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West Virginia Stream Conditions

March 22, 2017

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.  No recent fishing reports.  The tailwaters were recently stocked with trout.

BLUESTONE – During winter, anglers should fish slowly and methodically.  Fish will still feed but have a slower metabolism as the water cools.  A few bass are being caught off rocky points using live minnows.  Anglers should look for points that have some cover such as stumps, logs, or ledges.  Some hybrid striped bass and striped bass may be caught using large chubs.  Anglers should try spots such as at the mouth of the Bluestone Arm or near the dam.  With any warm, stable weather, fish may become more active.  A few anglers are catching some smallmouth bass in the tailwaters.  Successful anglers are using one-eighth ounce white doll flies and gitzits.  Anglers should be careful wading this time of year due to the cold water and slippery conditions.  Wear your personal flotation devices.

BURNSVILLE – The lake is at winter pool.  Some ice was forming but has melted.  Bass are suspended in about 10-20 feet of water.  Crappie and bluegill fishing has been slow.  The tailwaters were stocked recently with trout.  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.  The tailwaters were recently stocked with trout.

R.D. BAILEY – During winter, fish are still active but have a slower metabolism with the colder waters, so anglers should fish slowly and methodically.  Spotted bass are hitting plastic jigs in crawfish colors.  The spotted bass will be found along the rocky drops with points another good spot to try.  Walleye are starting to be creeled by local anglers.  Best places to try are along the shallow clay flats either early or late.  As the year progresses, the walleye will be moving up the river to begin spawning.  Best baits are jigs tipped with minnows or nightcrawlers.

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 and bluegill fishing has been slow.  A few musky have been caught on nice days.  The docks have held up well the last six months that were donated by the Stonecoal Lake Fishing Club and should continue to over the winter.

STONEWALL JACKSON – The lake is at winter pool.  Bass are suspended in about 10-20 feet of water.  Crappie and bluegill fishing has been slow.  Some nice musky has been reported being caught this week in the lake as well.  The tailwaters were stocked with trout March 20.  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 in about 25 feet of water at rock drop offs.  A few walleye have been picked up as they are staging to make their spawning run upstream.  Baits that mimic an Emerald Shiner are your best choice.  Walleye regulation signs are posted around the lake, please take notice.  The tailwaters were stocked with trout March 13.  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 – The lake is at winter pool.  Bass are suspended in about 10-20 feet of water.  Crappie and bluegill fishing has been slow.  The tailwaters were stocked with trout March 20.  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 currently at about 1063 msl and is expected to continue rising over the next few days.  Excellent angler reports of walleye along with some crappie have been provided over the last couple of weeks.  Trolling bottom bouncers is an effective way to cover large areas of the lake and find walleye.  The Pleasant Creek boat launch is the only open boat launch on the lake during the winter.

Current discharge is approximately 2,560 cfs.  Lots of walleye and trout are being caught 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.  Call the Corps of Engineers telephone hotline at 304-265-5953 for daily lake and tailwater conditions or visit the Tygart Lake, USACE Facebook page.

NORTHERN WEST VIRGINIA

OHIO RIVER (New Cumberland, Pike Island, and Hannibal pools and tailwaters) – Recent Division of Natural Resources surveys at Pike Island and Hannibal dams along with angler reports, have shown that walleye and sauger have moved into tailwater areas below the dams.  Walleye up to 30 inches were observed.  White, chartreuse, or yellow curly-tailed grubs with 1/8 to 3/8 ounce jigheads fished slowly near the bottom or along rip-rap shorelines can be very effective also.  Large minnows are also very effective.  The best fishing success for sauger and walleye is during low light conditions one to two hours before and after sunset.  Anglers are permitted to keep two walleye that are at least 18 inches in length per day.

MONONGAHELA RIVER – Anglers have reported good catches of walleye at Morgantown tailwater over the last week using curly-tailed grubs with 1/8 to 3/8 ounce jigheads in eddies and back-currents just prior to or after sunset.  This time of year can be very productive in the tailwater areas fishing for walleye, sauger, and white bass.  Musky are also common this time of year below the dams, specifically in Morgantown.  The warmwater release at the Morgantown power plant provides good shoreline fishing access and the warmer water can hold several fish species all winter.

CHEAT LAKE – Water levels can fluctuate as much as 13 feet over a period of 2-3 days.  The Ices Ferry Public Fishing and Access Site is a good place for bank anglers to catch yellow perch and walleye.  Anglers continue to catch channel catfish in water depths up to 50 feet in the lower end of Cheat Lake from the fishing piers.  The winter boat ramp near the dam is the only access available to Cheat Lake currently available. 

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

TROUT STOCKING:  Several lakes and streams have been stocked such as upper Whiteday Creek just below the Cherry Run section at the Taylor-Marion county line.  Go to www.wvdnr.gov 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.

EASTERN PANHANDLE

South Branch and Cacapon Rivers – Water temperatures have risen to the upper 40’s.  Flows are normal and slightly cloudy.  Although snow-runoff can sometimes cause inactivity in fish, fishing conditions should currently be great.  Recent surveys have confirmed the presence of large numbers of smallmouth 15” or greater that are very consistently feeding on crayfish.  Not surprisingly, large smallmouths have returned in the catches of anglers, with fish greater than 20” in length and over 4lbs!  Smallmouth bites will come more easily on the bottom as stream temperatures cool and water clarity declines from moderate rainfall.  Larger smallmouth should become easier to target as stream temperatures drop as well!  This time of year, large smallmouth bass can be caught on soft plastic and skirted jigs, weighted plastics, swim baits, and crayfish imitation crankbaits.  If activity is slow, try deeper diving crankbaits and weighted, soft plastic crayfish imitations fished deep.

Shenandoah River – Stream flow is low for this time of year, but stream should be adequate.  Fishing conditions are currently great.  There is also a high likelihood of a mild increase in flows as well as some turbidity, which may help increase the chances of catching a trophy smallmouth.  As with the South Branch and Cacapon rivers, water temperatures nearing 40 degrees or greater should trigger big fish activity.  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.

North Branch River - Flows are around 250 cfs and should remain at this level over the next several days.  Check the Corp of Engineers webpage for specifics or schedule changes concerning whitewater discharges.  Upcoming whitewater discharges are expected on the weekends of April 15 and 29 and May 13 and 27.  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 – Warmwater fishing has already begun to pick up in our small impoundments.  These fisheries are likely already breaking winter stratification.  Conditions should improve quickly for pre-spawn black bass and early spawning sportfish.  These small, easily accessible fisheries provide some of the best opportunities for catching high quantities of quality sized largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish in the state!  Check out the 2017 Fishing Regulations Summary to view small impoundments receiving winter and spring trout stockings (http://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/Fishing_regs.shtm).

Jennings Randolph Lake – Jennings Randolph Lake level is about 11 feet lower than conservation pool and is rapidly increasing.  Recent surveys have uncovered high densities of smallmouth bass 15” and greater and walleye longer than the minimum size limit.  Anglers have begun catching creels of quality-size yellow perch.  Both Maryland and West Virginia (Howell) boat ramps are out of commission until early spring.  The WV Howell Run Ramp will be open to shoreline angling, weather permitting.  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.  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 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”).  In fact, an angler recently caught a striped bass larger than 25”, earning the individual a Trophy Fish Citation certificate!  Trolling minnow and shad patterns (crankbaits, jigs, inline spinners, and stick baits) should prove successful for targeting walleye and striped bass.  Due to the thermally altered nature of this lake, very little ice and water temperatures agreeable to fishing exists throughout the winter season for those anglers willing to brave the cold, higher elevation air.
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

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.  Take advantage of the nice days over the winter and get in some trout fishing.  Don’t forget your 2017 fishing license.

SOUTHERN WEST VIRGINIA

The New and Greenbrier rivers are producing a few smallmouth bass using tube jigs.  Best spots are just below a shoal or rapid or in eddies near the shore.  Anglers may also want to try their luck at Kanawha Falls for walleye (use big chubs for bait) or lake anglers can find some excellent bass fishing at Plum Orchard Lake.  Best baits are plastic worms fished slowly along the bottom, spinnerbaits are also good choices.  Trout stockings have begun and anglers are encouraged to check the fishing hotline for news of where fish were stocked in their region.

SOUTHWESTERN WEST VIRGINIA

Lower Ohio and Kanawha rivers – Anglers are finding success for catfish, walleye and sauger on the Ohio and Kanawha rivers.  Walleye and sauger are congregating below locks and dams on both rivers, successful anglers are using jerkbaits, jigs, and bait. Small jigs tipped with minnows or a crawler are also good choices for walleye right now.  Be sure to pay attention to current WVDNR regulations which can be found online or in paper copies at local sporting good locations.

Guyandotte, Coal, Poca, Elk and Mud rivers - Fishing is slow, due to temperature levels, but good for various gamefish on D5 rivers.  Muskie anglers are finding success using glide baits and soft plastics.

Small Impoundments – Trout stockings are underway across the state, call 304-558-3399 or go to the WVDNR website to determine if your favorite waters were stocked.  Salmon eggs, powerbait, and live bait are excellent choices this time of year.  Try fishing these offerings under a bobber or on the bottom, the trout will let you know what set-up is best. With warmer temperature levels, rooster tails and other spinners fished slowly are a good choice also.

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.  Flows can vary tremendously this time of the year.  Be safe and always wear your life jacket.

WEST-CENTRAL WEST VIRGINIA

Trout have been stocked into the North Bend Tailwaters and several lakes throughout the area.  These include Tracy Lake and Pennsboro Water Supply Reservoir in Ritchie County, Mountwood Park Lake in Wood County, Rollins Lake and Turkey Run Lake in Jackson County, Mile Tree Lake in Roane County, Cedar Creek State Park Ponds in Gilmer County, and Conaway Run Lake in Tyler County.  Also, all of these lakes will be stocked again in March.  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 can use a variety of baits including small worms, mealworms, salmon eggs, cheese, or trout power bait.  Small spinners, joe type flies, and trout magnets also work well, for anglers casting the shoreline or fishing from boats. 

This is an excellent time to fish Ohio River Tailwaters.  Anglers fishing below the Belleville and Willow Island dams are catching sauger, walleye, and a few other species.  Lead headed jigs with twister tails (white or chartreuses), which are fished along the bottom, are the lure of choice.  Clever anglers are tipping their jig hooks with minnows.  Best spots to fish these areas include eddies and back-current sections, and anywhere that river flows are unusual.  

Fishing for largemouth bass can be good during warm sunny 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 in Wood County, Conaway Run in Tyler County, Charles Fork in Roane County, North Bend Lake in Ritchie County, and Elk Fork and Woodrum lakes in Jackson County.      

Musky streams are expected to be fishable this weekend.  Early Spring musky anglers use medium to large lures, and they concentrate their fishing efforts around brush piles or other areas of good cover.  Middle Island Creek, the major streams in the Hughes River system, and the Little Kanawha River are good area musky waters.

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