Enjoy Fishing in Stafford's Reservoirs But Remember, No Swimming

Stafford has three water reservoirs, Lake Mooney, Abel Lake and Smith Lake, that provide water to the County’s two Water Treatment Facilities. While boating and fishing on the lakes are encouraged, it is essential to remember that swimming in the reservoirs is prohibited by state law. The no-swimming policy is in place to protect the quality of the reservoir for water supply purposes and protect residents from dangers associated with swimming in a reservoir. A Virginia state fishing license is required for fishing, and no gasoline engines are allowed on the lakes. You may use an electric motor or a hand-paddled boat.

Lake Mooney and Abel Lake are popular places for Stafford residents to go boating, canoeing and kayaking. Lake Mooney, located in southern Stafford, is a 520-acre lake with approximately 33 miles of shoreline. Abel Lake is a 185-acre lake located on Kellogg Mill Road. The lakes are great for fishing and stocked with largemouth bass, channel catfish, redear sunfish, bluegill, and black crappie. Smith Lake is a 295-acre lake located in the northern part of the County on the Marine Corps Base Quantico and is not accessible from the Stafford side of the lake.

The dangers of swimming in a reservoir include:

  • Steep, slippery banks: It can be hard to get out of a reservoir once you are in the water. The sides of reservoirs are often very steep and slippery, making it difficult to climb out.
  • Hidden currents: There may be hidden currents from water pipes below or spillways that function to draw water towards them.
  • Algae: Algae can build up along the water's edge which can cause skin rashes and upset stomachs.
  • Deep, cold water: The lakes have deceptively deep areas, with depths of more than 100 feet and sudden drops. The water temperatures in these depths can drop quickly, causing hypothermia.

In the case of a water emergency, please dial 911 for Stafford’s water rescue team.