The Basswife was getting itchy all year about fishing. We’ve been out a few times, but she had yet to catch a fish. Normally, we do real well on the rivers in pursuit of smallmouth, but with all the water this year, we have been unable to hit the Upper Potomac in the canoe. I knew all the large lakes would be full of mud as a result of the rain, but remembered that Mountain Run out near Culpeper stayed fairly clear even during heavy rains.
As luck would have it, my memory was correct. There was a slight tint in the water when we pulled up, but nothing like existed over on the neighboring Pelham Lake — it was a messy chocolate pudding color. I popped the canoe in the water and we started to work our way around the left-hand finger since we had been unable to visit that on our last try here. There were a few other boats on the water, so I moved past them and went all the way up to the top of the cove to begin fishing there. The first thing I noticed was several huge splashes up in the shallow area. I snuck the canoe into the end and saw huge catfish swimming around. They were not interested in anything that we had in terms of lures nor were they scared of the canoe. Instead, they circled, doing whatever catfish do, until they moved out into the deeper water. The top of the cove is very shallow;.only 2 to 3 feet deep with the shallow area extending 30 to 40 feet out from the grassy bank.
For some reason, I was allowed to bring my fly rod into the canoe; I don’t think she noticed me sneaking it in – I had to have it since I was focused on using poppers. I threw a green size 6 popper and immediately started to pick up bluegill and several small bass. The Basswife used more traditional spin gear and tried spinners, gulp worms, and power bait grubs. Nothing was working for her while everything was working for me. This was clearly not a good situation.
Another boat drifted by and I asked them if they were having any luck. They confirmed that they were picking up bass in the shallows using black and silver jointed rapalas. I had some of those and rooted around in the tackle box to dig them out.
By the time I found the rapalas, I looked up and saw that we were surrounded by other boats. Clearly, this cove was very popular. Rather than fight for a slot on the shore, we headed around to the northern finger of the lake and were surprised to see that we were the only boat on that side.
It’s a similar situation here with the tip of the cove being shallow with banks carpeted with tall grass growing 5 feet out into the lake. We started to work the northern shore next to some manicured lawns and were immediately rewarded by catching a number of small bass on both the fly gear as well as the jointed rapalas. In fact, the Basswife actually caught two bass on the same cast on the same lure. One of them shook off before I could get the proof picture, so you will have to take my word for it. But, the bottom line was that I was off the hook! She was catching fish and happy and that’s all that matters.
I’m picking up a new fishfinder at Bass Pro Shops this weekend so I did not have one with me on this trip. However, I remember from before that the area in front of the boat launch ranges up to 12 to 15 feet deep and the water in the fingers drops off to 5 and below. So, everything is fairly shallow when you get away from the main part of the lake in front of the boat launch area. If the shoreline is not productive, try that deep area in front of the boat launch.
Bottom Line: Mountain Run is a pretty little lake. It is bordered by a nice, clean picnic area that includes a public restroom on the top of the hill. There are actually two launch areas so there’s never a problem with getting a space to push your boat into the lake. Electric motors only! This lake is so small that I would expect the big boats go next door to Pelham instead of coming here. Caution: remember to pick up a Culpeper town fishing and boating permit to use this lake.
Getting There: Pretty easy. From Rt 29 south of Culpeper, turn west on Mountain Run Road. Follow it and you will see the lake on the left.
Google Local Coordinates: 38.479361,-78.069406
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented on the Virginia VDGIF site.
Date Fished: 06/07/2009
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Typical shoreline structure
Back towards the boat launch from the north finger
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore