There aren’t any stripers close to Charlottesville, but once there were.
Years ago, several fishermen who frequently visited Lake Anna decided to bring back some of the stripers they caught and released them in Chris Greene Lake. It was illegal, of course, but the stealth stockings caused quite a stir for several years. Anglers with light lines and minnows trying for crappies would occasionally tie into a spool-stripping striper and the fish grew to good sizes feeding on the numerous baitfish of the Albemarle County impoundment. An 8-year old boy, in fact, hooked and landed a 20-pound striper on a small Zebco outfit. The youngster will not likely forget that day at Chris Greene Lake.
Stripers are fish that are hard to forget. They strike viciously, fight hard and are excellent table fare. Unfortunately, local anglers need to travel about 50 miles to Lake Anna in order to do battle with the striped bass.
Striped bass are true members of the bass family and are anadromous — equally at home in fresh or saltwater. They make spring runs up many of Virginia’s larger rivers — the James, Potomac and Rappahannock, for example — following the shad before returning to the Chesapeake Bay or the ocean. Like others in the temperate bass family, stripers travel in schools, feeding in open water on smaller, schooling fish, such as gizzard shad.
In Virginia, Buggs Island Lake has one of only two landlocked populations of stripers in the United States that will spawn in freshwater. The Game Department, in fact, has a hatchery on the Staunton River in Brookneal, where biologists intercept the stripers out of Buggs Island each spring and strip eggs from the females. With these striper eggs, fertilized in the hatchery, the Department stocks numerous lakes across Virginia, including Lake Anna.
Lake Anna is one of the warmest lakes that the Game Department stocks with striped bass. With a shorter growing season, Lake Anna stripers don’t generally attain the trophy sizes of, say, Smith Mountain Lake fish, which can reach 50 pounds. But there is nothing wrong with an 8- to 10-pound striper and Lake Anna has plenty.
Chris Craft, a guide out of Lake Anna Guide Service, says there are currently lots of stripers in the mid-lake region. Live bait, such as gizzard shad and blue back herring, is catching fish for those who are proficient at catching bait with a throw net. Trolling is another option. Deep-diving Red Fins with a bucktail trailer are working, as is the Bill Norman DD22. Chartreuse and blue is a hot color combination along with natural shad patterns. Craft is also taking fish with an Alabama Rig, a multi-arm rig that can be trolled at various depths with a variety of baits.
For summer stripers, Craft suggests that anglers work the 208 Bridge all the way up to the mouth of Plentiful Creek on the Pamunkey side and up to the 719 bridge on the North Anna side. Jigging with Tooth Ache spoons is another secret trick for putting Anna stripers in the livewell.
Craft says that Lake Anna is now at full pool with water temperatures ranging from 84 to 90 degrees. The recent cooling spell will likely stir up the stripers’ feeding habits.
If you need a striper guide for Lake Anna, contact Chris Craft at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 540-895-5770.
In addition to Lake Anna, other freshwater striper fishing in Virginia is available at Smith Mountain Lake, Lake Gaston, Claytor Lake, Leesville and Western Branch.
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