Fish Blue Ridge: Hungry Mother Lake

County: Smyth
Fishery: Hungry Mother Lake
Difficulty: Easy
Town: Marion
Attraction: Hungry Mother State Park, Wooden Pickle, Lincoln Theatre

About Hungry Mother Lake

Just a few miles from I-81 and the bustling town of Marion, VA, Hungry Mother State Park is one of the oldest Virginia state parks. Within the park, Hungry Mother Lake is one of Virginia’s most beautiful and diverse stillwater fisheries.

According to legend, before America won its independence from Britain, Native Americans raided several settlements along the upper New River in southwest Virginia. Many died, but some survivors, including Molly Marley and her small child, were captured and transported to a Native camp. The two escaped captivity and fled into the surrounding mountains unequipped for survival, foraging for sustenance and seeking help. Molly died from starvation and was later found at the foot of the mountain. When her child found help, they only had the strength to utter the words “hungry mother.” Molly’s Knob and Hungry Mother Creek were named in their honor. 

In 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps dammed the creek to form Hungry Mother Lake and the surrounding land was designated as Hungry Mother State Park. Today, the state park is a rich and peaceful Blue Ridge fishing destination.

Fishing at Hungry Mother Lake

Hungry Mother Lake is home to an array of sport fish. The lake houses healthy populations of all three species of smallmouth, largemouth and spotted black bass, though largemouth bass are the dominant species. Bluegill and black crappie await panfish anglers and channel catfish are regularly stocked. The lake also offers anglers the opportunity to catch walleye, hybrid striped bass and muskie. Recent surveys of Hungry Mother Lake by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources indicate that all sport fish populations are strong thanks to a forage base of alewives.

Hungry Mother Lake is one of the largest impoundments located entirely within a Virginia state park and offers numerous amenities. For shorebound anglers, Hungry Mother State Park has a handicap-accessible fishing pier as well as six miles of shoreline along a hiking and mountain biking trail. Additionally, several fishing spots can be found at pull-offs along Route 16 entering the park. The park rents canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, paddle boats and jon boats from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and a concrete boat ramp on the southeastern arm of the lake grants private boaters access for a $7 park entry fee.

Things To Do at Hungry Mother State Park

The 2,180-acre Hungry Mother State Park offers multiple campgrounds, rental cabins, picnic areas, a beach, a playground and food concessions. and the visitor center provides interpretive displays and serves as a base for interactive programs that are held throughout the summer months, making the lake a great family destination.

After a day at Hungry Mother State Park, return to the town of Marion, VA. for dinner at a local restaurant downtown. Catch a show at Marion’s Lincoln Theatre, built in 1929 and now one of the last remaining Mayan Revival-style theaters in the world.

Hungry Mother Lake is a gem hidden in the mountains of Smyth County, VA. Hungry Mother Lake’s diverse sport fish make it a must-visit for anglers in southwest Virginia, and the amenities of Hungry Mother State Park and nearby Marion enrich the experience.

Choose Your Smyth County Adventure!

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