Lake Gaston Fishing 101

Lake Gaston Fishing 101

Three formidable reservoirs were created from a series of dams along the Roanoke River, creating perfect conditions fishing enthusiasts enjoy from all over North Carolina and Virginia.

At the base of John H. Kerr Dam lies the largest lake known as Kerr Lake or more fondly referred to by locals as Buggs Island Lake. And furthest downstream, Roanoke Rapids Lake serves as a source of hydroelectric power for the area. 

Sandwiched between these two reservoirs lies Lake Gaston, well known for its clean waters, healthy fish populations, and fishing tournaments that last all season long.

Lake Gaston is 34 miles long with an impressive 350 miles of shoreline - ample space to set up camp and spend your days casting from the shore. And if you prefer to get out and enjoy a day of fishing on the water, you won’t be disappointed by the 23,000 acres of freshwater this reservoir has to offer.

Lake Gaston Fish Populations

Lake Gaston is home to a wide variety of fish species, and its abundant aquatic vegetation provides the perfect habitat for a healthy largemouth bass population. 

The lake is also full of other fish species both stocked and native including: 

  • Striped bass
  • Channel catfish
  • Blue catfish
  • Walleye
  • Crappie
  • And North Carolina’s record-breaking chain pickerel

Best Times to Fish 

Lake Gaston’s water levels are highly regulated and are only allowed to fluctuate 18 inches which allows for a consistent spawn each year.

But even with a consistent season, you’ll still want to check local fishing reports before you head out to see what anglers are catching in real-time.

May is bass spawning season at Lake Gaston, so it can be a difficult month if you’re trying to catch a coveted largemouth. Bass will go from pre-spawn to spawn to post-spawn within this 30-day window, but by the end of May and well into summer, you’ll find plenty of bass hanging out in the shallow waters on the grassy beds or around dock structures.

Seasoned Lake Gaston fishing enthusiasts will tell you to start the morning along the grassy beds where bass seek early morning shade. And when the sun hits full strength, head over to the boat docks where they take cover from the midday heat.

Walleye and other stocked species are typically found on the upper end of the lake in February and March and striper fishing will keep you busy all summer long (although some avid Gaston fishermen will tell you that stripers bite like crazy in the colder winter months if you can stand the cold yourself!).

Local Marinas and Boat Rentals

Lake Gaston’s shoreline is dotted with local marinas where you can rent boats, dock for lunch, and enjoy some unique fun with a variety of seasonal events!

Check out some of these marinas here:

Rules and Regulations 

Good news for residents of North Carolina and Virginia! As long as you have a valid fishing license from either state, you can legally fish from a boat lake-wide. If you’re from out of state and plan to spend a few days fishing the lake, you can always opt for a short-term license for non-residents.

Lake Gaston’s abundant vegetation is great for fish, but not so great for other waterways. Hydrilla is an invasive plant that grows here and can damage other bodies of water if it’s allowed to spread. Make sure to check your boat and clean off any vegetation before heading to another part of the river.

And lastly, make sure you familiarize yourself with fishing regulations regarding catch and release, daily limits, seasonal rules and other things you’ll need to know for your trip to Lake Gaston.

Billy Curington said it best when he sang, “A bad day of fishing beats a good day of anything else.” We couldn’t agree more, Billy. A day of Lake Gaston fishing will surely be one for the books. And Emporia KOA serves as the perfect base camp for your summer fishing adventure. 

Book your stay for the upcoming season!

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