One of Virginia’s best lakes for trout is showing signs of strengthening as this week VDGIF released data tied to their annual monitoring of the trout fishery at Lake Moomaw. The results showed an increase in 12 to 13 inch class brown trout, as well as strong numbers of 20+ inch brown trout in Lake Moomaw. This is great news as it shows the lake is poised for excellent catch rates in 2016. Last year anglers saw a decline in the catch rates on lake Moomaw, and VDGIF biologists attribute this decline to a few factors, including an extremely low survival rate of the cohort of brown trout stocked in Lake Moomaw in 2014.
Lake Moomaw is stocked with both fingerling brown trout and rainbow trout, thought brown trout survival rates and growth have been higher for brown trout. Lake Moomaw brown trout stocking efforts is largely made up of three cohorts. Fish from these three different yearly stockings typically are made up of three distinct sizes 12 to 13″, 16 to 18″ and 18-24″. The low survival rates of the 2014 stocking means that browns in the 16-18″ size range are non existent for the most part.
The trout stocking at Lake Moomaw began with steelhead rainbow trout back in 2009 as a replacement for the previously stocked McConaughy rainbow trout. The McConaughy strain of rainbow trout had been stocked in Lake Moomaw for many years. VDGIF biologist have tested stocking these steelhead fingerlings in the Jackson River, upriver of Lake Moomaw. To their dismay, very few of the steelhead migrated down into Lake Moomaw. As recently as April 20015, biologist stocked steelhead fingerlings directly into Lake Moomaw, this appears to be more successful than the river stocking. Sampling data shows a good number of steelhead averaging 12 inches or so in length. The steelhead are taking advantage of the large number of alewife in Lake Moomaw, and growing in size along with the brown trout. Biologist hope to see the steelhead eventually migrate up into the Jackson River for spawning.