Christmas for the Fishes 2016

Claytor Lake

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Region 3 Wildlife Resources Bureau aquatic resources staff participated in the annual “Christmas for the Fishes” Habitat Project with Claytor Lake State Park staff, local nonprofit Friends of Claytor Lake, the New River Valley Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program, and Appalachian Power Company at Claytor Lake State Park.  Over 250 donated Christmas trees were tied to concrete blocks and sunk at 3 deepwater fish reef sites in Claytor Lake adjacent to the state park.  Claytor Lake State Park coordinates Christmas tree donations and hauls donated cull concrete block from Chandler Concrete Company in Dublin.

The annual project has become an event, with hot coffee and bowls of warm chili handed out at lunchtime by Friends of Claytor Lake.  In addition to Christmas trees, the 3 deepwater reef sites have multiple fish attraction structures, including long-lasting structures called “spider blocks”.  These fish reef sites are used by anglers to catch largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass, bluegill, black crappie, and flathead and channel catfish, allowing them to increase their catch rates when fishing near Claytor Lake State Park.  The habitat project is done with the agreement of Appalachian Power Company and under a Nationwide permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.