Well, it's about freaking time – finally the Ashburn weather is warming up, the flowers are blooming, the grass is growing ... and the fish are biting.
Despite several false alarms earlier this spring, it looks like warm weather is here to stay and area outdoorsmen can finally get out of the house and start searching for lunker largemouth bass and the many other species of freshwater fish that inhabit our waterways.
Even with the never-ending encroachment of the suburban sprawl that brought most of us here, Ashburn is not lacking for prime fishing holes. From small farm ponds and creeks to large reservoirs and rivers, local fishermen have a veritable smorgasbord of local fishing options, some of which are literally right in our backyards.
Whether you prefer the relative calm and quiet of lake fishing for crappie or the thrill of top-water fishing for riverine smallmouth bass, Ashburn, or at least Loudoun, has a place for you to wet a line and search for your fish of choice.
Before you head out to the water, be sure to pick up your Virginia freshwater fishing license, which you can purchase online here, and always check for any local or community rules and regulations before trying a new fishing spot.
Ashburn Patch highlights just a few of the local fishing hotspots that you should take advantage of this year:
Beaverdam Creek Reservoir: Beaverdam Creek Reservoir is one of Ashburn's largest, yet least utilized, public waterways. The reservoir is a 350-acre impoundment that sits just west of Belmont Ridge Road and north of Brambleton Regional Park. According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), Beaverdam was first stocked with fish in the early 1970s. Since that time, the reservoir has been stocked periodically with fish ranging from bluegills and largemouth bass to tiger musky and hybrid striped bass.
Today, the reservoir has naturally reproducing populations of bluegill, largemouth bass, crappie, redear sunfish, white perch, and the occasional smallmouth bass. Rumors still swirl of the occasional striped bass lurking in the depths of Beaverdam; however, recent VGDIF surveys of the reservoir did not locate any stripers or tiger musky.
Beaverdam's limited access and highly fluctuating water levels pose some challenges for anglers. The reservoir, which is a public water supply for Fairfax City, has experienced very low water levels during recent summer droughts. Fortunately, the reservoir is currently full, and hopefully will remain so throughout the summer.
There are only two public access points to the reservoir:
- If you head north on Evergreen Mills Road from Ashburn, turn right on Rt. 629 (Reservoir Road) and head straight to the water. There is limited parking – for about six cars – approximately 100 yards from the reservoir.
- The other option, with even more limited parking, is to take Belmont Ridge Road north from Brambleton, and make a left on Mount Hope Road. Take the road straight to the water, try to find parking, and throw in a line.
Upper Potomac River: The upper Potomac River (above Great Falls) is generally considered one of the better smallmouth bass fisheries in the eastern United States. Luckily for local anglers, the upper Potomac forms Loudoun County's northern border with Maryland, providing plenty of room to spread out and search for the hard-fighting smallmouth bass. On a good summer day, fishermen routinely haul in dozens of bronzebacks while wading the shallows. In addition to smallmouth bass, the upper Potomac provides opportunities for sunfish, crappie, walleye, and big catfish. The best Potomac smallmouth lures include tube baits (which mimic crawfish, the smallmouth bass' favorite food), shallow diving crank baits and an assortment of topwater baits. Catfish can be had by bottom-fishing with chicken livers, cut bait and just about anything else that stinks.
In recent years, several area parks have opened, providing Loudoun County residents with greater access to the Potomac River than ever before. Algonkian Regional Park, which is located along the Potomac within the Lowe's Island community, has a public boat ramp and numerous trails that provide plenty of shore fishing opportunities. Other area parks with public boat launches for the Potomac include Keep Loudoun Beautiful Park, the McKimmey Boat Launch, and the Kephart Bridge Landing at Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park (non-motorized boat launch only). , located in Ashburn, provides shoreline access to the Potomac River and Broad Run.
Neighborhood lakes and ponds: Even though the other options on this list are nearby, none are closer than the myriad of lakes and ponds that dot the landscape of the many Ashburn subdivisions. Between the newer irrigation ponds that were built to control runoff and the century old farm ponds that remain as faint reminders of Ashburn's not-to-distant pastoral past, there are dozens of local lakes and ponds that provide great opportunities for anglers. But beware: not all local lakes are created equal. Some of the newest lakes and ponds may not have any fish in them at all, while the older farm ponds can run the gamut from healthy and productive fisheries to muddy bogs that do a better job of producing mosquitoes and frogs than fish.
Luckily, many local homeowners' associations have invested in stocking their community waters with fish, and maintaining or improving water quality. For instance, the communities of Brambleton and Ashburn Village each have an assortment of lakes and ponds that have been stocked with fish such as largemouth bass, sunfish, crappies and catfish.
But each of these communities also restricts fishing to residents and their guests, which should encourage all of us to expand our friend networks to include at least one fishing buddy in every neighborhood with a lake or pond. Always check with the local homeowners associations for specific fishing rules and regulations for community waters.
One of the great things about our neighborhood lakes and ponds is they are relatively easy to fish. A simple rig of a bobber and a live worm can provide hours of fun for kids and adults, while more advanced fishermen can explore the depths for the lunker largemouth bass that lurk in more of the neighborhood ponds than you might think. Lipless crankbaits and slow-trolled spinner baits are good bets for early spring largemouths, while soft plastics and topwater baits will provide lots of summer action.
If you're interested in learning more about what's biting in the Ashburn lakes and ponds, check out the forum at Pacemaker Fishing.
Stay tuned to the Ashburn Patch for details about an early summer youth fishing contest we'll be hosting.