Wheatley Lake (aka Gilbert Run Lake) is the centerpiece of the 180 acre Gilbert Run Park. It is an older, mature body of water constructed 40 years ago as a floodwater management impoundment. After paying the entrance fee, take the left fork in the road to drive up to the children’s play area (the first right) or continue around the lake to park near the main concession operation near the fishing piers. There The well-developed concession area includes pavilions, picnic tables and barbecue areas as well as two volleyball courts. Along the shoreline, there are plenty of benches that will be fully occupied by busy anglers during the trout stocking season.
Wheatley Lake, although big to look at with its 2 1/2 miles of shoreline, is only deep adjacent to the dam. The northern end of the lake is shallow and full of bass-holding stumps reachable via the nature trail that runs around the entire circumference. As the summer progresses, the vegetation around the shoreline grows and eventually forces anglers into boats to take advantage of the fishing opportunities that include trout during stocking season followed by bass, crappie and catfish into the heat of the summer.
The solution to the shoreline dilemma is to rent one of the canoes or Jon boats from the concession stand or plop your own into the lake using the improved boat launch next to the pier. The boat rental operation begins in April (weekends) and with number of days of operation increasing to run from Wednesday through Sunday starting in mid-May. If you decide to rent a boat, the operation is open between 8 AM and 6 PM. Be off the water before dark since the gates slam shut at 8 PM.
Another diversion suitable for families with younger children is the children’s play area next to the first parking area on the right. It has a robust playground, full of slides, swings and even a small kid size climbing wall. There is a large bridge that joins the play area to the concession area, allowing plenty of freedom of movement for those who want to fish versus those who want to play. The parking area near the playground is also the best place to walk out on top of the dam and fish the deep area at the southern end of the lake.
Please note that bass fishing is catch and release only. You may access the lake outside of the “fee paying” season that extends from April through November if you are willing to walk in. Park outside and do not block any of the other facilities or the dumpsters.
North: from I-95/I or 95, take exit 78 merge onto MD 5 South/Branch Avenue towards Waldorf. Stay on Branch Avenue for approximately 20 miles to eventually turn right on Olivers Shop Road. Turn left onto MD 6/Charles Street and follow it approximately 1 mile to the entrance to the park on the left.
South: from the town of Charlotte Hall, follow MD 6 west to the park. MD 6 is initially called New Market Road, but eventually changes its name to Charles Street.
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the Maryland DNR stocking plan.
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Concession and boat rental area
Looking north from the dam
The bridge that connects the kid area with the concessions
Pretty good boat launch
The start of the trail that runs around the lake
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore