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West Virginia Stream Conditions

 

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) Fishing Page

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) fishing report will be updated approximately every three months (spring, summer, fall, winter).  General trends which can be expected to be useful for that season/district/waterbody type will be offered.  The links found below can help anglers fine-tune their experience by finding new fishing areas, checking flows, stocking reports, and current regulations to name a few.  Further information can be found by contacting WVDNR biologists listed with each district seasonal report.  Please also contact us if you make a spectacular or unidentifiable catch, or have a question relating to current regulations.

https://waterdata.usgs.gov/wv/nwis/rt - West Virginia (USGS) flow data
https://www.lrh.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Water-Information/ - Hunt. District USACOE
https://www.lrp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Water-Management/ - Pittsburgh District USACOE
http://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/ - Find locations using the WVDNR fishing mapping tool
http://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/Stocking/DailyStock.shtm - WVDNR stocking webpage
http://www.wvdnr.gov/fishing/Fishing_regs.shtm - WVDNR current fishing regulations (2018-2019)
http://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/First_Fish.shtm - WVDNR First Fish Certificate
http://www.wvdnr.gov/fishing/TroFishCitPrgm.shtm - WVDNR Trophy Fish Citation Program
http://www.wvdnr.gov/fishing/HuskyMusky.shtm - Register your legal (30”) muskellunge catch

Fish are cold-blooded, prefer a range of temperature levels and will move to find optimal overall conditions.  Fish spawn during specific seasons based on photoperiod (length of day), and to a lesser degree temperature, flow, and weather.  Carrying a thermometer and becoming a student of your quarry and their habitat will help you be more successful as an angler.  Consider all these factors on your next outing for greater success.  Below are ideal feeding temperature ranges for some of West Virginia’s most popular gamefish, and when they spawn:

Bluegill                                          58-80°F                spring
Brook Trout                                  48-68°F                fall
Rainbow Trout                               55-68°F                spring
Brown Trout                                  55-70°F                fall
Largemouth Bass                            68-85°F                spring
Smallmouth Bass                            60-78°F                spring
Channel Catfish                             65-90°F                summer
Flathead Catfish                             75-84°F                summer
Blue Catfish                                   77-82°F                summer
Walleye                                        50-76°F                spring
Sauger                                          50-72°F                spring
Muskellunge                                  55-78°F                spring

Anglers are also asked to be on the lookout for tagged fish they may catch. Biologists tag fish to learn critical information to better manage fish populations.  If you catch a tagged fish even if a reward is not offered, PLEASE forward all information to your district fish biologist or contact information given on the tag itself.  If the tagged fish was kept please also contact you district fish biologists, they may desire to examine the fish, etc. Recaptures are extremely valuable for biologists to manage fish populations, and you will be playing a large part by helping biologists manage fish populations.  After a documented recapture, biologists can usually relay past-history to the angler about ‘their catch’ which most find very interesting. Further information can be found at the link below:  http://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/Fish_Tagging.shtm

WVDNR SPRING FISHING REPORT (MARCH, APRIL, MAY)

District 1 (David Wellman, Dustin Smith) – 304-825-6787
1110 Railroad St.
Farmington, WV 26571

D1 Reservoirs
District 1 has two large reservoirs, Cheat Lake near Morgantown and Tygart Lake near Grafton.  Cheat Lake is a hydropower lake and its levels are permitted to fluctuate differently depending on the season.  It’s important to understand these water level fluctuations not only for angling, but for boat access.  In April, water levels fluctuate seven feet daily, from May through October levels fluctuate two feet, and from November through March daily water levels fluctuate 13 feet.  Sunset Marina is the only public boat ramp available during the recreation season of April through October.  The minimum lake level for the Sunset Marina to be used is 865 feet.  Prior to fishing in April, it’s advisable to check Cheat Lake’s water level at the following USGS website:  https://waterdata.usgs.gov/wv/nwis/current/?type=flow.  A winter boat ramp is available through the end of March at the Cheat Lake park near the dam.  Early spring is an excellent time to target Walleye and Yellow Perch in Cheat Lake around the I-68 bridge area and upstream to the head of the lake.  Walleye are reproducing with some success in Cheat Lake, but the population is supplemented every other year with stockings from the WVDNR.  Walleye in this lake are not overly abundant but grow fast and large.  The Ices Ferry Bridge fishing access site is a good shoreline area to catch both Walleye and Yellow Perch using minnows throughout the spring.  As the water temperatures increase heading into spring, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Crappie, White Bass, and Channel Catfish will become more active.  Largemouth Bass seem to be more common in embayments and will often be located near woody structure; whereas Smallmouth Bass tend to be found throughout the main lake and up into the riverine section in rocky areas.  Channel Catfish are common and provide very good fishing in all seasons.  However, as temps increase in the spring, catfishing gets better and cut bait, stink baits, chicken liver and worms are all productive.  White Bass are typically in schools moving throughout open water.  Once the schools are found, jigs, spoons, small crankbaits can be very effective at catching several fish in a short amount of time.  As the water temperatures continue increasing into the spring, Crappie and other sunfish will move closer to shore throughout the lake.  Small jigs, in-line spinners, and minnows fished around downed trees can be very effective for these tasty gamefish.  A fishing pier in the tailwater area just below the dam provides excellent fishing opportunities for Walleye and Sauger during the spring when water temps are in the 45–50°F range.

Tygart Lake is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control lake having extreme water level fluctuations.  The winter drawdown is 60 feet below summer pool.  Typically, summer pool is reached by April 1st for the summer recreation season.  Tygart Lake is known as a very good Walleye and Smallmouth Bass lake, with Crappie, Channel Catfish, White Bass and Musky also available.  Tygart Lake has an excellent reproducing Walleye population with most being “pan-sized”.  As the water temperature approaches 40F, walleye will start staging toward the upper end of the reservoir and will typically spawn in the riverine section when water temperatures are between 45 – 50F in mid-March through April.  If one does not have a boat, shoreline access can be found at the head of the lake at Cove Run.  Tygart Lake is steep sided and has lots of shoreline rocky habitat for Smallmouth Bass where they feed on crayfish and shiners.  During early spring, use slower moving lures such as small plastic worms hooked wacky style and progress to faster crankbaits and topwater lures as temperatures increase.  Night crawlers, minnows, crickets, and crayfish are very good Smallmouth Bass baits when artificial lures aren’t producing.  White Bass typically spawn when water temperatures range from 57 – 68°F.  Prior to this, they will be in large schools waiting to make their spawning run to the head of Tygart Lake.  White Bass can often be seen chasing shiners near the surface, and this is a great time to cast small spoons for some fast action.  As the lake fills and water temperatures increase, different fish species will move closer to shore and use fish habitat structures that have been placed by the WVDNR and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers near Tygart Lake State Park and at Pleasant Creek Wildlife Management Area.  These are good places to cast small jigs, in-line spinners, minnows, or meal worms to catch Crappie and other sunfish.  The tailwater area just below the dam is stocked with trout from February through May.  Additionally, loads of Walleye are found in the tailwater as they move through the dam during winter and spring water releases.  A boat ramp is available in the tailwater, and anglers can use the shoreline also.  The shoreline provides very good access but can be difficult to navigate due to large rocks and sometimes slippery conditions.  Daily lake and tailwater conditions can be obtained by calling the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at: 304-265-5953.

D1 Nav Rivers
Both Ohio River and Monongahela River are within District 1.  Several dams on both rivers provide good shoreline fishing access and boats are not needed or permitted in these areas due to safety.  In late winter and early spring, Walleye and Sauger congregate in tailwater areas below dams and large riffles in tributaries of the Ohio and Monongahela Rivers to spawn typically from mid-March to mid-April when water temperatures reach 40 to 50°F.  Jigs tipped with minnows fished near the bottom or along rocky banks in low light conditions can be very productive for Walleye and Sauger.  As spring progresses, White Bass and Hybrid Striped Bass move up into the tailwaters and can be caught using spoons, jigs, or surface lures.  Channel Catfish can be caught during all seasons but will become more active as spring brings warmer temperatures.  Monongahela River has an excellent Channel Catfish population as they are very abundant and reach large sizes.  They can be caught using live bait, cut bait, and stink baits.  Flathead Catfish are less common on Monongahela River but can reach good sizes of 40-inches or more.  For those targeting large Flathead Catfish, Ohio River is the place to go as it holds lots of large Flatheads.  These fish are much less active during winter but will become much more active during spring.  Good techniques to catch Flathead Catfish are to bottom fish or drift circle hooks baited with live near creek mouths, in eddies and off rocky banks.

D1 Rivers/Streams
Cheat, Tygart, and West Fork rivers are perhaps the most popular warmwater river fisheries in District 1.  Upper Cheat River offers very good Smallmouth Bass fishing and some bonus Rock Bass.  The Cheat River water trail offers very good access to this beautiful river for either float or wade fishing.  Tygart River provides opportunities for Smallmouth Bass and is becoming well known for its Musky fishery.  West Fork River has been known as a very good Musky stream, but the Smallmouth Bass, Channel Catfish, and Flathead Catfish are all abundant.  Other notable Smallmouth Bass and Rock Bass streams within District 1 are Buckhannon River, Fish Creek, Fishing Creek, Buffalo Creek (Brooke County), Dunkard Creek and Dry Fork of Cheat River.  Three-inch twister tails, crankbaits, crayfish imitations, small spinners, plastic baits such as flukes or dingers, or buzz baits can all be excellent Smallmouth Bass lures.  However, simply using live bait such as nightcrawlers, crayfish, or minnows can be just as and sometimes more effective.  Smallmouth Bass usually are not as active in March due to cool temperatures and large numbers are not caught, but this time of year often yields the largest fish.  As spring progresses and water temperatures increase, more fish can typically be caught.  Adequate gear for catching Smallmouth Bass in these smaller rivers would be a six-foot medium action rod and spinning reel spooled with six to eight-pound monofilament line.  Streams throughout District 1 such as Blackwater River, Fishing Creek, Horseshoe Run, Kings Creek, Paw Paw Creek, Whiteday Creek, Wheeling Creek and many others receive trout stockings and provide excellent fishing opportunities.  Use the WVDNR fishing map to gather information of streams and fishing opportunities near you:  https://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/map/?v=fish

D1 Impoundments -
Sixteen small impoundments are stocked with trout providing several cooler weather fishing opportunities in District 1.  Early in trout season, try slower fishing methods such as salmon eggs, power bait, and worms.  With increasing temperatures, pick the pace up with spinners or fly fishing.  Many of these same small impoundments that receive trout stockings, also have excellent Largemouth Bass and Bluegill fisheries.  Panfish are popular with both seasoned and novice anglers as they can provide hours of fun and are excellent table fare.  Bluegill typically can be found near brush, downed trees, or shoreline vegetation during spring in our small impoundments.   Fancy and expensive equipment is not needed to enjoy catching Bluegill this time of year.  Crickets, meal worms, and red worms floated under bobbers on a 10-foot cane pole can be extremely effective and enjoyable.  Bluegill can also be caught with small in-line spinners and small plastic or hair jigs on typical spinning or spincast reels on a light to medium action rod.   Small impoundments such as Dents Run Lake, Teter Creek Lake, Fairfax Ponds, Mason Lake, and Dixon Lakes are known to have good Bluegill fisheries.  Our small impoundments also provide excellent largemouth bass fishing, often better than our large reservoirs.  Prior to spawning, anglers should concentrate fishing around fallen trees and stumps, especially along points.  Largemouth Bass typically spawn in water temperatures between 68 and 72°F.  During this period, they usually will be found on mud flats along creek channels and coves constructing nests, which can be close to cover.  Dunkard Fork Lake and Curtisville Lake are known for exceptional largemouth bass fisheries.  Use the WVDNR fishing map to find new places to fish near you:   https://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/map/?v=fish

District 2 (Brandon Keplinger, Clay Raines) – 304-822-3551
1 Depot Street
Romney WV, 26757

D2 Reservoirs
Mount Storm Lake is known as a good Black Bass (Smallmouth and Largemouth) and large Striped Bass lake, with Walleye available, as well.  It is important to know that Mount Storm Lake receives   warm exit water from a coal-fired power plant, frequently allowing lake water to be much warmer than what adjacent fisheries or air temperatures are!  This can play to the angler’s advantage, as all fish species are much more active throughout the winter and become more aggressive earlier in the spring.  Shad and other minnow patterns work well for these species.  Considering the schooling behavior of shad in this lake, umbrella lures (those that mimic several baitfish in a group) would work quite well for any of the above species.  Crankbaits and swim baits that mimic wounded baitfish are excellent bait choices.  Consider the use of live or natural bait for finicky fish.  Largemouth Bass will be found along shorelines that are laden with fallen trees, WV DNR supplemented Christmas trees, beaver dams, and aquatic vegetation.  Particularly, these habitats are found more commonly upstream into the creek arms of the lake.  Smallmouth Bass are more common in habitats where large rock outcrops are common, although they too will sometimes be associated with vegetation and wood that attracts forage fish.   The dam wall and creek channels upstream provide complex rocky habitats for Smallmouth Bass.  A medium to heavy action would work well.  If you target Striped Bass in this lake, it helps to have a boat to get to open water, as well as oversized fishing gear compared to what you would use for bass fishing.  Striped Bass do not appear to aggregate seasonally, but seem to stay deep where the coolest, heavier water remains.  Stripers have been caught exceeding 35” in this lake!  Walleye can also be caught with trolling techniques, using jerk baits, crank baits, and inline spinners rigged with natural baits like nightcrawlers or minnows.  Walleye will congregate along drop-offs of submerged rocky ridges and the submerged creek bed of the Stony River arm of the lake during spring.  Channel Catfish are numerous and stunted: the harvest of Channel Catfish is suggested there to improve the population.  They can be caught during all seasons using baits such as chicken liver, cut bait, and stink baits.   The only public boat ramp for this lake is located right off of Route 29.  It is certainly ideal to fish Mount Storm Lake with a boat, as very little shoreline access is available for public use. 

Jennings Randolph Lake is known for its excellent Smallmouth Bass population, Rock Bass in abundance, and a dense, reproducing Walleye population.  It also gets stocked with trout on occasion by the MD DNR in the spring.  There is also an emerging Yellow Perch population there.  Smallmouth Bass key in on crayfish that inhabit rocky habitat along the lake’s perimeter.  Weighted soft plastics, crank baits, and jigs that imitate crayfish are great baits to start targeting Smallmouth Bass and Rock Bass here.  If you are targeting Rock Bass, size down your baits to focus on this smaller sport fish.  Minnows are abundant in this lake and are prime targets for Walleye.  Live or dead minnows trolled on spinner rigs, jerk baits, silver-sided crank baits and swim baits would be excellent for targeting Walleye.   Inline spinners work well for catching trout (Rainbow Trout are stocked occasionally throughout the spring and frequently hold over from previous years’ stockings).  Considering Walleye spawning tendencies, the upstream end of the lake, where the North Branch of the Potomac River enters, would be a good focus point for anglers targeting them in the months of March and April. Trolling is a particularly good method for hooking up with Walleye and Trout in this deep lake.  For yellow perch, focus on woody, rocky, or vegetative structure when they are schooled together early in the year.  Typical panfish baits, such as beetle spins, scent enhanced small plastic jigs, nightcrawlers, and live minnows work well for Yellow Perch.  There are two public boat launches on this lake that operate daily unless there are poor winter weather conditions: the Howell Ramp on the WV side and the Maryland ramp.  The lake’s water level is managed by the ACOE.  When water levels are drawn low, the Howell Ramp becomes unusable.  It is certainly ideal to fish Jennings Randolph Lake with a boat, as very little shoreline access is available for public use. 

Please be cautious when fishing for species that are spawning.  Mortality and disruption of spawning activities can have significant impacts or the fisheries down the line.  Additionally, be aware that Striped Bass and Walleye are vulnerable to high levels of stress when caught in warm water and can have a high chance of dying even when they are released.  It helps to target these fish during cooler water timeframes if you plan on releasing them. 

D2 Rivers/Streams
The South Branch Potomac, Cacapon, and Shenandoah Rivers are the most popular stream fisheries in D2, renowned for their fantastic Smallmouth Bass, Rock Bass, Redbreast Sunfish, and Channel Catfish populations!  However, Patterson Creek, Back Creek, Opequon Creek, Sleepy Creek, and the Little Cacapon should not be overlooked, especially when warm weather brings considerable fishing pressure to the more popular streams.   The transition from winter to spring brings larger catches of Smallmouth Bass, Redbreast Sunfish and Rock Bass, as the Channel Catfish fishery emerges later into the spring/summer.  Please pay close attention to tagged fish in the South Branch, as many Smallmouth Bass and Channel Catfish have been tagged in order to better understand angler utility, angler pressure, and fish movement in this system.  Smallmouth Bass become very active as water temperatures crawl out of the 30’s and consistently into the mid 40’s, but still maintain position in large, deep pools.  Crayfish are the forage of choice for Smallmouth Bass in these streams, making up greater than 70% of the forage items they consume!  Jigs, crankbaits, tubes, spider grubs, and other soft plastic baits that mimic this forage is suggested and can pay off during any season.  However, don’t discount minnows as diet items, as Smallmouth strike higher in the water column at swim baits, surface plugs, flukes, and other baits that mimic shiners!  If all else fails, nightcrawlers, crickets, grasshoppers, and other natural baits will certainly catch fish.  Considering the different types of baits that you could fish under different conditions; a medium action rod of moderate power would be beneficial.  Consider using a light-heavy rod.  Six to 8-pound test would work well.  Consider using fluorocarbon, as it is difficult to see underwater, and can be useful for enticing fish to bite when using soft plastics.
District 2 has an abundance of public access sites available to the angler’s advantage: https://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/map/?v=fish

D2 Impoundments
Small impoundments in D2 are some of the most productive fisheries in the region!  Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, Crappie, Northern Pike, Musky, and quality Channel Catfish (maintained by stocking) can be available in many of these lakes!  Spring is the season for catching crappie that school together and spawn early in the spring season with small soft-plastic jigs or natural bait, like minnows or nightcrawlers.  Many of our small impoundments offer crappie (Sleepy Creek Lake, Warden Lake, South Mill Creek Lake, Kimsey Run Lake, and Parker Hollow Lake).  Crappie set up spawning grounds as early as April in shallow, soft bottoms in our small impoundments.  Bluegill are highly sought after in the spring.  They begin to spawn in late May and into June.  However, they spend the earlier portion of spring feeding at depths typically no greater than 10 feet around vegetation, brush, and other shallow structure as they prepare for their spawning efforts.  Large Bluegill offer excellent table fare and high likelihoods of success for spring anglers, both young and experienced!  Both Crappie and Bluegill construct bowl shaped depressions in which to lay their eggs.  High numbers of aggressive adult panfish (especially Bluegill) can be targeted if these excavations can be found during the spring.  A light power rod with moderate action is good for panfish like Bluegill and Crappie.

As the spring season progresses and waters warm, Largemouth Bass become very active, feeding up just before the spawn in early May.  Focus on using baits that provide action under the surface of the water.  Stick baits, crank baits, weighted soft plastics and jigs work well this time of the year.  When water temperatures are cold (40 - 50s), begin your retrieves slow and work up to a faster pace if you are getting no strikes.  As waters warm, bass become more aggressive, and retrieves should be worked at a faster pace.  Pay attention not to fish too deeply towards the end of spring, as fish stay in shallower water where higher levels of oxygen are available and forage gathers near shoreline structure.  Largemouth Bass feed near the lake perimeters when active and can be caught anywhere along the shoreline.  Pay close attention to shifting shoreline depths, aquatic vegetation, and sunken wood to increase your changes of strikes from Largemouth.  Fishing brightly colored, darkly colored, sound emitting, and gold/copper bladed baits are more visible to fish when the water is muddy!  You can use a variety of fishing equipment styles to fish our small impoundments, considering the species available.  A medium power with moderate to fast action is good for bass fishing.  

Musky (Kimsey Run Lake) and Northern Pike (Warden and Sleepy Creek lakes) can grow to significant size in our small impoundments.  If you plan on fishing for these species, consider a larger, more powerful rod with a fast action.  Focus on casting large inline spinners, swim baits, stick or jerk baits along large structures, such as submerged wood or vegetation beds.  District 2 has an abundance of these small impoundments open to public fishing: https://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/map/?v=fish

District 2 Tip of the Spring Season –
Early spring is the time to catch big Smallmouth from our popular stream fisheries!  It is essential to target them when stream temperatures are low, but greater than about 38°F!  Although Smallmouth tend to be less aggressive and strike more readily at slow retrieves in cold water, don’t be afraid to work bottom fished plastics quick every few casts as the bigger fish can be surprisingly active!  Dirty water conditions warm up faster.  Evening stream temperatures are warmer due to having been heated by sunlight throughout the day.  As water temperatures increase, numbers of Smallmouth caught typically increase.  However, the average size of those caught declines.  Quantity vs quality…Why not fish for both as the season progresses!  Remember these tips while predicting fish activity and developing a strategy for catching the number and quality of fish that you desire!

District 3 (James Walker, Aaron Yeager) – 304-924-6211
163 wildlife Rd.
French Creek, WV 26218

D3 Reservoirs
District 3 has 5 large reservoirs all situated along the I-79 corridor in central West Virginia.  Stonewall Jackson, Burnsville, Stonecoal, Sutton, and Summersville lakes.

Stonewall Jackson Lake (Corps. of Engineers) is well known for its largemouth bass population, musky, and panfish. It’s a shallow lake and still contains lots of standing timber.  The lake is lowered for flood control six feet Nov-April but typically is at the summer pool level (recreation pool) by mid-April.  Largemouth will be moving from deep water winter locations to shallower water as the water temperatures increase.  Find areas where shallow water with cover is next to deeper water.  Rip rap banks, shallow points, and road beds, standing timber as well as trees that have fallen.  Head of coves can also be really productive springtime bass.  Slower moving lures such as soft plastics, and progress to faster crankbaits and topwater lures as temperatures increase.  Pre-spawn bass will also be in just 4-6 feet of water as temperatures climb and feeding actively before moving onto the beds.  Musky move to shallow water this time of year as well and head to small tributaries and shallow coves.  Successful angers troll and cast large plugs, spinners and specialized musky baits.  Crappie, perch, bluegill (panfish) this time of year is great.  Try beaver huts, blow down trees, bridges, and shallow coves as water temperature increase.  Live bait (minnow on light jig) or small plastic jigs can produce many fish and is a great way to introduce a new angler to the sport of fishing because action can be fast.  The tailwaters of this lake is also stocked every two weeks with trout February-March and once in May and contains many warmwater gamefish as well.  When stream and rivers are high sometimes the tailwaters are the only fishable water and they have good access and parking.  Daily lake and tailwater conditions can be obtained by calling the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at:  304-269-4588. 

Burnsville Lake, (Corps. of Engineers) is known for its largemouth, spotted bass, catfish, musky, and panfish. The lake is lowered for flood control 13 feet Nov-April but typically is at the summer pool level (recreation pool) by mid-April.  It’s a shallow lake and still contains some standing timber. Largemouth will be moving from deep water winter locations to shallower water as the water temperatures increase.  Find areas where shallow water with cover is next to deeper water.  Rip rap banks, shallow points, and road beds, standing timber as well as trees that have fallen.  Head of coves can also be really productive springtime bass.  Slower moving lures such as soft plastic worms and progress to faster crankbaits and topwater lures as temperatures increase.  Pre-spawn bass will also be in just 4-6 feet of water as temperatures climb and feeding actively before moving onto the beds.  A channel/flathead catfish population is a bonus to Burnsville and fish have been caught in the 20-30 lbs. range.  Try live bait on the bottom as temperatures warm up.  Musky move to shallow water this time of year as well and head to small tributaries and shallow coves.  Successful angers troll and cast large plugs and specialized large musky baits.  Crappie, and bluegill (panfish) this time of year is great.  Try beaver huts, blow down trees and shallow coves as water temperature increase.  Live bait (minnow on light jig) or small plastic jigs can produce many fish and is a great way to introduce a new angler to the sport of fishing because action can be fast.  The tailwaters of this lake is also stocked every two weeks with trout February-March and once in May and contains many warmwater gamefish as well.  When stream and rivers are high sometimes the tailwaters are the only fishable water and they have good access and parking.  Daily lake and tailwater conditions can be obtained by calling the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at:  304-853-2371.

Stonecoal Lake (Mon. Power Company) is well known for its largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, musky, and panfish.  It’s a deep lake and has a 9.9 hp limit which keeps the lake quiet and has a backcountry feel which makes it perfect for canoe or kayak fishing.   Largemouth will be moving from deep water winter locations to shallower water as the water temperatures increase.  Find areas where shallow water with cover is next to deeper water.  Rip rap banks, shallow points, and road beds, standing timber as well as trees that have fallen.  Head of coves can also be productive springtime bass locations.  Slower moving lures such as soft plastic worms and progress to faster crankbaits and topwater lures as temperatures increase.  Pres-pawn bass will also be in just 4-6 feet of water as temperatures climb and feeding actively before moving onto the beds.  Walleye like to congregate around the dam face and upper end as water temperatures warm.  Musky move to shallow water this time of year as well and head to small tributaries and shallow coves.  Successful angers troll and cast large plugs and specialized large musky baits.  Crappie, perch, bluegill (panfish) this time of year is great.   Try upper end of lake, beaver huts, blow down trees and shallow coves as water temperature increase.  Live bait (minnow on light jig) or small plastic jigs can produce many fish and is a great way to introduce a new angler to the sport of fishing because action can be fast.   

Sutton Lake (Corps. of Engineers) is known for its largemouth and smallmouth bass, and panfish.  The lake is lowered for flood control 29 feet Nov-April but typically is at the summer pool level (recreation pool) by mid-April.  It’s a deep and steep sided lake with lots of rock and blow down shoreline trees.  Largemouth will be moving from deep water winter locations to shallower water as the water temperatures increase.  Find areas where shallow water with cover is next to deeper water.  Rip rap banks, shallow points, and road beds, standing timber as well as trees that have fallen.  Head of coves can also be productive springtime bass locations.  Slower moving lures such as plastic worms hooked wacky style and progress to faster crankbaits and topwater lures as temperatures increase.  Pre-spawn bass will also be in just 8-10 feet of water as temperatures climb before moving onto the beds.  Smallmouth can be found in upper end of lake in spring all the way to the first riffle up to the Elk.    Crappie, bluegill, and rock bass (panfish) this time of year is great.  Try beaver huts, blow down trees and shallow coves as water temperature increase.  Live bait (minnow on light jig) or small plastic jigs can produce many fish and is a great way to introduce a new angler to the sport of fishing because action can be fast.  The tailwaters of this lake is also stocked with trout February-May and contains many warmwater gamefish as well.  When stream and rivers are high sometimes the tailwaters are the only fishable water and they have good access and parking.  Daily lake and tailwater conditions can be obtained by calling the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at: 304-765-2816.

Summersville Lake (Corps. of Engineers) is known for its natural reproducing walleye population, smallmouth bass, and panfish.  The lake is lowered for flood control 77 feet Nov-April but typically is at the summer pool level (recreation pool) by mid- April.  it’s a deep and steep sided lake with lots of rock,  blow down shoreline trees, and habitat enhancement structures at various levels.  Walleye will begin moving to the upper end of the lake when water temperatures begin warming to the mid 40s (March-April) and move to the first riffle and beyond into the Gauley River as water temperatures approach 50°F.  It’s a great time of year to target them.  Try a minnow tipped jig or night crawler on bottom bouncer.  Trolling small crankbaits are also a very effective method for catching walleye at different depths.  Also try shore fishing along the route 39 bridge.  Smallmouth will be moving from deep water winter locations to shallower water as the water temperatures increase.  Find areas where shallow water with cover is next to deeper water.  Rock drop off banks, shallow points, and road beds, as well as habitat structures.  Head of coves can also be productive springtime bass locations.  Try live crawfish or crawfish imitation lures such as plastic worms and progress to faster crankbaits and topwater lures as temperatures increase.  Pre-spawn bass will also be in just 12-15 feet of water as temperatures climb before moving onto the beds.  Smallmouth can be found in upper end of lake in spring all the way to the first riffle up to the Gauley.  Crappie, perch, bluegill, and rock bass (panfish) this time of year is great.  Try beaver huts, blow down trees, habitat enhancement structures, and shallow coves as water temperature increase.  The state record yellow perch Live bait (minnow on light jig) or small plastic jigs can produce many fish and is a great way to introduce a new angler to the sport of fishing because action can be fast.  Also try to use electronics to find groups of fish on your screen as well as habitat enhancement locations that will hold fish.  The tailwaters of this lake is also stocked with trout February-May and contains many warmwater gamefish as well.  When stream and rivers are high sometimes the tailwaters are the only fishable water and they have good access and parking.   Daily lake and tailwater conditions can be obtained by calling the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at: 304-872-3412.

D3 Rivers/Streams
The Elk, Gauley, Little Kanawha, Greenbrier rivers, and Buckhannon are spring time fisheries.  Focus on the Elk and Gauley for big walleye in early spring around tributaries and riffles.  Little Kanawha and Buckhannon are great for spring musky as the current state record musky came out of the Little Kanawha in spring of 2017.  Smallmouth Bass can be found in in all above river and spring time is the best time.   deep pools near shoals and flats, eddies along the bank, fallen timber from the shore, behind boulders or other current breaks.  As the water warms, Smallmouth Bass will move from the back of the deep pools to the head of the pools closer to the current.  Spawning will occur in shallow areas with sand, gravel and small rocks.  Popular lures are jigs, tubes, jerkbaits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and crawfish imitations.

District 3 is trout country so visit WVDNR website for daily stream trout stockings and remember the Gold Rush stocking will be happening during the week of April 1-6, 2019.  A few streams that are included in this are:  Cranberry, Shavers Fork, and Greenbrier rivers to name a few.  Please check the website for complete listing.  https://commerce.wv.gov/goldrush.

D3 Impoundments
District 3 has 12 small impoundments scattered around an 8-coiunty region.  Most all of them have good bass populations, channel catfish, and excellent panfish opportunities.  Anglers can find Largemouth Bass around cover in the form of fallen trees, beaver huts, submerged timber, stumps, points, and riprap.  Several of these impoundments are stocked with trout and surprisingly the warmwater fish population is overlooked but can produce bass in the 7 lbs. range.  During the pre-spawn find shallow areas with mixed sand and gravel or small gravel and rocks near woody structures.  Try soft plastics, crankbaits, and topwater as water temps. warm.   Good population of crappie and bluegills with some larger-than-average-sized fish are found in several small impoundments, most notably Big Ditch and Wallback lakes.  Find structures like stumps and submerged timber.  Look for pre-spawn areas use small jigs, minnow imitations, night crawlers, and wax worms.  Bluegills will move to shallow areas during the pre-spawn and make circular depression in the bottom.

The Gold Rush stocking will be happening during the week of April 1-6, 2019.  Six impoundments in District 3 that will be stocked with golden trout are:  French Creek Pond, Watoga, Spruce Knob, Buffalo Fork, Wallback, and Seneca.

District 4 (Bob Knight, Acting) – 304-256-6947
2006 Robert C Byrd Drive
Beckley, WV 25801

D4 Reservoirs
In Bluestone Lake, Spring is a great time to pursue Largemouth bass.  Largemouth will be transitioning from deep water to shallower water as the water temperatures increase.  Find areas where shallow water with cover is next to deeper water. Points, coves, mouths of creeks to the end of creeks will hold bass.  As water temperature increases or decreases largemouth bass will move between deep water and shallow water.  Key in on the location of bait fish to find the bass as they will move based on water temperature also.  During the pre-spawn find shallow areas with mixed sand and gravel or small gravel and rocks near woody structures.  Popular lures are square-billed crankbaits, lipless crankbaits, jerk baits, spinner baits.  Soft baits include flukes, swimbaits, jig and pigs, and worms.  White, shad, chartreuse, and crawfish are good color choices.  Hybrid and Striped Bass will be transitioning from deep water to shallow water as water temperature changes.  Find deep water cover off of points, humps on the contour of the lake bed, old river channels.  Good shallow areas are backs of coves, big flats, long points, feeder creeks.  Hybrid and Striped Bass will migrate toward tributaries and creeks as water temperatures increase and back as water temperature cools.  Hybrid and Striped Bass are schooling fish, so use electronics to find a group of fish on your screen.  Popular lures are jigging spoons, lipless crankbaits, deep diving crankbaits for deep water.  For shallow water use swimbaits, stickbaits, suspended baits and even try topwater lures.  Try larger lures/baits up to eight inches to smaller lures/baits.  Trolling is very effective at a speed of two miles per hour and adjust as needed.

R.D. Bailey Lake is well-known for trophy spotted bass.  Find Spotted Bass around deep rocky breaks, points, humps on the lake bottom, suspended around deep timber and bluff walls.  Find areas with moving water current with structures.  Avoid weeds and slower moving current. Spotted Bass can spawn in deeper depth than Largemouth Bass.  During the pre-spawn find flats with small gravel substrate near brush, logs, or other cover.  Popular lures include crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, Jigs, swimbaits, and tubes.  Hybrid and Striped Bass will be transitioning from deep water to shallow water as water temperature changes.  Find deep water cover off of points, humps on the contour of the lake bed, old river channels.  Good shallow areas are backs of coves, big flats, long points, feeder creeks. These bass will migrate toward tributaries and creeks as water temperatures increase and back as water temperature cools.  Hybrid and Striped Bass are schooling fish, so use electronics to find a group of fish on your screen.  Popular lures are jigging spoons, lipless crankbaits, deep diving crankbaits for deep water.  For shallow water use swimbaits, stickbaits, suspended baits and even try topwater lures.  Try larger lures/baits up to eight inches to smaller lures/baits.  Trolling is very effective at a speed of two miles per hour and adjust as needed.

D4 Rivers/Streams
The New and Greenbrier rivers are arguably the State’s best smallmouth bass fisheries and spring is big fish time!  Smallmouth Bass can be found in deep pools near shoals and flats, eddies along the bank, fallen timber from the shore, behind boulders or other current breaks.  As the water warms, Smallmouth Bass will move from the back of the deep pools to the head of the pools closer to the current.  Spawning will occur in shallow areas with sand, gravel and small rocks.  Popular lures are jigs, tubes, jerkbaits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and crawfish imitations.

D4 Impoundments -

District 4 has 19 small impoundments scattered around an 8-coiunty region.  Most all of them have good bass populations and excellent panfish opportunities.  Anglers can find Largemouth Bass around cover in the form of fallen trees, submerged timber, stumps, points, and riprap.  Mouths of creeks to the end of creeks will hold bass.  During the pre-spawn find shallow areas with mixed sand and gravel or small gravel and rocks near woody structures.

Good population of Bluegills with some larger-than-average-sized fish are found in several small impoundments, most notably Plum Orchard, Stephens, and Sherwood Lakes.  Find structures like stumps and submerged timber.  Look for pre-spawn areas use small jigs, minnow imitations, night crawlers, and wax worms.  Bluegills will move to shallow areas during the pre-spawn and make circular depression in the bottom.

Several of these impoundments are stocked with trout and the Gold Rush stocking will be happening during the week of April 1-6, 2019.  Check your regulations to determine the frequency each water is stocked.

District 5 (Jeff Hansbarger, Steven Hincks) – 304-756-1023
50 Rocky Branch Rd.
Alum Creek, WV 25003

D5 Reservoirs
As temperature levels rise into the spring, all gamefish will begin to move shallow and will be easier to target for anglers in D5 reservoirs. Reservoir levels will also be brought back up to summer or recreational pool levels (usually April 1) from winter pool. East Lynn (1005 acres, Wayne Co.) and Beech Fork (720 acres, Wayne Co.) are the two main reservoirs in D5. Both contain bass, bluegill and catfish.  Early spring begin using slower moving lures like jigs and soft plastics, and progress to using spinnerbaits and topwater and other faster moving lures for bass in late spring. East Lynn features muskies, while Beech Fork’s featured species are hybrid striped bass.  For East Lynn muskies try glide baits and soft plastics early, and progress to cowgirl spinners and faster moving jerkbaits with warmer temperature levels.  Hybrid anglers do well close to the dam using silver, white or other flashy lures that imitate shad, their preferred baitfish in Beech Fork.  Some lures that imitate baitfish effectively include a Mann’s Little George, any white/silver jig, and white spinners with a silver blade.  Bait fish suspended below a bobber near the dam is another fantastic way to fish for these hard-fighting fish!  The tailraces of Beech Fork and East Lynn are stocked with trout in the early spring as well, check online for a stocking report, or at 304-558-3399.  Try powerbait and bait early, then as the water warms switch to faster moving lures such as roostertail spinners and mini crankbaits.  Vary your retrieve until you find what the trout prefer that day.  Early spring is a great time to connect with a large fish of all species, be ready by checking your drag prior to beginning to fish and be sure your line is in good shape as is all your gear.

D5 Nav Rivers
All species of catfish bite good through the cooler temperature levels into spring, especially blue catfish in the Ohio and Kanawha ‘Nav’ Rivers.  Anglers can connect with these large catfish in the spring by targeting tributary mouths, deep holes, and beneath barges that have been tied up or positioned on the banks for stabilization.  Many anglers prefer skipjack as bait using a river rig.  Sauger and walleye can be caught below locks and dams and below tributary mouths through the spring.  These fish spawn around 45-50°F and can be found staging around the areas mentioned before during and after this temperature period.  Try chartreuse slow-moving lures, and small jigs tipped with minnows.  As temperature levels rise with the spring, increase the speed of your retrieve.  Be sure to check current regulations for walleye creel and bag limits wherever you may be fishing.  Bass anglers should target embayments, tributary mouths and any current break on the Ohio and Kanawha rivers for spring success.  As temperature levels rise, switch from predominately soft plastics and spinnerbaits to topwater and fast-moving crankbaits for success with bass. 

D5 Rivers/Streams
Hardy anglers can find exceptional fishing between high water events in early spring on D5 rivers and streams.  The approaching walleye and muskie spawns have these fish active and moving throughout the river systems they inhabit.  Try slow moving glide baits and large soft plastics for muskies, and small jigs fished slow on the bottom for walleye.  As spring progresses, switch to faster moving lures for muskies such as cowgirl spinners.  If you locate a nice muskie but it doesn’t strike, leave for a bit, and come back and try again in the same area, perhaps with a different lure or color.  Persistence in muskie fishing spells success.  The Coal River has produced walleye catches recently.  Guyandotte anglers have also cited recent spring catches of walleye.  The Elk, Coal and Mud rivers all hold good populations of muskies, try your luck at these locations and their tributaries.  Large smallmouth can be caught on the Tug, Guyandotte, and Coal rivers when flows allow anglers to get to the river in the spring.  The Tug has limited access points, we are hoping to change this into the future.  Try your favorite smallmouth lures for Tug Fork and other WV river smallmouth.  Soft plastics are effective as are spinners.  Once the weather warms up surface lures are a good choice early or late in the day.  A few select D5 streams are stocked with trout also.  Check the stocking hotline or go online at WVDNR.gov for locations and when.  The goldrush trout stocking event will take place in early April, check wvgoldrush.com for more information on D5 stream locations.

D5 Impoundments
D5 small impoundment anglers mostly target trout in early spring.  Early stockings occur during cooler weather, requiring anglers to slow down to effectively catch trout.  Try paste style baits like power bait, salmon eggs, worms, and garlic cheese fished on the bottom or below a bobber set-up.  The goldrush trout stocking event will take place in early April, check wvgoldrush.com for more information.  As temperature levels rise in late April - early May break out some spinners, trout magnets or other small lures and cast parallel to the shoreline out a few feet.  Vary your retrieve until you connect with trout.  Roostertails, Mepps and Joe’s flies are good spinner choices.  Sometimes an odd colored spinner will work due to it not being seen by the trout.  Try something unusual!  By late spring don’t forget fly fishing, a wooly bugger or popper stripped along the shoreline might bring in a number of different game fish from a small impoundment.  Channel catfish, bass and bluegill can also be caught from many small WV impoundments such as Laurel Lake, Chief Logan State Park Pond, and Barboursville Lake.  These warmwater fish bite better into the later spring as water temperature levels rise.  Many gamefish cannot refuse a nightcrawler, try this early and late as temps rise under a bobber or on the bottom for channel catfish for example.  If allowed, fish into the night once it warms up in May for these whiskered fish, they bite better under low light.  As water temps warm switch to spinners, small spinnerbaits, and crankbaits to test your ability to fool gamefish such as bluegill and bass using artificial lures as fish become more active.

District 6 (Nate Taylor, Acting) – 304-420-4550
2311 Ohio Avenue
Parkersburg, WV 26101

D6 Nav Rivers
In West Virginia, Muskellunge usually spawn around the middle of April.  Pre-spawn, look for staging fish in smaller tributaries and just below major riffle areas.  Fish will often congregate during this time and can lead to some excellent days on the water.  Conventional wisdom says to downsize lures after the spawn.  Glide, jerk, and crankbaits all stand a good chance of moving fish.  Middle Island Creek and the Hughes/Little Kanawha Rivers are safe bets.  However, Muskies are known to occur in most area streams with low current, steep banks and woody cover.  If streams are muddy, try one of the area impoundments.

D6 Rivers/Streams - 
Walleye and Sauger congregate below tailwaters and large riffles in tributaries of the Ohio to spawn, usually around the middle of March.  The Ohio River is currently being managed as a trophy Walleye fishery, with annual stockings and special regulations (2 fish per day over 18”) in place.  We recommend jigging the bottom near rocky banks, eddies, and drop-offs with minnows, grubs, blade bait, or small crankbaits.

White and Hybrid Striped Bass move up into the tailwaters to spawn from late March to May.  Cold water techniques are similar to those used to catch Walleye and Sauger, although it is usually not as necessary to fish tight to the bottom.  Anything bright or flashy will trigger strikes from active fish. Twister tails, hair jigs, spoons, inline spinners, and crankbaits are all effective.  As water temperature increases, these temperate basses will move into faster, more turbulent waters, and they will begin to hit topwater lures.  Poppers and walk-the-dog style baits can be exciting and effective.  Some anglers utilize popping corks to get their jigs into faster moving water and to attract the attention of large Hybrids.

Flathead Catfish are getting active as the water warms.  Blue and Channel Catfish can also be found in the Ohio and lower Little Kanawha rivers.  Anglers targeting these fish should bottom fish or drift circle hooks baited with live or cut bait near creek mouths, in eddies and off rocky banks.  

D6 Impoundments –
As the waters heat up in the spring, so do the Bass angling opportunities.  North Bend Lake in Ritchie County and Elk Fork, Woodrum, and O’Brien Lakes in Jackson County provide excellent opportunities for Largemouth Bass.  Each of these lakes has a 10-horsepower limit and a catch-and-release regulation in place for all black bass species.  Pre-spawn bass are looking for easy meals after the Winter.  Internet articles are common on how to catch these fish, but everyone has their favorite techniques.  However, most seem to recommend fishing jerk and slash baits with long pauses between firm rips.  Jigs and other crayfish imitations are always a great choice.

Mountwood Lake (Wood), North Bend Lake (Ritchie), and Woodrum Lake (Jackson) offer potential angling opportunities for Muskellunge.  Anglers targeting Muskellunge at North Bend Lake should be aware that there is a 40-inch minimum size limit on Muskies.  Small Muskie lures fished near woody cover, points, and tributary mouths may draw strikes from large fish.  A tracking study on North Bend found Muskies migrate up into the upper sections of the lake in the spring to spawn.
Charles Fork Lake (Roane) is being managed as a brood source for the states native Walleye propagation program.  This is a unique opportunity for anglers to catch a large Walleye from an area impoundment.  However, these fish are currently managed by a mandatory catch-and-release regulation, so all fish must be returned to the water immediately.  Anglers fishing Charles Fork Lake may only use electric motors on their boats.

Although Trout season in winding down, a few area impoundments are still being stocked with trout.  Cedar Creek State Park (Gilmer), Miletree Lake (Roane), Tracy Lake and Pennsboro W.S. Reservoir (Ritchie), and Turkey Run Lake (Jackson County) will receive one stocking in March.  North Bend Tailwaters (Ritchie), Mountwood Lake (Wood), and Rollins Lake (Jackson) will receive one stocking in March and one in April.  We recommend trolling or casting spinners, flies and small crankbaits, or bottom fishing with trout-specific dough baits, worms or cheese. Check the Daily Trout Stocking report for the latest information at (304) 558-3399 or visit our trout stocking website listed above.  Stocking information is updated daily at 4:00 pm, January through May.

Conaway Run Lake in Tyler County is currently closed to fishing, due to repairs being made on the dam.  The lake will remain closed until all repairs have been completed on the dam.  Trout stocking will be suspended for 2019.

 


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