Blue Ridge Games: Kayak fishing at Carvins Cove with 10 News Anchor John Carlin

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – If you think fishing at Carvins Cove is easy, think again.

The water is clear and the fish ”recognize every lure you can buy at Sportsman’s Warehouse,” said one of the workers at the docks when I pulled up in reference to the heavy fishing pressure.

[RELATED: Looking for a fun way to pin a picture for the Blue Ridge Games? Wet a line at the Cove]

I was determined to try my hand at the lake. In more than three decades of living and fishing in the area, I had never fished there. It seemed like it was time.

As it turns out, there were several other people with the same idea, like Sarah Jones, of Roanoke.

“It’s pretty hard, especially on a little boat or off the edges, but sometimes you get a little bite,” Sarah said. She planned to fish with worms and had rented a kayak from the welcome center at the Cove’s beachhead near Hollins.

Joel and Brett Starnes, of Lynchburg, were also launching that morning. They had all the gear, including kayaks rigged for fishing that featured an electric trolling motor and depth finders. Both boats were rigged with after-market rod holders so they could have multiple poles at their disposal. There was enough tackle to handle anything from massive striped bass to sunfish, both of which call the Cove home, along with many other species including catfish, chain pickerel and large and smallmouth bass.

“I’ve been known to catch a few fish,” Joel Starnes said. He then produced pictures on his phone that demonstrated he could walk the walk.

His son, Brett caught a nice bass on his last trip. And it was enough to make him come back.

“Fishing has always been a part of my life. And I’ve passed it on to my son and we’re just gonna keep it rolling,” Joel said.

I couldn’t wait to see what the day might bring.

My goal was to catch a fish. Any kind of fish. I’d brought along a fly rod rigged with a topwater popping bug, and some ultralight spinning gear to try for a bass.

Joel and Brett Let me hang out with them for a bit. But the fishing was slow and so I moved on.

I was fishing for the first time from a new pedal-propelled kayak, which keeps my hands free for fishing instead of paddling. I also found it was about twice as fast as my conventional fishing kayak, with only half the effort.

But, between the new kayak and my inexperience with the Cove – it took a while to figure things out.

Eventually, I switched to a smaller popping bug and immediately began landing sunfish. I caught and released four in quick succession.

The small fish were entertaining, but I wanted to see if I could catch a bass. So I switched to my spinning rod – and I hooked up with something big. It began taking drag and as I reached down to see if my camera was recording, it spit the lure. To be honest, it was heartbreaking. I later repeated “long-distance releases” with two largmouth bass that jumped and carried on and got off the hook.

A Carvins Cove eye-opener

Carvins Cove is prettier than I ever imagined. It’s surrounded by mountains, and although it gets a lot of fishing pressure, on this Friday afternoon, I found myself alone in coves and inlets that seemed like they were miles from anywhere.

I hooked and lost two more good bass – long after my camera batteries died – but no matter it was a thrilling day on the water. My phone told me I had kayaked and fished over about 4 miles of water.

Back at the dock, I caught up with Joel and Brett.

They had a slow day – until Brett broke through with a big one… The kind of fish that makes a whole day of effort worth it.

One of the Cove’s legendary striped bass. “He’s had a striper jinx,” Joel told me. “So that’s an important catch.”

Whether it’s those father-son memories, or just enjoying the beauty of the region …

Carvins Cove is worth checking out.

If you want to come here and fish and participate in the Blue Ridge Games, all you have to do is come fishing. You don’t even have to catch a fish. Take a picture and pin it at Or on the WSLS app and then you’ll be and when you get enough points you will be entered to win some prizes. So good luck. Hope you enjoy our beautiful area and the rich games and I’ll see you out there.

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