Chris and I drove down to the place where I had fished in 2007. I wanted to put him on the good water just downstream of the huge boulder that divides the river as it thrusts out from the bank just downstream of an island that splits the river. When we arrived, there was another fisherman sitting on the spot working it hard. Given that, we drove another hundred yards downstream, turned off and walked to the river. I sent Chris upstream to the same section that I fished last time I was here and I turned my attention to the new water downstream.
The river in this section is ideal for both smallmouth and trout. The river is wide, reasonably deep with a rocky bottom containing plenty of boulders that provide holding areas for fish. On river left, there's no structure so you should ignore that side as the river bottom slopes up and shallows out into a sandy beach that stretches downstream. The deeper water is at the right and that's also where the boulder fields are.
I put on a small blue size 6 popper and began to fish my way downstream. Soon after I started, Chris began calling me at regular intervals on the radio bragging about the smallies he was catching upstream. He was pulling them in on a small orange crankbait. Given that intelligence, I tied on a woolly bugger and began to dead drift it downstream. That was the ticket! I caught a good number of smallies ranging between 8 and 11 inches.
I walked down the river for about a mile and noticed that the river started to change to a sandy bottom. With the sand marking the end of the productive water, I gave a call to Chris and we hopped back in the truck to continue our journey downstream to the next likely looking location.
Bottom line: I believe this will be a great section for trout when the stocking begins again. The only disadvantage to this stretch is that it is away from the road and the stock truck would have minimal access. The road parallels this stretch in its northern section. Given the proclivity of rainbow trout to migrate downstream, this section of the river will be populated by fish inserted up by that big rock in the large pool that we had to skip.
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Remember to refer to my rating explanations - these are based on what I look for - so RED for Physical Fitness translates to easy physically - you do not need to be in shape to fish this section. I prefer terrain that is tough to get into and out of.
Getting There: Mapquest yourself to Franklin, WV and follow US 220 north or to Petersburg and head south. Turn onto Smoke Hole where 220 breaks away from the river. Smoke Hole road follows the South Branch.
Google Local Coordinates: 38.871122,-79.26919
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in on the WV Stocking website.
Date Fished: 08/01/2009