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West Virginia Stream Conditions

February 15, 2017

FISHING

BEECH FORK – Anglers should call the Beech Fork Corps of Engineers office at 304-525-4831 and go to http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/twe/bbf for information and current lake levels.  Beech Fork has been lowered for winter pool.  No recent fishing reports.

BLUESTONE – During the winter season, anglers should fish slowly and methodically.  Fish will still feed but have a slower metabolism.  A few bass are being caught off rocky points using live minnows.  Anglers should look for points that have some cover such as stumps, logs, or ledges.  Some hybrid striped bass may be caught using large chubs.  Anglers should try spots such as at the mouth of the Bluestone Arm or near the dam.  With any warm, stable weather, fish may become more active.  Try to pick a day that is bright and sunny which warms up areas of the lake, especially dark or mud banks.  A few degrees can make a difference!  A few anglers are catching some smallmouth bass and hybrid stripers in the tailwaters.  Successful anglers are using white twisters and gitzits.  Anglers should be careful wading this time of year due to the cold water and slippery conditions.  Wear your personal flotation devices at ALL times!

BURNSVILLE – The lake is at winter pool.  Some ice was forming but has melted.  Bass are suspended in about 10-20 feet of water.  Crappie and bluegill fishing has been slow.  The tailwaters will be stocked with trout in February.  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.  East Lynn has been lowered for winter pool.  No recent fishing reports.  In early November, approximately 400 advanced muskellunge fingerlings (11”-15”) were stocked in the reservoir.

R.D. BAILEY – During the winter season, fish are still active but have a slower metabolism, so anglers should fish slowly and methodically.  Spotted bass are hitting plastic jigs in crawfish colors.  The spotted bass will be found along the rocky drops with points another good spot to try.  Walleye are starting to be creeled by local anglers.  Best places to try are along the shallow clay flats either early or late.  As the year progresses, the walleye will be moving up the river to begin spawning.  Best baits are jigs tipped with minnows or nightcrawlers.  With any warm, stable weather, fish may become more active.  Try to pick a day that is bright and sunny which warms up areas of the lake, especially dark or mud banks.  A few degrees can make a difference!

STONECOAL LAKE – The lake is at normal pool.  Some ice was forming but has melted.  Bass are in about ten feet of water and reports of lots of fish being caught.  Crappie and bluegill fishing has been slow.  A few musky have been caught on nice days.  The docks have held up well the last six months that were donated by the Stonecoal Lake Fishing Club and should continue to over the winter.

STONEWALL JACKSON – The lake is at winter pool. Some ice was forming but has melted.  Bass are suspended in about 10-20 feet of water.  Crappie and bluegill fishing has been slow.  Some nice musky has been reported being caught this week in the lake as well.  The tailwaters were stocked with trout February 7.  Before heading to the lake please call Corps of Engineers at 304-269-7463.

SUMMERSVILLE – The lake is at winter pool.  Some ice was forming but has melted.  Smallmouth bass have been caught in about 25 feet of water at rock drop offs.  A few walleye have been picked up as well on live minnows.  The tailwaters were stocked with trout February 6.  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 winter pool.  Some ice was forming but has melted.  Bass are suspended in about 10-20 feet of water.  Crappie and bluegill fishing has been slow.  The tailwaters were stocked with trout February 7.  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 LAKE – Walleye move through the dam during every high discharge and the Tygart tailwater is probably the best bet for fishing in the area now, as anglers have reported catching several walleye.  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).  Call the Corps of Engineers hotline at 265-5953 for the current lake level and tailwater conditions.

NORTHERN WEST VIRGINIA

OHIO RIVER (New Cumberland, Pike Island, and Hannibal pools and tailwaters) – The upper Ohio River is currently high, but is predicted to return to more fishable levels by the end of the week.  Recent high flows and increasing water temperature should trigger fish to move into tailwater areas below dams.  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.  Walleye and sauger will start moving into shallower areas to feed an hour before sunset on sunny days, but can be caught all day when cloudy.  Three-inch plastic twister tails tipped with minnows can be productive for walleye and sauger.  Larger walleye can be caught on four to five inch soft swimbaits and crankbaits.

MONONGAHELA RIVER – The river is currently a little high and turbid, but is predicted to go down over the next few days.  Additionally, warm days are predicted for the upcoming weekend.  Good flows and warmer temperatures should trigger fish to move up into the tailwater areas below the dams.  The shoreline on the Westover side of the river immediately below the Morgantown lock gates is also a good area for sauger and walleye, particularly during high water.  Sauger and walleye can be frequently caught this time of year.  However, musky move into the tailwater area below Morgantown lock and dam this time of year also and can be caught by shoreline anglers.

CHEAT LAKE – Boaters need to use the winter boat ramp located at the recreational park near the dam.  Channel catfish can be caught this time of year in about 50 feet of water with nightcrawlers, stink baits, or cut baits fishing from the piers at Cheat Lake Park.  Yellow perch have been reported being caught at the Ices Ferry fishing access site using simple rigs such as pieces of night crawler under half ounce sinkers.  Anglers have had some success catching decent size walleye around the Ices Ferry area the last couple of weeks also.  The fishing pier below Cheat Lake dam is currently closed due to structural damage.

FLOATABLE/WADEABLE RIVERS – Trout stocking season has begun and anglers can go to the WVDNR stocking information at the following website to get information on their favorite stocked trout stream:  http://www.wvdnr.gov/fishing/stocking/dailystock.shtm

SMALL IMPOUNDMENTS – Trout stocking season has begun and anglers can go to the WVDNR stocking information at the following website to get information on their favorite stocked trout stream:
http://www.wvdnr.gov/fishing/stocking/dailystock.shtm

EASTERN PANHANDLE

South Branch and Cacapon Rivers – Water temperatures have risen to the low 40’s.  Flows are somewhat high and discolored, but fishing conditions are very good!  If stream temperatures stay high enough for big smallmouth to feed (somewhere in the neighborhood of 38 degrees or higher), a high likelihood of catching quality-size smallmouth bass exists!  Recent surveys have confirmed the presence of large numbers of smallmouth 15” or greater that are very consistently feeding on crayfish.  Not surprisingly, large smallmouths have returned in the catches of anglers, with fish greater than 20” in length and over four pounds!  Smallmouth bites will come more easily on the bottom as stream temperatures cool and water clarity declines from moderate rainfall.  Larger smallmouth should become easier to target as stream temperatures drop as well!  This time of year, large smallmouth bass can be caught on soft plastic and skirted jigs, weighted plastics, swim baits, and crayfish imitation crankbaits.  If activity is slow, try deeper diving crankbaits and weighted, soft plastic crayfish imitations fished deep.

Shenandoah River – Stream flow is slightly low for this time of year; water clarity is fair and stream temperatures are currently great for targeting quality smallmouth.  As with the South Branch and Cacapon rivers, water temperatures nearing 40 degrees or greater should trigger big fish activity.  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.

North Branch River - Flows are between 1500 cfs, and should remain at this level over the next several days.  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 – According to recent angler reports, the majority of warmwater fishing has ceased in our small impoundments.  These fisheries are in winter stratification, but temperatures are likely high enough to begin targeting pre-spawn black bass and early spawning sportfish.  These small, easily accessible fisheries provide some of the best opportunities for catching high quantities of quality sized largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish in the state!  Check out the 2017 Fishing Regulations Summary to view small impoundments receiving winter and spring trout stockings (http://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/Fishing_regs.shtm).  IF INTENDING TO ICE FISH, please be sure to search out online videos and literature explaining techniques to remove or stabilize you in the event of falling through the ice.  Be sure to take precautions such as purchasing safe, portable picks to assist you, or others in being removed from the ice, and having flotation devices or apparel on your person!

Jennings Randolph Lake – Lake level is about 28 feet lower than conservation pool.  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.  Both Maryland and West Virginia (Howell) boat ramps are out of commission until early spring.  The WV Howell Run Ramp will be open to shoreline angling, weather permitting.  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!  These fish should now be approaching citation size (>25”).  Trolling minnow and shad patterns (crankbaits, jigs, inline spinners, and stick baits) should prove successful for targeting walleye and striped bass.  Due to the thermally altered nature of this lake, very little ice and water temperatures agreeable to fishing exists throughout the winter season for those anglers willing to brave the cold, higher elevation air. For detailed information about stream flow, water clarity, and temperature, visit this United States Geological Survey (USGS) page for available stream gauge data:  http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wv/nwis/rt

CENTRAL WEST VIRGINIA

Water levels are normal and clear with some ice forming but has melted with warmer temperatures.  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 and a place to fish.  The 2017 trout stocking is off to a good start.  Take advantage of the nice days over the winter and get in some trout fishing.  Don’t forget your 2017 fishing license.

SOUTHERN WEST VIRGINIA
The New and Greenbrier rivers are clear and some smallmouth bass may be caught using tube jigs.  Best spots are just below a shoal or rapid or in eddies near the shore.  Anglers may also want to try their luck at Kanawha Falls for musky or walleye (use big chubs for bait) or lake anglers can find some excellent bass fishing at Plum Orchard and Stephens lakes.  Best baits are plastic worms fished slowly along the bottom, spinnerbaits are also good choices.  Anglers should call ahead to make sure that the ramps are not iced over.

SOUTHWESTERN WEST VIRGINIA
Lower Ohio and Kanawha rivers – Anglers are finding success for catfish, walleye and sauger on the Ohio and Kanawha rivers.  Walleye and sauger are beginning to congregate below locks and dams on both rivers, successful anglers are using jerkbaits, jigs, and bait. Be sure to pay attention to current WVDNR regulations which can be found online or in paper copies at local sporting good locations.

Guyandotte, Coal, Poca, Elk and Mud rivers - Fishing is slow, due to temperature levels, but good for various gamefish on D5 rivers.  Muskie anglers are finding success using glide baits and soft plastics.

Small Impoundments – Trout stockings are underway across the state, call 304-558-3399 or go to the WVDNR website to determine if your favorite waters were stocked.  Salmon eggs, powerbait, and live bait are excellent choices this time of year.  Try fishing these offerings under a bobber or on the bottom, the trout will let you know what set-up is best.  Rockhouse Lake was recently stocked.  Winter is also a great time to target bass in small impoundments while most people are hunting.  Try jig and pig combinations, spinnerbaits slow-rolled around cover, and soft plastics are always a good bet in your favorite color.

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.  Flows can vary tremendously this time of the year.  Be safe and always wear your life jacket.

WEST-CENTRAL WEST VIRGINIA
Trout have been stocked into the North Bend Tailwaters, and several lakes throughout the area; these include Rollins and Turkey Run lakes in Jackson County, Tracy Lake and Pennsboro Water Supply Reservoir in Ritchie County, Mountwood Park Lake in Wood County, and Cedar Creek State Park Ponds in Gilmer County, and Mile Tree Lake in Roane County.  In February, Conaway Run Lake in Tyler County will receive trout, and the North Bend Tailwaters, Rollins and Mountwood lakes will receive a second stocking.  Check the Daily Trout Stocking report for the latest at (304) 558-3399 or on the web at http://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/Stocking/DailyStock.shtm.  This information is updated daily at 4:00 pm, January through May.  Trout anglers can use a variety of baits including small worms, mealworms, salmon eggs, cheese, or trout power bait.  Lakes may be frozen, and anglers should use caution before venturing out upon frozen lakes.  Four inches of new clear ice is the minimum thickness for travel on foot, however there is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice!  When lakes are not frozen small spinners, Joe type flies, and trout magnets also work well.

Winter is an excellent time to fish Ohio River Tailwaters, and sauger fishing has been red hot this winter!  Anglers fishing below the Belleville or Willow Island dams are catching sauger, walleye, and a few other species.  Riggs using suspended minnows or lead headed jigs with twister tails (white or chartreuses), which are fished along the bottom, are the lure of choice.  When the river is running high and muddy clever anglers are tipping their jig hooks with minnows.  Best spots to fish these areas include eddies and back-current sections, and anywhere that river flows are unusual slow.  Warm water discharges associated with industrial facilities hold fish in the winter along the Ohio River.  Best bet for lures here include crank baits and rubber jigs.  Expect to catch white bass, hybrid striped bass and a few other species at these hot spots.

Winter fishing for largemouth bass can be good during warm sunny days in area lakes. Slowly fished rubber worms or jig-and-pig combos are good terminal tackle choices.  Area lakes with good winter bass angling opportunities include Mountwood in Wood County, Conaway Run in Tyler County, Charles Fork in Roane County, North Bend Lake in Ritchie County, and Elk Fork and O’Brien lakes in Jackson County.

Musky streams are expected to be fishable this weekend.  Winter musky anglers use medium to large lures, and they concentrate their fishing efforts around brush piles or other areas of good cover.  Middle Island Creek, the major streams in the Hughes River system, and the Little Kanawha River are good area musky waters.


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