Country roads take you “home” to fantastic smallmouth fishing and more
Shortly after Roy Blakenship picked me up at The Resort at Glade Springs in southern West Virginia, we launched the float boat and I was fishing for smallmouth. I cast a crawfish-colored swimbait near an eddy in the swift waters, but it didn’t get far.
A smallmouth smashed my Bass Pro Shops Sassy Salley and bore down into the brush. I quickly set the hook and drove the steel deep into the smallmouth bass. Feeling the sting of my hook, he exploded through the water’s surface and then bore down towards the bottom. I finally landed the fish and quickly released him. That smallmouth was just the first of many thrills that I had that morning.
Feel the thrill again and again! I enjoyed catching smallmouth bass right from the start and, due to the high water in most of the area, there was not another boat on this river. But that didn’t stop the bass from biting and biting and biting!
Amazingly, I caught and released over 30 smallmouth bass on my best river trip ever and probably lost about half that many until I got my rods situated properly. My raft guide was Tommy Richmond, and he was an excellent guide. He knew which spots to fish and how to maneuver the raft so that I had the best opportunity to catch fish.
More than fishing
If you are looking for outdoor opportunities unlike anything you’ve done before, then the area along the New River in Southern West Virginia is just the place to go.
My wife, Kathy, joined me on this trip, and we decided to spend a day along the New River Gorge and hike and zipline, too. We visited the Tunnel Trail overlooking the river and were treated to breathtaking views from high above the river and rocky terrain.
The New River Bridge loomed high above the treetops, spanning from mountain to mountain over the New River Gorge and it was a wondrous sight to behold. The history of the New River Gorge and the people who lived in the area came to life in the museum located near the bridge and it was fascinating.
We booked a trip to the River Expeditions Zipline and that’s just where we went later that afternoon. When we finally climbed up to the first tower high in the trees, I had second thoughts, but it was too late to back out.
Needless to say we had a blast zooming along at tree top level and we enjoyed the rush of excitement and the feeling of victory — of survival! What can I say about our hosts? I don’t think I’ve been to another place where everybody was so friendly, courteous and helpful. The New River Gorge area and Southern West Virginia seemed like a slice of heaven for outdoors people. Adventures on the Gorge offered a little bit of everything and the food was just divine too. Many of my friends sampled some of the numerous opportunities at Adventures on the Gorge including fishing on the New River, whitewater rafting and ziplining.
Roy Blankenship has spent his life fishing the river and knows as much about catching smallmouth and trophy smallmouth as anyone in the area, and he can line you up with a great float trip.
“My favorite time to fish for big smallmouth is during May and June and then again in the fall,” Blankenship said. “A couple of anglers can catch 40 to 50 smallmouth on a 4-hour trip when the conditions are right and September and October are dynamite.”
The fall bite is wide open and continues through November until freezing weather hits.
“Fishing is really good in November, and you can catch bigger smallmouth then, too,” Blankenship said.
I couldn’t talk about Southern West Virginia without mentioning the fantastic Boy Scout property the Summit Bechtel Reserve. It is truly a world class facility that not only provides opportunities for Boy Scouts to use but for year-round use by the public. There is ziplining, rock climbing, camping, ATV trails, mountain bike trails and even a skateboard park.
They have long distance rifle ranges, pistol ranges, sporting clays and 5-stand. There is almost unlimited opportunities available for the public. Add in a beautiful wedding and corporate venue to go along with a new hotel and the possibilities are there for retreats of all kinds. There are several lakes that are good for swimming, kayaking, canoeing and even fishing. I can’t name everything that you can do there, but this is a world-class facility!
If you have never been to Southern West Virginia and sampled their down-home hospitality, local cuisine, beautiful mountain landscapes, or viewed the abundant wildlife, then you have surely missed a slice of paradise.
The good news is that it’s not too late for you to make plans to visit Southern West Virginia. Although the season is winding down in November, you can make plans to visit during the spring and catch lunker smallmouth, rainbow trout, and occasional muskie and explore the area.
The possibilities of what you can do and see are almost endless, depending upon how much time you have. We spent a memorable week at The Resort at Glade Springs and enjoyed the best of Southern West Virginia. In the process we had a lot of fun, made great memories, experienced many thrilling adventures and enjoyed a refreshing post-Covid vacation. It’s about the closest thing to heaven for a country boy, take me home West Virginia, country roads!
For more information on fishing the New River, including cabin rentals contact Roy Blankenship at 304-890-5295. For more information on the area along the New River contact Adventures on the Gorge at 304-461-6570 or The Resort at Glade Springs for accommodations 304-763-2000.
The post “Out Of State Destinations: Glade Springs, West Virginia” first appeared on LouisianaSportsman.com.