The basswife and I took a quick late afternoon trip on the Occoquan in mid-September of last year. We launched from the Lake Ridge Marina, a county owned park, and were stunned at the water levels. The bones of the Occoquan poked up. All of the good spots near the shore we were accustomed to working were high and dry.
In fact, they were so high and dry that I could see many places where we had been wasting our time and others that we had ignored. Hidden structure exposed, I mentally marked where we would have to return in 2008.
In general, the Occoquan is a very deep river. Even near the banks, the depth can be 20 – 30 feet just 10 feet offshore. If you look at the map, the reason is obvious. The reservoir backed up the water into a deep, steep cut in the earth. This was never a gentle bowl shaped valley. Rather, it’s a gash on the land that filled up with water. That interesting and only relevant in that it really makes the fishing tough.
Other than fishing the inlets where the depth moderates, you need to go deep with crankbaits or drop shots. Given the depth, by the time your lure gets to the bottom, it’s on the tail end of the cast as it climbs back to you in the boat. I’ve addressed this by starting to use deep runners with the leading hook of the belly treble cut off.
By the time the lure gets to the bottom, I want to be able to get a few good bounces without a high risk of a hang up. That strategy has started to work for me on this river. On the other hand, don’t bother to bring a fly rod to this place. It’s just not suited for top water presentations and you cannot get the streamers deep enough. I have found few places where the bass will hang near the shore and it’s so deep that the bluegill find other places to be.
You have to hunt deep here and will have to share the lake with a lot of other fishermen. This is a busy, busy place since there is so much water as it stretches from Occoquan to Manassas. In addition, there are several access points you can use to roughly position yourself on the river.
Your trolling motor will do just fine as there is a HP size limit in effect for the lake
Bottom Line: For me, it’s close. For others, it’s mixed. There are other places in the area that may be easier to fish. Come rigged for deepwater. .
Getting There: Quoting from the Parks Page:
Take I-95 to Exit 160 (Rt.123 North). Turn left at second traffic light onto Old Bridge Rd. Go 5 miles and take a right onto Hedges Run Road, then a left onto Cotton Mill Rd, to the Lake Ridge Park
Secrets Revealed? No, this water is discussed on the VDGIF site and the parks page above
Low water, barren shore
Normal shore structure is now high and dry
So that’s where the structure is!
Picked up off the bottom on a deep running crankbait
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore