Beaverdam Reservoir, Loudoun County, VA, October 2007
(October 1, 2007 -- RICHMOND, Va.)Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine has requested that the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) declare Virginia a statewide disaster area due to reductions in farm production caused by drought and high temperatures in 2007. A statewide designation would make farmers with qualifying losses throughout Virginia eligible for low-interest loans and any supplemental relief that may be provided by Congress.

“This is an extraordinary year for Virginia,” said Governor Kaine. “We have never sought a statewide drought disaster designation before. This year’s drought is so pervasive, however, that we decided to act on behalf of the entire state.”


For the past few years I fished at Beaverdam Reservoir in Loudoun County, VA, from my kayak. The reservoir covers 275 acres and holds 1.3 billion gallons of water. It's a hidden gem because few people knew about it and unless you had a kayak or small canoe you could not access the water to fish the shallow beds or deep drop offs. The shoreline supported a thick growth of water grasses that shelterd a healthy population of largemouth bass, sunfish, bluegills, catfish, carp and tons of baitfish, frogs and insects. The reservoir was even rumored to have hybrid striped bass, and although I've never caught one the local state Fish and Game officer who patrols here told me the fish are there and have been caught by other anglers working the deeper water.
My kayak is outfitted with a color depth/fish finder and I've registered 62 feet of water as the deepest point in the middle of the reservoir. The shoreline depths are shallow at three feet deep, gradually sloping off to deeper water. There is very little structure on the bottom except for an old steel frame bridge that was covered when the stream it spanned was dammed off to create this reservoir. But now things have changed.
I returned to the reservoir a few weeks ago after my wife showed me a photo in the local community newspaper that showed the old bridge sticking up above the water, or what was left of the water. According to the news story the reservoir was only 20 percent full.  I decided to take a drive out there on the weekend to see for myself how bad things had gotten.

The first thing I noticed after I parked was that the floating dock was sitting on dry land surrounded by growing grass which told me that the low water was not a sudden thing. The old road that leads to the bridge was now visible and it was a good 100 yard walk to the edge of the water where some folks were trying their luck at fishing. There was a fly fisherman casting away at rising fish and I asked him about the low water. He reported that the old bridge was barely visible the previous week but now almost ten feet was sticking up out of the water. Another few weeks and the whole bridge will probably be above water.

I walked the perimeter of the reservoir and saw more dirt than water. All the feeder streams were dry with grass and weeds growing in the channels. Some of my favorite fishing spots were now a pile of rocks sitting on cracked dirt. Old tires, bottles, dead freshwater clams and even a sunken boat and lounge chair were drying in the sun.

Rain, and lots of it, will be needed to fill this reservoir and restore the streams that feed into it. If that doesn't happen soon this body of water, and probably all the fish in it, will cease to exist as a viable fishery in the near future.
DIRECTIONS: Beaverdam Reservoir is located between Route 7 to the north, Ryan Road to the south, Belmont Ridge Road to the east and Evergreen Mills Road to the west. There are three public access points. From the east, on Belmont Ridge Road, you can use either the Mt. Hope Road  (look for the church), or Alford Road. From the west take Reservoir Road off Evergreen Mills Road. This is a rough gravel road that's very narrow at some points so be careful coming around the turns.