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Ken Perrotte's outdoors column
THERE ARE FEW places in Northern Virginia where a skilled (or lucky) angler can yank an 8-pound largemouth bass from the water. But Department of Game and Inland Fisheries biologists say Spotsylvania County's newly opened Hunting Run Reservoir could be the place to find behemoth bigmouths.
The reservoir opened to the public in March after a somewhat contentious delay of a year or so, and word is spreading about the superb fish habitat and angler amenities.
At full pool, the reservoir will cover 420 acres, but it is still about 8 feet below that level. This lower water level lets visitors see many features that make it fish-friendly, including huge brush piles, numerous submerged stump fields, and small islands that will someday be shallow water reefs.
Hunting Run was stocked with fingerling bass from 2001-03 and now sports excellent numbers of trophy bass. Other stocked species were bluegill, redear sunfish and channel catfish. Crappie have also taken hold, stretching out from the small ponds on the property.
Regional Fisheries biologist John Odenkirk and other DGIF fisheries professionals worked with Spotsylvania on planning the reservoir.
"It was a cooperative effort from the start," Odenkirk said. "We gave input about clearing the reservoir and, to Spotsylvania's great credit and the benefit of fish habitat, they left some standing timber and created tremendous brush piles. There are at least eight massive structures with woody debris. We found these are holding lots of fish during our electrofishing surveys."
Odenkirk hesitates to compare Hunting Run's potential for humongous bass to the legendary Briery Creek Reservoir in Prince Edward County, but he's optimistic, especially as the water opens to anglers.
"These fish have great genetics, we've got good habitat, plus a new lake phenomena--this is where new lakes have an early productive life phase," Odenkirk said.
A 16- to 22-inch slot limit is designed to protect lunker breeding stock. No fish within that slot may be in an angler's possession at any time. One trophy fish over 22 inches may be kept, but any other fish kept (five is the total limit) must be under