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West Virginia Stream Conditions

June 13, 2018

FISHING

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.  Topwater lures early and late are beginning to shine due to summer conditions for all species.  Soft plastics and crankbaits have proven successful for bass anglers during the day.  Try near the dam for hybrids using minnows below bobber set-ups or free line them.  Small circle hooks will help increase the chance of survival for release.  Beech Fork is now at summer pool.  

BLUESTONE The lake is currently high and muddy, so fishing is poor, however, once it begins to drop and clear fishing will pick up.  Spring is here and the fish are moving and feeding in preparation for spawning.  Crappie may be found near any structure such as downed trees or brush piles.  They will be hitting small minnows or doll flies.  Bass are being caught off rocky points and around downed trees using live bait and artificials 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 begin trying spots such as the mouth of Indian Creek or up the Bluestone Arm as these fish, even though 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.  Topwater lures are proving to be a great choice early and late for bass, with anglers finding success with jerkbaits and soft plastics at other times of the day.  Muskies can be found throughout the reservoir, try bucktails, double bladed spinners, and large jerkbaits at this time of the year.  Large Muskie topwater lures have also proven to be a good choice very early, late, and at night for anglers on East Lynn.  During approaching summer months, try fishing at night for all species.  Sometimes boat traffic and high sun can put fish down during the day and make “catching” difficult.  During dark hours, try large spinnerbaits, and topwater, or any lure that gives off a lot of vibration fish can pick up on.  The reliable jitterbug is also a great choice for nighttime angling for bass, and in larger sizes for Muskies.  East Lynn is now at summer pool.

R.D. BAILEY – The lake is currently turbid but as the water clears fishing will begin to pick up.  Fish are beginning to move and feed in preparation for the spawn.  Crappie will spawn around standing timber and brush piles and will hit small minnows.  For artificials, use doll flies in white and yellow.  Spotted bass are hitting plastic jigs in crawfish colors.  The spotted bass will be found along the rocky drops with points with downed trees another good spot to try.  Remember to fish slow!  Hybrid striped bass will be making a mock spawning run up stream in April, 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 at 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 summer pool.  All boat ramps are open.  Fishing is good and getting better.  Most fish are in the top 30 feet.  Look for some of the new habitat structures in the Battle Run and McKees Creek areas.  There are over 200 new habitat structures.  Walleye regulation signs are posted around the lake, please take notice.  Trout were stocked in the tailwaters May 25, 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 warmer 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 elevation is currently at 1,100 feet and rising.  The state park boat ramps are closed due to parking area and ramp improvements, but the Pleasant Creek ramp is open.  Bass and Crappie fishing are heating up.  Walleye fishing is best during higher flows (1,500 to 5,000 cubic feet per second) and trout fishing is best at low flows (less than 1,000 cubic feet per second).  Trout have also been stocked in the tailwater.  Call the Corps of Engineers telephone hotline at 304-265-5953 for daily lake and tailwater conditions.

NORTHERN WEST VIRGINIA

OHIO RIVER (New Cumberland, Pike Island, and Hannibal pools and tailwaters) –  Water temperatures are rising and are currently above 60 degrees and fishing for most species should be picking up this month.  Walleye and Sauger have finished spawning and will be attracted to the currents at lock and dam tailwaters.  During normal or low flows, walleye and sauger will start feeding about an hour before sunset and then throughout the night.  Jigs with minnows are particularly good baits but 3-inch plastic grubs will also be productive.  White or chartreuse are good colors.  Hybrid Striped Bass will also move in and out of the tailwaters and tributary mouths and can be caught using large crank baits.  White Bass will be moving into tributary mouths.  Fishing for big Flathead Catfish is picking up on the Ohio River with reports of a couple of large fish in the past week.  Target flatheads with live bait.  Additionally, Blue Catfish have been stocked the last few years in upper Ohio River and anglers have reported catching some this spring.  Blue Catfish are frequently caught with either cut or live bait. 

MONONGAHELA RIVER – Water flow is up a little more than average for this time of year and temperatures is approaching 60 degrees, making this a great time to catfish.  Cut bait is excellent for catching Channel Catfish and Flathead Catfish are more likely to target live bait.  Recent WVDNR surveys have shown an abundance of Channel Catfish in the Monongahela River.  The water temperature in embayments will increase faster than the main river, so Largemouth Bass and Sunfish will be more active in these areas. 

CHEAT LAKE –  The lake is now at the summer recreation level and can only fluctuate two feet daily.  The Sunset Beach boat ramp will be usable until October 31.  Now is the time to fish for big Bass.  Anglers have reported catching good numbers of both Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass.  Channel Catfish are plentiful in the lake and big pumpkinseed sunfish can be caught in shallower water near downed trees.  Several Christmas trees were placed in the lake along the shoreline in about 10 feet of water near the Ices Ferry access site this spring.  Go to the following webpage for fish habitat structure locations and a contour map of Cheat Lake:  https://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/map/?v=fish

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 – Recent heavy rains have caused streams to rise, but as they recede, and the temperature warms up, so will the Smallmouth Bass action.  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 – Small impoundments provide easy access and are excellent places to fish and now may be the best time of year to catch big Largemouth Bass and Bluegill in these small lakes.  WVDNR has started angler surveys at Dents Run Lake (Marion), Mason and Dixon lakes (Monongalia) and Teter Creek Lake (Barbour) this week to obtain information on sunfish and how these fisheries can be improved.  Angler participation is key to the project’s success.  Use the WVDNR fishing map tool to find a small impoundment in your area:  http://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/ .  

EASTERN PANHANDLE

South Branch and Cacapon Rivers – Flows are high and muddy.  Stream temperatures have been in the mid 60’s.  The water is too high and muddy, currently, to afford adequate fishing conditions.  When conditions allow, focus on slow moving pools by bank fishing the slower water near the stream margin during higher flow events.  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.  Recently, anglers catching Smallmouth over 18” has not been uncommon.  It should be noted that bass are likely developing beds and preparing for spawning. Please consider the impacts of fishing for bass as they spawn and guard their territories.  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.  Expect larger numbers of Channel Catfish to arrive over the month of May.  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 – Flows are high and muddy, and temperatures are in the mid 60’s.  Fishing conditions are currently very poor due to recent rain events.  When conditions allow, 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.  It should be noted that bass are likely developing beds and preparing for spawning.  Please consider the impacts of fishing for Bass as they spawn and guard their territories.    

North Branch River – Flows are expected to vary around 600 – 900 cfs 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 – With warming water temperatures and mild amounts of turbidity from recent storm events, our small impoundments in District 2 should be providing awesome conditions to catch some early season Warmwater sport fish!  It should be noted that Bass are likely developing beds and preparing for spawning.  Please consider the impacts of fishing for Bass as they spawn and guard their territories.  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! 

Jennings Randolph Lake – Jennings Randolph Lake is at normal pool depth.  It is very likely, however, that some turbidity 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. It should be noted that bass are likely developing beds and preparing for spawning.  Please consider the impacts of fishing for Bass as they spawn and guard their territories.  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 – Anglers at Mount Storm Lake should target Striped Bass, Black Bass, and Walleye.  Due to its location in a plateau high up on the Allegheny Front, Mount Storm Lake does not receive muddy waters as easily as many other impoundments, making it a location that can be fished while other water bodies are unfishable.  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 four over the last year.  An individual recently checked in a Striped Bass from Mount 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

CENTRAL WEST VIRGINIA

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.

SOUTHERN WEST VIRGINIA

The New and Greenbrier rivers are high and muddy and unfishable at present.  Some of our lakes remain clear year-round and lake anglers can find some excellent bass and bluegill fishing at Plum Orchard Lake.  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. 

SOUTHWESTERN WEST VIRGINIA

Lower Ohio and Kanawha Rivers – Anglers are doing well below locks on the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers for a variety of species.  Hybrids, Blue Cats and Bass catches have been reported regularly.  Winfield locks especially has been proving to be a good choice for all species this summer.  Anglers use bait and lures to catch nice Smallmouth, Hybrids, and Flathead, Channel, and Blue Catfish from below the locks.

Guyandotte, Coal, Poca, Elk and Mud Rivers – Numerous catches of nice Muskellunge from the Elk, Mud and Guyandotte reported by anglers.  Muskie anglers are finding success using large spinners (both single and double bladed), jerkbaits, and topwater early and late.  Water levels are beginning to stabilize for float trips after a very turbulent spring.  Good catches of a variety of fish species have been reported from anglers floating and wading.

Small Impoundments – Trout can still be caught from stocked impoundments in your area.  Spinners are a great choice now allowing an angler to cover water and target feeding fish.  A good choice on impoundments is a boober set-up with a lure or bait suspended below.  Fly anglers are also doing well using a variety of flies and streamers stripped in along the shoreline.  As water temps warm into the summer, Bass and Bluegill begin to shine at these impoundments.  Try your favorite lure or technique.  Try to take a child or someone who has never fished before out to explore the small impoundments District 5 has to offer.  Several impoundments have received catchable stocked Channel Catfish within the last two weeks including Krodel, Coonskin, Rockhouse, Chief Logan Pond, Laurel Lake, Barboursville, and Hurricane is District 5.  A simple bobber set-up or bait fished on the bottom are great choices for Channel Catfish.  Try fishing during low light periods (dawn, dusk) and if allowed (check your regulations) at night for greater success with Catfish, and all species as we move into the summer.  Many make their own smelly concoctions to lure Catfish in to bite their hook.  Hot dogs soaked in Jell-O mix or anise (licorice) are also effective baits for Channel Catfish, give them a try. 

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.  Trout can still be caught from stocked rivers in your area.  Spinners are a great choice now allowing an angler to cover water and target feeding fish.  Fly anglers are also doing well using a variety of flies and streamers.  Hare’s ears, wooly buggers and prince nymphs are all good choices right now.  As the bugger swings downstream many strikes will come as the fly swings and begins back upstream t o the angler.  Be sure to pay attention until the fly is at the end of your rod.  Olive, brown, and white/silver are good color choices for wooly buggers.  Smallmouth in District 5 rivers seldom see flies, large buggers are a great choice to use if skilled enough.  Give them a try sometime.

WEST-CENTRAL WEST VIRGINIA

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, White Bass, Hybrid Striped Bass, and a few other species.  Lead-headed jigs with twister tails (white or chartreuse) are the most commonly used lures.  Other techniques that may be worth experimenting with include using shallow running crank baits, top water lures, and jig hooks tipped with minnows.  Areas to target include eddies, back-current sections, and anywhere that river flows appear unusual.  White Bass and Hybrid Striped Bass can often be seen feeding on the surface.

Larger streams and rivers hold Channel Catfish, but Flathead Catfish are also present.  Tactics used in lakes often work well for Channel Catfish in these streams, but Flatheads prefer live bait.  The Ohio River is an exceptional Flathead Catfish fishery for both numbers and size.  Additionally, fishing for Blue Catfish on the Ohio River has been good and should only continue to improve over time.  Good locations to target catfish include deep areas along islands, outside bends, and tributary mouths.  Clever anglers are using side-scan sonar units to locate areas that have potential for holding big catfish.  PLEASE NOTE:  Special Regulations are in place for Flathead Catfish from the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers.  http://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/Regs18/specregs.pdf

Largemouth Bass fishing is getting good in area lakes.  Soft plastics, crank baits, spinner baits, and jig-and-pig combos are good choices for tackle.  Area lakes with good bass angling opportunities include Elk Fork Lake, Woodrum Lake, and O’Brien Lake 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.  PLEASE NOTE:  Special Regulations are in place for black bass in Elk Fork, Woodrum, O’Brien, and North Bend Lakes.   http://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/Regs18/specregs.pdf

Most area Musky streams are high and muddy due to recent rainfall.  Anglers typically use glide baits, bucktails, and swim baits during this time of year.  Hot spots to target this time of year include faster moving water upstream and downstream of riffles, and areas with woody debris near the edge of moving water.  Middle Island Creek, Little Kanawha River, and the Hughes River system hold naturally reproducing populations of Musky.  North Bend and Woodrum lakes are also good bets for anglers wanting to catch Muskies when streams are too muddy.

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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