My son and I made our first trip to Lake Phelps this weekend. We camped at Pettigrew State Park. I wish I could report on amazing bass fishing, but it was not to be. We arrived on Saturday at 4pm, set up camp and launched the skiff from the state park ramp around 5pm. Unfortunately, a southwest breeze was increasing slightly, and made this section choppy. We threw senkos, floating worms and weedless paddle tails for ~ 30 minutes with no luck, and then decided to get off the water due to the chop. We had perfect tent camping conditions on Saturday night, and we had a great time exploring the park and looking at the amazing trees. We were expecting calmer conditions on Sunday morning… we were at the ramp ready to launch at 6:30am, but even the mild SW breeze was generating the same chop around the Pettigrew section of the lake. Plan B was the Scuppernong river. We launched the skiff at the Creswell ramp that is just an 8 minute drive from the campground. This is a wild and scenic blackwater river. The fishing was not epic, but we caught two bowfins, one crappie and one white catfish. The bigger bowfin hit a 1/8 oz. yellow beetle spin… I’m amazed we landed it. The smaller bowfin hit a Texas-rigged zoom lizard. The crappie hit the beetle spin and the catfish was on earthworms. I’d like the species experts to look at the picture and confirm this is a white catfish, we initially thought it was a bullhead and I only considered it was a white after studying the web last night. This cat had a couple of deep wounds and shook off several leeches onto the boat deck. Gar (and maybe bowfin) were surfacing everywhere. We saw turtles, snakes, wood ducks, lots of herons and beautiful, yellow-breasted songbirds… maybe Prothonotary Warblers? Got off the river around 11am. After taking down our camp and more walking around Pettigrew, we drove around the lake all the way to the Pocosin Overlook that is on the southern shore. We wet waded a few of the coves to the east of the walk-in. Throwing a white paddle tail and Texas-lizard, no luck. I did see one blow-up way back in a cove, and we did see a big largemouth that was hiding underneath the walk-in dock. Overall, we did not get the hoped-for epic bass fishing, but we still had a great time exploring the area. Key lessons learned: (1) wind direction is everything on Phelps, (2) the southern shore has a nice sandy bottom and is shallow enough for a 10-year-old to wade. Next trip we’ll likely stay at Conmans.
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