Virginia has more than 176,000 acres of public lakes just waiting for you to fish them. If you’re new to the area, visiting, or just plain don’t know where to start, stats like that can be daunting.
Not to worry; I’ve got the inside scoop on the best largemouth bass fishing lakes in each for Virginia’s four regions. To make it easy, I listed the regions from best to worst. My specific recommendations are for the places you’re most likely to be successful and catch the largemouth you’ve been dreaming of.
If you’re a smallmouth bass fisher, rejoice! I included a little something for you too. Virginia isn’t the best place for smallies, but there are a couple of hidden gems.
If you’re looking for big largemouth bass in Virginia, the Southside Region is where you need to be. With the most supersized bass in the state and some effective largemouth bass bait, these lakes are sure to please.
Burton Lake in Callands-Gretna is one of the best spots I’ve found. But – and this is a big but for some people – this lake is strictly catch-and-release for largemouth bass. If you’re okay with that, it’s worth the trip to this beautiful lake and your line will be jumping all day.
About 20% of this lake’s bass population is 20+ inches, so be sure to be photo-ready to back up the fish tales you’re going to have.
A close competitor with Burton Lake, Wilck’s Lake has a ton of largies. This lake is stocked by the state and does not have a catch-and-release requirement, so its plus-size largemouths are fewer and farther between, but they’re there!
I’m sneaking in a third one here. Banister Lake in Halifax is the best big (400+ acre) bass fishing spot in Virginia. While it’s only half as densely populated as Burton Lake, you have endless options of where to cast your line. If you want to make sure you have your preferred spot to yourself, this may be your go-to.
The Northcentral/Northwestern Region has a markedly younger largemouth population, so you won’t catch as many monster bass as in Southside. What the bass lack in size, they make up for in bountifulness. These two lakes are chock-full of 15+ inch bass.
Pelham Lake in Culpeper is by far the biggest list-topper of the lakes I’ve highlighted. There are only two things stopping this lake from being the best: its largies are much smaller overall than in Burton Lake and it doesn’t allow shore fishing, so a boat is required. Regardless, this is a must-fish destination for any dedicated bass fisher.
Fun fact: if you’re looking to diversify your fishing trip, Pelham also has the densest channel cat population in Virginia.
Lake Pelham (VA)
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Lake Robertson in Kerrs Creek could be overlooked easily, but don’t be fooled. This manmade lake has the disadvantage of crystal-clear water, but its abundant weeds and bountiful population make it a bass fishing mecca. If you’re going to brave the thick growth in these shallows, I’d recommend you don’t leave home without a quality lipless crankbait.
Lake Robertson (VA)
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The Tidewater Region is best known for its saltwater fishing, but you’re far from out of luck. These two awesome spots are in two of Virginia’s biggest southern cities. So, if you find yourself in a Tidewater city with a hankering to fish and no desire to drive, check these out.
Mount Trashmore Lake in Virginia Beach – Virginia’s largest city – is only 52 acres, but it has the largest population of 20+ inch largemouth bass per acre in the Tidewater Region. The scenery leaves something to be desired, with the interstate for a backdrop, but you can’t beat it for convenience and abundance.
Located in Richmond, Fountain Lake is barely a lake at merely 10 acres. It’s small size offers an advantage: its enormous bass population is tightly-packed, making it a convenient and target-rich fishing destination.
Fountain Lake (VA)
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There are slim pickings for bass fishing in the Southwest region. The best spot available is Rural Retreat Lake in Black Lick. Rural Retreat Lake Park is a fantastic destination for a family trip with a side of fishing. I’m not saying that they won’t be biting, but I am saying you’ll have to work a little harder for it than at any of the other lakes.
Smallmouth fisher to the core? I have two great options for catching giant smallies: Abbott Lake in Bedford (Southside Region) and Laurel Bed Lake in Cedar Bluff (Southside Region).
Both Abbot and Laurel Bed are both nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. If you’re looking for a challenge, Laurel Bed is your best bet with a lower population density than Abbott. No matter which you choose, you can’t go wrong with good compact spinner bait, like this Bassman that allows for varied reeling speed and rarely gets snagged in weeds.
Final Thoughts on Bass Fishing in Virginia
There are bigger lakes, there are better overall fishing spots. But if you’re looking for the best bass fishing lakes in Virginia, you can’t beat those listed here.
If I were you, I’d start with Burton Lake. With the most 15+ inch largemouth bass per acre in Virginia, you’re sure to have a great day.