James River Water Levels

Westham Gauge
Gauge Height: 5.15'
Flow: 5290 cfps

Trail Conditions: Richmond


Todays Tides: Richmond Locks

High Tide: 7:24am
Low Tide: 3:06pm

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Posted In: Fishing

Will lunker largemouth return to Back Bay?

May 11, 2012 9:58am

A Back Bay marsh, as seen from False Cape SP

That’s the question posed in my column in today’s Times-Dipatch. I went down to Back Bay earlier this week to witness the stocking of 125,000 fingerling bass. It’s the first of three consecutive years of such stockings.

As I write in the column, Back Bay in the 1970s and early 1980s was considered one of the top bass fisheries in the entire United States. The reason was the explosion of a non-native aquatic vegetation called Eurasian watermilfoil. It provided such good habitat for the bass that they could escape predators and grow quickly. But when the grass mysteriously disappeared in the ’80s, the bass died off with it. Now, the grass is coming back, though no one is positive exactly why, and the DGIF figures they’ll see if they can jumpstart a fishery that was once the pride of Virginia bass anglers.

As an aside, the Back Bay area is one of the coolest, though least-known, places in the state. Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a stopover point on the Atlantic flyway for thousands of migratory birds. To its south, False Cape State Park is a spectacularly empty stretch of beach, dunes and marsh — 4,000 acres of it. If you ever get the chance to explore the area, jump on it.


False Cape State Park


About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?