Fishing Lake Mooney

by Chris McCotter

Lake Mooney or Rocky Pen Reservoir just north of Fredericksburg opened to the public for fishing on July 1, 2017 after it reached full pool as a water supply lake for Stafford County in early 2016. I remember reading about the 520-acre lake in W2 and on the DWR website shortly after it opened to the public and went exploring in June 2018. It was originally named after the stream it impounded but renamed after the late Stafford County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jason Mooney.

We caught over a 100 bass on that first visit, but only one of them was over 12 inches. Needless to say, I had not thought much about Lake Mooney since that time.  However, I recently found myself listening to a Fishing The DMV Podcast, which led me to a Lake Mooney Facebook group. There, I found myself looking through some of the pictures of bass and crappie being caught I realized I might need to re-evaluate my thoughts towards the lake. 

You might remember me dragging my friend L.J. with me up into the mountains during the middle of winter to fish Lake Elkhorn with little success. I was not sure I would be able to convince him to drive half way across the Commonwealth to fish a new lake again but luckily, he is as crazy as I am.

As we dropped my Triton into the lake, with the sun cracking over the horizon, I could not help but be excited. There is just something that I love about exploring a new lake and the anticipation that comes with it, I live for it. 

Slightly dimming my enthusiasm was some boat problems we encountered during our visit. Just the day before I had come to the realization that I was having issues with my starting battery, and after about five minutes on the water, we realized those same issues were going to carry over to today. No LiveScope and no other graphs, but I said to L.J: “Hey, it’s May in Virginia, we don’t need no graphs, right?”

Using the trolling motor for a good way up the lake we picked out a good-looking bank and started fishing. L.J. was flipping a soft plastic bait to the visible cover, and he quickly put a few nice fish in the boat. I looked at him and said, “Well I guess we already did better than Elkhorn.” 

L.J. was steadily catching bass on the soft plastic, but I was stubbornly throwing a Rico popper due to the overcast weather but not getting bit. We worked our way around a shallower pocket when my Rico got toilet-bowled. The fished jumped out of the water and I quickly called for the net. After another jump and a boat side surge, we had the big girl in the net – 6.3 pounds on top water, it does not get any better than that! 

We continued working our way up the lake, steadily catching fish everywhere. I had not had anymore bites on the Rico so I decided to make a color change to see if that would make a difference. I swapped over to a white Rico and quickly put four to five fish in the boat, including a four-pounder. 

It was getting to be mid-day and they were calling for some nasty storms so we were starting to troll back towards the ramp. I was going to blow past a good-looking pocket but L.J. said: “That just looks too fishy.” 

We fished our way back into the pocket, picking apart all of the visible cover. We added another five or so bass to the total on the way in and fished our way back out.  L.J. casted his soft plastic out and I think may have been picking out a backlash when he realized his line was about 15 feet away from where it should have been.  A quick hookset, fight, and L.J. had another five pounder in the boat.

As we trolled back to the ramp we couldn’t help but laugh it up and look back on a memorable day. We put over 50 bass in the boat with our best five fish going over 20 pounds. 

There are a few things to consider if you decide to make the trip to one of Virginia’s newest lakes. The ramp is extremely steep, and the parking is somewhat limited. Initially when the lake was designed, it was not intended for boats over 16 foot, so the ramp itself is somewhat short. 

The lake is a water supply lake that is directly fed from the Rappahannock River so it can fluctuate 6-7 feet seasonally. Some of the pictures I’ve saw from the ramp in the fall look like it would be extremely hard to launch a boat that time of year.  

Lake Mooney was stocked with primary warm water species between 2014 and 2016 including bluegill, redear sunfish and channel catfish.  Black crappie and largemouth bass naturally colonized the filling reservoir from inundated ponds.  

Lastly, it is a large lake at roughly 520 acres and is trolling motor only so make sure you have good batteries that are fully charged! It is a great option for the kayak anglers as none of the aforementioned information really affects you.  If you decide to hit the lake, I’d love to see your pictures at PsuAaron on IG. 

To get to Mooney, take Route 17 north from Fredericksburg, turn left onto Banks Ford Parkway, and right on Greenbank Road.  Stafford Parks and Recreation access is at 500 Greenbank Road, Falmouth, VA 22406. 

Access consisting of boat launch, park, and restroom facilities, is provided from 8 am to 8 pm mid-March through October 31, and from November 1 through mid-March; access is available from 8 am to 5:30 pm.  No swimming is allowed, and boat motors must be electric – no gas motors are permitted to be operated.

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