Best Fishing Spots: South
Alabama - Lake Guntersville
You can catch crappies, bream, saugers, and catfish on this impoundment midway between Birmingham and Chattanooga. Few people try, though. Instead they come for bass, and plenty of them. Stay out of the crowds by fishing the narrow northern end of the lake. Probe the grassbeds with weedless frogs and spoons, buzzbaits, and floating worms. Hit the shallows early and late for topwater action. Fish Lake Guntersville Guide Service, 256-759-2270; Photos From Lake Guntersville fishlakeguntersvilleguideservice.com Field & Stream Online Editors
Alabama – Neely Henry Lake
If you’re after something different, try spotted bass on this winding reservoir that behaves more like a river for most of its 77 miles between Logan Martin and Weiss Lakes. You’ll find cover along rocky shorelines under the shadows of tree-lined bluffs. Spotted bass will take finesse worms, jigs, and topwater baits. For largemouths, try 1/2-ounce tube jigs around dock pilings in the wider southern end near the dam. Guide’s Tips outdooralabama.com/fishing/freshwater/where/reservoirs/neelyhenry
Species: Spotted Bass
Guide: Charles Slaton; C & B North Alabama Guide Service; 256-593-7249
Rig Specifics: A Quantum baitcaster with 14- to 17-pound-test line and a 6-inch needle worm.
Quick Tip: Position the boat in deep water on a partly cloudy, calm day. The fish tend to be about 10 feet deep.
Where to Fish: Go to the edge of the river channel and fish by the points and rocks. Field & Stream Online Editors
Alabama – Dixie Bar in Mobile Bay
Mobile Bay Bull redfish to 30 pounds are common thrills at Dixie Bar, just south of Fort Morgan at the mouth of Mobile Bay. The bar runs north-south and is accessible from either side of the bay. Bottom fishing with live croakers or dead pogies in strong tidal currents is the favored tactic. Bring 1- or 2-ounce egg sinkers, and use them on a Carolina rig with a 20-pound mono leader. Capt. Gary Davis, Tidewater Fishing Service, 251-942-6298 Guide’s Tips
Species: Bull Redfish
Guide: Capt. Gary Davis; Tidewater Fishing Service; 251-942-6298
Rig Specifics: Use a fairly large rod with 20-pound-test, brightly-colored line for drift fishing with minnows and croakers. Hook the baitfish at the end of a 2-foot leader and use a 1/2- to 1-ounce lead sinker.
Quick Tip: Fish during the outgoing tide, at depths between 6 and 40 feet.
Where to Fish: On the west side of the bay. Field & Stream Online Editors
Florida – Kissimmee Chain of Lakes
Simply because there’s so much water to choose from, there’s no better bet for bass in June than this chain around Orlando. The system includes some 20 water bodies, from huge Lake Kissimmee at 44,000 acres to compact Lake Cypress at 5,500 acres. This means you can follow key conditions such as water levels to find the hottest spots. Mornings make for especially good topwater action with stickbaits, buzzbaits, and frogs. Capt. Steve Boyd, Florida Bass Adventures, 352-603-5467; Guide’s Tips orlandobassguide.com
Species: Largemouth Bass
Guide: Steve Boyd; ; 352-603-5467 orlandobassguide.com
Rig Specifics: 7-foot, medium-heavy graphite rod with 17-pound-test green line. Use soft plastics with a Carolina rig.
Quick Tip: Find the vegetation, no less than 10 feet down on a hot day.
Where to Fish: No specific place; you can catch fish practically anywhere. Photos From Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Field & Stream Online Editors
Florida – Homosassa Flats
Huge schools of some of the largest tarpon in the world are showing up around the mouth of the Homosassa River, on the Gulf of Mexico about a 90-minute drive from Tampa or Orlando. It’s a flyfisher’s dream, the kind of action you think takes place only on TV-“but this is where many of those shows are taped. Fish over 150 pounds have been caught, and you’ll need a 12-weight rod and a reel that can hold 300 yards of backing. Capt. Robert McCue, 800-833-0489; Guide’s Tips gianttarpon.com
Guide: Capt. Gary Cox; ; 352-628-5419 slapstikcharters.com
Rig Specifics: 7- to 8-foot rod with 14-pound Fireline and a 1/4-ounce gold spoon.
Quick Tip: Fish spoons in 1 to 2 1/2 feet of water on an incoming tide.
Where to Fish: Fish any rocky points you can find. Photos From Homosassa Flats Field & Stream Online Editors
Florida – Indian River
Spotted seatrout over 5 pounds are called “gator trout-¿ in Florida, and you can wrestle them right now on the Indian River, a wide lagoon stretching behind U.S. A1A on the state’s central Atlantic coast, near Titusville. The grassy sand flats along the edges of the lagoon shelter big specks ready to pounce on live mullets, topwater lures, or Clouser deep minnows. If the specks are playing hard to get, then take a shot at some of the hefty reds that are also available at this time. Indian River Adventures, 321-432-9470; Guide’s Tips indianriveradventures.com
Guide: Indian River Adventures; ; 321-432-9470 indianriveradventures.com
Rig Specifics: 7-foot 9-inch, medium-heavy rod with 8- to 10-pound line and lures that imitate mullet, needlefish, or shrimp.
Quick Tip: Find the flat water, with a temperature of about 70 degrees. The fish will be anywhere from 6 inches to 2 feet deep.
Where to Fish: The Cocoa Beach area is a good place to start. Photo From Indian River Field & Stream Online Editors
Georgia – Lake Lanier
Since blueback herring got into Lanier a few years ago, the spotted bass population in this reservoir north of Atlanta has thrived. Five-fish stringers are common, and fish often top 3 pounds. Probing deep-water structure with light-colored jigs and small worms on thin lines is a good tactic. Or, try working small topwater plugs over the treetops at midday. And don’t worry about getting sunburned. You won’t be out there long enough. Guide’s Tips lakelanier.com/fish.htm
Species: Largemouth Bass
Guide: Tony Moran; ; 321-432-9470 home.alltel.net/moran
Rig Specifics: A 7-foot, medium-heavy graphite rod with 10-pound-test mono. Use jerkbaits.
Quick Tip: There should be enough wind — about 5 to 15 miles per hour on a clear day –to make the water a little rough. Cast out and keep your bait about 4 to 6 feet deep on the retrieve.
Where to Fish: They’ll be hitting where the rivers empty into the lake. Field & Stream Online Editors
Georgia – Clark Hill Reservoir
Known as Strom Thurmond Lake on the South Carolina side of the border, at 71,100 acres this is the largest lake in Georgia. You’ll find loads of big largemouths here, and the lake is so vast that you won’t have to worry about sharing a hotspot. The best strategy is to run spinnerbaits on the big flats and brushy points in the Little River arm, a prime spawning area. Bass will be coming off the postspawn period and looking for a meal. Early mornings, late evenings, and nights are all ideal topwater times on Clark Hill. Norm Attaway, Palmetto Guide Service, 803-442-9484; Guide’s Tips 1fghp.com/Palmetto/info.html
Species: Striped Bass
Guide: Jay Leatherman; ; 864-443-3474 Stripersunlimited.net
Rig Specifics: 7 1/2-foot, medium-light rod with a heavier pound-test line, using live herring hooked across the nose.
Quick Tip: Get out there an hour before daylight during the summer, and the fish should be about 30 feet deep.
Where to Fish: The north end of the reservoir. Field & Stream Online Editors
Georgia – St. Simons Island
The tarpon bite that takes place here on the southern coast from May through September is one of Georgia’s better-kept secrets. Schools of fish in the 100-pound range move into the wide, shallow bays sheltered by barrier islands from St. Simons to Florida. Live bait is the choice of most anglers, and it’s not unusual to jump six to eight big fish in a morning. Capt. Mark Noble, Golden Isle Marina, 912-634-1219; Guide’s Tips georgiafishing.net
Guide: Mark Noble; ; 912-634-1219 georgiafishing.net
Rig Specifics: 7- to 8-foot rod with 30- to 50-pound-test line using menhaden shad hooked through the nose.
Quick Tip: The tarpon can be anywhere from 4 to 40 feet deep, so alternate depths until you locate them.
Where to Fish: Find the sandbars and you’ll find the tarpon. Photos From St. Simons Island Field & Stream Online Editors
Louisiana – Lake Pontchartrain
One of the best fishing holes in the state is a 1⁄2-square-mile hole in Lake Pontchartrain, where the bottom drops from an average of 6 feet to 25 feet and more. Big schools of speckled trout over 4 pounds move in around June. Anchor at the dropoffs, and send live shrimp to the bottom on a Carolina rig. The action starts less than 50 yards from the developed shoreline, so you won’t be alone, but the trout don’t seem to mind. Capt. Dudley Vandenborre, 985-847-1924; Guide’s Tips rodnreel.com/dudley
Species: Speckled Trout
Guide: Jerry LaBella; ; 888-239-6680 jerrylabella.com
Rig Specifics: A 7-foot spinning rod with 6-pound mono. Use a live shrimp with only enough weight to get it to the bottom.
Quick Tip: Too much weight won’t work; you want your bait to hover just above the bottom to have the best action.
Where to Fish: The Lake Pontchartrain Trestles. Field & Stream Online Editors
Louisiana – West Delta Block 58
The forest of oil rigs off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico is arguably the most productive fishing “reef” in North America. Each platform might shelter amberjack, king mackerel, cobia, red snappers, groupers, bull reds, tuna, wahoo, or tarpon. The West Delta area, accessed from Grand Isle or Venice, may be the most productive group of those rigs; and section 58, the best of all. In June predators gather to dine on the smorgasbord of feed flowing from the nearby estuaries. Capt. Mike Frenette, Teaser Charters, 504-782-3474; Guide’s Tips rodnreel.com/teaser
Guide: Mike Frenette; ; 504-341-4245 rodnreel.com/teaser
Rig Specifics: 7-foot rod with a 30-foot mono leader and a coon-pop jig with crab or shrimp.
Quick Tip: Work the bait slow and pretty deep. Most tarpon will be between 45 and 65 feet down.
Where to Fish: Up-current from the Block. Photos From West Delta Block 58 Field & Stream Online Editors
Louisiana – South Timbalier
Cobia, also known as lemon fish in these parts, may be the favorite fish in Bayou Country because of two traits that Cajuns admire: It fights like a bull, and it tastes like filet mignon. These fish literally swarm around the rigs and wrecks off the south-central Louisiana coast in the region known as South Timbalier. Charter boats running out of Cocodrie, Dulac, and Fourchon head for these structures in 50 to 150 feet of water. The trick is to drop live catfish or plastic jigs over the side and then hold on. It’s the kind of fun that can make a strong man feel weak. Capt. Andre Boudreaux, Boudreaux’s Marina, 985-594-4568; Guide’s Tips boudreauxsmarina.com
Species: Speckled Trout
Guide: Andr¿¿ Boudreaux; ; 985-594-4568 boudreauxsmarina.com
Rig Specifics: 7-foot, medium-light spinning rod with 10- to 12-pound-test. Use a 1/4-ounce jighead with a green (avocado or chartreuse) plastic minnow.
Quick Tip: Fish areas that are between 2 and 7 feet deep. You want calm winds and some tidal movement. Photos From South Timbalier Field & Stream Online Editors
Mississippi – Bay Springs Lake
To catch spotted bass by the boatload, try this 6,000-acre reservoir on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in the state’s northwest hill country. Find them by fishing the humps, spots where submerged hilltops are within 20 and 30 feet of the surface. Finesse worms in natural colors, soft-plastic curly-tailed jigs, and small crankbaits all work. Switch to larger spinnerbaits and plastic worms on Carolina rigs for largemouths. Roger Stegall Guide Service, 662-423-3869; Guide’s Tips fishpickwick.com
Species: Largemouth Bass
Guide: Roger Stegall; ; 985-594-4568 fishpickwick.com
Rig Specifics: 7-foot, medium-heavy rod with a 10- to 12-pound leader and a 6-inch plastic lizard in pumpkin or watermelon seed with a chartreuse tail.
Quick Tip:Fish these lures slowly; bass will be anywhere from 4 to 30 feet deep.
Where to Fish: The humps and ledges in the main body of the lake. Photos From Bay Springs Lake Field & Stream Online Editors
Mississippi – Calling Panther Lake
We’re sorry. There are no satellite images available on Google’s mapping service current enough to display this newly impounded reservoir. Calling Panther Lake Opened in March 2006, this 500-acre state lake near Crystal Springs has quickly become one of the hottest in the South for bass and bream. In early summer, bedding bluegills provide great sport for fly rodders using popping bugs or ants. Live-bait anglers should have no trouble taking limits with crickets and worms. Boat carefully, as there’s a lot of submerged timber that can do serious damage to your prop or hull. Kallum Herrington, 601-835-3050; Guide’s Tips callingpantherlake.com
Species: Largemouth Bass
Guide: Kallum Herrington; ; 601-835-3050 callingpantherlake.com
Rig Specifics: 7-foot, medium-heavy rod with 17-pound-test line. Use a size 3 or 4 hook and a Senko jerkbait. Quick Tip: Throw your bait into thick cover and let it fall on its own to about 8 to 10 feet before retrieving.
Where to Fish: Get in the middle of the lake. Photos From Calling Panther Lake Field & Stream Online Editors
Mississippi – Barrier Island
If there’s a sure thing in Mississippi in June, it’s good fishing along the barrier islands. Huge clouds of shrimp, menhaden, and mullet are moving out of the estuaries toward the open Gulf, and that means specks, reds, mackerel, cobia, croakers, flounders, and drum all hang around just off the beaches. Go with medium-light tackle, live shrimp or mullet, and topwater baits such as the MirrOlure Top Dog. Capt. Scott Simpson, 228-669-6204; Guide’s Tips email@example.com
Species: Largemouth Bass
Guide: Scott Simpson; ; 228-669-6204 myweb.cableone.net/captscott
Rig Specifics: Spinning rods and reels with monofilament and topwater baits.
Quick Tip: Do the walk-the-dog retrieve and you’ll have good luck.
Where to Fish: On the east side near Cat and Ship Islands Photos From Barrier Island Field & Stream Online Editors
North Carolina – Pamlico Sound
You don’t need to go offshore for big-game fishing. Just explore the vast Pamlico Sound estuary and you’ll encounter red drum to 50 pounds, ready to provide all the combat you can handle. Small boaters can find peaceful, flat water along the shorelines near the mouths of the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers, where the big fish come to feed. If you have enough boat or the wind is down, try the reefs and shoals in the Sound. You’ll need heavy tackle and endurance to outfight these monsters. Capt. Gary Dubiel, 252-249-1520; Guide’s Tips specfever.com
Species: Red Drum
Guide: Gary Dubie; ; 252-249-1520 specfever.com
Rig Specifics: Spinning rod with 8-pound-test using soft plastics.
Quick Tip: You’ll find fish right around 4 feet deep.
Where to Fish: The west side of the sound is the best. Photos From Pamlico Sound Field & Stream Online Editors
North Carolina – Beech Creek
The 11 counties in the northwest corner of the state have many miles of quality trout water, but the finest fishing may be on Beech Creek near Boone in rugged Watauga County. Although it’s stocked, the creek is still mainly a wild trout fishery because the stockers are quickly caught, leaving June anglers a chance to match skills with native browns, brookies, and rainbows. A bonus is that the Beech doesn’t get an overwhelming amount of pressure, despite the fact that it’s just a few hours’ drive from metro areas such as Asheville. Nymphing with yellow stoneflies is the most productive tactic. Appalachian Angler Shop, 828-963-8383; Guide’s Tips appalachianangler.com
Species: Rainbow and Brown Trout
Guide: Rhett Shroyer; ; 828.963.5050 appalachianangler.com
Rig Specifics: 9-foot, 5-weight fly rod with 5-pound-test leader (for nymphing).
Quick Tip: Cast about 10 feet upstream and let the nymph float down in front of you.
Where to Fish: The whole creek is under-fished and full of wild trout. Photos From Beech Creek Field & Stream Online Editors
North Carolina – Kerr Lake
The bass in this sprawling impoundment on the North Carolina-Virginia border are well past the spawn by June and are beginning to feed aggressively both in the shallows and off rock ledges. If the water is up, fish the shoreline brush early in the morning with topwater chuggers. If the water is down, there’s excellent deep-running crankbait action. On cloudy days, concentrate off the points around the Nut Bush area. Work the river around Clarksville when the weather is clear. Jeffrey Thomas, Carolina Outdoors, 919-258-3757; Guide’s Tips carolinaoutdoors.net
Species: Largemouth Bass
Guide: Jeffrey Thomas; ; 828.963.5050 carolinaoutdoors.net
Rig Specifics: An average-size rod and line, using a Custom Lures Unlimited Cull 13 crankbait.
Quick Tip: Concentrate on depths between 8 and 12 feet in the summertime.
Where to Fish: Where Nutbush Creek empties into the lake. Photos From Kerr Lake Field & Stream Online Editors
South Carolina – Santee-Cooper
Lakes Marion and Moultrie, which make up the Santee-Cooper corridor between Charleston and Columbia, are to catfishing what Wimbledon is to tennis: hallowed ground. This is where the best come to play in June, because this is where the most big cats can be found, including flatheads, channels, and blues. They haven’t yet retreated to deep holes at this time, and you can roam the shallow flats adjacent to deep dropoffs with live shad, minnows, worms, cut herring, and stinkbaits. Hood’s Guide Service, 888-565-3675; Photos From Santee-Cooper santeecoopercatfish.com Field & Stream Online Editors
South Carolina – Lake Russell
Fishing Lake Russell makes you feel as if you’re angling in the wilderness-“it’s surrounded by woods and forests, not development. The bass fishing is also a bit different. Local anglers like to fish “the poles-¿ at night, stationary structures that mark boating channels and obstructions. Over the years brushpiles have formed along the bases of the poles, creating perfect habitat for bass. Dropping plastic worms or jigs into the brush will usually take fish at this time. If you’d rather fish during the day, try running spinners and crankbaits over the flats by creek channels. Tony’s Guide Service, 706-779-2234; Guide’s Tips home.alltel.net/morans
Species: Largemouth Bass
Guide: Tony Moran; ; 706-779-2234 home.alltel.net/moran
Rig Specifics: A 7-foot, medium-heavy graphite rod with 10-pound mono and jerkbaits.
Quick Tip: You want enough wind to make the water a little rough (about 5 to 15 miles per hour on a clear day). Cast out and keep your bait around 4 to 6 feet deep on the retrieve.
Where to Fish: Where rivers empty into the lake. Photos From Lake Russell Field & Stream Online Editors
South Carolina – Charleston Jetties
You don’t need to leave town to find great fishing. Just motor out to the Charleston jetties when the water warms and you’ll be into bull reds, sharks, black drum, sheepshead, flounders, even a stray tarpon or two. The jetties attract mobs of bait species leaving the estuaries, and they in turn draw a long list of predators. Keep your anchor up and use stout tackle, circle hooks, and cutbaits. The parade of hefty species feeding on the baitfish means you’ll be in for some long fights, especially on lighter tackle. Fish Call Charters, 843-509-7337; Guide’s Tips fishcall.com
Species: Red Drum
Guide: J.R. Waits; ; 843-509-7337 fishcall.com
Rig Specifics: 7-foot spinning rod, 20-pound mono, using menhaden or mullet for bait.
Quick Tip: The depth is about 15 to 30-feet; be careful about anchoring around the jetties.
Where to Fish: The most famous place is the ‘dynamite hole’. Photos From Charleston Jetties Field & Stream Online Editors
Tennessee – Kentucky Lake
Your options are many on this huge reservoir spanning the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Bass are already past the postspawn, and they respond to topwaters fished around emerging grassbeds, worms and jigs flipped in the flooded shoreline brush, or crankbaits running over midlevel structure in the bays and main-lake channels. If you don’t want bass, try for crappies along deep creek-channel dropoffs, bluegills in bushes and under willows, or catfish on flats and along channel structures. Family campsites are available in the Land Between the Lakes region, so bring the whole crew. Guide’s Tips kentuckylake.com
Guide: Dave Durbin
Rig Specifics: 6- to 6 1/2-foot spinning rod with 6- to 8-pound mono using 1/16-ounce Erie Dearies in yellow or chartreuse.
Quick Tip: Find the brush and you’ll find the fish. The water temperature is best when it’s around 65 degrees.
Where to Fish: The northern end of the lake. Field & Stream Online Editors
Tennessee – Reelfoot Lake
This picturesque, cypress-filled lake in northwestern Tennessee is among the prettiest in the South, and the bream fishing here is particularly fine. Its quiet waters provide ideal bedding spots for pan-size bluegills, and the full moon in June is the best time to catch them. Run a trolling motor and slowly work along the reed-covered shorelines, casting tiny jigs tipped with waxworms, or even small spinners (1/16 or 1/32 ounce), with ultralight rods and 4-pound-test line. Don’t be surprised if you take a few bass while you’re at it. Mark Pierce Hunting and Fishing Service, 731-693-7626; Guide’s Tips reelfoot.com
Guide: Candy Curlin; Sportsman’s Resort; ; 731-253-6581 reelfootlake.com
Rig Specifics: 10- to 12-foot graphite rod with 10-pound-test line using minnows or wax worms for bait.
Quick Tip: Troll your bait around 18 feet deep.
Where to Fish: The north end is best because it is protected from the wind. Photos From Reelfoot Lake Field & Stream Online Editors
Tennessee – Pickwick Lake
The smallmouth bass is generally thought of as a northern species, but southern anglers can have great fun catching bronzebacks in June on Pickwick. This long, narrow, deep Tennessee River impoundment offers lots of action after the sun goes down. Fish on the bottom around dropoffs, ledges, and humps in the main channel with deep-running crankbaits, jigs, or plastic worms on Carolina rigs. There are plenty of campgrounds and motels in the area. Photo From Pickwick Lake pickwickoutdoors.com Field & Stream Online Editors
Virginia – Latimer Shoal
Shoal Folks who find their way to this spot south of Cape Charles off Chesapeake Bay’s eastern shore will have little trouble meeting up with cobia. Schools arrive in May, and by June they gather in such numbers that anglers have a chance of catching fish weighing more than 30 pounds. Angling tactics are simple: Using a heavy-duty shock leader and a reel with a good drag, drop a cutbait such as menhaden down to the bottom, and work it slowly. Fishing is good along the entire shoal, but if it gets crowded, you can catch cobia around almost any of the offshore buoys. Loosen Up Charters, 202-369-8203; Guide’s Tips loosenupcharters.com
Species: Black Drum
Guide: Frank Carve; ; 301-261-5869 loosenupcharters.com
Rig Specifics: 6-foot rod with 30-pound-test line, using crabs for bait.
Quick Tip: The fish will be on the bottom, so you want enough weight to get down 15 to 30 feet.
Where to Fish: The northeast section of the shoal is particularly good. Photos From Latimer Shoal Field & Stream Online Editors
Virginia – Chickahominy River
The Chick is back, and it’s better than ever. The drought that ravaged the East Coast’s top tidewater bass fishery for several years is over, and heroic stocking efforts by Concerned Bass Anglers of Virginia have biologists predicting a fishing explosion this summer. If old patterns hold true, this will once again be a 24-hour fishery. On high tides, bass will be lurking around grassbeds and lily pads, ready to pounce on spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, and plastic worms. When the tide falls, they should move to the dropoff along the main river channel, where they’ll hit crankbaits. Curt Lytle, Tidewater Pro Bass Service, Guide’s Tips curtlytle.com
Species: Largemouth Bass
Guide: Curt Lytle; curtlytle.com
Rig Specifics: A medium-sized spinning rod with a Berkley Classic Power jig with rattle.
Quick Tip: Focus on extended points, humps.
Where to Fish: Locate the smaller creeks that empty into the river. Photo From Chickahominy River Field & Stream Online Editors
Virginia – South Fork of the Holston River
There are good reasons why the South Fork is southwestern Virginia’s premier trout fishery: Its surroundings are beautiful; its plentiful big browns and rainbows, even more so. While some sections are stocked, the river also has a healthy population of wild fish. Special management areas include some catch-and-release-only water, and these can give up good fish when the June hatches are on. There are many access points but enough isolated stretches to find solitude when you want it. Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Guide’s Tips dgif.state.va.us/FISHING/index.asp
Guide: Bill Kittrel
Rig Specifics: 6 1/2- to 7-foot spinning rod fishing with artificial black ants or grasshoppers
Quick Tip: Fish in the evening. Cast upstream and let your lure drift through the moving water.
Where to Fish: The 4-mile stretch extending up from the Buller Fish Cultural Station is a popular area, with trophy trout. Field & Stream Online Editors
West Virginia – Cranberry River
Everybody likes a good comeback story, and the Cranberry is a great one. The mountain stream, which tumbles through Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Webster, and Nicholas Counties, had been ravaged by acid rain but was brought back to health with the building of two crushed-lime treatment sites. Now it ranks as a top fishery, loaded with rainbows and browns. The best stretch might be the catch-and-release section from Woodbine to Camp Splinter, which is vehicle-accessible. Cranberry Wilderness Outfitters, 304-846-6805; Guide’s Tips wvoutfitters.com
Guide: James Walker; 304-924-6211
Rig Specifics: A medium-sized spinning rod with 4- to 6-pound-test line using a small spinnerbait.
Quick Tip: Moving up the river, run your spinner through the riffles and heads of the pools.
Where to Fish: The spot where the north fork and the main branch of the Cranberry River meet is excellent. Photos From South Fork of the Cranberry River Field & Stream Online Editors
West Virginia – Stonewall Jackson Lake
Lots of downed trees and a network of submerged roads and creek beds in this 2,650-acre Lewis County impoundment supply bass with a mix of structure. Factor in the catch-and-release rule that’s been in place since the reservoir reached pool in 1989 and you’ve got all the ingredients for five-star fishing. The sheer number of quality largemouths, smallmouths, and spots draws steady pressure, but the fishing remains good. To get away from the crowds, try the remote West Fork arm, reached through the Roanoke and Jacksonville access sites. Big bass love the riprap shorelines and sunken timber there. Take plastic worms, spinnerbaits, jigs, and buzzbaits. Stonewall Jackson State Park Resort, 800-225-5982; Guide’s Tips stonewallresort.com
Species: Largemouth Bass
Guide: West Virginia Department of Natural Resources; ; 800-225-5982 wonderfulwv.com
Rig Specifics: 6 1/2-foot, medium-heavy rod with a snelled, size-4 Eagle Claw hook using plastics.
Quick Tip: The bass will be between 6 and 12-feet deep after a rain when it’s still overcast.
Where to Fish: The northeast portion of the lake near Vandalia Bay. Field & Stream Online Editors
West Virginia – New River
One of the most exciting whitewater rivers in the East is also one of its best smallmouth fisheries. Twisting through the mountains of south-central and southern West Virginia, the New has a smallmouth population that never seems to sleep. Float trips through the New River Gorge take you through rapids up to Class IV, with plenty of smallmouth water in between. One minute you’re concentrating on a paddle stroke, the next you’re trying to make the perfect cast to a pool. Both fly and spinfishermen have ample opportunities. Class VI River Runners, 800-252-7784; Guide’s Tips www.class-vi.com
Species: Smallmouth Bass
Guide: Christa Schumaker; ; 800-252-7784 www.class-vi.com
Rig Specifics: A spincasting rod with 8-pound-test line, using crankbaits.
Quick Tip: Cast into the rapids, let the bait sink, then jerk it through the water.
Where to Fish: The upper end of the river has Class 1, 2, and 3 rapids that are great. Photos From New River Field & Stream Online Editors