By MELINDA WILLIAMS
Christmas is over and it’s time to take down the tree, but before you put it at the curb with the trash, why not donate it to the fish at Claytor Lake instead?
Each year, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Claytor Lake State Park, Friends of Claytor Lake (FOCL) and other agencies take Christmas trees that would otherwise end up in the landfill and use them to build reefs to help support fish habitats in the lake.
The public is asked to help support the effort by donating their discarded live Christmas trees to the “Christmas for the Fishes” project. Trees will be collected at Claytor Lake State Park Tuesday, Jan. 15.
Trees that are collected are tied to concrete blocks and sunk at three locations adjacent to the state park to create deepwater reefs, which also consist of long-lasting fish attracting structures called “spider blocks.”
Species anglers commonly catch when fishing in the area of the reefs include largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass, bluegill, black crappie, and flathead and channel catfish. The reefs are marked with “fish reef” buoys to attract fishing enthusiasts and to alert boaters to possible navigational issues.
In 2011, 150 trees were placed at two of the reef locations.