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West Virginia Stream Conditions

April 25, 2018


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.  Water temps are still cold but a few hardy anglers report success for Bass using soft plastics and slow-rolling spinnerbaits near cover and stumps.  Try for hybrids near the dam with white or silver lures or rigged minnows.  Beech Fork is now at summer pool.  

BLUESTONE – Spring is slowly approaching and some fish species are preparing to spawn as the water warms in the next few weeks.  Crappie will be showing up on brush piles, flooded timber or downed trees where they will spawn.  They will hit small minnows or doll flies.  Bass may be caught off rocky points and around downed trees using live bait and artificial lures such as spinnerbaits and plastic worms.  Anglers should look for points that have some cover such as stumps, logs, or weed beds.  Try slow rolling a spinnerbait, bumping off the stumps.  Some Hybrid-striped Bass may be caught using large minnows.  Anglers should try spots as the mouth of Indian Creek or up the Bluestone Arm as these fish, even though mostly infertile, still make mock spawning runs upstream.  Smallmouth Bass are being caught in the tailwaters.  Successful anglers are using tube jigs in pumpkinseed or motor oil colors.  Anglers should be careful wading and wear your personal flotation devices.

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.  A few Musky have been boated and released by anglers fishing large tubes and glide baits very slowly.  East Lynn is now at summer pool.

R.D. BAILEY – With the waters warming up, fish are becoming more and more active as they feed in preparation for the upcoming spawning.  Crappie are congregating near the habitats where they spawn such as around standing timber and brush piles and they will hit small minnows.  For artificial lures, use doll flies in white and yellow.  Spotted Bass are hitting plastic jigs in crayfish colors.  The Spotted Bass will be found along the rocky drops with points with downed trees.  Hybrid-striped Bass will be making a mock spawning run up stream in April and May, so anglers may want to concentrate their efforts in the upper lake.  The trout stocked in the tailwaters are providing good fishing.  Best baits are corn, salmon eggs, and small jigs.

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 good, a few lunker-sized fish have been reported recently. Fish around tree/brush piles and you will find fish of all species.  Use the WVDNR map tool found here:  https://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/map/?v=fish .  Find Stonecoal Lake on the map and zoom in to see the orange fish habitat markers! 

STONEWALL JACKSON – The lake is about three feet below summer pool. Bass are in the top ten 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 of Engineers at 304-269-7463.

SUMMERSVILLE – The lake is at winter 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 feet range.  Reports of lots of fish being caught.  Walleye regulation signs are posted around the lake, please take notice.  Trout were stocked in the tailwaters April 17, 2018.  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 LAKE – The lake elevation is about two feet above summer pool and is expected to stay near this level for the next few days.  Water clarity is milky.  Only the Pleasant Creek boat ramp is currently open.  Maps showing depth and locations of fish habitat structures can be viewed at:  http://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/ . 

Plenty of Walleye and Trout are available below Tygart Dam.  The best Walleye fishing is between 1,500 cfs and 5,000 cfs and the best Trout fishing is less than 1,500 cfs.  Current discharge is approximately 5,500 cfs.  Call the Corps of Engineers hotline at 304-265-5953 for daily lake and tailwater conditions.


OHIO RIVER (New Cumberland, Pike Island, and Hannibal pools and tailwaters) –  The river is still high, but it is predicted to go down in the next several days.  As the water temperature increases into May, Flathead Catfishing will only get better.  Good Crappie fishing can be found in embayments and tributaries of the Ohio River.  

MONONGAHELA RIVER –  The river is still high from recent rains, but some anglers have reported catching Walleye and Sauger below Morgantown Lock and Dam.  Start fishing about an hour before sunset because Sauger and Walleye will begin feeding at dusk.  Jigs with minnows are particularly good bait but 3-inch plastic grubs will also be productive.  White or chartreuse are good colors.  Crappie fishing should be heating up in the pools upstream of the dam.

CHEAT LAKE –  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 Bluegill and Pumpkinseed Sunfish in downed trees along the shoreline.  Anglers have reported excellent catches of Smallmouth Bass and decent reports of Crappie this past week.  Maps showing depth and locations of fish habitat structures can be viewed at:  http://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/ .  

The fishing pier below the dam is still closed for repairs.

Trout Stocking – Go to http://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/Stocking/DailyStock.shtmor or call the stocking hotline at (304) 558-3399.  The interactive fishing map on the WVDNR webpage is very useful for determining fishing spots throughout the state.  Use the USGS stream gages to help determine flow at your favorite river or stream:  http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wv/nwis/current/?type=flow .

RIVERS and STREAMS – Smallmouth Bass action is picking up on smaller streams and rivers.  Twister tails, spinners, and crayfish imitations are all good choices for Smallmouth Bass.  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 – These are great areas to fish, especially when our streams are high.  Fly-fishing with poppers or using spinner baits are effective and fun ways to catch Bluegill.  Good Largemouth Bass fishing can be had on lakes such as Dog Run, Dunkard Fork, Curtisville, and Dents Run Lakes.  Small impoundments provide easy access and are great places to take kids fishing.  Call the local WVDNR office for more information or view maps at:  http://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/ .


South Branch and Cacapon Rivers – Flows are approaching normal conditions, are slightly cloudy, and stream temperatures have been in the mid-50’s.  Current fishing conditions are great for targeting Smallmouth!  Focus on slow moving pools by bank fishing the slower water near the stream margin during higher flow events throughout the coming months.  Diet studies focusing on Smallmouth Bass consumption have highlighted the importance of crayfish as a staple diet item!  Large Smallmouth Bass can be caught on soft plastic and skirted jigs, crankbaits, weighted chatter baits, and weighted plastics.  Do not discount the importance of fish in Smallmouth diets, however.  Alternate the speed of swim baits as an alternative to fishing slow, deep plastics during periods of warmer water conditions.  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 are coming down from rain events may increase catch rates for anglers. 

Shenandoah River – Flows are normal and slightly cloudy, and temperatures are in the mid-50’s!  Fishing conditions are fantastic for targeting big Smallmouth!!!  Focus on slow moving pools by bank fishing the slow-moving water near the stream margin during higher, yet fishable, flow events.  Anglers should concentrate on deep, slow moving water.  Water temperatures and slightly cloudy water conditions are perfect for catching early season Smallmouth!  They can be caught on soft plastic and skirted jigs, crankbaits, weighted plastics, chatter baits, and crayfish imitation crankbaits.  Lures that balance lifelike characters and allow a variety of retrieve speeds, such as weighted swim baits, may be the answer to carefully feeding fish.  This is particularly true when low, cold, clear flows make for a challenging bite.  Swim baits imitating forage fish higher in the water column would be a wise switch occasionally from deeper fished lures.    

North Branch River – Flows are currently high and are projected to be around 1,500 – 2,500 cfs over the next several 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 – Although waters may be cloudy in some impoundments, fishing conditions should be good.  Consider fishing for our early spawning fish like Crappie as they feed and stage for reproductive efforts near submerged structure!  This is also a good time to target large Smallmouth Bass as they feed up for spawning efforts.  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!  Also, pay attention to the lakes that are receiving trout stockings  (http://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/Fishing_regs.shtm) to get a head start on coldwater fishing!  Furthermore, many of these fisheries are slated for the Gold Rush stockings… http://www.wvcommerce.org/resources/goldrush/default/.aspx !!!  

Jennings Randolph Lake – Jennings Randolph Lake is only about 2 feet higher than normal pool depth.  It is very likely, however, that some turbidity still exists from the recent rain events.  Recent surveys have uncovered high densities of Smallmouth Bass 15” and greater and Walleye longer than the minimum size limit.  Not surprisingly, recent angler reports have indicated frequent catches of well over 20 Smallmouth Bass per day. 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.  Both the West Virginia (Howell)  and Maryland boat ramps can receive boat traffic and are open at this time.   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).

Mount Storm Lake – Due to its position high in the watershed, Mount Storm Lake is in excellent fishing condition.  Water level has not risen, and lake water conditions are clear!  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, and good densities of both Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass. Harvest of Channel Catfish in Mt. Storm is promoted to improve this population.   Additionally, recent biological surveys have revealed plentiful citation-size Striped Bass (greater than 25” in length)!  Large Striped Bass from Mount Storm have recently been reported for citation certifications; there have been 4 over the last year.  An individual recently checked in a Striped Bass from Mt. Storm Lake that was 37.2” long, weighing 24.9 pounds!  This population is maintained through WVDNR stocking efforts!  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


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.  


April trout stockings are in full swing and anglers should find plenty of waters stocked with trout and plenty of fish to catch.  Anglers should check this year’s fishing regulations to see which waters will be stocked.  For a more up-to-date list, please call the hotline at 304-558-3399 or check online at www.wvdnr.gov .  The New and Greenbrier rivers are still somewhat high due to rains, but persistent anglers may catch some Smallmouth Bass using tube jigs or spinnerbaits.  Best spots are just below a shoal or rapid or in any eddy.  Anglers may also want to try their luck at Kanawha Falls for Musky or Hybrid Stripers (use big chubs and large white jigs for bait) or lake anglers can find some excellent bass and bluegill fishing at Plum Orchard and Pipestem lakes.  Best baits are plastic worms fished slowly along the bottom, spinnerbaits are also good choices for the bass while the bluegill will take small jigs, red worms, or other small live baits.  


Lower Ohio and Kanawha Rivers – Water temps are still cold but a warm afternoon is a great opportunity to target fish stacked up in areas to warm up.  Outflows and sunny rock walls are two good choices to try.  Try bait and or silver/white lures for Blue Cats, Hybrids and others (mixed bag).

Guyandotte, Coal, Poca, Elk and Mud Rivers – A few reports from Musky anglers between high water events; a recent 46” Musky was caught and released near upper falls.

Small Impoundments – Check the WVDNR website or call 304-558-3399 for the trout stocking report.  Try paste style baits like Powerbait, wigglers, salmon eggs, and spinners fished very SLOWLY for success.  Trout magnets and super dupers are also good choices.   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.


The 2018 Trout stocking season is in full swing, and Trout are being stocked into several areas throughout the district.  Trout will be stocked once in January and once in March at Cedar Creek State Park Ponds in Gilmer County, Turkey Run Lake in Jackson County, Tracy Lake and Pennsboro W.S. Reservoir in Ritchie County, and Miletree Lake in Roane County.  Conaway Run Lake in Tyler County will receive Trout once per month from February through April.  Conaway Run Lake will not receive its May stocking in 2018 due to much needed repairs on the dam.  Rollins Lake in Jackson County, Mountwood Lake in Wood County, and North Bend Lake Tailwaters (North Fork Hughes River) in Ritchie County will be stocked once per month from January through April.  Check the Daily Trout Stocking report for the latest at 304-558-3399 or on the web at http://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/Stocking/DailyStock.shtm .  This information is updated daily at 4:00 pm, January through May.  Trout anglers use a variety of baits including small worms, mealworms, salmon eggs, cheese, or power bait.  Small spinners, joe-type flies, and trout magnets also work well.

Now is a great time to plan a fishing trip to catch the illusive West Virginia Golden Rainbow Trout during the West Virginia Gold Rush.  New for 2018, select waters will receive a stocking of Golden Rainbow Trout during the first week of April.  These unique stockings are part of the normal stocking plan, and they will not interfere with the normal Trout stocking schedule.  Several locations included in the stocking list are found within the state parks areas.  Most state park facilities have lodging and food available, so plan on making an overnight trip to get the full experience.  More information can be found at http://wvgoldrush.com .  

This is an excellent time to fish Ohio River tailwater areas.  Anglers fishing below the Belleville and Willow Island Dams have been catching Sauger, Walleye, and a few other species.  Lead-headed jigs with twister tails (white or chartreuse) are the lures of choice.  Clever anglers are tipping their jig hooks with minnows.  Areas to target include eddies, back-current sections, and anywhere that river flows appear unusual.  Warmwater discharges associated with industrial facilities typically hold fish during periods of colder temperatures along the Ohio River.  Best bet for lures here include crank baits and rubber jigs.  Expect to catch Hybrid Striped Bass, White Bass, and a few other species at these hot spots.  

Fishing for Blue Catfish on the Ohio River has been good and should continue to improve over time.  Good locations to target Catfish include deep areas along islands, outside bends, and tributary mouths.  Some anglers are using side-scan sonar units to locate areas that have potential for holding big catfish.

Fishing for Largemouth Bass can be good during warmer days in area lakes.  Slowly fished rubber worms or jig-and-pig combos are good terminal tackle choices.  Area lakes with good winter bass angling opportunities include Mountwood Lake in Wood County, Conaway Run in Tyler County, Charles Fork in Roane County, North Bend in Ritchie County, and Elk Fork and O’Brien Lakes in Jackson County.  

Musky streams may be fishable this weekend.   

There are several useful tools available to West Virginia anglers.  Use the WVDNR interactive fishing map to help locate and get information on a lake or stream near you.  As part of an ongoing DNR project, some lake maps showing contour and bottom structure have been uploaded to this website (look for more in the future).  Use the following website to reach the interactive map:  https://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/map/?v=fish .  Also, the USGS stream gage website is a very helpful tool for anglers wanting to check river/stream conditions prior to planning a fishing trip: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/wv/nwis/current/?type=flow.

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