Wake Forest, NC Fishing: Legendary Bass Fishing in the Northeast-Central NC Region

Access the epic bass fishing in the Northeast Central region of North Carolina when you visit Wake Forest, NC.

Wake Forest, NC Fishing: Legendary Bass Fishing in the Northeast-Central NC Region
Wake Forest, NC Fishing: Legendary Bass Fishing in the Northeast-Central NC Region
Team Guidesly

September 6, 2022, 6 min read

Updated on September 3, 2022

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Wake Forest is a thriving suburban city north of Raleigh, situated in Franklin, Granville, and Wake counties. It is nestled right where the Piedmont and Coastal Plains regions meet in the northeast central part of North Carolina. It is often referred to as the “Fall Line” because it is where the elevation inland starts, characterized by many waterfalls in the creeks and rivers in the area. Being in Wake Forest will situate you three hours away from Atlantic Beach and four hours from the Great Smoky Mountains.

The quaint community in the Raleigh-Durham-Cary Statistical Area started as a bit of forested land purchased by New Englander Dr. Calvin Jones in the 19th century. The doctor soon sold the area to the North Carolina Baptist Convention, then formed an education institution for which the place became known. It was named the “Town of Wake Forest College” when initially incorporated in the late 1800s. This eponymous college grew and eventually moved to the bigger city of Winston-Salem in the 1950s. 

As a growing suburb, Wake Forest is home to plenty of sights and activities for travelers seeking a less crowded but equally beautiful side of the Raleigh-Durham City region. It has several preserved historical landmarks, fun shopping areas, and a charming downtown area. Aside from the suburban comforts, Wake Forest is a nature lover’s dream. The place offers instant access to the sprawling Falls Lake State Recreation Area and a few other hotspots for anglers seeking a productive North Carolina fishing experience.

Wake Forest Fishing

angler river fishing

Traveling to Wake Forest situates you near several freshwater fishing spots with big bass and other game fish. First on the list is Falls Lake. The 12,400-acre waterbody offers a healthy fishery for a wide variety of fish. It is most well-known for its largemouth bass fishery, but it is teeming with channel catfish, flathead catfish, blue catfish, crappie, striped bass, bluegill, chain pickerel, white bass, white perch, and yellow perch. Almost half the fish caught in the lake measure more than 14 inches long, with a good 20 percent measuring more than 16. Trophy largemouth bass are routinely caught here. 

The sprawling lake has rich vegetation and is surrounded by many access points. Within the Falls Lake State Recreation Area, you can find accessible fishing piers at Beaverdam and Rollingview. Likewise, there are several public boat ramps, a private marina, and a boat rental. Fishing in the shallows here can be quite productive, especially if you use spinnerbaits, crankbaits and jigs. Anglers are advised to exercise caution when fishing in the upper end of Falls Lake, particularly upstream of the Highway 50 Bridge. The area has large shallow flats and stumps but can be pretty treacherous. 

Local experts advise seeking the lower end of the lake, particularly during April, as these parts are especially great for bass fishing. Sight fishing in the lake can also be a joy during spring because its waters are at their clearest with enough stain, which allows you to use big baits. Major creeks like Upper and Lower Barton, New Light, Lodge, and Lick are considered some of the best as they have plenty of timber where fish like to hang out. Around springtime, you’ll find the fish moving to the back of these creeks, where there are letdowns and willows.

Bass should measure at least 16 inches long before they can be kept to maintain the healthy bass fishery in the lake. Anything smaller is catch-and-release. There’s also a daily limit of five fish. Anglers are likewise advised against consuming the bass caught in the lake because of its mercury content. 

Jordan Lake is another reservoir anglers can easily access from Wake Forest. It is a 14,000-acre body of water known for its sunfish and bass fishing. Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, striped bass, white bass, channel catfish, crappie, bluegill, and yellow perch are among its fish species. It has more than 100 miles open for fishing on the shoreline, kayak, canoe, or boat. Like Falls Lake, it has healthy aquatic vegetation and is surrounded by several public boat ramps. There are also boat rentals, private marinas, and campgrounds around the lake. While some say trophy fishing in the lake has seen better days, many locals claim it is still quite a hotspot in April when the spawning season is in high gear. 

Unlike Falls Lake, Jordan Lake is not great for sight-fishing. Its waters are downright dingy, especially after a spring downpour. But that shouldn’t discourage you from fishing the lake. It has several productive areas that turn out trophies every spring. The riprap along the Ebenezar Bridge is a favorite fishing tournament spot as it attracts plenty of shad targeted by big bass. East of the bridge, you’ll find Beaver Creek’s north side. Its shallow waters are home to many suspended basses. 

Harris Lake or Shearon Harris Reservoir is a smaller lake near New Hill, covering more than 4,000 acres. It provides water and serves as a cooling water outlet for the nuclear power plant of the same name. It has two public boat ramps and an undeveloped shoreline with aquatic vegetation. You can also access part of the lake at the Harris Lake County Park, a fishing pier, and many hiking and biking trails. Shearon Harris Lake is yet another bass lake and is becoming quite well-known nationally, earning a commendation from Bassmaster Magazine. Visitors who missed out on the spring largemouth bass fishery in the other bigger lakes, Harris Lake, should be on your early summer agenda. Aside from bass, the lake offers abundant fish, including crappie, bluegill, white, and yellow perch.


Top 10 Fish Species in Wake Forest, NC

The top 10 fish species in Wake Forest are largemouth bass, striped bass, bluegill, channel catfish, flathead catfish, blue catfish, yellow perch, white bass, crappie, and smallmouth bass.

Seasonal Fishing

Wake Forest enjoys a relatively moderate climate all year round, except for its hot and humid summers. Big bass fishing here gets particularly productive around spring, especially in April when the bass start to spawn. In early summer, you’ll still find fish in the shallows, but they’ll move offshore once the waters turn warmer. The area experiences heavy downpours around July and August, which can be quite good for fishing. Bass fishing sees less competition in winter, but anglers can still fish for bass during the season. Experts bring heavy spinnerbaits and umbrella rigs with lures that imitate baitfish, especially those that behave like threadfin shad, which are the forage of choice for bass during the season.

Discover the Beauty of Wake Forest Inside Out

Wake Forest is a small but thriving place with history, culture, and nature spots, making it a lovely and restful getaway destination for different kinds of visitors - from families, nature lovers, and more.

1. Book a Fishing Guide

Fishing in the big lakes can be daunting, especially if it’s your first time in the area. To enjoy a safe and productive fishing experience, get the services of a local expert who knows the waters and its fish inside out.

2. Enjoy the Outdoors in Different Ways

Skaters will love The Factory Skateboard Park, which has indoor/outdoor skating surfaces for beginners and advanced ones. Music-lovers will enjoy hanging out at the E. Carroll Joyner Park, which has a Six Sundays Concert series during spring.

3. Discover the Local History

Get to know Wake Forest’s origins by visiting the Wake Forest Historical Museum and the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary campus. The site was the original Wake Forest College campus which gave the town its name. When the college became too big for the area, it moved to nearby Winston-Salem in the 1950s.

Fish in Wake Forest and beyond.