West Virginia’s record 8.4-pound largemouth scarcely raises an eye in the South (or California or Texas). But when Mountain State anglers pursue “hawgs” in earnest, Braxton County’s Burnsville Lake is where they go. The 968-acre Burnsville Lake’s feeder creeks and points, tracts of standing timber, good forage base and excellent crappie population all contribute to its optimal largemouth habitat. Burnsville is not known for creel-filling days, but tournament records and surveys show that the percentage of largemouth bass in Burnsville that weigh over five pounds is significantly higher than in any lake in the state. Biologists cite habitat and water quality among the primary reasons largemouths here tip the scales, but catch-and-release practices are also helping. Regular action is found along the Little Kanawha River arm (between the Route 19 bridge and Falls Mill) and the tributary arms up the Knawl Creek branch, where standing timber (much of it now submerged) provides top-notch bass structure. Top lures have been white spinnerbaits, jig ‘n pigs and crankbaits. Good baits are crayfish and minnows. Boating access is via ramps near the dam and also at the Bulltown Day-Use Area. Contact: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Burnsville Lake conditions (304-853-2398); West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, District 3 (304-924-6211).