Virginia offers several top-quality lakes and rivers to fish for walleye. Spawning season occurs in early springtime. Walleye leave the comforts of deep water and head towards the shallower depths often found in feeder streams. Bottom surface conditions are clear and clean. Deeper waters are never far away.
Spawning females require a few days of rest following a spawning period. After this, they are looking for that first meal and the bite will be fierce. Spawn and immediate post-spawn periods are ideal for anglers to fish walleye. Outside of spawning season, walleye are particular about where they hang out.
Water temperatures normally fall between 38 and 60 degrees. Water conditions are slightly murky with little or no current movement. Bottom surface conditions are comprised of gravel, sand or rocks. Menu choices cover small fish, crustaceans, worms and insects. Ideal fishing time is during warm weather months from sundown to midnight.
Virginia lakes cover a solid portion of the state and each is good size in nature. The largest lake in the state is Smith Mountain Lake. This massive lake stands at 20,000-acres in size and makes home in the south-central portion of the state in Penhook, Virginia.
Next is the 10,000-acre South Holston Lake creating the southern border of Virginia in Abingdon. Traveling north, there is Lake Anna, which is a bit smaller at 9,600-acres. This lake makes a home in Bumpass, Virginia. The remaining four Virginia lakes suited for walleye fishing are by no means small.
Claytor Lake stands 4,500-acres in the south-west area of the state at Radford, Virginia. Following this is Leesville Reservoir. This 3,400-acre lake falls in south-central Pittsville, Virginia. Philpott Lake, 2,900-acres, also resides in this area at Bassett, Virginia.
Finally, there is Lake Chesdin, at 3,100-acres in Petersburg, Virginia. The record walleye caught in Virginia is 15 lbs. 15 ozs. Virginia lakes and reservoirs maintain a healthy level of pre-stocked walleye fish. Rivers are a different matter. In West Virginia, biologists have recently identified a new breed of walleye, the Ohio River drainage walleye. Fishing officials are working to stock rivers with this new breed of walleye.
Currently, the Kanawha, Ohio and New Rivers are greatly benefiting from this new program. The Kanawha River in West Virginia is the notable place to seek out large sized walleye. Each year, walleye pulled from these waters weigh in between eight and fourteen pounds. Even the best walleye anglers rarely see a walleye of this size. The Virginia record weighing walleye at 17.85 pounds back in 2003 came from this very river. The key to finding these big boys begins with where to start.
Look to the inlets. As spawning season draws near, walleye start seeking out shallower water levels. To do this, they virtually pass by any available inlet along the way. The area below dams, commonly referred to as the tailrace, is another walleye hotspot location. When spawning seasons begins to end, turn attention towards deeper water. Pools and channels along the river course is where walleye lurk. Ideal times are between late evening and dark once water temperatures are on the rise.
The recent walleye stocking program has done wonders for the Ohio River. This program is steadily increasing the quantities and sizes of walleyes. The walleye reside in fast-paced water conditions of dams and upper pool areas. The best fishing technique for the Ohio River is jigs containing minnows or live bait. Pair these selections with slip bobber rigs. These two will function together to keep bait in contact with bottom surfaces.
In the Monongahela River, walleye frequent slack water pools and channels. Anywhere along the river course is relatively decent place to fish for walleye. Other key areas in this river are weed beds. Pay specific attention to bottom structures such as tree stumps or rocks. Navigate these structures in as many ways as possible. There is no way to tell which direction walleye are facing on any given day. Key times to seek out walleye are during low light, warm water conditions.