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Invasive Mussel Prevention Program
Don't let mussels destroy our lake!
Invasive Mussel Prevention

Invasive Species Overview

"Invasive species" — it doesn’t sound very threatening, does it? But these invaders, large and small, have devastating effects on U.S. wildlife. Invasive species are one of the leading threats to native wildlife. Approximately 42% of Threatened or Endangered species are at risk primarily due to invasive species.(1)

What makes a species invasive?
An invasive species can be any kind of living organism—an amphibian (like the cane toad pictured left), plant, insect, fish, fungus, bacteria, or even an organism’s seeds or eggs—that is not native to an ecosystem and which causes harm.  They can harm the environment, the economy or even, human health. Species that grow and reproduce quickly, and spread aggressively, with potential to cause harm, are given the label of “invasive”.(1)
An invasive species does not have to come from another country. For example, lake trout are native to the Great Lakes, but are considered to be an invasive species in Yellowstone Lake in Wyoming because they aggressively compete with native cutthroat trout for habitat.

Invasive Species and Smith Mountain Lake
Unwanted invasive species could have a devastating effect on our ability to enjoy the lake, our health and our housing values. 

Invasive Mussels
Zebra mussels and, more importantly, their lesser known but more devastating cousins, the quagga mussels are a potential threat to Smith Mountain Lake.  These mussels attach themselves to just about any surface, such as riprap, pilings, boats and even lake bottoms and beaches.  They are very sharp and can easily cause cuts and abrasions. 
The biggest concern with either of these species of invasive mussels is the there is no effective way to eliminate them once they become established in a lake.

Control of Zebra and Quagga Mussels
Once zebra and quagga mussels become established in a water body they are impossible to fully eradicate.(2)  
Their larva, called veligers, are microscopic and can live for DAYs on even wet dock lines!
Therefore, our efforts must be prevention. 

What you can do to help curb the spread of invasive species
  • Plant native plants and remove any invasive plants in your garden.There are many good native plant alternatives to common exotic ornamental plants.
  • Learn to identify invasive species in your area. Report any sightings to your county extension agent or local land manager. Learn more about invasive species in your state.
  • Regularly clean your boots, gear, boat, tires and any other equipment you use outdoors to remove insects and plant parts that may spread invasive species to new places.
  • When camping, buy firewood near your campsite (within 30 miles) instead of bringing your own from home, and leave any extra for the next campers. Invertebrates and plants can easily hitch a ride on firewood you haul to or from a campsite -- you could inadvertently introduce an invasive to a new area.

1 = From the National Wildlife Federation https://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Threats-to-Wildlife/Invasive-Species.aspx

2 = From the National Wildlife Federation  https://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Threats-to-Wildlife/Invasive-Species/Invasive-Mussels.aspx

Invasive Aquatics Prevention Program
Don't let aquatic plants clog our lake!
Invasive Aquatics Program

Aquatic Invasives
Plants and animals that are not native to a waterbody are termed aquatic invasive species (AIS).. They are harmful because they are usually free from natural checks and balances. They grow in large numbers or densities and may displace native plants and animals while harming the balance of ecological processes, water supply, recreation and other water uses.

AIS are not a new problem, but they are a growing problem. There have been 179 known exotic plants and animals noted in the Great Lakes alone. Florida also has long been known as a gateway for AIS introductions, and has experienced hundreds of new species over the last century. There have been many other AIS introductions on smaller scales in many other parts of North America. The common carp was introduced intentionally, thinking it would be a good food source. Purple loosestrife, water hyacinth, water lettuce were popular ornamental plants. Some AIS were introduced to get rid of other AIS, compounding the problem!

Now, AIS introductions are occurring at greater rates and causing greater ecologic and economic impacts. National and international programs to curb these introductions are largely inadequate and ineffective. This means that state and local programs must take the lead in solving their local Issues and concern. SMLA works with Virginia Department Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), and The Tri-County Lakes Administrative Commission (TLAC), APCO and other technical expert advisors and SMLA members to deal with the various issues of AIS at SML. All stewards and users of SML must be aware of and pull together to limit the introduction and harm of AIS 

Aquatic Non-Native Invasive Vegetation
At SML there are four types of non-native aquatic vegetation growing in the Lake Brittle naiad, Hydrilla, Brazilian elodea and Curlyleaf pondweed are anon-native aquatic vegetation. The introduction of sterile carp a few years ago into SML has help to control these invasive acquatic plants. We continue to monitor the presence of these plants and will add more sterile carp when deemed warrented.

Brazilian elodea
Brazilian-Elodea.png (374×286)

Brittle naiad
Brittle-Naiad.png (431×348)

Curlyleaf pondweed
Curlyleaf-Pondweed.png (407×338)

Hydrilla.png (371×300)

Invasive Fish Prevention Program
Keep Smith Mountain Lake a wonderful place to fish
Invasive Fish Prevention Program

Northern Snakehead - Frequently Asked Questions*

Snakehead Fish Caught in the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers and their Tributaries and some Reservoirs:
Northern snakeheads were discovered in Virginia in 2004 and may be found in the Potomac River from Great Falls downstream to Chesapeake Bay. Although verified in nontidal sections of the Potomac and its tributaries above Washington, D.C., most snakeheads are still found primarily in tidal waters from D. C. downstream to Colonial Beach (and in tributaries of D.C., Maryland and Virginia within this reach). They are very abundant in all of Virginia's tidal tributaries to the Potomac River within this reach (e.g., Little Hunting Creek, Dogue Creek, Pohick Creek, Occoquan River, Neabsco Creek, Quantico Creek, and Aquia Creek). Data collected during 2014 suggest relative abundance has stabilized and even declined slightly in many waters where populations have been established longest.
Snakeheads were documented in 2012 in the Rappahannock River system - they apparently colonized several creeks in the lower portion of the tidal Rappahannock (below Port Royal) via natural dispersal from the Bay (they appear to be using freshets to ride less dense fresh water over saltwater during storms as a dispersal mechanism) but were also illegally introduced to Ruffin's Mill Pond south of Fredericksburg. The resulting colonization was likely the source of fish captured in Massaponax Creek and upper portions of the tidal Rappahannock. Anglers should expect to encounter snakeheads almost anywhere in the Rappahannock below Fredericksburg but at lower densities than currently seen on the Potomac.
Ruffin's Mill Pond has been joined recently by Hunting Run Reservoir (Spotsylvania County), Abel Reservoir (Stafford County), and Burke Lake (Fairfax County) as all waters receiving illegal stockings of northern snakeheads. Anglers are encouraged to visit these lakes and harvest all snakeheads caught.
What should someone do if they think they've found a snakehead fish?
Before going fishing, anglers should familiarize themselves with the fish species found in Virginia. There are several native species including bowfin, lamprey, and American eel that look similar to the northern snakehead. For more information and assistance with learning the identifying differences between snakehead fish and native species, please see the Virginia DGIF "Do You Know The Difference?" information page. Any unusual fish needs to be reported to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. We have established a snakehead hotline that anglers can use to report snakehead fish (804-367-2925). There is also a new, easy-to-use web application for reporting observations which can be found here: http://dgif-virginia.maps.arcgis.com/home/index.html. Anglers are not required to report snakeheads nor are they required to kill them if caught, but the Department asks that the fish be reported and killed if possible. However, if an angler wishes to keep a legally caught northern snakehead, the fish must be killed to be in possession, and the angler must call the hotline and report the angler's last name, date of catch, location of catch and size. Kill the fish by:

  1. removing the head,
  2. separating the gill arches from the body, or
  3. removing the internal organs and put it on ice as quickly as possible.

Is it illegal to own a snakehead fish in Virginia?
Juvenile Northern Snakehead Fish (click for high-resolution version)
Yes, it is illegal to own one without a permit. In 2002, the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries added the snakehead fish to the list of predatory and undesirable exotic species, making it illegal to possess a snakehead fish in Virginia without a permit issued by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Federal regulations enacted in October 2002 prohibit the importation of snakehead fish into the United States and prohibit interstate transport of these animals. Individuals who still own a live snakehead need to contact the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries immediately for proper disposal of the fish. Effective July 1, 2005, anglers who legally catch a snakehead may keep the fish to mount or eat providing they:

  1. immediately kill the fish using one or more of the alternatives listed above and
  2. notify the Department at the number listed above.

What will the Department do now that snakeheads have been found in Virginia?
Biologists continue to sample snakehead-colonized waters in an effort to learn more about the ecology and biology of this exotic fish in Virginia. Migration, exploitation, food habits, growth, and behavior of northern snakeheads are being studied; and attempts are being made to determine what impacts, if any, are occurring to aquatic communities as a result of colonization.
The Department has membership on the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Snakehead Control and Management Plan (SCMP) Work Group. This group assembled and submitted recommendations to the U. S. Congress.
What kind of impact could a snakehead population have in Virginia?
Exotic species like snakeheads can disrupt natural aquatic systems and may have significant impacts by feeding on and competing with native and/or naturalized fishes. In addition, they may transmit parasites and diseases to native wildlife in those systems.
Do we have to be concerned about snakehead fish appearing in other waters in Virginia?
Yes. While snakeheads are freshwater fish, it has been determined that they can tolerate a fairly high level of salinity (this is especially true for juveniles with lower water temperatures). They may be able to colonize additional drainages through extreme storm events riding freshets or by illegal introductions.
Are snakehead fish dangerous?
While northern snakeheads do not attack humans or small pets, they may present threats to our native and/or naturalized wildlife and ecosystems.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries wants anglers to be aware of the identifying features of the species they are catching and to report any unusual fish caught. Call the Department at (804) 367-2925. Anyone who still has a snakehead fish needs to contact the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries immediately and SHOULD NOT to release it into the wild. Call (804) 367-2925 and VDGIF will assist in the proper disposal of the fish.”

*Text and Images on this page are from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) web site, dgif.virginia.gov
LaSota Cottage Rates
Discounts in Fall, Winter & Spring; The beauty of the Lake is never discounted!
Rates Master
Occupancy 4 Occupancy is strictly enforced.  See Policies
 2015 Rates  
September 7th to  135 Daily -2 night minimum
December 31st 810 Weekly
Housekeeping 95
Damage Deposit 250 See Policies Page for details
Optional Linen Fee 110 Linens include: Sheets, Pillow Cases and Towels
Taxes (State + Local) 10.3% 5.3% Virginia Sales tax + 5% county occupancy tax
2016 Rates  
January 1st to 135 Daily - 2 night minimum
May 25th 810 Weekly
May 26th to 195 Daily - 2 night minimum
 June 25th 1,170 Weekly
June 26th to 220* Daily* available 2 weeks in advance
August 19th 1,320 Weekly Minimum - Saturday to Saturday
August 20th to  195 Daily - 2 night minimum
September 4th 1,170 Weekly
September5th to  135 Daily -2 night minimum
December 31st 810 Weekly
Housekeeping 95
Damage Deposit 250 See Policies Page for details
Optional Linen Fee 110 Linens include: Sheets, Pillow Cases and Towels
Taxes (State + Local) 10.3% 5.3% Virginia Sales tax + 5% county occupancy tax
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