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West Virginia Stream Conditions

July 19, 2017


BEECH FORK – Anglers should call the Beech Fork Corps of Engineers office at 304-525-4831 and go to http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/twe/bbf for information and current lake levels.  Reports of a few hybrids caught near the dam using spinners and spoons early and late in the day.  Bass fishing is good, wise anglers will concentrate their efforts during low light conditions to beat the heat and pressure from other boaters and anglers.

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

BURNSVILLE – The lake is at summer pool.  Bass are in 10-15 feet holding to cover.  Look for brush piles adjacent to creek channels and downwind sides of wind-blown points.  Crappie and Bluegill fishing has picked up with warmer temperatures.  For more information call Corps of Engineers at 304-853-2398 and go to http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/lka/bus.

EAST LYNN For information on current lake levels call the Corps of Engineers recorded message at 304-849-9861 and go to http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/twe/elt.  Some nice bass have been caught at recent tournaments and by local anglers in the main lake.  Anglers that fish early and late using topwater and jerkbaits have had the best success and beat the heat and boating pressure.  Anglers report using finesse techniques (soft plastics) for success once the sun rises.  Muskies are cool water fish, temperature levels above 78-80 degrees are tough on muskies recovering from their encounter with you.  If the morning water temperature is 80 degrees or above it might be wise to do something else or target another species until cooler weather.

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

STONECOAL LAKE – The lake is at normal pool.  Bass are in about ten feet of water and reports of lots of fish being caught.  Crappie, Bluegill and Yellow Perch fishing is picking up.  A few musky have been caught on nice days.  The walleye bite is slow, but a few keeper-sized fish have been reported recently. Find the WVDNR tree/brush piles and you will find fish of all species.

STONEWALL JACKSON – The lake is at summer pool. Bass are in 10-15 feet and holding to cover. Crappie and Bluegill fishing has been steady with rising water temperatures.  Muskie anglers should use caution when targeting these fish in the Summer heat.  Catching a muskie when surface temperatures are above 80 degrees can be lethal for the fish.  Before heading to the lake please call Corps.  Before heading to the lake please call Corps of Engineers at 304-269-7463.

SUMMERSVILLE – The lake is at summer pool.  Smallmouth Bass have been caught in 30-40 feet of water.  Walleye, Yellow Perch and Rock bass have been caught in the 50-foot range.  Bottom-bouncers and nightcrawler harnesses have been effective.  Walleye regulation signs are posted around the lake, please take notice.  Native strain Walleye fry were stocked in the lake April 11.  For more information contact the Corps of Engineers at 304-872-3412 and go to http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/kan/sug.

SUTTON – The lake is at summer pool.  Bass are suspended in about 10-20 feet of water.  Crappie and Bluegill fishing has picked up with warmer water temperatures.  The tailwaters were stocked with Trout May 22.  Before heading to the lake please call Corps of Engineers at 304-765-2705 and go to http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/kan/sue.

TYGART LAKEThe lake is just over summer pool level.  Surface temperature is about 81° F at the surface and 75°F at 50 feet.  Fish for walleye at depths of 40 to 50 feet using minnows or night crawlers. The rock pile fish attractors located between the boat ramps at the marina are concentrating fish.  Try a buzz bait along the shoreline in the early morning or late evening for smallmouth bass top water action.  White bass travel in schools and can be seen chasing minnows on the surface.  Casting spoons into the schools is a good way to catch white bass.

Walleye and smallmouth bass have been reported being caught in the tailwater.  Outflow is approximately 1,000 cfs and about 70°F.  Call the Corps of Engineers hotline at 265-5953 for the current lake level and tailwater conditions.


OHIO RIVER (New Cumberland, Pike Island, and Hannibal pools and tailwaters) – Fish will be attracted to currents in lock and dam tailwaters and power plant discharges.  Fish for white bass and hybrid striped bass in the tailwaters using spoons and crank baits.  These are the best areas on the river to fish since most species of fish will be concentrated in these areas. The most convenient tailwater areas are the piers below the Hannibal Lock and Dam at New Martinsville and the Pike Island Dam at Wheeling.  Channel catfish are being caught on chicken livers or cut baits.

MONONGAHELA RIVER – Water temperature is approaching 80°F at the surface.  Fish for channel catfish using chicken livers, stink baits, or cut bait.  The shoreline from Deckers Creek to the Morgantown Lock is one of the best areas on the river because the current from the dam will attract fish during the lower summer flows.  Lots of carp are present at the discharge of the sewage treatment plant below the Star City bridge.  Shoreline anglers have several good areas to fish on the river:  the mouths of Buffalo and Paw Paw creeks in Marion County, and the mouths of Whiteday and Deckers creeks in Monongalia County.

CHEAT LAKE - Daytime water temperature in the main lake is about 80°F on the surface.  Fishing for most species has been decent, particularly channel catfish.  The easiest way to fish the lake is along the shoreline to a depth of 10 to 15 feet.  Crank baits and tube jigs are good artificial baits while a night crawler or minnow on a hook with a couple of split shot are always productive.  Cast small rooster-tail spinners for large bluegills and pumpkinseed sunfish in downed trees along the shoreline.

FLOATABLE RIVERS – Don’t over look smaller streams and rivers such as Fishing Creek and Buckhannon River.  Good fishing for musky, smallmouth bass, and channel catfish can be found on these and several other streams.  To get daily river flow conditions, visit the following U.S. Geological Survey website: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wv/nwis/current/?type=flow.
Use the WVDNR online fishing map to find stream access information at:  http://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/.

SMALL IMPOUNDMENTS - Good catfishing can be found in small impoundments such as Mason, Curtisville, Teter Creek, Newburg and Tomlinson Run lakes.  Fish on bottom with stink baits, worms, or chicken livers.  Good largemouth bass fishing can be had on lakes such as Dog Run, Dunkard Fork, Curtisville, and Dents Run lakes.  Small impoundments provide easy access and are great places to take kids fishing.  Call the local WVDNR office for more information.


South Branch and Cacapon Rivers – Water temperatures are in the mid 80’s, and flows are low and clear, making current fishing conditions great!  However, as flows drop, drag free floating is becoming more and more unavailable, particularly in the upper reaches of these watersheds, so remember to give yourself plenty of time to complete a float.  Recent surveys uncovered higher than normal densities of quality-sized Smallmouth, so take advantage of their availability.  This time of year, large Smallmouth Bass can be caught on soft plastic and skirted jigs, weighted plastics, swim baits, and crayfish imitation crankbaits.  Top water activity has begun to intensify, encouraging anglers to drop soft plastics and crank baits for small buzz baits, small surface plugs, and fly rod poppers and divers, which are all effective at provoking surface bites for aggressive Smallmouth!  PLEASE NOTE that there are still a few species of spawning sunfishes on beds.  Please be mindful of the sensitivity of spawning fish and the impact that aggravating them may have on future populations.  Reports of anglers catching Channel Catfish, abundant in the South Branch, are coming in.  Channel Catfish greater than 30” in length have been captured in sampling gear from Petersburg, WV all the way down to the mouth on the South Branch.  Thousands of Channel Catfish have been angler reward tagged since 2012, so please keep an eye out for these tagged fish and know what to do if you encounter one http://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/Fish_Tagging.shtm.  Our research suggests that Channel Catfish become much more active during elevated flows and turbid water conditions, so fishing during safe flows as waters are coming down from rain events may increase catch rates for anglers.

Shenandoah River Stream flows are normal and clear, making fishing opportunities great!  This time of year, large Smallmouth Bass can be caught on soft plastic and skirted jigs, weighted plastics, and crayfish imitation crankbaits.  Lures that balance lifelike characters and allow a variety of retrieve speeds, such as swim baits, may be the answer to carefully feeding fish.  Top water activity has begun to intensify, encouraging anglers to drop soft plastics and crank baits for small buzz baits, small surface plugs, and fly rod poppers and divers, which are all effective at provoking surface bites for aggressive Smallmouth!   PLEASE NOTE that many spawning sunfish have been noticed on beds.  Please be mindful of the sensitivity of spawning fish and the impact that aggravating them may have on future populations.  River dwelling Channel Catfish activity and angling success has also picked up through much of the region, providing another early angling opportunity in this stream.  The Shenandoah River has an abundance of quality-sized Channel Catfish.

North Branch River - Flows are currently around 250 cfs and should be stable over the next several days; these lower flows should make for some excellent trout fishing!  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.  These discharges are designed for recreational watercraft and are too great for fishing.  Flows in the North Branch can be monitored by watching USGS stream gages (http://www.nab-wc.usace.army.mil/northBranch.html) or by calling (410) 962-7687 for a three-day projection of outflows.

Small Impoundments – Conditions are great for black bass, Channel Catfish, and panfish.  These fisheries should be fully set into summer stratification, leaving deeper portions of most impoundments low on oxygen and not suitable for fish habitation.  Fish shallow, typically no greater than 10’ in depth.  PLEASE NOTE that spawning sunfishes are still gathered on beds.  Please be mindful of the sensitivity of spawning fish and the impact that aggravating them may have on future populations.  These small, easily accessible impoundments provide some of the best opportunities for catching high quantities of quality sized Largemouth Bass, Bluegill and Channel Catfish in the state!

Jennings Randolph Lake – Jennings Randolph Lake level is about three feet below conservation pool height and dropping.  Recent surveys have uncovered high densities of Smallmouth Bass 15” and greater and Walleye longer than the minimum size limit.  Additionally, anglers have begun catching creels of quality-size Yellow Perch.  The West Virginia (Howell) and Maryland ramps are open to receive boat traffic: http://www.nab.usace.army.mil/Missions/Dams-Recreation/Jennings-Randolph-Lake/Fishing/
Additional recreational information can also be found at (http://www.nab.usace.army.mil/Missions/DamsRecreation/JenningsRandolphLake.aspx).

Mount Storm Lake - Anglers at Mount Storm Lake should target Striped Bass, Black Bass, and Walleye.  Additional Christmas tree reef structures have recently been added as fish attractors and habitat on the western side of the lake.  Recent surveys revealed greater numbers of quality-sized Channel Catfish, which are overly abundant in this lake.  Harvest of Channel Catfish in Mt. Storm is promoted to improve this population.  Additionally, recent biological surveys have revealed plentiful Striped Bass greater than 20” in length!  This population is maintained through WVDNR stocking efforts!  These fish should now be approaching citation size (>25”).  In fact, an angler recently caught a Striped Bass larger than 25”, earning the individual a Trophy Fish Citation certificate!  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


Water levels are low and clear.  If you are looking for a place to go, please check the fishing regulations and the WVDNR website for a list of public access sites or call your local WVDNR district office for some advice on places to fish.  The USGS WaterWatch website:   https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/?m=real&r=wv is a good tool for real-time stream conditions while you are planning your fishing trip.  Take advantage of the nice days and get in some trout fishing.  Don’t forget your fishing license.


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


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

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

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

Reservoirs – Check the USACOE website (http://www.lrh.usace.army.mil/) and the USGS website (http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/rt) for reservoir and tailrace conditions.

Rivers and Streams – Check the USGS website (http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/rt) for river/stream conditions and check local landings visually before wasting a trip.

This is a good time to fish Ohio River tailwaters.  Anglers fishing below the Belleville Dam are catching White Bass, Hybrid Striped Bass, and a few other species.  Lead-headed jigs with twister tails (white or chartreuse), which are fished along the bottom, are the lure of choice.  During high and turbid river conditions, some anglers tip their jig hooks with minnows.  Fishing for White Bass can be quite good this time of year, and medium-sized white spinners work well.  Schools of Hybrid Striped Bass will periodically move up to the surface to ambush prey, so keep a look out for this feeding activity.  Agitator bobbers and large surface plugs work well for these top-water feeders.  Best spots to fish tailwater areas include eddies and back-current sections, and anywhere that river flows are unusual.  Fishing along the Willow Island tailwaters is restricted due to hydro-power development.  Anglers now have access only to a point approximately 150 yards below the dam, and flows have changed significantly.

Elsewhere on the Ohio River, fishing for catfish has been good.  Channel Catfish anglers should use night crawlers, chicken liver, or prepared catfish type baits.  Live fish are recommended for Flathead Catfish and Blue Catfish.  Good fishing sites for catfish include deep areas along islands and tributary mouths.  Early summer is also a good time to fish for Channel Catfish in area lakes and streams.  Chicken livers, night crawlers, and prepared catfish baits work well.  Remember, fishing at night is generally better than fishing during the day for catfish in the summer.

Fishing for Largemouth Bass in area lakes has been very good, and rising lake levels move bass to shoreline areas.  Slowly fished rubber worms, jig-and-pig combos, and spinner baits are good terminal tackle choices.  Area lakes with good angling opportunities include Mountwood Lake in Wood County, Conaway Run Lake in Tyler County, Charles Fork Lake in Roane County, North Bend Lake in Ritchie County, and Elk Fork Lake, Woodrum Lake, and O’Brien Lake in Jackson County.  Best fishing times will be early in the morning and during the evening hours.  These lakes can also supply good fishing for panfish species.  Trout magnets, spinners, small jigs, or small worms are recommended for panfish species.

Local Musky streams are at normal flows, but are still muddy.  There is a slim chance that streams may clear up towards the end of the week, but they are not expected to be fishable this weekend.  Summer Musky anglers use large crank baits, blades, and jerk baits.  The best spots are usually around fallen trees or riffle areas.  Fishing has been quite good this year for Musky along Middle Island Creek, the Little Kanawha River, and the Hughes River.

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