One of the great reasons to buy a home and live in Northern Virginia are the many and varied opportunities to enjoy nature so close to home. One of the most popular recreational activities is fishing! Right in our area, anglers find some of Virginia’s most popular fish, including bluegill, pumpkinseed, largemouth bass, and channel catfish.
But did you know that many of the best places to find these fish are right here in Burke? Here are three of Burke’s most awesome spots for angling:
Burke Lake is a 218-acre state-owned public fishing lake in Fairfax County that is one of the most heavily fished reservoirs in Virginia. And for good reason! Not only does it have excellent proximity to Washington, DC, but the lake offers excellent fishing.
One of the top bass lakes in the area — Burke has been one of the top NOVA District waters for catch rate of large bass — anglers here have also been known to catch muskellunge, walleye, channel catfish, bluegill and black crappie, as well as white perch, yellow perch, redear sunfish, and an occasional blue catfish.
The lake is stocked annually with several types of fish and sampled on a regular basis through electrofishing and trap netting so biologists can get a clear picture of the current state of the fishery.
As with other places to fish in Virginia, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources will require an Access Permit for visitors planning to use public fishing lakes. Anglers who are age 16 and older must have an access permit unless they possess a valid Virginia hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping license, or a current Virginia boat registration.
Burke Lake is department-owned, and should not be confused for a county park, but it is operated by the Fairfax County Park Authority. Access at the DGIF road off of Route 123 on the south (dam) end is exclusively for angler use.
Lake Fairfax Park
Great fishing is available year-round at this 476-acre park which holds inside its 20-acre namesake, Lake Fairfax! Open and accessible to fishing from the shoreline or kayaks, this lake is known for its healthy stock of catfish, bass, sunfish, black crappie, bullhead, and bluegill.
A daily launch fee ($5) or season pass ($40) is required for all privately launched kayaks, but fishers from the shore or kayaks won’t be disturbed by any motorized vehicles, as they are prohibited on Lake Fairfax.
Beginners also love fishing here, and the sport is encouraged from even the earliest ages with Fishing Fun, a course for kids on basic fishing techniques, offered on Saturday mornings at 9 a.m.
All anglers will be required to have a Virginia fishing license and follow all DWR rules and regulations.
The Potomac River cuts through Riverbend Park and offers within it fishing, hiking, canoeing, and other outdoor fun. Anglers of all ages especially enjoy its relatively calm and rocky waters, which provide attractive terrain and habitat for many types of gamefish.
Riverbend Park encourages catch-and-release fishing and is popular by both spin and fly anglers.
Sunfish are abundant here. The smallmouth bass in Riverbend Park is also a favorite of fly fishers. And the river also holds channel catfish that grow big in its waters.
This park also promotes fishing heavily, even offering fishing-themed parties and guided workshops. It also offers the opportunity to rent a fishing rod at the park in case you don’t have one, forgot yours at home, or just happened to decide on a spontaneous fishing adventure. Rod rentals include line and basic tackle, and additional fishing tackle and live bait are available for purchase.
Just as at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax Park, people 16 years and older must have either a Virginia or Maryland freshwater fishing license. (Those under 16 years do not need a license.) Virginia fishing licenses can be purchased from local sporting goods stores or the DWR web site. While they are not sold onsite at the park, a website purchase does offer instant availability.
Access to Burke Lake, Lake Fairfax Park, and Riverbend Park are generally free for residents of Fairfax County, though visitors from other counties may have to pay a fee.
Keep in mind that some fish (including any species of herring) are illegal to catch in Virginia, and there are daily limits on how many fish anglers are allowed to possess at once that are strictly enforced. Otherwise, enjoy the peaceful day fishing on any of Burke’s great lakes.