Striped bass. This is the most popular game fish in the Chesapeake Bay. During the fall, 10-pounders can be caught near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.
Croaker. Two-pounders are common and 3-pounders are not unusual. James River is a hot spot.
Gray trout. Also known as weakfish, this is another species on the upswing. Gray trout can be caught from any of the area's piers.
Cobia. A summer visitor, cobia is the biggest game fish available to small boaters and pier jockeys. The state record is well over 100 pounds.
NOTE: Saltwater fishing regulations can change monthly. Be sure you know the regulations before you go fishing. Personnel at boat rental and bait concessions at each of the reservoirs can explain the freshwater regulations you need to know.
Largemouth bass. All local reservoirs are stocked with them. The freshwater stretches of each of the river systems are home to abundant populations, too.
Crappie. These slablike fish are a delight to catch on ultra-light spinning gear. Crappie can be found in all local reservoirs and freshwater rivers.
Catfish. Channel catfish are the most abundant species in the reservoirs. Big blue catfish can be found in the lower Chickahominy River as well as the James and Rappahannock rivers.
Striped bass. A number of reservoirs have been stocked with striped bass. Western Branch near Suffolk, Little Creek Reservoir in Toano and Waller Mill Park in Williamsburg have been yielding 30-pound-class stripers for the last few years.
Panfish. These include sunfish, bluegills and yellow perch.
Most reservoirs were built in the early 1900s as water supply systems for Hampton Roads. The state has stocked these reservoirs with a variety of game fish, ranging from muskie to rainbow trout.
Beaverdam. 635 acres. Good largemouth bass, channel catfish, black crappie and panfish angling. Two boat ramps, boat and canoe rentals and picnic facilities. Park is open 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. through March; 6:30 a.m.-8 p.m. starting in April. 8687 Roaring Springs Road, Gloucester. 804-693-2107.
Burnt Mills. 610 acres. Loaded with submerged stumps and structures. Largemouth bass and sunfish are the main catches. At the intersection of Route 601 and Route 603 in Isle of Wight County. Though there is no facility for this lake, information is available from the Norfolk Department of Utilities reservoir manager, 441-5678.
Chickahominy Lake. An 8-mile-long reservoir that is one of the top fishing spots in the state. There are no public boat ramps on the lake. Ed Allen's Campground maintains private ramps. Call Eagles Landing at 804-966-9094.
Harwood's Mill. 265 acres. Stocked with largemouth bass and channel catfish, sunfish and a few Northern pike. Boat rentals on weekends from approximately May through October. Oriana Road in York County. Call park department office for information, 888-3333.
Lake Prince. 777 acres. One of the Suffolk Lakes. Excellent fishing for striped bass, largemouth, shellcrackers (sunfish) and chain pickerel. Route 604 near Suffolk.
Lee Hall. 490 acres. Largemouth bass, chain pickerel, crappie and sunfish are the main catches. There are boat rentals at one end of the reservoir and a fishing pier at the other end. Inside Newport News Park. Call the park department office for information, 888-3333.
Little Creek. 996 acres. Earning a reputation as a freshwater striped-bass hot spot. Largemouth bass, chain pickerel, yellow perch, crappie, shellcracker and catfish are other popular catches. A 263/4-pound striper was caught in October 2005. Boat ramp and boat rentals, electric motors only. Off Forge Road on Lakeview Road (Route 610) in Toano. Open 7 a.m. until 30 minutes before sunset (approximately 7 p.m.) on weekdays and from 6 a.m. until 30 minutes before sunset on weekends and holidays. Stephanie Dale, 259-3221.
Lake Meade and Lake Cohoon. Both approximately 700 acres. Largemouth bass, chain pickerel, rockfish and panfish are the main catches. Boat ramp available. Pitchkettle Road in Suffolk.
Waller Mill. A picturesque reservoir featuring striped bass, largemouth bass and panfish. Boat ramp and boat rentals. In Williamsburg's Waller Mill Park. 259-3778.
Before Hurricane Isabel hit in September 2003, there were three main public fishing piers. Grandview and Buckroe both were known for great cobia fishing but are no longer standing. The best-known remaining area fishing pier that charges admission is the James River Fishing Pier at Huntington Park in Newport News. At slightly more than a half-mile in length, it is one of the longest piers in Hampton Roads.
Although you don't need a saltwater recreational license, you must pay admission at the pier ($8.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors and 12-and-under). It opens April 15. Usual hours are 9 a.m.-11 p.m. daily 247-0364.
Other piers include Hilton Pier, Monitor-Merrimac Overlook and King-Lincoln Pier, all of which are free and open to the public, sunrise to sunset. A valid state fishing license is required. Call Susan Buck at 886-7912. York River State Park opened a new pier last March. It's open from 8 p.m. until dusk 566-3036.
Catch! a big one
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