Western Branch Lake, Virginia, USA

Also known as:  Western Branch Reservoir

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Western Branch Lake.

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Western Branch Lake visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - South - Virginia - Tidewater & Hampton Roads -

Western Branch Lake, near Suffolk, Virginia, is one of five water supply reservoirs owned by the City of Norfolk that allows fishing. At 1,265 acres, Western Branch Lake is the largest of the water supply lakes and with a maximum depth of 35 feet, it is also the deepest. The horseshoe shaped lake takes its name from the western branch of the Nansemond River on which it was impounded in 1962. Known for its excellent bass population, Western Branch Lake is a popular fishing and boating spot.

Fishing from the shore of Western Branch Lake is not allowed, but there are several boat ramps that allow access to the lake. Boats can have motors up to 9.9 horsepower. The lake is home to 22 species of fish that include largemouth bass, striped bass, chain pickerel, sunfish, white perch, yellow perch, muskie, catfish, walleye, and crappie. May is the best month to fish for largemouth bass which Western Branch Lake is known for. Lake Prince and Lake Burnt Mills, upstream arms of Western Branch Lake, are also popular destinations for anglers in search of largemouth bass, crappie, chain pickerel, and redear sunfish. Fly fishing for trout is also popular in the many streams that lead from the lake.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries awards anglers who think they have caught a trophy size fish. Trophy fish awards or citations are given to anyone who believes they have caught a fish that exceeds the minimum weight or length for the species. Western Branch Lake currently holds 13 citations for trophy sized fish. Nearby lakes Meade and Cohoon also hold some record size fish.

Much of Western Branch Lake, with its fingerlike coves, is inaccessible to the public by land. These secluded coves are perfect for boating birdwatchers in search of waterfowl. Completely surrounded by forest, boaters can expect to see and hear woodpeckers, summer tanagers, and other forest songbirds. Black bear, bobcats, and white tailed deer are commonly seen coming out of the woods to quench their thirst in the lake.

There are no camping facilities on Western Branch Lake, but a campground and vacation rentals can be found in the nearby city of Suffolk. Although Western Branch Lake is owned by the city of Norfolk, Suffolk is the closest city. Suffolk is a thriving community with a number of family attractions, shops and boutiques, and an active arts and culture scene. Be sure to pay a visit to the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge with over 111,000 acres for wildlife observation. Fishing and boating are permitted year round on the waters of Lake Drummond, a 3,100 acre natural lake in the heart of the swamp. Deer hunting by permit is available in the fall. There are also a number of golf courses in the area for those who never leave their golf clubs at home.

For some of the best fresh water fishing in Virginia, head to Western Branch Lake. With over 1,000 acres of wide open water, you’re sure to find that perfect spot to drop anchor and cast your line and enjoy some peace and quite while waiting for that trophy fish to bite.

Custom Western Branch Lake house decor

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Things to do at Western Branch Lake

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Wildlife Refuge

Fish species found at Western Branch Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Chain Pickerel
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Perch
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker)
  • Striped Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • White Perch
  • Yellow Perch

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Western Branch Lake

The Western Branch Lake map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

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Western Branch Lake photo gallery

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Western Branch Lake statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: City of Norfolk

Surface Area: 1,265 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 18 feet

Maximum Depth: 35 feet

Completion Year: 1962

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