Historic lake at Fort Eustis reopens for recreational fishing after nearly 40 years

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS – Brown’s Lake at Joint Base Langley-Eustis has reopened for the first time in nearly 40 years for recreational catch-and-release fishing.

The lake was closed in the late 1970’s due to contamination from toxic pesticides, grease, oils and organic chemicals.

Water quality testing continued through the 1980’s and 1990’s but high levels of pollutants continued to be found.

In 1999, crews took action to remove sediments from the upper ditch, drain the lake, remove lake sediments, cap the lake bottom and install a sediment control system.

Another issue for the lake was caused by storm water runoff. Storm water run-off from the 50-acre drainage area would collect in the nearby ditch and then discharge into Brown’s Lake. Engineers had to remove pollutants from the storm water before it reached the lake.

Once they were able to complete that task, the lake was refilled and the fish were restocked.

“Since the removal action, land use controls were put in place to protect the lake sediments and allow the lake, flora and fauna to stabilize,” said Tim Blevins, JBLE Restoration Program chief. “Since that point, every three years, we have taken sediment and fish tissue samples to gauge the results of our clean-up efforts.”

In 2007, the JBLE Restoration Program team began working on one of the U.S. Army’s objectives to reopen Brown’s Lake to a recreational status.

In the Spring of 2017, in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Environmental Protection Agency, the installation had successfully reached a point where the lake could be reopened for catch and release fishing.

If you’re interested in fishing at Brown’s Lake, you must have a valid Virginia fishing license, a saltwater license for fishing the James River or Warwick River, and a freshwater license for fishing at Eustis Lake or Brown’s Lake. In addition to Virginia laws, fishers must also have an installation fishing permit purchased from Outdoor Recreation.