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West Virginia Stream Conditions

August 16, 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.  Reports of a few hybrids caught near the dam using spinners and spoons early and late in the day.  Bass fishing is good, wise anglers will concentrate their efforts during low light conditions to beat the heat and pressure from other boaters and anglers.

BLUESTONE With the nights beginning to cool, the fishing on the lake should begin to pick up.  Anglers should try their luck around any downed trees or weed beds using worms, small minnows or jigs for sunfish.  Bass anglers should concentrate their efforts along areas with good structure such as downed timber, rocky drops, or weed beds.  Top water baits such as rapalas, tiny torpedoes, and sluggoes are excellent choices but anglers will find the best top-water action early or late.  Bluegills can provide anglers with some fast action.  Best baits are worms and small jigs.  Anglers can have a blast fishing for sunfish.  Channel catfish are also hitting in the lake primarily at night on chicken livers and worms.  Carp and channel catfish are hitting in the tailwaters with best baits being corn, and night crawlers, respectively.  Occasionally, anglers have been catching some other species such as smallmouth bass in the tailwaters on jigs and minnows.

BURNSVILLE – The lake is at summer pool.  Bass are in 10-15 feet holding to cover.  Look for brush piles adjacent to creek channels and downwind sides of wind-blown points.  Crappie and Bluegill fishing has picked up with warmer temperatures.  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.  Some nice bass have been caught at recent tournaments and by local anglers in the main lake.  Anglers that fish early and late using topwater and jerkbaits have had the best success and beat the heat and boating pressure.  Anglers report using finesse techniques (soft plastics) for success once the sun rises.  Muskies are cool water fish, temperature levels above 78-80 degrees are tough on muskies recovering from their encounter with you.  If the morning water temperature is 80 degrees or above it might be wise to do something else or target another species until cooler weather.

R.D. BAILEY – Some spotted bass should be hitting on the lake but as the cool nights increase in frequency, the fishing should pick up.  The bass will be found along the rocky drops with points another good spot to try.  Good baits are plastic jigs in black and chartreuse colors or live shad.  Bluegill are providing consistent action in the standing timber.  Best baits are worms and small jigs, respectively.  Hybrid striper and channel catfish fishing is good off of shallow points at night.  Best baits are chicken liver and softshell crayfish.  Anglers should concentrate their efforts early and late during periods of extreme heat.  Carp are also providing a lot of fun for night anglers.  Best baits are corn and dough balls.

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 on nice days.  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 at summer pool. Bass are in 10-15 feet and holding to cover. Crappie and Bluegill fishing has been steady with rising water temperatures.  Muskie anglers should use caution when targeting these fish in the Summer heat.  Catching a muskie when surface temperatures are above 80 degrees can be lethal for the fish.  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 at summer pool.  Smallmouth Bass have been caught in 30-40 feet of water.  Walleye, Yellow Perch and Rock bass have been caught in the 50-foot range.  Bottom-bouncers and nightcrawler harnesses have been effective.  Walleye regulation signs are posted around the lake, please take notice.  Native strain Walleye fry were stocked in the lake April 11.  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 summer pool.  Bass are suspended in about 10-20 feet of water.  Crappie and Bluegill fishing has picked up with warmer water temperatures.  The tailwaters were stocked with Trout May 22.  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 LAKEFishing has been decent for smallmouth bass, channel catfish, with some walleye being reported.  Walleye will be deep, especially during mid-day.  The surface temperature is about 81° F and 76° F from 10 feet to 50 feet.  White bass travel in schools and can be seen actively feeding on emerald shiners near the surface. Casting spoons into the schools is a good way to catch white bass.

Outflow is approximately 1,500 cfs, muddy and about 70°F.  Call the Corps of Engineers hotline at 265-5953 for the current lake level and tailwater conditions.

NORTHERN WEST VIRGINIA

OHIO RIVER (New Cumberland, Pike Island, and Hannibal pools and tailwaters) – Tailwater areas below lock and dams are excellent places to fish, as many species will be attracted to the flowing water and higher oxygen levels during the summer.  Use big spoons or catch shad and place on jigs for larger hybrid striped bass.  Smaller white bass can be caught using minnows, small spinners, crank baits and spoons.  Often, both hybrid and white bass can be caught using surface lures.  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 – This should be an excellent time to fish for channel using chicken livers, stink baits, or cut bait.  The shoreline from Deckers Creek to the Morgantown Lock is one of the best areas on the river because the current from the dam will attract fish during the lower summer flows.  Shoreline anglers have several good areas to fish on the river:  the mouths of Buffalo and Paw Paw creeks in Marion County, and the mouths of Whiteday and Deckers creeks in Monongalia County.

CHEAT LAKE - Cast small rooster-tail spinners for large bluegills and pumpkinseed sunfish in downed trees along the shoreline.  Crank baits and tube jigs are good artificial baits for smallmouth bass near the head of the lake.  Largemouth bass are more numerous in Rubles and Morgans Runs.  Channel catfish can be caught throughout the lake, but are most abundant in the head of the lake this time of year.

The fishing pier below the dam is still closed for repairs and most likely will be for the remainder of the year.

FLOATABLE RIVERS – Excellent smallmouth bass fishing have been reported in rivers such as Tygart this past week. 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 small 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.

EASTERN PANHANDLE

South Branch and Cacapon Rivers – Water temperatures are in the mid 70’s and flows are just above normal and slightly murky, making current fishing conditions great!  This weekend should offer fantastic opportunities for mid-summer float trip fishing on these streams!  Displaced by elevated flows and vision obscured by slightly murky water, Smallmouth often change feeding strategies.  Swim baits imitating forage fish higher in the water column would be a wise switch from deeper fished lures.  Recent 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.  Thousands of 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 normal and slightly murky, making fishing opportunities great!  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 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!   Displaced by elevated flows and vision obscured by murky water, Smallmouth often change feeding strategies.  Swim baits imitating forage fish higher in the water column would be a wise switch 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 300 cfs and are projected to drop insignificantly 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.  These fisheries should be fully set into summer stratification, leaving deeper portions of most impoundments low on oxygen and not suitable for fish habitation.  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 level is right at 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.  Additionally, anglers have begun catching creels of quality-size Yellow Perch.  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).

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 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

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 and get in some trout fishing.

SOUTHERN WEST VIRGINIA

The New and Greenbrier rivers are providing some good fishing for smallmouth bass.  Anglers should try white/chartreuse buzzbaits, white plastic grubs, or small crankbaits or live bait such as hellgrammites or softshell crayfish.  Spots below or above shoals are good spots to try your luck.   Fishing is still best early and late in all of the small impoundments in southern West Virginia and you should catch some fish.  Try spots at the end of points, weed beds, or fallen timber.  Best baits are plastic worms fished slowly along the bottom, spinnerbaits are also good choices.  Lakes such as Plum Orchard, Horse Creek, Hawks Nest, and Pipestem will all provide good bass fishing. Channel catfishing is good in areas like Hawks Nest lake and some of the other small impoundments.  Best time to fish is late night and very early morning with chicken livers or soft shells.  This is a prime time to take a child or anyone fishing!  There is no better way to introduce a child or novice to fishing than to take them out for an evening of carp fishing.  Try chumming with creamed corn upstream of where you are fishing and use shredded wheat doughballs or whole kernel corn for bait.  The secret to the doughballs is to mix in a little flavored jello powder as you make the doughball.  Make sure your rods are anchored down with a rock and the drag is loosened or a carp may take it!  Good spots to catch a carp are Bluestone and R.D. Bailey lakes, New and Kanawha rivers.

SOUTHWESTERN WEST VIRGINIA

Lower Ohio and Kanawha rivers – Fish congregate below the locks along the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers especially during the summer due to increased oxygen levels created by the water churning and moving. Bait fish are also sometimes killed or injured as they move through the lock making them easy meals for gamefish below.  Anglers are finding success also targeting any water outflow from industry or shoreline structure for a variety of gamefish (hybrids, catfish, etc.).  Try your favorite artificial or natural bait during dusk and dawn for success.  Stripers and hybrids like white or silver fast moving minnow imitating lures.

Guyandotte, Coal, Poca, Elk and Mud rivers - Bass anglers are find success using topwater baits early and late and soft plastics and jerk baits during the day.  Some muskie catches have been reported using buck tails and cowgirls retrieved fast back to the boat.  However, muskies are cool water fish, temperature levels above 78-80 degrees are tough on muskies recovering from their encounter with you.  If the morning water temperature is 80 degrees or above it might be wise to do something else or target another species until cooler weather.

Small Impoundments – Spinners and other faster moving lures will become more effective due to rising temperature levels.  Try for bass early and late with topwater lures and if allowed fish for catfish through the light change (dawn and dusk) using cut bait or stink bait purchased at your local tackle store or come up with your own recipe.  Catchable catfish were stocked into Chief Logan State Park Pond in Logan County, and Pettigrew Lake in Kanawha County in June, give them a try using nightcrawlers, or stink bait fished below a bobber or on the bottom.  One, WV angler claimed his best luck has been on ‘Canadian night crawlers’ dyed fluorescent green for catfish.  This lucky angler caught and released a super 24” channel catfish using this bait choice from Upper Mud Lake in Lincoln County recently.

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
Summer is an excellent time to fish Belleville Tailwaters of the Ohio River.  Anglers are catching white bass, hybrid striped bass, 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 or shad.  Best spots to fish these areas include eddies and back-current sections, and anywhere that river flows are unusual.  Schools of hybrid striped bass will periodically move up to the surface to ambush prey, so keep a look out for this activity.  When this activity is seen, agitator bobbers fished with rubber minnow imitations or fresh bait fished with surf casting equipment, generally provides the best result.  Fresh bait (small skipjack) can be caught from these areas using “Sabiki” rigs.  Fishing along the Willow Island Tailwaters is restricted due to hydro-power development. Anglers now have access only to a point approximately 150 yards below the dam, and flows have changed significantly.     

Elsewhere on the 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 flatheads.  Good fishing sites for catfish include deep areas along islands and tributary mouths.

Fishing has been good for largemouth bass in area lakes.  Spinner baits, rubber worms, crank baits, and surface lures are producing bass in areas of good cover.  Good choices for area lakes include Mountwood in Wood County, Conaway Run in Tyler, Charles Fork in Roane, North Bend Lake in Ritchie County, and Elk Fork, Woodrum, and O’Brien lakes in Jackson County.  Best fishing times will be early in the morning and during the evening hours.  These lakes can also supply good bluegill fishing.  For these sunfish use trout magnets or spinners, small jigs, or small worms.

Summer is a good time to fish for channel catfish in area lakes and streams.  Chicken livers, night crawlers, and prepared catfish baits work well.  Remember fishing at night is generally better than fishing during the day for catfish in the summer.

Local musky streams should be fishable this weekend.  Summer musky anglers use large crank baits or jurk baits and best spots are usually around fallen trees or riffle areas.  Fishing has been quite good this year for musky along Middle Island Creek, the Little Kanawha River, and on the Hughes River and its forks.

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