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West Virginia Stream Conditions

December 13, 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 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 – The lake is at 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 57 feet below the summer level and dropping.  Fish can be caught on most days, but walleye fishing is best on cloudy days with some chop on the water.  Anglers can be successful fishing for walleye by walking the shoreline after dark casting crankbaits that cause large vibrations.  The Pleasant Creek boat ramp is open.  All other boat ramps on Tygart Lake are closed. 

During winter water level fluctuations, walleye move through the dam and are available to anglers 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).  The outflow is predicted to be about 650 cfs over the next few days.  Call the Corps of Engineers hotline at 304-265-5953 for the current lake level and tailwater conditions.  Eight walleye per day that are 15 inches or longer may be kept.  All walleye under 15 inches must be returned to the water at once.

NORTHERN WEST VIRGINIA

OHIO RIVER (New Cumberland, Pike Island, and Hannibal pools and tailwaters) A fishing pier is available for anglers on the Ohio shore at Pike Island.  Hannibal tailwaters has extremely good access on the West Virginia shore at New Martinsville.  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.  Crankbaits worked along the shoreline at dusk or into the night can also be productive.  Anglers have reported catching large walleye in tailwater areas and the mouths of the tributaries.  Two walleye per day that are 18 inches or longer may be kept.

MONONGAHELA RIVER – Anglers have reported good success for walleye and sauger over the last couple of weeks in the tailwater areas below the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dams and at the mouths of tributaries.  The mouths of tributaries such as Paw Paw Creek and Pricketts Creek can be excellent places to fish.  Try using plastic swimbaits up to 4 to 5 inches for larger walleye in the tailwaters.  Eight walleye per day that are 15 inches or longer may be kept.  All walleye under 15 inches must be returned to the water at once.  Ten sauger per day with no minimum size limit can be harvested.

CHEAT LAKE The winter pool elevation schedule started November 1.  Due to hydropower production, water levels can fluctuate as much as 13 feet over a period of two or three days compared with the summer pool fluctuations of 2-feet within one-day.  Boaters need to use the winter boat ramp located at the recreational park near the dam.  The fishing piers at Cheat Lake park provide very nice fishing areas for shoreline anglers.  Channel catfish can be caught in this area all winter long in about 50 feet of water with nightcrawlers or cut bait.   

SMALL IMPOUNDMENTS - Recent WVDNR surveys in Dog Run Lake (Harrison County) yielded excellent numbers of large crappie, bluegill, and largemouth bass.  Fish near woody debris such as downed trees.  Other small impoundments such as Teter Creek Lake (Barbour County), Curtisville Lake (Marion County), and Tomlinson Lake (Ohio County) offer similar fisheries with excellent shoreline and boating access.

EASTERN PANHANDLE

South Branch and Cacapon Rivers - Water temperatures are dropping all the way down into the low 30’s.  Flows are below normal and clear, allowing for poor fishing conditions.  Col, super-clear water will make for a challenging bite.  With recent cool water temperatures, larger Smallmouth could begin to move and feed; however, temperatures would need to reach the upper 30’s for them to become active.  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.  Diets 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 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 - Water temperatures are dropping into the 30’s and flows are low and clear, offering poor fishing conditions!  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. This is particularly true when low, 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 350 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 With recent cooler temperatures, wind and rain, these fisheries should have lost 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!  IF YOU CHOOSE TO ICE FISH IMPOUNDMENTS make sure that you understand techniques to extract yourself from ice.  There are a variety of YouTube videos describing those techniques to remove yourself from the water and to delay hypothermia!  Items such as personal floatation devices, ice safety picks, floating rescue ropes, cold water survival suits, and a hat should be considered before heading out to ice fish!

Jennings Randolph Lake - Jennings Randolph Lake is about 28 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 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)!  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

Late fall is an excellent time to fish Ohio River tailwater areas.  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 chartreuse) are the lures of choice.  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. 

Elsewhere on Ohio River, fishing for Blue Catfish has been good.  Good fishing sites for Blue Catfish include deep areas along islands, outside bends, and tributary mouths.

Hardy fishermen are finding some success for largemouth bass in area lakes.  Slowly fished lures are the baits of choice this time of the year.  Good choices for area lakes include Mountwood in Wood County, Conaway Run in Tyler County, Charles Fork in Roane County, North Bend in Ritchie County, and Elk Fork, O’Brien, and Woodrum Lakes in Jackson County.  O’Brien Lake is again accessible by trailered boats.

Local Musky streams are expected to be fishable this weekend.  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 and Woodrum lakes have also has been productive this year.

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