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West Virginia Stream Conditions

October 18, 2017


BEECH FORK – Anglers should call the Beech Fork Corps of Engineers office at 304-525-4831 and go to http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/twe/bbf for information and current lake levels.  Fishing should pick up for all species with cooling temperature levels.  Jerk baits, and soft plastics are great fall choices for bass.  Husky jerks, pointers, and rapala x raps are all good choices for jerk baits.  Soft plastic choices include beaver style baits, worms, and about anything one has confidence with.  Hybrids (white x striped bass cross) should be active throughout the day near the dam.  Anglers using silver/white lures that imitate their main forage (gizzard shad) seem to do the best.  Low light (dawn, dusk) and overcast skies are good conditions for hybrids.

BLUESTONE Fishing on the lake has been good.  Bass anglers should try their luck around structure such as rocky points, downed trees, or aquatic vegetation using plastics and jigs.  With the cooler nights we are now experiencing, anglers should see the bites really beginning to pick up as the water temperature falls.  Channel and flathead catfish are still producing some on the lake.  Anglers wanting to catch the whiskered ones should try drifting with live bait such as softshell crayfish, cut shad, or nightcrawlers. Chicken livers are also good.  When you catch one, simply motor back up and drift through the hole again or anchor upstream. Flatheads prefer live bait such as shad or a sunfish.  Striped bass and hybrid stripers are beginning to chase the schools of shad so watch for the breaking water.  Be careful not to run your boat directly into the fray and scare the fish.  Smallmouth bass are hitting in the tailwaters with best baits plastic jigs.

BURNSVILLE – The lake is at summer pool.  Bass are being caught near the surface holding to cover.  Look for brush piles adjacent to creek channels and downwind sides of wind-blown points.   For more information call Corps of Engineers at 304-853-2398 and go to http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/lka/bus.

EAST LYNN For information on current lake levels call the Corps of Engineers recorded message at 304-849-9861 and go to http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/twe/elt.  Fishing should pick up for all species with cooling temperature levels.  Jerk baits, and soft plastics are great fall choices for bass. Husky jerks, pointers, and rapala x raps are all good choices for jerk baits. Soft plastic choices include beaver style baits, worms, and about anything one has confidence with.  Muskie anglers are doing well by casting to likely areas and by trolling.  Local lures such as Amma bamas, and a variety of buck tails like spring fork blades are good choices.  Our fish are fished over often and large ones have seen it all - sometimes something new or unusual is the ticket to get a bite. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try odd or new color combinations.

R.D. BAILEY – Fishing on the lake is good.  Some large spotted bass may be caught.  Some of the largest spotted bass in WV are found in R. D. Bailey Lake.  The spotted bass will be found along the rocky drops with clay points another good spot to try.  Good baits are plastic jigs in smoke and chartreuse colors or live shad.  These bass can be found moving into shallower water to feed now that the nights are getting cooler and the water temperature is dropping some.   Anglers should see the bite picking up for most species as the water temperature falls.  Hybrid striped bass feed on shad so fishermen should watch for any schools of shad because the hybrid will usually be nearby.  Best baits are lures such as rattletraps, spoons, or white/chartreuse jigs.   Anglers may also want to try chicken livers for this hard fighting fish.  Blue catfish have been stocked in the lake the last 5 years and are slowly developing into a fishery.   Anglers are encouraged to remember that blue cats are under a special regulation -  2 fish limit with 24” size limit. 

STONECOAL LAKE – The lake is at normal pool.  Bass are in about ten feet of water and reports of lots of fish being caught.  Crappie, Bluegill and Yellow Perch fishing is picking up.  A few musky have been caught trolling and casting to tree piles.  The walleye bite is slow, but a few keeper-sized fish have been reported recently. Find the WVDNR tree/brush piles and you will find fish of all species.

STONEWALL JACKSON – The lake is about 3 feet below summer pool. Bass are in the top 10 feet and holding to cover. Fish of all species can be found in and around hydrilla weed mats. Before heading to the lake please call Corps.  Before heading to the lake please call Corps of Engineers at 304-269-7463.

SUMMERSVILLE – The lake is 25 feet below summer pool.  Smallmouth Bass have been caught from the surface to 25 feet deep.  Walleye, Yellow Perch, Rock Bass and Bluegill have been caught in the 25-35 foot range.  A simple split shot weight and nightcrawlers have been effective around structure. Walleye regulation signs are posted around the lake, please take notice.  For more information contact the Corps of Engineers at 304-872-3412 and go to http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/kan/sug.

SUTTON – Bass are being caught from the surface to 15 feet.  Crappie and Bluegill fishing has picked up with cooler water temperatures, look for natural downed trees with the tree-top still present.  Before heading to the lake please call Corps of Engineers at 304-765-2705 and go to http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/kan/sue.

TYGART LAKEThe lake level is a few feet below summer pool.  Keep an eye out for white bass chasing shiners near the surface.  Cast small spoons toward the shiners for some fast action.  Walleye will be deep, especially during mid-day.  Anglers are allowed 8 walleyes per day, but they must be at least 15-inches in length.  Call the Corps of Engineers hotline at 265-5953 for the current lake level and tailwater conditions.


OHIO RIVER (New Cumberland, Pike Island, and Hannibal pools and tailwaters):
Anglers have reported excellent success for hybrid striped bass and white bass over the last couple of weeks in the tailwaters below the dams.  Top water lures, shiners, and agitators with a trailer have been good presentations.  Fishing for flathead catfish has been picking up also.  Hannibal tailwater at New Martinsville provides the best shoreline access for anglers.  Pike Island tailwater near Wheeling has a fishing pier on the Ohio shore that also provides good river access.  

MONONGAHELA RIVER:  Try fishing for hybrid striped bass and white bass in the tailwater using spoons, topwater lures, or shiners.  Additionally, sauger, smallmouth bass, and walleye can be caught. The best fishing success for saugers and walleyes is during low light conditions at dawn and dusk.  Jigs with minnows are the best baits right now. Channel catfish are abundant throughout the river.  Troll large crank baits for muskies anywhere on the river.

TYGART LAKE: The lake is about 23 feet below the summer level and falling. Walleyes can be at any depth but will move into shallow water to feed at dusk.  Smallmouth bass can be caught using crayfish imitations along the shoreline as the lake level decreases.  Look for white bass at the head of coves or the upper part of the lake.  State park ramps no. 1 and no. 4 are closed.  Pleasant Creek boat ramp is open.     

The tailwater temperature is 70F and clear with a flow of around about 500 cfs.  Call the Corps of Engineers telephone hotline at 304-265-5953 for daily lake and tailwater conditions, as well as conditions of boat ramps.

CHEAT LAKE: White bass schools can be seen breaking the surface throughout the lake.  Cast crank baits, spoons, or jigs for fast action.  The easiest way to fish the lake for all species is drifting along the shoreline with a night crawler or minnow on a hook with a couple of split shot at a depth of 10 to 15 feet. Cast small rooster-tail spinners for large bluegills and pumpkinseed sunfish in downed trees along the shoreline.  Anglers using deep diving crank baits have been successful catching walleye.  The embayments at the Cheat Lake Park are good areas for bank fishermen to catch sunfish and largemouth bass.

RIVERS – Flows are very low in most rivers, making float fishing extremely difficult.  However, flows in Tygart and West Fork Rivers below Tygart Dam and Stonewall Jackson are sufficient for good float fishing trips.  Low flows in Buffalo Creek, Fishing Creek, Cheat and Buckhannon rivers offer good wade fishing opportunities.  Smallmouth bass have been very active the last couple of weeks and successful anglers have been using small spinner baits, buzz baits, and plastic worms hooked wacky style.  To get daily river flow conditions, visit the following U.S. Geological Survey website: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wv/nwis/current/?type=flow
Use the WVDNR online fishing map to find stream access information at:  http://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/

SMALL IMPOUNDMENTS – Small impoundments are excellent places to catch bluegill, largemouth bass and channel catfish.  Several small impoundments are available to anglers across the state.  Call the local WVDNR office for more information.  Use the WVDNR online fishing map at:  http://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/  to find locations of small impoundments near you.  


South Branch and Cacapon Rivers   Water temperatures are in the mid 60’s and flows are very low and clear!   These conditions can be great for wade fishing.  However, until we receive adequate rainfall, floating any stream stretch will likely be difficult.  Recent angler reports indicate high angler catch rates of several sport fish.  Additionally, recent fisheries surveys uncovered higher than normal densities of quality-sized Smallmouth, so take advantage of their availability.  This time of year, large Smallmouth Bass can be caught on soft plastic and skirted jigs, weighted plastics, swim baits, and crayfish imitation crankbaits.  Top water activity has begun to intensify, encouraging anglers to drop soft plastics and crank baits for small buzz baits, small surface plugs, and fly rod poppers and divers, which are all effective at provoking surface bites for aggressive Smallmouth!  Reports of anglers catching Channel Catfish, abundant in the South Branch, are coming in.  Channel Catfish greater than 30” in length have been captured in sampling gear from Petersburg, WV all the way down to the mouth on the South Branch.  Over 2,380 Channel Catfish have been angler reward tagged since 2012, so please keep an eye out for these tagged fish and know what to do if you encounter one http://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/Fish_Tagging.shtm.  Our research suggests that Channel Catfish become much more active during elevated flows and turbid water conditions, so fishing during safe flows as waters are coming down from rain events may increase catch rates for anglers.

Shenandoah River   Stream flows are low and clear, making fishing opportunities for wading anglers great, but causing problems for floaters through some habitats!  Under normal conditions for this time of year, large Smallmouth Bass can be caught on soft plastic and skirted jigs, weighted plastics, and crayfish imitation crankbaits.  Lures that balance lifelike characters and allow a variety of retrieve speeds, such as swim baits, may be the answer to carefully feeding fish. Top water activity has intensified, encouraging anglers to drop soft plastics and crank baits for small buzz baits, small surface plugs, and fly rod poppers and divers, which are all effective at provoking surface bites for aggressive Smallmouth!   Swim baits imitating forage fish higher in the water column would be a wise switch occasionally from deeper fished lures.  River dwelling Channel Catfish activity and angling success has also picked up through much of the region, providing another early angling opportunity in this stream.  The Shenandoah River has an abundance of quality-sized Channel Catfish.

North Branch River    Flows are currently around 250 cfs and are projected to remain there over the next few days.  Please follow Maryland DNR creel and gear regulations for this stream. Check the Corp of Engineers webpage for specifics or schedule changes concerning whitewater discharges.  Flows in the North Branch can be monitored by watching USGS stream gages (http://www.nab-wc.usace.army.mil/northBranch.html) or by calling (410) 962-7687 for a three-day projection of outflows.

Small Impoundments    Conditions are great for black bass, Channel Catfish, and panfish.  With recent cooler temperatures, wind and rain, these fisheries should be losing summer stratification, allowing fish to be able to persist in somewhat deeper water for an extended period.  Fish shallow, typically no greater than 10’ in depth.  These small, easily accessible impoundments provide some of the best opportunities for catching high quantities of quality sized Largemouth Bass, Bluegill and Channel Catfish in the state!

Jennings Randolph Lake    Jennings Randolph Lake is about 21 feet below conservation pool height - normal depth.  Recent surveys have uncovered high densities of Smallmouth Bass 15” and greater and Walleye longer than the minimum size limit.  This location may be becoming a destination for quality-sized Yellow Perch, as two anglers recently filed citation reports for perch greater than 13” from this lake.  The West Virginia (Howell) and Maryland ramps are open to receive boat traffic: http://www.nab.usace.army.mil/Missions/Dams-Recreation/Jennings-Randolph-Lake/Fishing/
Additional recreational information can also be found at (http://www.nab.usace.army.mil/Missions/DamsRecreation/JenningsRandolphLake.aspx).

Mt. Storm Lake    Anglers at Mount Storm Lake should target Striped Bass, Black Bass, and Walleye.  Additional Christmas tree reef structures have recently been added as fish attractors and habitat on the western side of the lake.  Recent surveys revealed greater numbers of quality-sized Channel Catfish, which are overly abundant in this lake. Harvest of Channel Catfish in Mt. Storm is promoted to improve this population.   Additionally, recent biological surveys have revealed plentiful Striped Bass greater than 20” in length!  This population is maintained through WVDNR stocking efforts!  These fish should now be approaching citation size (>25”).  Trolling minnow and shad patterns (crankbaits, jigs, inline spinners, and stick baits) should prove successful for targeting walleye and striped bass. 
For detailed information about stream flow, water clarity, and temperature, visit this United States Geological Survey (USGS) page for available stream gauge data: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wv/nwis/rt


Water levels are normal and clear.  If you are looking for a place to go, please check the fishing regulations and the WVDNR website for a list of public access sites or call your local WVDNR district office for some advice on places to fish.  The USGS WaterWatch website:   https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/?m=real&r=wv is a good tool for real-time stream conditions while you are planning your fishing trip. 


The New and Greenbrier rivers are continuing to provide some good fishing for smallmouth bass despite the very low flows.  The fall season is always great fishing and great scenery too.  Reports of some large bass have come in from the Catch and Release section on the New.  This section is from the I-64 bridge downstream to the take-out at the Grandview Sandbar.  Fishermen should try plastic jigs fished slowly along the bottom.  Spots below or above shoals are good spots to try your luck.  Southern WV is blessed with many small impoundments that have good fish populations.  Waters such as Plum Orchard, Stephens, and Pipestem lakes have excellent largemouth bass populations and as fall approaches the time is prime to be on the waters.  As the water cools, anglers will be seeing the bite pick up significantly.

Lower Ohio and Kanawha rivers – All locks along the Ohio and Kanawha fish well throughout the year, but especially during the spring and fall due to preferred temperature levels.  Target your favorite fish with your favorite bait or lure.  Hybrids are active and can be caught on a variety of lures from chicken liver (yes chicken liver), live minnows, to silver/white spoons and spinners or other shad imitating lures.  Catfish can be caught using cut fresh bait, and live bait for blues and flatheads.  Bass can be caught floating fluke style baits and pulling spinnerbaits close to cover.

Guyandotte, Coal, Poca, Elk and Mud rivers - With falling temperature levels NOW is a prime time for a float trip or wade fishing for smallmouth on a variety of rivers in WV.  Bass will still savagely attack top-water with falling temperature levels, but sub surface lures such as soft and hard jerk baits will become excellent choices for angling success in the next few weeks.  Spinnerbaits on a windy day thrown to shoreline structure is also a good way to connect with a citation size smallmouth.  Muskies can be caught using a variety of methods.  Casting plugs and buck tails to likely haunts are good methods, as is trolling when applicable. Top-water is still a good choice for muskies, especially late or early in the day.

Small Impoundments – Small impoundments are an excellent choice for fall angling in WV.  Many spend all their time hunting and the reduction in pressure on impoundment bass means improved success for those willing to get out and try during the fall.  Target beaver huts using jig and pig set-ups and spinnerbaits also work good right now.  Soft plastics are always a good choice when fishing becomes tough or if the sun is high in the sky.  Many soft plastics are flavored or scented with salt and other flavors that help during inactive or slow periods.  A warm afternoon during the fall on a WV impoundment can create a long-lasting memory due to the fish one may catch.  Instead of hunting one day in the fall give a small impoundment a try, you may be surprised what you connect with.

Reservoirs – Check the USACOE website (http://www.lrh.usace.army.mil/) and the USGS website (http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/rt) for reservoir and tailrace conditions.

Rivers and Streams – Check the USGS website (http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/rt) for river/stream conditions and check local landings visually before wasting a trip.

Early fall is an excellent time to fish Ohio River tailwater areas.  Anglers fishing below the Belleville and Willow Island Dams are catching White Bass, Hybrid Striped Bass, and a few other species.  Pencil poppers and lead-headed jigs with twister tails (white or chartreuse) are the lures of choice.  Clever anglers are tipping their jig hooks with minnows or shad.  Areas to target include eddies, back-current sections, and anywhere that river flows appear unusual.  Sauger and Walleye are beginning to hit, and should be targeted during non-daylight hours.

Elsewhere on Ohio River, fishing for catfish has been good.  Channel Catfish anglers should use night crawlers, chicken liver, or prepared catfish-type baits.  Live fish should be used for Flathead Catfish.  Good fishing sites for catfish include deep areas along islands, outside bends, and tributary mouths.
Fishing has been good for Largemouth Bass and Bluegill in area impoundments. Bass are being caught on spinner baits and soft plastics from areas with woody debris and other cover. Bluegill are being taken on small jigs that are fished deep (depths of 10-12 feet).  Good choices for area lakes include Elk Fork and Woodrum Lakes in Jackson County, North Bend Lake in Ritchie County, Mountwood Lake in Wood County, Conaway Run Lake in Tyler County, and Charles Fork Lake in Roane County. 

Limited rainfall events have resulted in water levels being extremely low (down approximately 11 feet) in O’Brien Lake in Jackson County, which is used for water supply.  However, less water means that Largemouth Bass and Channel Catfish will be confined to areas that still have water and structure available for them to utilize.  Although the boat ramp is currently unusable for trailered boats, anglers with small boats that can be carried in and bank fishermen may have a unique opportunity to catch more fish if they are willing to work for them.

Local Musky streams should be fishable this weekend.  Fall Musky anglers are using large crank baits, jerk baits, and blades.  Anglers should target fallen trees or riffle areas.  Fishing has been quite good this year for Musky throughout Middle Island Creek, Little Kanawha River, and Hughes River systems.  Musky fishing at North Bend Lake also has been productive this year.

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