shallow water but continued to have bad back. Eventually, I wrote off the day as a good day of fishing but a bad day of catching and we headed back to the boat dock.
Bottom line: In the Northern Virginia bass lake rankings, Curtis clocks in at number 12. So, this lake is not a loser — there are plenty of fish here. Today was just not my day.
Getting There: Take exit 133 north on Route 17 from I95. Turn right on Poplar Road and follow it 4 miles. You will see a small sign pointing the public boat landing. Turn left on Stony Hill Road and follow it to the lake. The lake will pop up on your left as you drive down Stony Hill. There is a small, well maintained dirt road (left off of Stony Hill) that leads to the wide parking area.
Google Local Coordinates: 38.436783,-77.562876
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented on the Virginia VDGIF site.
Date Fished: 04/26/2009
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Looking back to the boat launch. The Basswife had her umbrella deployed.
The east end of the lake does not have as many stumps, but has greater depth to hold fish
There is another small parking area that is popular for shore fishers on the other side of the lake
Closer view of the large parking area.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore