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With his tackle checked and ready and a thermos of coffee to fortify him against the early spring chill, the fisherman climbs into his boat in the pre-dawn glow and sets off across Briery Creek Lake. Like a gladiator preparing for the fight, he takes a deep breath then casts as close as he can to the tips of trees and brush that stick up out of the water. This is where the big fish live, and this will be his year - the year he catches his lunker. A lunker is defined as "something, especially a game fish, that is large for its kind," and Briery Creek Lake in Central Virginia is full of them. In fact, the eight-pound largemouth bass that would earn an angler bragging rights on any other lake barely gets a mention at Briery Creek Reservoir. Bragging doesn't start until ten pounds on this lake. This is where the trophy hunters come to catch the monster fish.
Just seven miles south of Farmville in Prince Edward County, Briery Creek Reservoir is an impoundment of Briery Creek and Little Briery Creek. It was completed in 1986 and is owned by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF). When the lake was created, the timber and brush were left standing or cut and left in place to create fish habitat. The VDGIF stocked the lake with bluegill, redear sunfish, channel catfish, crappie, Florida strain largemouth bass, and northern strain largemouth bass, and it opened for fishing in 1989.
Briery Creek Lake was impounded with the intention of creating a great bass fishery. Very careful management by the VDGIF has done just that, and by the end of the 1990's, the lake was known as the best largemouth bass fishery in Virginia and one of the best in the mid-Atlantic. Anglers come from across the state and country for a chance to catch the monster bass, and several have been lucky enough to pull fish in excess of 13 pounds out of Briery Creek Reservoir. The lake holds both the second and third place spots in the all-time Virginia big bass rankings with a 16-pound 3-ounce fish caught in 1995 and a 16-pound 2-ounce fish caught in 2002. Spring is the best time to catch trophy size bass, but the lake is productive all year long, and there are plenty of two- to four-pound fish to catch in the summer and fall. Briery Creek Lake also has the reputation for being one of southside Virginia's best crappie, redear sunfish, and bluegill lakes.
Surrounded by the Briery Creek Wildlife Management Area in the rolling hills of the piedmont, Briery Creek Reservoir is a very accessible lake. There are two public boat launches with concrete ramps, piers and restrooms, and near the dam there is a handicap-accessible pier and restroom. Anglers can fish from the dam and there is plenty of room for bank fishing. The lake opens an hour before dawn and closes an hour after dusk.
The kiosk in the parking lot at the dam has information on the Briery Creek Wildlife Management Area. At 3,164 acres, the wildlife area has plenty of room to explore and a varied habitat for animals. Originally farmed for tobacco and corn, the land is now covered with mixed hardwood forests and pure stands of loblolly pine. In designated areas, visitors can hunt for turkey, deer, quail, squirrel, rabbit, and waterfowl. Beavers, muskrats, otters, bobcats and foxes also make their home in the hills surrounding Briery Creek Lake.
Although there aren't vacation rentals around the lake, nearby Farmville has a variety of accommodations and real estate available within a few minutes of Briery Creek Lake. Farmville also has restaurants and shopping, and it is the home of both Longwood and Hampden Sydney Universities. While the anglers are hunting lunkers, the rest of the family can enjoy all the ammentities of historic Farmville. Careful management of the fishery at Briery Creek Reservoir made it a lake full of huge fish. All that is needed to pull a trophy fish out of the lake is a rod and reel and a little bit of patience.
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