Laurel Bed Lake


There is a lake in western Virginia called Laurel Bed Lake. Kim’s step dad Fish wanted to check it out, so I juggled my schedule a little and we did a road trip. Laurel Bed is one of those places that reminds me of being back in the Adirondaks. Well, almost. Laurel Bed is well outside of a small town called Saltville, which is well outside of a less small town called Chilhowie. Clinch Mt game preserve, you know, Ralph Stanley’s neck of the woods.

Fish is a guy you have heard about from time to time if you’ve read my posts here or on my other blog. Here he is in action after a bit of a rain shower in his frog togs in one of the coves where we parked and fished for a while.


There is a lot to love about the Laurel Bed area. The road to get back up in there is all switch backs, with some available primative camping. The road follows the Tumbling Creek, which would be my home if I could somehow live without money.

Tumbling Creek is a pay stream full of brookies and rainbows and waterfalls. Pictures do not do it justice. If you’re any kind of a trout fisherman, this is the kind of place you dream about. A big gorge with big rocks and a lot of waterfalls and pools.

Anyway, Fish and I were not there for the trout. They would have to wait for my next trip up there. We were there for the bass and panfish.


This is Fish’s rig. We’re pushing it with my little electric motor since we lost Fish’s gas motor on a big rock in the James river. This was July 2, and we were the only people on the lake. The temp is low 70s if that, but the water is much warmer than expected. Our second day on the lake was overcast, and had a 10% chance of rain, so it only rained on us about 10% of the time.

Much of the lake was pretty shallow. We had heard that the lake was stuffed with rock bass (redeye), but we were having some difficulty proving that. I fished with a combination of lures (shad rap, rooster tails, assorted plugs) with no success, and then shifted to a good old bobber and worm. Most of the fish were so small that they could only toy with even half a crawler, but fishing in a cove around some tree stumps, this 18″ 3 pounder (small mouth) took the bobber down decisively.


This was the only fish of any consequence we caught, but we learned about a great area, and I will be back for the brookies!

One of the highlights of the trip was definitely seeing the bear swim across the lake.


As soon as we spotted it, we tried to get closer to it to get a good picture, but bears can swim almost as fast as an electric trolling motor! We were about 50 feet from him when he climbed out of the water and ran off into the woods.