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Nav:HOME  ----  Fishing Articles ----  All season angling in a two story fishery --looking at Lake Moomaw VA<(YOU ARE HERE)

All Season Angling in a Two-Story Lake: Fishing Lake Moomaw VA

Nestled deep in the Aleghany Mountains of western Virginia, sits a deep, cool, clear,lake surrounded by rolling mountains and bluffs.  Few boats and people are evident most of the year, but there is access and camping at numerous spots. Best of all, it holds fish wall to wall, and they can be caught any time of year! Lake Moomaw is definitely on of the most scenic lakes I have ever visited, and has far more in common with northern Minnesota than the Mid-Atlantic.  It is very deep, averaging over 100 feet (31m), with some points near the dam at over 180 feet.  By the way, unlike most resevoirs, it is actually hard to find the dam from the water, as it is tucked away down one of the many narrow branches of the lake. click for full size imageThe river that feeds this lake is the Jackson River, which hosts some excellent brown trout fishing both above and below the lake, which eventually forms the James River of colonial history.  As an Army Corps of Engineers impoundment, the land surrounding the lake is almost solid woods and meadows, with occasional boat ramps, swimming areas, and picnic areas. The lake has an excellent visitors center, and its staff will show where the 'good spots' are at and can give you exact figures on oxygen levels, water levels, clearity, and water temperatures. They also have free maps and helpful brochures.  For the shorebound angler, the lake is nearly totally surrounded by public property, with steep but fishable shoreline.  There are alo several wooden piers and docks located near the boat ramps and picnic areas. For the boat angler, I find a kayak or canoe will work as long as the wind is not blowing hard, since the overall lake boat traffic is low.  One can drop a bass boat in at the boat ramps at Bolar Flat, Fortney Branch, Coles Mountain, and McClintic Point.

Due to deep water, the lake's altitude, and to intensive stocking efforts, this lake holds both cool/cold water species and warm water species-making it a year-round fishery with a wide variety of species to persue.  The entire gambit of sunfishes inhabit this lake: Largemouth and Smallmouth Basses; Northern Rock Bass; Black Crappie; Redear, Bluegill, Redbreast, and other sunfishes.  The lake also hosts Brown, Rainbow (two strains), and Brook Trout.  Yellow perch provide some forage, as do alewives, gizzard shad, chubs, and shiners. Channel catfish patrol lake, and Chain Pickerel  click for full size image round out the line-up.  Just about the only Virginia species notable absent from this resevoir are the Striped and White basses-and that is by design.  The big preditors of this lake, in the absence of the stripers, are the Rainbow Trout , Brown Trout, Catfish, and Largemouth Bass. The Black basses reach into the 7 pound range, with a 5 pounder being the smallest that will get a glance.  Due to regular stocking, numerous baby browns and rainbows (this is where they go when they can't stock the rivers of the state) in the releasable sizes of 6"-15" inhabit the creek mouths and journey up the Jackson on a regular basis.  In the cooler months of October-March the cold water line-up lurks near the surface, while the warm water species go deep.  In the warmer months of April-October the water and the fish flip flop.  Fall and Spring, especially when the lake water is in 'turn over' are pandemonium-the angler is never sureclick for full size image what is exactly on the other end of the line.  One cast might pull in a bass, while the next might have a trout, and yet another pickerel (locally called pike)!  Normally in the summer or winter large lakes and resevoirs stratify-the top most layers are near the air temperature, while the deeper you go, the warmer the water gets (winter) or the cooler it gets (summer).  A plot of the temperature looks almost like a diagonal line with a few bumps (thermoclines).  During turn-over in spring or fall as the colder water and warmer water try to trade places, the cold and warm water mix, and so do the fish!  On most of my trips to these lakes in the fall and spring, especially on rainy, overcast days, I troll a 4" suspending plug in chartruese (clown) around drop-offs and edges of flats in turn-over areas. This will get hit by just about every kind of fish in the lake.  In the summer or winter, just findout at what depth the temperature for your favorite fish is at, and adjust accordingly.  Thanks to the folks in the visitor center, an angler need only ask one of the rangers what depth a temeprature is at.  The rangers will also tell you where turn-over is occuring, and where the fish are at.

Take a trip to this lake-you won't be disapointed!

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Heres the data on the fish:

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Some Fishes you might see:

Rainbow Trout

Brown Trout

Brook Trout

Smallmouth Bass

Largemouth Bass

Black Crappie

Northern Rock Bass

Redear Sunfish


Channel Catfish

Yellow Perch


Green Sunfish

Common Carp

Chain Pickerel

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