A Guide to 18 Premier Fishing Destinations
within a Four County Region of Southwest Virginia:
Grayson • Smyth • Washington • Wythe
Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area
The Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area is the second largest in the Department's management area system but has the distinction of being the most biologically diverse, due in large part to the vast differences in elevation in the area. The area's 25,477 acres spread across Virginia's Southwest Highlands, occupying parts of Smyth, Washington, Russell and Tazewell Counties.
The area is dominated by mountains rising steeply from narrow valley floors. Due to the difference in elevation, a unique forest had developed. Three species from both southern and northern forests are found. Elevations range from 1600 feet to 4700 feet atop Beartown Mountain. There is considerable water in the area; a 300 acre man-made lake, one major stream and several tributaries. The land that forms Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area was virgin forest until the late 1800s. Evidence of the narrow gauge railroad used during logging can still be seen, and some of the old rail bed is now part of the management area's present road system.
The deer herd is producing quality, antlered bucks. Both bear and turkey are increasing as populations respond to habitat management. Excellent grouse numbers are expected to follow forest management practices that will increase and improve brood range and other habitat needs. Hunting success for gray and fox squirrel fluctuate from year to year, primarily due to unstable mast production. Rabbit hunting is often good though populations do change tremendously between years. The high population of beavers in the area have created ponds on all potential sites, creating excellent waterfowl habitat. Wood duck hunters usually enjoy success on these ponds, particularly during the first season that opens each fall.
Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area offers anglers the opportunity to fish roaring mountain streams or placid, picturesque, 300 acre Laurel
Bed Lake. A daily fee is charged for fishing some of the area's waters. Consult a Virginia fishing pamphlet for details.
The area has a good road system for gaining access to the interior although some are open only during specific seasons. Closure of roads scheduled to be open may also occur during periods of inclement weather. There is ample space. Two boat ramps are available at Laurel Bed Lake. A shooting range for archery is near the resident manager's house. There is a developed campground in the area, managed in cooperation with the Virginia Division of State Parks.
Other popular uses of the area include: horseback riding, wildlife viewing, hiking, and nature photography. A wide range of wildflowers attract visitors in the spring.
The closest town is Saltville, reached from 1-81 and Chilhowie via state route 107. In Saltville, turn left onto route 91 (1/4 mile); then right onto route 634; bear left onto 613 and proceed 3 1/2 miles; then right onto route 747 to the area. Consult map for greater detail.
© 2013 Blue Ridge Highlands Fishing Trail
Photo Credits: Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Barry Loupe, Mike Jones, Melodi Love