Legacy Habitat Mats Splash into Leesville lake in Virginia with Fast  and Fishy results

Legacy Habitat Mats Splash into Leesville lake in Virginia with Fast and Fishy results

Posted by David Ewald, VDWR, George Noleff, NBC12 Newsroom on 12th Jul 2021

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (VDWR) has placed 16 artificial fish habitat structures around Leesville Reservoir. They’re made out of reclaimed plastic and resemble fake trees. They will provide structure to create hiding places for the forage fish base. That forage will attract gamefish. Leesville is an under-fished resource with wide water fluctuations. The VDWR has a guide to fishing it.

DWR biologists recently placed 16 Fishiding Reclaimed Artificial Fish Habitat structures in Leesville Reservoir, a 3,400-acre lake located in Campbell, Bedford, and Pittsylvania counties. These structures were funded by Appalachian Power and will provide habitat for forage and gamefish. Because they are made out of reclaimed plastic, they will last much longer than traditional habitat such as Christmas trees or brushpiles.

The artificial habitat structures are based on recycled pallets and use unwanted pre- and post-consumer PVC destined for the dump, which has proven to safely grow aquatic life underwater extremely well, while adding no adverse effects on water quality. The hundreds of PVC pieces are bent into abstract shapes by hand, forming a maze of crevices, holes and hiding spots for bugs and small fish.

DWR Fisheries Biologist Dan Wilson worked with FisHiding.com to design the artificial habitats that were deployed, the Legacy system. "It had to be stable and heavy enough to hold firm against slope, the ravages of current, massive wave action, boating and fishing pressures, water level fluctuations, and thieves," said David Ewald of FisHiding. "We and he tested in the nastiest area he had, a full season in Smith Mountain Lake, with positive results, then made some adjustments to improve the base connection and increase unit size, overall weight and discussed other potential applications. The ability to assemble and install such a large-scale habitat complex without a barge or heavy equipment as quickly as what we just witnessed, was his idea--we just helped him make it happen."

Explore Leesville Reservoir: https://dwr.virginia.gov/waterbody/leesville-reservoir/

First report:

"Caught lots and lots of fish. (A hundred is not an exaggeration, released most.) The one in Old Women’s creek was full of bluegills and some white perch. The one by marina had lots of crappies AND white perch . The fish were all on the small size as only a couple of white perch over 10 inches and all the bluegills under 8” …..crappie in 8” to 10” range.

Here’s some interesting take always (not sure how this will hold up over time):

Once I found the structures, the bite is non stop……usually I run 4 to 6 poles and drift looking for fish……here I tried two poles but gave up…..one keep me busy full time.

I use “big” hooks…1/0 and few #2, so small fish taking bait a constant issue.

(Ran out of bait, went to artificials the last 1/2hour)

The fish are ALL AROUND the structure….. fairly steady bite up to 15-20’ away….all around. (I have a “jog “ feature on the trolling motor, so easy to explore.)

Hard to snag. Did snag a number of times, but all but once the line came free with a pull…and I was using a three hook drop shop.

Structures are easy to find on “down” or “side” imaging .

All in all….LOT OF FUN….. it got to hot……so I passed on looking for the third structure by the marina.

Next time will go up to Terrapin Creek Bay and try those, also do some casting over them and see have those play out. Will let you know."