Philpott Lake Overview
Philpott Lake (aka Philpott Reservoir) is located in a scenic mountainous setting
near Martinsville, VA. Owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, its 2,880 acres
are undeveloped except for recreational facilities. Philpott Lake boasts good
populations of largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, crappie, and catfish.
Although bass are the most popular game fish, the walleye fishery is the most
noteworthy. The walleye fishing is unsurpassed by any other reservoir in the
Commonwealth - at least in terms of numbers of fish.
August 19, 2009: Jimmy Cannoy (276) 632-8406, local tournament angler,
provided the following fishing report for Philpott:
It's all about the nighfishing on Philpott right now. You are fighting an uphill battle
to try to catch fish during the day. The best times are between 10:30 at night and
1:00 am. In a clear water lake like Philpott, the fish just seem to go dormant and
hide during a hot summer day.
The walleye and bass have moved off the points in about 25 feet of water. It's
hard to beat a live nightcrawler on a bottom rig (Carolina rig) for walleye. Some
very nice walleye are being caught by anglers slowly trolling nightcrawlers at night.
The bass are deep also. Look for them on points in similar water depths.
Virginia Outdoors - A Resource for Virginia Anglers and Hunters
Virginia Outdoors - Philpott Lake
Fishing Philpott Lake
Largemouth Bass: Outnumbering smallmouth approximately five to one, the
largemouth are widely scattered throughout the lake. Tributaries such as Bowens
Creek, Goblintown Creek, and Salthouse Branch are good places to start. Smith
River (the main tributary of the impoundment) is also worth a look. Fortunately for
the newcomer, visible fish-holding structure is abundant. Rocky structures, riprap,
weed beds, and fallen trees can all produce. With a little more work, a good
depthfinder can help pinpoint less-pressured fish lurking near rocky structure on
underwater flats. Target weed beds and woody cover with four-inch senkos and
flukes, and 3/8 oz spinnerbaits . Try crawfish-imitating jigs and soft plastics
around rocky shoreline cover and riprap. Probe offshore structure with 4 to 8 inch
Texas-rigged plastic worms in black or (watermelonseed, pumpkinseed) whereas
stained water uplake may permit chartreuse and other bright hues.
Smallmouth Bass: The smallmouth bass draw a legion of loyal anglers even
though they are outnumbered by the largemouth. Although the tactics listed above
in the largemouth section can produce smallmouth as well, stick to the downlake
region to specifically target smallmouth. Rocky outcroppings along the main lake
channel are especially productive. Don't be afraid to fish deep - particularly during
Walleye: The walleye fishing is outstanding by Virginia standards. Walleye are
stocked annually and these tasty fish must be 18" to be kept for the table. The
average adult is 18 - 21 inches, but larger specimens up to 6 lbs are caught
occasionally. During the spawn (typically from early March through early April),
target fish in less than 10 feet of water from mile marker 11 up the Smith River,
mile marker 3 to the dam, and in Runnett Bag Creek. Walleye feed heavily from
April - June. Bright, sunny days and clear water will push the walleye deeper.
Cloudy days and/or stained water result in shallower fish. Shallow running plugs
and topwaters produce the best fishing when the fish are shallow - especially at
night. Live bait (medium minnows) often work best when fish are deeper.
Night Fishing: It must be mentioned the Philpott is renowned for its night fishing.
The largemouth and smallmouth venture into the coves at night where they are
more easily caught. Walleye also feed throughout the night in shallow water
areas. However, due to the absence of development around the lake, expect to be
fishing by moonlight only, which makes navigation treacherous for those unfamiliar
with the lake.
Philpott Lake Fishing Report
|Copyright © 2009 Virginia Outdoors, LLC
Other Useful Info and Links
Camping & Picnicking:
All campgrounds are operated by the Corps. Call (703) 629-2703 or click here for
There are several boat ramps around the lake.
Philpott Reservoir Map - Click to Enlarge
Local angler Bill Coe provided a special 2007 / 2008 report for
Philpott Reservoir in the VDGIF Outdoor Newsletter. Visit the VDGIF
web site to sign up for the free and informative newsletter.
Philpott Annual 2007 Fishing Report by Bill Coe
2007 turned out to be an outstanding year for fishing at Philpott
Lake. Spring fishing was exceptional with tournament fisherman
catching double the normal weights and weekend fisherman doing
the same. During the spawn nature seemed to step in and insure a
their spawning beds. The temperatures during the weekend
tournaments turned unusually cold which caused the fish to back off
and therefore, they were not being caught and released at the dock.
After the weekends the weather would turn warm again and the fish
would go back on the bed. Needless to say we had an exceptional
spawn. Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter were all trophy months at
Philpott and fishing was excellent. Overall in 2007, Philpott Lake
again proved itself as an excellent fishery with plenty of bait fish and
great game fishing.
January 2008: We are now in the middle of winter and excellent
catches are being made by those who brave the elements or take
advantage of the warm days we've had. Water temperature is in the
Largemouth Bass: Can be found all around main lake areas
suspended in 20-25 feet of water. Best baits this time of year are
silver spoons, jigs and slow rolling spinner baits.
Smallmouth Bass: The smallmouth are suspended a little deeper
than largemouth and can be found in about 30 feet of water adjacent
to rocky banks. Best baits are the same as for largemouth - silver
spoons, slow rolling spinner baits, jigs, etc. Philpott smallmouth also
seems to bite somewhat better with a 10 MPH wind or so on the
Bream (small species of the Sunfish family): Almost impossible to
catch during this time of the year because they are so deep and
seldom feed in the colder water.
Crappie: Catches of crappie are being made and the best baits are
small minnows, small jigs and small spinner baits. One does need to
know the location of underwater structure or have electronics on
board to find such. Once you find 'em have a blast.
Carp: I have an underwater camera and do often see carp swimming
at about 30 feet, but very seldom see them feeding in water
temperatures below 55 degrees which we now are encountering.
Walleye: Some excellent catches are being made by slow trolling
with bottom bouncers, live nightcrawlers, jigs and crankbaits
designed for walleye. Main lake area coves seem to be the best
location and at a depth of around 30-40 feet.
Philpott is a wonderful lake to fish and the winter beauty is as scenic
as the summer since one can see numerous wildlife and be one on
one with nature. To make your trip even more fun take a kid with you
and allow them to enjoy that wonderful journey and the fun
associated with fishing at Philpott. My Grandson and I were out on
Philpott on New Year's Eve and the picture reflects his catch and
what you too can catch at Philpott. You owe it to yourself and the
kids to fish this super lake.