Lake Anna was born in 1972 when the trickle that was the North Anna River was dammed to provide a cooling supply for a nuclear power plant.

It was born to fishermen about three years later, when largemouth-bass fry the state planted in the new lake about 20 miles southwest of Fredericksburg grew up and became great prey.

And now it's born again - this time with a species many anglers consider the height of freshwater sport fishing.

The Virginia Fish Commission planted 96,000 striped-bass fingerings in Lake Anna in 1973. The next year they planted none because of a shortage at the hatchery.

But each year since then, the stocking has grown, and in both 1977 and 1978 more than 200,000 striper young were ladled into the 9,600-acre impoundment.

This year, the early stripers grew up and the whole deal started to pay off. About three weeks ago came the first striper blitz on Anna.

Said Bill Mathias, an Anna guide who was out for fun one evening during the blitz. "It was unbelievable. You could hear them tearing up the bait on the surface. We just sat back under the moonlight, sipping beer, landing fish eight and nine pounds on every other cast."

Of course it didn't stay like that. The blitz dried up after five days and striped bass have been hard to find since. But they're still around.

Mathias stopped fishing for them and went back to his normal routine - chasing largemouth. Then last week Buck Snelings and I asked him if he could find the stripers again. He had his doubts.

"Frankly," he said, "nobody's been fishing for them. We don't know their habits yet, and I'd hate to have to guarantee we could find them. But we'll go out for bass and if we see something that looks good we'll give it a try."

For a long time, it didn't look good. Then all of a sudden it looked great.

We had thrashed the deep waters of the lake where the largemouth were hanging for 10 hours, using plastic worms and deep-diving crank baits.

The sun was sinking on a warm autumn afternoon and Mathias had only a couple more spots to try. We'd worked hard for the 10 bass we had in the live well, the biggest about three pounds.

He stopped about a mile upstream from the dam.

"Cast out here, toward the middle of the lake," Mathias said. "It's about seven feet deep with a lot of stick-ups and roots on the bottom.There's usually some good bass hiding in there."

We hadn't cast more than three or four times when Snelings felt a bump. The fish let go.

He tossed the baby bass lure in again and cranked it back. The fish hit again, then took off on a run for deep water. Sneling played it out and brought the fish to the boat. When we saw its silver slabsides, we let out a cheer. It was a striper.

The fish wasn't legal size (20 inches on Anna) but it was a fat 18 inches or so and weighed a good 2 1/2 pounds. School size, and a feeding school is just what we were hoping for.

I swtiched to a while jig I'd picked up on a trip to Smith Mountain Lake, the king of the freshwater striper impoundments hereabouts.

It worked almost instantly, and we had another not quite legal size striper in the boat.

We looked up to see a school of gizzard shad racing through the water, splashing the surface as they leaped to avoid cruising, feeding stripers.

"Lord, he's really herding them, isn't he?" said Mathias, and cast again into the school.

"I can see them right under the boat," he said, drifting his plug back to the bow. Another hit and another school striper in the boat.

It lasted 15 minutes. We landed eight stripers and returned each carefully to the tan water. Then they were gone, and we couldn't find them again.

Short pleasure, but so sweet for a striper fancier who has been denied again and again on the Chesapeake, where striped bass once ruled the roost. They're all but gone from the Bay, victims of a succession of eight straight poor spawning years.

They don't have to suffer such inconveniences on Anna, where there is no natural to stock stripers in great numbers from its yearly production of fingerlings at the Brookneal hatchery.

Charles Sledd, district fisheries biologist for the Anna region, said the stripers are "serving a tremendous function. They feed naturally on gizzard shad and weed out the shad that are too big for the bass." That keeps the bait fish from taking over the lake.

Mathias, who still hasn't figured out stripers altogether, is a little concerned. He fears the big fish will eat up so many largemouth fry that the bass population will decline.

"They're wild," he said. "They started gobbling up bluegills under one lady's dock and she went out and tried to beat them off with broom-stick. She called us for help."

Sledd doesn't share the concern. "We've got catch information from 1976 and '77 and both years were quite good for bass," he said. "We expect another very strong year class this year."

One thing's for certain. Stripers will draw in the fishermen. "It's a money fish," said Mathias. "Being this close to Washington, the people are going to just pour down here when they hear they can catch 10- and 15-pound fish."