Information gathered from Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries
Briery Creek Lake is an 845-acre lake that is owned by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and is within the Briery Creek Wildlife Management Area in Prince Edward County. The dam was completed in 1986 and the lake was open to fishing in 1989. In 1986 and 1987 the lake was stocked with Florida strain largemouth bass, northern strain largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish (also known as shellcrackers), channel catfish, and crappie. Timber in the floodplain was left standing or felled and drumchopped resulting in an abundance of fish habitat. Biologists hoped that the presence of Florida-strain bass and the complex habitat would produce a high quality largemouth bass fishery.
Initially, the largemouth bass regulation was an 18-inch minimum length and 2-fish/day creel limit. Early production of largemouth bass was excellent and in 1991, this regulation was changed to a 12 – 15 inch protected slot limit (5/day) to allow anglers to harvest the abundant smaller bass. Briery Creek Lake quickly began producing trophy largemouth bass and recognized as one of the state’s premier bass fisheries. To help protect this fishery, the regulation was changed to a 14 24 inch protected slot limit on January 1, 2001. The daily bag limit is still five bass per day, but only one may be longer than 24 inches.
Briery Creek Maps
Articles on Briery
Article from Roanoke.com
Profile of a Trophy Fishery, Briery Creek Article on Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society website
Another Article from Roanoke.com
Old Virginia Pilot article on Briery
BASSMASTER.com (you will need to be registered for the site to see the article)
Briery Creek Lake is one of the most important fisheries in the state and biologists certainly treat it as such. Not only are annual electrofishing samples conducted, but since 1999, creel surveys have been used to gather information as well (angler effort, catch, harvest and attitudes and opinions on the fishery). Spring creel surveys (March thru May) are an effective method for following trends in fishing, particularly for trophy bass (> 22 inches). The five years of creel data have given biologists the best information in evaluating this fishery and the trophy slot limit that went into effect on January 1, 2001.
Overall, angler catch rates (number/hour) have remained remarkably consistent since 1999 (about 4 fish/10 hours of fishing). This is a very good catch rate, particularly for the spring. What has varied is the catch rate of trophy bass. Since 1999, there have been three very good springs (1999, 2000, and 2002) and two average ones (2001 and 2003). The average springs were cool and wet in March and April, which likely had the big fish hanging in deeper water more than usual. Conversely, during the great springs, the weather was more normal and warmed up gradually so when the big fish came shallow to spawn, they stayed for a week or two. The big bass are most vulnerable when they are shallow. For one, anglers can see them. But perhaps just as important, there is a lot less water to cover when they are hanging in 3-5 feet as opposed to 12-18 feet. Finally, the warmer water has them feeding a little more aggressively. When the water temps are less than 60, the big largemouth at Briery are mainly caught on big minnows or jigs. The creel data shows a similar trend to the citation data but is much more reliable.
Therefore, the prediction for 2004 is watch the weather! The sooner the lake gets to 60 degrees, the sooner the fishing gets good. But it has to stay fairly constant. Anglers planning trips to Briery to target citation bass would be well served to shoot for the last week of March through April, but if it gets warm early, shoot for early-mid April. Anglers are welcome to call the Farmville office or Worshams grocery for more information.
Early results on the regulation change are very promising. Prior to the change, more than 100 citation largemouth bass were harvested per year. That has been reduced dramatically (which was needed). Will that result in more years like we had in the mid 90’s when Briery first emerged as the hot spot for trophy bass? Time will tell. What biologists do see happening with the new regulation is that we can ride the so-called good times for a much longer time than we could have under the former 12-15 inch slot limit. The new regulation has already changed the size structure of the fishery-we are collecting more 15-20 inch fish than ever before. It will be exciting to follow these fish and see if we can continue to recruit new trophies each year. But for now, Briery is still the best water in the state to chase 10 pound bass. But for those anglers who are not lucky enough to get a linker, they should have a blast with 2-4 pound fish.