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West Virginia Stream Conditions

November 15, 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.  Fishing is picking up for all species with cooling temperature levels.  Jerk baits, and soft plastics are great fall choices for bass.  Husky jerks, pointers, and rapala x raps are all good choices for jerk baits.  Soft plastic choices include beaver style baits, worms, and about anything one has confidence with.  Hybrids (white x striped bass cross) should be active throughout the day near the dam.  Anglers using silver/white lures that imitate their main forage (gizzard shad) seem to do the best.  Low light (dawn, dusk) and overcast skies are good conditions for hybrids.

BLUESTONE Fishing on the lake has been good.  Bass anglers should try their luck around deeper structure such as rocky points or downed trees using small crankbaits, or spinnerbaits or jigs. Channel and flathead catfish are still producing some on the lake.  Anglers wanting to catch the whiskered ones should try drifting with live bait such as softshell crayfish, hellgrammites, or nightcrawlers.  Chicken livers are also good.  When you catch one, simply motor back up and drift through the hole again or anchor.  Flatheads prefer live bait such as large chubs or a live sunfish.  Carp, hybrid stripers, and smallmouth bass are hitting in the tailwaters with best baits being corn, chartruese jigs, and plastic jigs, respectively.

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.  Fishing is picking up for all species with cooling temperature levels.  Jerk baits, and soft plastics are great fall choices for bass.  Husky jerks, pointers, and rapala x raps are all good choices for jerk baits.  Soft plastic choices include beaver style baits, worms, and about anything one has confidence with.  Muskie anglers are doing well by casting to likely areas and by trolling.  Local lures such as Amma bamas, and a variety of buck tails like spring fork blades are good choices.  Our fish are fished over often and large ones have seen it all - sometimes something new or unusual is the ticket to get a bite.  Don’t be afraid to experiment and try odd or new color combinations.

R.D. BAILEY – Fishing on the lake is good.  Some large spotted bass may be caught.  Some of the largest spotted bass in West Virginia are found in R.D. Bailey Lake.  The spotted bass will be found along the rocky drops with clay points another good spot to try.  Good baits are plastic jigs, live shad, or crayfish.  Bass can be found moving into shallower water to feed now that the nights are getting cooler and the water temperature is dropping some.  Anglers should see the bite picking up for most species as the water temperature falls.  Hybrid striped bass feed on shad so fishermen should watch for any schools of shad because the hybrid will usually be nearby.  Best baits are lures such as rattletraps, spoons, or white/chartreuse jigs.  Anglers may also want to try chicken livers for this hard fighting fish.  The lake also has a good walleye population and anglers can expect to catch this fine eating fish along clay points or rocky drops.  Best bait is probably live minnows or 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 slow, but a few keeper-sized fish have been reported recently. Fish around tree/brush piles and you will find fish of all species.

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 40 feet below summer 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.  A simple split shot weight and nightcrawlers have been effective around structure. 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 – the lake is ten feet below summer pool.  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 LAKEThe lake is about 30 feet below the summer level.  Walleye can be at any depth but will move into shallow water to feed at dusk.  Smallmouth bass can be caught using crank baits or tube jigs along the shoreline.  Pleasant Creek boat launch is open, all others are currently closed.

The tailwater is about 3,750 cubic feet per second (cfs).  The fall trout stocking has been completed. Walleye fishing is best during higher flows (1,500 to 5,000 cfs) and trout fishing is best at low flows (less than 1,000 cfs).  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) The river is in good fishing condition.  For late season flathead catfish action, fish deeper depths at outside bens and tributary mouths with live bait such as gizzard shad.  Eddies, back-current sections, and rip-rap shorelines in the tailwater areas below the dams are good places to cast jigs tipped with minnows or 3-inch plastic grubs for walleye and sauger.

MONONGAHELA RIVER – Trolling large lures throughout the river is an effective method to catch musky.  Walleye and sauger can be caught in eddies, back-current sections, or along rip-rap in the tailwater areas of the dams with crank baits, spoons, or curly-tailed grubs.  Low light conditions or cloudy days are good times to fish for walleye and sauger.

CHEAT LAKE - Cheat Lake is now at winter water level fluctuations and the winter boat ramp at Cheat Lake Park is opened.  Cheat Lake has one of the best yellow perch populations in West Virginia.  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.  Walleye have been reported being caught on deep diving crank baits. 

Trout Stocking - Fall trout stocking has been completed.  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

SMALL IMPOUNDMENTS - Recent WVDNR surveys in Dents Run Lake (Marion County), Dixon Lake (Monongalia County), Mason Lake (Monongalia County), Dunkard Fork Lake (Marshall County), and Teter Creek Lake (Barbour county) yielded very good results for panfish and largemouth bass.  Additionally, some small impoundments were stocked this fall with trout.  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 - Water temperatures are dropping all the way down into the low 40’s.  Flows are normal, but high enough to allow the possibility of boating to recommence on these cold, fall days.  Boat with caution!  With recent cool water temperatures, larger Smallmouth will begin to move and feed.  Recent angler reports indicate high angler catch rates of several sport fish.  Additionally, recent fisheries surveys uncovered adequate 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 and weighted plastics.  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 - Water temperatures are dropping into the 40’s and flows rates are normal, allowing good boating or floating conditions!  However, boat with caution on these cold, fall days.  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 weighted swim baits, may be the answer to carefully feeding fish. Swim baits imitating forage fish higher in the water column would be a wise switch occasionally from deeper fished lures.  Although water temperatures have been dropping, the Shenandoah River has an abundance of quality-sized Channel Catfish, and there is likely still some fishing left for this species.

North Branch River - Flows are currently discharged at around 500 cfs and should remain around rate for 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 - Conditions for late season warmwater fishing is declining rapidly with the onset of colder temperatures.  With recent cooler temperatures, wind and rain, these fisheries should be losing summer 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!

Jennings Randolph Lake - Jennings Randolph Lake is about 24 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.  The Maryland ramp is open to receive boat traffic, but will be closed to motorboat launching 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)!  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 continuing to provide some good fishing for smallmouth bass.  The fall season is always great fishing and great scenery too.  Reports of some large bass have come in from the Catch and Release section on the New River.  This section is from the I-64 bridge downstream to the take-out at the Grandview Sandbar.  Fishermen should try plastic jigs fished slowly along the bottom.  Spots below or above shoals are good spots to try your luck.  Southern WV is blessed with many small impoundments that have good fish populations.  Waters such as Plum Orchard, Stephens, and Pipestem lakes have excellent largemouth bass populations.  Anglers need to get out on the water before the bite slows in the colder weather to come.

SOUTHWESTERN WEST VIRGINIA

Lower Ohio and Kanawha rivers – All locks along the Ohio and Kanawha rivers fish well throughout the year, but especially during the spring and fall due to preferred temperature levels.  Target your favorite fish with your favorite bait or lure.  Hybrids are active and can be caught on a variety of lures from chicken liver (yes chicken liver), live minnows, to silver/white spoons and spinners or other shad imitating lures.  Catfish can be caught using cut fresh bait, and live bait for blues and flatheads.  Bass can be caught floating fluke style baits and pulling spinnerbaits close to cover.

Guyandotte, Coal, Poca, Elk and Mud rivers - With falling temperature levels NOW is a prime time for a float trip or wade fishing for smallmouth on a variety of rivers in WV.  Bass will still savagely attack top-water with falling temperature levels, but sub surface lures such as soft and hard jerk baits will become excellent choices for angling success in the next few weeks.  Spinnerbaits on a windy day thrown to shoreline structure is also a good way to connect with a citation size smallmouth.  Muskies can be caught using a variety of methods.  Casting plugs and buck tails to likely haunts are good methods, as is trolling when applicable.

Small Impoundments – Small impoundments are an excellent choice for fall angling in West Virginia.  Many spend all their time hunting and the reduction in pressure on impoundment bass means improved success for those willing to get out and try during the fall.  Target beaver huts using jig and pig set-ups and spinnerbaits also work good right now.  Soft plastics are always a good choice when fishing becomes tough or if the sun is high in the sky.  Many soft plastics are flavored or scented with salt and other flavors that help during inactive or slow periods.  A warm afternoon during the fall on a WV impoundment can create a long-lasting memory due to the fish one may catch.  Instead of hunting one day in the fall give a small impoundment a try, you may be surprised what you connect with.

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
Now is the time to be thinking about combining fishing with your upcoming deer hunting trip.  The West-Central part of West Virginia offers a variety of opportunities for this combination.

Deer hunters along the Ohio River have great opportunities for the combination.  Fall is an excellent time to fish Ohio River tailwater areas.  Anglers fishing below the Belleville and Willow Island Dams are catching White Bass, Hybrid Striped Bass, and a few other species.  Pencil poppers and lead-headed jigs with twister tails (white or chartreuse) are the lures of choice.  Clever anglers are tipping their jig hooks with minnows or shad.  Small suspending Rapala’s (silver with a blue back) also work quite well.  Areas to target include eddies, back-current sections, and anywhere that river flows appear unusual.  Sauger and Walleye are beginning to hit, and should be targeted during non-daylight hours.

Elsewhere on 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 Flathead Catfish.  Good fishing sites for catfish include deep areas along islands, outside bends, and tributary mouths.

Anglers seeking Bass after the hunt also have many choices of water to consider.  Fishing has been good for Largemouth Bass and Bluegill in area impoundments.  Slowly fished Bass lures are the baits of choice this time of the year.  Bass angler should target areas with woody debris and other cover. Bluegill are being taken on small jigs that are fished deep (depths of 10-12 feet).  Good choices for area lakes include Elk Fork and Woodrum Lakes 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.

Limited rainfall events throughout summer months have resulted in water levels being extremely low (down approximately 11 feet) in O’Brien Lake in Jackson County, which is used for water supply.  However, less water means that Largemouth Bass and Channel Catfish will be confined to areas that still have water and structure available for them to utilize.  Although the boat ramp is currently unusable for trailered boats, anglers with small boats that can be carried in and bank fishermen may have a unique opportunity to catch more fish if they are willing to work for them.

Local Musky streams are not expected to be fishable this weekend, due to recent rainfall.  Should the opportunity arise, fall Musky anglers are using large crank baits, jerk baits, and blades.  Anglers should target fallen trees or riffle areas.  Fishing has been quite good this year for Musky throughout Middle Island Creek, Little Kanawha River, and Hughes River systems.  Musky fishing at North Bend Lake also has been productive this year.

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