Briery Creek Lake
This post is brought to you by guest blog writer David Hart.
Just a few miles south of Farmville lies an 845-acre oasis for boaters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Built in 1986, Briery Creek Lake is a scenic, tree-lined reservoir known mostly as a premier fishing destination, thanks to active management by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Anglers from up and down the east coast come to Briery in search of trophy-sized largemouth bass. Many of them find one. Anglers have registered hundreds of largemouth bass with the DGIF’s angler recognition program since the lake opened. (Bass must be over 22 inches or 8 pounds to qualify.) In fact, 24 of the 25 largest bass ever caught in Virginia came from Briery. The best time to catch those trophy-sized bass is in March and April, but lots of big ones are pulled from the water the rest of the year.
Redear sunfish, known as shellcrackers among locals, move to aquatic vegetation in shallow water to spawn, usually around Memorial Day. They provide lots of action and a great opportunity for a home-cooked fish dinner. Crappie also move shallow in March and April, but with so much cover, they can be a challenge to find. Catfish are abundant, too, and they can be caught all year.
Be warned: Virtually all of the trees that grew where the lake now sits were left standing. Many of those trees have since fallen, but their stumps remain at or just below the water’s surface. The maze of standing and fallen trees makes finding Briery’s legendary big bass a challenge.
It also makes boating a challenge. Because of all those obstacles, and to keep the fishing and boating experience peaceful for everyone, motors are restricted to 10 horsepower or less. That means you’ll never have to hear the whine of personal watercraft or the constant roar of big pleasure boats.
Briery isn’t just a great place to cast a line or paddle a kayak through the standing timber. The tree-lined lake is a wonderful place to get in touch with your inner naturalist. Early-morning birders and anglers alike might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a bald eagle, a common visitor to Briery. Wood ducks are abundant in the summer and fall and a wide variety of songbirds call the forest and fields around the lake home. Several miles of trails on the 3,164-acre wildlife management area that surrounds Briery Creek Lake provide ample opportunities for birding in a variety of habitats. Deer, turkeys and other wildlife are abundant, too.
The first entrance and the closest to Farmville has a concrete boat ramp, plus an area with several fishing piers, ample handicap-accessible bank-fishing opportunities and a gravel ramp for launching small boats, kayaks and canoes. It’s located near the dam at the north end of the lake. The other access point is located on Landing Road (Route 701) near the upper end of the lake and has a concrete boat ramp and ample parking. Both are located directly off Route 15 south of town. You can view a map of Briery Creek Lake here.
Boaters, bird watchers and others who have not purchased a hunting or fishing license or who have not registered their boat with the DGIF are required to buy a daily ($4) or annual ($23) access permit. The funds are used to maintain such facilities as trails, docks, boat ramps and parking areas.