When you ask my favorite place to paddle in the local area, I have to say it is the Sandy River Reservoir in Prince Edward County, Virginia. Located less than ten minutes outside Farmville, Virginia; an eighth of a mile off of route 460, this 740-acre man made lake has it all. It offers clean, clear water; excellent fishing; wildlife to spot and birds to watch; and peace and quiet for those seeking solitude. What more could you ask for? The County has prohibited swimming and jet skis, no motors on the powerboats over 10hp, and they encourage our non-polluting paddle powered craft. After all, it is a reservoir.
The lake was completed in 1995 and is managed by Prince Edward County with some input from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The lake is nicely stocked and you can expect to find large mouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, channel catfish, and much more on hand. VDGIF restocks the lake on a regular basis. The fishing is excellent here and we kayakers can reach areas that many others cant. This is due to our ability to slip into the shallow flats. I can tell you from experience that there are some nice fish in the shallows. A day spent exploring with a rod in hand is a great way to unwind.
As a paddler, it is easy to appreciate the varied environments you can encounter on the lake, simply by the direction in which you choose to paddle. Looking for a challenge? Paddle due south from the put in, and you will find yourself in wide-open water, with the opportunity to encounter widely varying currents and conditions. When the wind kicks up, breaking waves, crossing seas, and conditions rough enough that you will need a spray skirt on your cockpit are a real possibility. Of course, this crossing is normally no problem, and you can avoid any risks, even on the worst weather days, by skirting the shoreline.
Paddle east and pass under the bridge and you move into the least developed area of the lake. The deeper slower water here takes on a beautiful greenish hue, and you seem to be in a different area entirely. Here the wife and I have seen deer at the waters edge for a drink; had flocks of geese as large as 25 paddle alongside our kayaks for more than a half hour, and seen a bald eagle land on an overhanging log for a rest and sit staring at our kayaks for as long as we sat motionless staring back. Rumor has it that Eagles nest on the Reservoir. Gives us something to search for in our travels. Paddling quietly down this finger of the lake you never know what you will see along the bank or around the next bend. A camera is always a welcome accessory and waterproof binoculars can come in handy as well. Each new trip is a new adventure waiting to happen.
We love to paddle here, because there is so much to see. You might discover turtles sunning themselves on deadfalls and rocks or a large catfish passing under your boat as you cruise through a narrow cut, or over a grassy flat. There are areas where the timber was left standing to encourage fishing and areas where the farmers pasture comes right down to kiss the waters edge. Rocky shorelines, secluded coves with shaded overhangs to explore, and hidden sandy beaches to pull up on and have a sandwich or stretch and hydrate. There are the areas hidden in Cattails, and those where the water depth is measured in inches instead of feet. Get out here and wade while you fish, or just explore, with your kayak tethered to your waist or anchored awaiting your return. Duck under an overhang and paddle back into a narrow inlet to fish where the power boaters cant reach, or to sit in the shade and enjoy the silence and seclusion while others pass you by.
Yup, Sandy River is our favorite place to paddle in our local area, and Tina and I will keep paddling there. Why? There are a number of areas we havent paddled through yet, but we will. We have to, because there are secrets at Sandy River, and the wife and I intend to discover them all. With more than Seven Hundred Acres to explore, we will just have to keep paddling, a day at a time, until we do. It is a difficult job, but we are willing to make the sacrifices necessary for the paddling community. We will keep you posted on our progress.
For more information, see below, or feel free to email me for more hi-resolution pictures of our adventures, or misadventures as they occur. We paddle often, and hope to see you there.
There are two boat ramps and a large parking area, plus a handicapped accessible wooden deck style-fishing pier. Better yet, there are sandy areas adjacent to each boat ramp that seem to be ready made for the launching of kayaks and canoes. They have provided porta-johns in the parking lot.
There is no vending or sales available at the reservoir, so if you need food, drinks, snacks or supplies, pick them up in Farmville on your way in. There are a variety of stores and markets on the route to fit your needs. If you have forgotten any of your paddling gear, make sure you stop by Appomattox River Company in Farmville. Located right on the Appomattox River as you come into town, they are one of the largest paddle Sports retailers in the U.S., and this is their warehouse location. They have a wide selection to meet all your needs, from a single carabineer to kayaks. In addition, the friendly staff will be happy to answer all your questions. My wife and I are fairly new to kayaking and these guys have kept us on the right track. Havent steered us wrong yet.
Prince Edward County:
PO Box 625
Farmville, VA 23901
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
PO Box 11104
Richmond, VA 23230