Shoulder's Hill Road
This 50-acre park offers two free boat ramps, handicapped-accessible fishing and crabbing pier, a playground, tennis courts, covered shelters, a nature trail and open fields.
During summer, when land bird activity is diminished, viewing the adjacent tidal channels by boat, which are part of the Suffolk Canoe Trail, provides access to the greatest number of bird species and allows close looks at blue and fiddler crabs, killifish, and other salt marsh denizens. In winter, paddling these channels supplies closer looks at wintering waterfowl.
200 Byrd Street
This family fun spot south of downtown Suffolk has 275 campsites and offers nature trails, swimming and more. Davis Lakes Campground features three fresh water, spring-fed fishing lakes stocked with Bass, Blue Gill and Catfish.
Suffolk Visitor Center
As various bodies of water in Suffolk are owned by different locales, boating and fishing permits are required from the respective city (owner). Applications may be obtained at the Suffolk Visitor Center or respective city website.
A permit (daily or annual) from the City of Portsmouth is required for fishing or oat on their lakes. Permits are valid for all four lakes. Daily permits can be purchased at the Cohoon-Meade Fishing Station on Pitchkettle Road (757.923.3219). Applications for annual permits can be obtained at the following places: 1) Cohoon-Meade Fishing Station; 2) Dashiell's Half-Round Showroom on Holland Road in Suffolk, and
3) Portsmouth Utilities Department on Crawford Street.
Lake Cohoon is 510 acres and offers excellent fishing for largemouth bass, crappie, chain pickerel, bluegill and redear sunfish. It produces several six-pound chain pickerel each winter and is consistently one of the district's top producers of big fish. The lake is also one of the district's top producers of big crappie. Motors (up to 9.9 horsepower) are allowed. Bank fishing is limited to the shore at the fishing station, excluding the dam’s mouth.
Lake Kilby is a colonial era millpond. The upper half of this 222-acre is a dense and very scenic cypress swamp. The water is dark-tannin stained and slightly acidic. Under these conditions, fish such as flier, warmouth, chain pickerel, and black crappie flourish. Other sport fish in Kilby include bluegill, redear and largemouth bass. The bluegills are very dark in color (in response to the dark stained water) and are known locally as "black bream." Pickerel fishing is best during the winter months; for the other sport fish, it's spring and fall.
Lake Meade is the youngest Portsmouth water supply lake. It was impounded in 1960 on the mainstem of the Nansemond River. It is horseshoe shaped with Lakes Kilby and Speight's Run on one arm and Lake Cohoon on the other. The lake is 512 acres and has a maximum depth of about 25-feet.
Speight's Run is a 197-acre lake that overflows into Lake Kilby. The lake is separated into two sections, split by Route 645 (Manning Road) off Route 58 in Suffolk. The upper section is closed to public fishing due to the lack of any public access. The lake contains abundant largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, and redear sunfish, with perhaps the latter species being most noteworthy. Bass in the 12-15 inch range are very abundant. Since the lake gets very little fishing pressure, angling success rates are generally high. Permits are required, as for the other Portsmouth lakes. Bank fishing is prohibited and gas motors (up to 10 horsepower) are allowed. On the lower lake, there is a paved ramp with limited parking located at the dam on Route 688, south of the intersection of Business Route 58 and Route 58 bypass.
Either a daily or annual boat permit is required. These can be purchased at either the Lake Whitehurst fishing station on Shore Drive in Norfolk or at the Granby Municipal Building, 400 Granby Street, Norfolk.
Burnt Mills Reservoir
Burnt Mills is 711 acres and dates back to the early 1940s. The upper half of the lake is very stumpy and caution is required when motoring through the lake. The main tributary (Great Swamp) is a dense cypress swamp. The lake has good populations of largemouth bass, bluegill, chain pickerel, black crappie, and redear sunfish. Fish population surveys indicate most species have remained stable in terms of numbers and average size for the past ten years. Yellow perch appear to be increasing in abundance. There is a dirt ramp, with limited parking, located adjacent to the dam off Route 603, a few miles west of Route 10/32.
Lake Prince is 946 acres, 30 feet deep and it has numerous long, narrow coves extending out from the main body of the lake. Striped bass have been stocked annually in Lake Prince since 1970. Approximately 25 fish per acre (19,425 striped bass per year) are stocked. Prince has good largemouth bass, bluegill, and redear sunfish populations. Fishing is best for largemouth bass in spring and fall, for redear sunfish in spring, and for bluegills in summer. However, all of these fishes can be caught year-round. There are also black crappies in the lake, with spring and fall being the best times for these fish. Some big chain pickerel are caught during the cooler months. Lake Prince produces about 50 trophy bass and 150 trophy sunfish each year.
A boat ramp is located off U.S. 460 at Providence Church on Route 604 (Lake Prince Road) in Suffolk. Norfolk boat permits are required. Bank fishing is restricted to a small area around the boat ramp, and gas motors (up to 9.9 horsepower) are allowed. The City of Norfolk has amended their codes to allow boats with outboard motors larger than 9.9 horse power to access the lake if the gas tanks are removed or the outboard is disabled (prop removed). The concession there is closed and will probably remain so indefinitely. The lake is open to fishing from sunrise to sunset 365 days per year.
Western Branch Reservoir
Western Branch is 1,265 with a maximum depth of 35 feet. The lake is horseshoe shaped with Lake Prince upstream on one arm and Lake Burnt Mills upstream on the other arm.
Western Branch is one of the top waters in the state in trophy sunfish, white perch, yellow perch, and largemouth bass. The lake also has a healthy crappie population. Most of the sunfish certificates are for redear sunfish or shellcrackers. Redear are most frequently caught in April and May. Nightcrawlers are the favored bait. Angling for bass is probably best in the spring, but good numbers can be caught year-round. Artificial bait is preferred.
Fall and winter months are best for striper fishing; with good numbers caught in the spring below the spillways from Lakes Prince and Burnt Mills. White and yellow perch are available in good sizes and numbers, and numerous trophies are caught each year. White perch appear to be gaining in popularity during the winter months.
The lake has two places to launch boats: a dirt/gravel ramp is just below the Burnt Mills Dam off Route 603 (across from Kirk Lumber Co.) near Everetts, and two paved ramps are below the Lake Prince Dam on Route 605 near Providence Church. Bank fishing is prohibited. Gas motors up to 9.9 horsepower are allowed. Boats with outboard motors larger than 9.9 horse power may access the lake if the gas tanks are removed or the outboard is disabled (prop removed). Water skiing and sailing are prohibited. The ramps are open sunrise to sunset, 365 days a year and a Norfolk boat permit is required. The concession is closed.
Lone Star Lakes
The City of Suffolk re-opened the boating access (ramp) for Butler Tract Lake, located within the Lone Star Lakes Park, on August 3, 2010. Boaters and anglers should be aware of the current low water level in the lake that may make it difficult to launch boats that require a trailer. Please contact the park rangers at 757.255.4032 for additional questions regarding boat access in Lone Star lakes.
The Lone Star Lakes are a series of 11 lakes (some interconnected) varying in size from three to 50 acres. The total acreage is 490. The park contains 1,172 acres and offers picnicking and hiking, as well as an archery range and horseback riding trails. There are two new ramps, one at Butler Tract and the other at Crane Lake, providing boat access to these outstanding fishing waters. The lakes vary in characteristics. One is brackish, some are dark-stained, while others very clear. Some are deep while others are very shallow. Among the best is Crane Lake, which opens into Chuckatuck Creek.
Crane Lake has good populations of striped bass, white perch, largemouth bass, bluegill, white catfish and spot. Channel catfish were stocked in 1992, and blue catfish from the James River have now moved into the lake via Chuckatuck Creek. Saltwater fish, such as bluefish and flounder, are also found in the lakes at times. The lake also has blue crabs, which makes live bait fishing difficult. Butler Tract, Crystal, and Annette Lakes are all interconnected. They contain redear sunfish, largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, and white perch. Butler Tract, in particular, has a lot of bass--mostly small, but some citations are caught each year. Southern Lake and Lake Wahoo, which are interconnected, contain largemouth bass, crappie, and bluegill, and were stocked with channel catfish in 1992. These lakes can be difficult to fish due to the steep shorelines, but they can produce some excellent fishing.
3100 Desert Road
Fishing and boating is permitted year-round on Lake Drummond with access via the Feeder Ditch, connecting Lake Drummond with the Dismal Swamp Canal. A public boat ramp is located north of the Feeder Ditch on the Dismal Swamp Canal. Boats must be small enough to portage around the water control structure near the lake or to be lifted by electric tram to the higher level of the Lake. Lift weight is restricted to a maximum of 1,000 lbs. Vessels are limited to 25 hp on the Lake. A Virginia fishing license is required. Boating access at the Interior Ditch boat ramp is by special permit on weekends only during the fishing season of April 1 to June 15. Additional information is available from the Refuge office.
3305 Ferry Road
Located on Bennett's Creek, this facility offers a boat ramp, marina and waterfront dining.