BOATING, FISHING, HIKING, SWIMMING
Cove Boat Ramp offers access to Badin Lake for both motorized and non-motorized craft. A large parking area is available for vehicles and trailers.
Fishing Badin Lake
The biggest fishing hole in the Uwharrie National Forest is Badin Lake. This 5,350-acre impoundment of the Yadkin River was built in 1917 by the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) to generate hydroelectric power for the aluminum plant at Badin. The eastern shore borders the National Forest and the lake is well stocked with catfish, bream, largemouth, white and striped bass.
The Forest Service has one launching site at the Cove Boat Ramp. The State has two ramps on the lake. Marinas offer easy access for everything from jon-boats to pontoons. The lake is crowded with pleasure boats on spring and summer weekends. Well attended bass tournaments are usually held every weekend from March through October.
In early spring, fish are spawning and feeding well. Look for bluegill beds. These are circular depressions in the shallows. Catch them with crickets, worms or artificial bait. Fish along downed trees or stumps in the water for crappie and bass. Crappies will take minnows or jigs. For largemouth bass, you are going to have to work at it and try different lures. Look for largemouth around the rocky points.
Small spinners are always good for feeding bluegill. Fly rod experts can put a hurting on a bream bed. Most white bass anglers use a black and chartreuse jig rigged about three feet under a weighted bobber. This set-up takes crappie too. White bass and crappie are caught by the score, especially in the spring.
Carolina rigged plastic worms and lizards in assorted colors are local favorites for largemouth in the spring. Fishing live crawfish or minnows just off the bottom with a cork is an old fashioned, but effective, way to catch largemouth bass. An eight-pounder is a big’un at Badin but 3-to-4 pound fish are abundant.
The State stocks about 25,000 striper fingerlings every year and Badin is known as a dependable put-and-take striper lake. Anglers can limit-out on 5 to 12 pound fish with a rare 20-pounder. Trolling live shad is the best way to catch stripers. Bottom fishing with chicken livers or cut-up shad will land catfish and stripers. A good rule is, “bigger bait for bigger fish”. Look for excited sea gulls working the water and you will likely find a school of frightened shad under attack by hungry stripers. Big, shiny top-water plugs are the way to go when that happens. Taking a striper on top water is probably the biggest thrill going on Badin Lake, unless it’s winching up a 60-pound plus record catfish from the bottom.
When the turbines are running in the Tuckertown dam, shad and other fish are sucked in, chewed up and spit out downstream where hungry stripers and catfish gorge themselves on easy pickings. Anglers brave the turbulent waters and clean up while fishing cut-bait during these tailrace feeding frenzies. Thirty and forty-pound catfish are caught regularly here. Anglers may have to share the airspace with the bald eagles that have discovered this fishy feast, as the eagles are coming back to the Uwharries.
During the summer fish move to deeper water where it is cooler. The best times to fish are one hour before sunrise and one hour after sunset. Larger fish move deep because it’s too hot for them in the shallows. That is when deep running crank baits work best for largemouth bass or aggressive stripers. Because fish are cold-blooded they move to deep, warm areas in the fall and will not bite as aggressively when the temperature cools down. Many largemouth bass and stripers are caught during those warm winter days that all Southern anglers appreciate.
Anglers looking to beat the crowds can fish the Uwharrie River.