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West Virginia Stream Conditions

February 21, 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.  

BLUESTONE During the winter season, anglers should fish slowly and methodically.  Fish will still feed but have a slower metabolism.  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 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.  Try to pick a day that is bright and sunny which warms up areas of the lake, especially dark or mud banks.  A few degrees can make a difference!  Right now, the tailwaters are high and unfishable with more rain expected.  Anglers should be careful wading this time of year due to the cold water and slippery conditions.  Wear your personal flotation devices at ALL times!

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

R.D. BAILEY – During the winter season, fish are still active but have a slower metabolism, 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.  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.  With any warm, stable weather, fish may become more active.  Try to pick a day that is bright and sunny which warms up areas of the lake, especially dark or mud banks.  A few degrees can make a difference!

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 October 16.  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 LAKETygart Lake is nearly 30 feet above summer pool due to the large amount of precipitation over the last week.  The Pleasant Creek boat ramp is closed due to high water.  The state park boat ramps are closed due to renovations.

Walleye move through the dam during every high discharge.  The flow is currently 15,000 cfs, making the area unfishable.  Once the flow is reduced, there should be loads of walleye in the tailwater.  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).  Call the Corps of Engineers telephone hotline at 304-265-5953 for the current lake level and tailwater conditions.   

NORTHERN WEST VIRGINIA

OHIO RIVER (New Cumberland, Pike Island, and Hannibal pools and tailwaters) The Ohio river is currently very high.  Once it returns to more fishable levels along with increasing water temperatures, try fishing the tailwater areas below dams.  These are the best areas on the river to fish since most species of fish will be concentrated in these areas.  The most convenient tailwater areas are the piers below the Hannibal Lock and Dam at New Martinsville and the Pike Island Dam at Wheeling.

MONONGAHELA RIVER – The river is currently high and turbid.  Fish the tailwater areas below the dams when flows start returning to normal because sauger and walleye can be frequently caught this time of year.  Musky move into the tailwater areas below Morgantown Lock and Dam this time of year also and can be caught by shoreline anglers. 

CHEAT LAKE This time of year, boat anglers need to use the winter boat ramp located at the recreational park near the dam.  However, due to heavy precipitation, the lake is high and turbid.  The fishing pier below the dam is still closed for repairs.

FLOATABLE/WADEABLE RIVERS – Trout stocking season has begun and anglers can go to the WVDNR stocking information at the following website to get information on their favorite stocked trout stream:  http://www.wvdnr.gov/fishing/stocking/dailystock.shtm    

SMALL IMPOUNDMENTS – Due to the high flows in our rivers and reservoirs, small impoundments are currently a good option for anglers.  Trout stocking season has begun and anglers can go to the WVDNR stocking information at the following website to get information on their favorite stocked small impoundment:  http://www.wvdnr.gov/fishing/stocking/dailystock.shtm

EASTERN PANHANDLE

South Branch and Cacapon Rivers - Flows are above normal, cloudy, and warm (~52 degrees) for this time of year.  Although these streams are full of cloudy water, good fishing can still be had if anglers concentrate on deep, slow moving pools.  Current fishing conditions are FANTASTIC!  Water temperatures are perfect for catching early season Smallmouth!  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 as waters are coming down from rain events may increase catch rates for anglers.

Shenandoah River - Flows are just above normal, cloudy, and warm (greater than 50 degrees) for this time year.  Although flows may be higher and cloudy, great fishing can still be had if anglers concentrate on deep, slow moving water.  In fact, current fishing conditions for Smallmouth Bass are great!  Water temperatures and 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 discharged at around 1,500 – 2,000 cfs and should remain at this rate for the next several days.  This is well above normal flow for this time of year, making poor fishing conditions.  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 recent cold temperatures, wind and rain, these fisheries are in winter stratification, allowing fish to be able to persist in somewhat deeper water for an extended period.  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 received October trout stockings (https://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/Regs17/2017_fishingRegs.pdf) to get a head start on coldwater fishing!  The blue-green algae bloom that was producing toxic compounds at South Mill Creek Lake should now be clearing up, making it safer to harvest fish from that lake.

Jennings Randolph Lake - Jennings Randolph Lake is down to 20 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.  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.  The West Virginia (Howell) boat ramp will not be able to receive boat traffic due to low lake surface levels; however, kayaks and canoes may still launch depending on the presence of icy conditions.  The Maryland ramp will be closed to motorboat traffic from December until March: 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, 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.  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

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 off color right now with more rain expected so fishing may be slow there.  Sometimes high water improves the fishing at Kanawha Falls so anglers may also want to try their luck there for musky or walleye (use big chubs for bait) or lake anglers can find some excellent bass fishing at Plum Orchard Lake and Stephens Lake.  Best baits are plastic worms fished slowly along the bottom, spinnerbaits are also good choices.  Anglers should call ahead to make sure that the ramps are not iced over.

SOUTHWESTERN WEST VIRGINIA

Lower Ohio and Kanawha rivers – No current fishing reports.

Guyandotte, Coal, Poca, Elk and Mud rivers – Only a few reports from hardy anglers in pursuit of walleye and muskie.  One angler recently caught and released a super 47” Coal River Muskie along with two others in the 40” range.  Dress warm if you venture out and be sure to alert someone about your plans and when you plan to return for safety reasons.

Small Impoundments – Many D5 small impoundments were stocked with trout recently including Hurricane Water Supply Reservoir, Chief Logan State Park, Lick Creek Pond, Ridenour Lake, and the Wayne dam in Wayne, WV.  Chief Cornstalk Pond was stocked on January 23, 2018.  Powerbait, live bait (crawlers, red wigglers) and salmon eggs are excellent choices right now to connect with trout.  Be very careful if you venture out onto ice.  Currently, ice fishing is not permitted on Hurricane Reservoir.

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.

WEST-CENTRAL WEST VIRGINIA

The 2018 trout stocking season has commenced, and trout are beginning to be stocked into several areas throughout the district.  With current poor conditions on regional streams and rivers, now may be a good time to hit small impoundments that are stocked with trout.  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 May.  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

Winter is an excellent time to fish Ohio River tailwater areas.  However, the river is currently up due to recent rainfall and snow melt, making fishing very difficult.  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.  However small suspending Rapala’s (silver with a blue back) also work quite well.  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.  Warmwater discharges associated with industrial facilities typically hold fish in the winter along the Ohio River.  Best bet for lures here include crank baits and rubber jigs.  Expect to catch White Bass, Hybrid Striped 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.  O’Brien Lake is again accessible by trailered boats.

Winter 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, major tributaries in the Hughes River system, and the Little Kanawha River are good area musky waters.  However, musky streams will likely not be fishable this weekend.  Musky fishing at North Bend and Woodrum Lakes have also has been productive this year, and may be a better option at this time. 

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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