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West Virginia Stream Conditions

May 16, 2018

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.  Water temps are still cold but a few hardy anglers report success for Bass using soft plastics and slow-rolling spinnerbaits near cover and stumps.  Try for hybrids near the dam with white or silver lures or rigged minnows.  Beech Fork is now at summer pool.  

BLUESTONE Spring is slowly approaching, and some fish species are preparing to spawn as the water warms in the next few weeks.  Crappie will be showing up on brush piles, flooded timber or downed trees where they will spawn.  They will hit small minnows or doll flies.  Bass may be caught off rocky points and around downed trees using live bait and artificial lures such as spinnerbaits and plastic worms.  Anglers should look for points that have some cover such as stumps, logs, or weed beds.  Try slow rolling a spinnerbait, bumping off the stumps.  Some Hybrid-striped Bass may be caught using large minnows.  Anglers should try spots as the mouth of Indian Creek or up the Bluestone Arm as these fish, even though mostly infertile, still make mock spawning runs upstream.  Smallmouth Bass are being caught in the tailwaters.  Successful anglers are using tube jigs in pumpkinseed or motor oil colors.  Anglers should be careful wading and wear your personal flotation devices.

BURNSVILLE – The lake is at summer pool.  Bass are being caught near the surface holding to cover.  Look for brush piles adjacent to creek channels and downwind sides of wind-blown points.  For more information call Corps of Engineers at 304-853-2398 and go to http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/lka/bus.

EAST LYNN For information on current lake levels call the Corps of Engineers recorded message at 304-849-9861 and go to http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/twe/elt.  A few Musky have been boated and released by anglers fishing large tubes and glide baits very slowly.  East Lynn is now at summer pool.

R.D. BAILEY – With the waters warming up, fish are becoming more and more active as they feed in preparation for the upcoming spawning.  Crappie are congregating near the habitats where they spawn such as around standing timber and brush piles and they will hit small minnows.  For artificial lures, use doll flies in white and yellow.  Spotted Bass are hitting plastic jigs in crayfish colors.  The Spotted Bass will be found along the rocky drops with points with downed trees.  Hybrid-striped Bass will be making a mock spawning run up stream in April and May, so anglers may want to concentrate their efforts in the upper lake.  The trout stocked in the tailwaters are providing good fishing.  Best baits are corn, salmon eggs, and small jigs.

STONECOAL LAKE – The lake is at normal pool.  Bass are in about ten feet of water and reports of lots of fish being caught.  Crappie, Bluegill and Yellow Perch fishing is picking up.  A few Musky have been caught trolling and casting to tree piles.  The Walleye bite is good, a few lunker-sized fish have been reported recently. Fish around tree/brush piles and you will find fish of all species.  Use the WVDNR map tool found here:  https://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/map/?v=fish .  Find Stonecoal Lake on the map and zoom in to see the orange fish habitat markers!

STONEWALL JACKSON – The lake is at summer pool. Bass are in the top ten feet and holding to cover.  Fish of all species can be found in and around hydrilla weed mats.  Before heading to the lake please call Corps of Engineers at 304-269-7463.

SUMMERSVILLE – The lake is at summer pool.  All boat ramps are open.  Fishing is good and getting better.  Most fish are in the top 30 feet.  Look for some of the new habitat structures in the Battle Run and McKees Creek areas.  There are over 200 new habitat structures.  Walleye regulation signs are posted around the lake, please take notice.  Trout were stocked in the tailwaters May 16, 2018.  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 – Bass are being caught from the surface to 15 feet.  Crappie and Bluegill fishing has picked up with warmer water temperatures, look for natural downed trees with the tree-top still present.  Before heading to the lake please call Corps of Engineers at 304-765-2705 and go to http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/kan/sue.

TYGART LAKEThe lake elevation is currently at 1,100 feet and rising.  The state park boat ramps are closed due to parking area and ramp improvements, but the Pleasant Creek ramp is open.  Bass and Crappie fishing are heating up.  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).  Trout have also been stocked in the tailwater.  Call the Corps of Engineers telephone hotline at 304-265-5953 for daily lake and tailwater conditions.

NORTHERN WEST VIRGINIA

OHIO RIVER (New Cumberland, Pike Island, and Hannibal pools and tailwaters) –  Water temperatures are rising and are currently above 60 degrees and fishing for most species should be picking up this month.  Walleye and Sauger have finished spawning and will be attracted to the currents at lock and dam tailwaters.  During normal or low flows, walleye and sauger will start feeding about an hour before sunset and then throughout the night.  Jigs with minnows are particularly good baits but 3-inch plastic grubs will also be productive.  White or chartreuse are good colors.  Hybrid Striped Bass will also move in and out of the tailwaters and tributary mouths and can be caught using large crank baits.  White Bass will be moving into tributary mouths.  Fishing for big Flathead Catfish is picking up on the Ohio River with reports of a couple of large fish in the past week.  Target flatheads with live bait.  Additionally, Blue Catfish have been stocked the last few years in upper Ohio River and anglers have reported catching some this spring.  Blue Catfish are frequently caught with either cut or live bait. 

MONONGAHELA RIVER – Water flow is up a little more than average for this time of year and temperatures is approaching 60 degrees, making this a great time to catfish.  Cut bait is excellent for catching Channel Catfish and Flathead Catfish are more likely to target live bait.  Recent WVDNR surveys have shown an abundance of Channel Catfish in the Monongahela River.  The water temperature in embayments will increase faster than the main river, so Largemouth Bass and Sunfish will be more active in these areas. 

CHEAT LAKE –  The lake is now at the summer recreation level and can only fluctuate two feet daily.  The Sunset Beach boat ramp will be usable until October 31.  Now is the time to fish for big Bass.  Anglers have reported catching good numbers of both Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass.  Channel Catfish are plentiful in the lake and big pumpkinseed sunfish can be caught in shallower water near downed trees.  Several Christmas trees were placed in the lake along the shoreline in about 10 feet of water near the Ices Ferry access site this spring.  Go to the following webpage for fish habitat structure locations and a contour map of Cheat Lake:  https://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/map/?v=fish

The fishing pier below the dam is still closed for repairs.

Trout Stocking – Go to http://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/Stocking/DailyStock.shtmor or call the stocking hotline at (304) 558-3399.  The interactive fishing map on the WVDNR webpage is very useful for determining fishing spots throughout the state.  Use the USGS stream gages to help determine flow at your favorite river or stream:  http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wv/nwis/current/?type=flow .

RIVERS and STREAMS – Recent heavy rains have caused streams to rise, but as they recede, and the temperature warms up, so will the Smallmouth Bass action.  Twister tails, spinners, and crayfish imitations are all good choices for Smallmouth Bass.  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 – Small impoundments provide easy access and are excellent places to fish and now may be the best time of year to catch big Largemouth Bass and Bluegill in these small lakes.  WVDNR has started angler surveys at Dents Run Lake (Marion), Mason and Dixon lakes (Monongalia) and Teter Creek Lake (Barbour) this week to obtain information on sunfish and how these fisheries can be improved.  Angler participation is key to the project’s success.  Use the WVDNR fishing map tool to find a small impoundment in your area:  http://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/ .

EASTERN PANHANDLE

South Branch and Cacapon Rivers – Flows are somewhat high and quite turbid.  Stream temperatures have been around 70 degrees.  The water is a little too high and muddy, currently, to afford the best fishing conditions.  Additionally, a forecast of scattered thunderstorms and high likelihoods of rainfall threaten fishing conditions this weekend.  Focus on slow moving pools by bank fishing the slower water near the stream margin during higher flow events.  Diet studies focusing on Smallmouth Bass consumption have highlighted the importance of crayfish as a staple diet item!  Large Smallmouth Bass can be caught on soft plastic and skirted jigs, crankbaits, weighted chatter baits, and weighted plastics.  Do not discount the importance of fish in Smallmouth diets, however.  Alternate the speed of swim baits as an alternative to fishing slow, deep plastics during periods of warmer water conditions.  Recently, anglers catching Smallmouth over 18” has not been uncommon.  It should be noted that bass are likely developing beds and preparing for spawning.  Please consider the impacts of fishing for Bass as they spawn and guard their territories.  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.  Expect larger numbers of Channel Catfish to arrive over the month of May.  Over 2,380 Channel Catfish have been angler reward tagged since 2012, so please keep an eye out for these tagged fish and know what to do if you encounter one http://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/Fish_Tagging.shtm .  Our research suggests that Channel Catfish become much more active during elevated flows and turbid water conditions, so fishing during safe flows are coming down from rain events may increase catch rates for anglers.

Shenandoah River – Flows are high and muddy, and temperatures are in the low 70’s.  Fishing conditions are poor currently, and likely will be through the weekend due to recent rainfall and likelihood that more rainfall will occur.  Focus on slow moving pools by bank fishing the slow-moving water near the stream margin during higher, yet fishable, flow events.  Anglers should concentrate on deep, slow moving water.  Water temperatures and slightly cloudy water conditions are perfect for catching early season Smallmouth!  They can be caught on soft plastic and skirted jigs, crankbaits, weighted plastics, chatter baits, and crayfish imitation crankbaits.  Lures that balance lifelike characters and allow a variety of retrieve speeds, such as weighted swim baits, may be the answer to carefully feeding fish.  This is particularly true when low, cold, clear flows make for a challenging bite.  Swim baits imitating forage fish higher in the water column would be a wise switch occasionally from deeper fished lures.  It should be noted that bass are likely developing beds and preparing for spawning.  Please consider the impacts of fishing for Bass as they spawn and guard their territories.    

North Branch River – Flows are expected to vary around 2,000 cfs over the next few days.  Such high flows will not allow good fishing conditions.  Please follow Maryland DNR creel and gear regulations for this stream. Check the Corp of Engineers webpage for specifics or schedule changes concerning whitewater discharges.  Flows in the North Branch can be monitored by watching USGS stream gages (http://www.nab-wc.usace.army.mil/northBranch.html) or by calling (410) 962-7687 for a three-day projection of outflows.

Small Impoundments – With warming water temperatures and mild amounts of turbidity from recent storm events, our small impoundments in District 2 should be providing awesome conditions to catch some early season Warmwater sport fish!  It should be noted that bass are likely developing beds and preparing for spawning.  Please consider the impacts of fishing for Bass as they spawn and guard their territories.  These small, easily accessible impoundments provide some of the best opportunities for catching high quantities of quality-sized Largemouth Bass, Bluegill and Channel Catfish in the state!  Also, pay attention to the lakes that are receiving trout stockings  (http://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/Fishing_regs.shtm) to get a head start on coldwater fishing!  Furthermore, many of these fisheries are slated for the Gold Rush stockings… http://www.wvcommerce.org/resources/goldrush/default/.aspx !!! 

Jennings Randolph Lake – Jennings Randolph Lake is about 4 feet above normal pool depth.  It is very likely, however, that turbidity exists from the recent rain events.  Recent surveys have uncovered high densities of Smallmouth Bass 15” and greater and Walleye longer than the minimum size limit.  Not surprisingly, recent angler reports have indicated frequent catches of well over 20 Smallmouth Bass per day. It should be noted that bass are likely developing beds and preparing for spawning.  Please consider the impacts of fishing for Bass as they spawn and guard their territories.  This location may be becoming a destination for quality-sized Yellow Perch, as two anglers recently filed citation reports for perch greater than 13” from this lake.  Both the West Virginia (Howell) and Maryland boat ramps can receive boat traffic and are open at this time.   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, and good densities of both Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass. Harvest of Channel Catfish in Mount Storm is promoted to improve this population.   Additionally, recent biological surveys have revealed plentiful citation-size Striped Bass (greater than 25” in length)!  Large Striped Bass from Mount Storm have recently been reported for citation certifications; there have been 4 over the last year.  An individual recently checked in a Striped Bass from Mt. Storm Lake that was 37.2” long, weighing 24.9 pounds!  This population is maintained through WVDNR stocking efforts!  Trolling minnow and shad patterns (crankbaits, jigs, inline spinners, and stick baits) should prove successful for targeting Walleye and Striped Bass.  For detailed information about stream flow, water clarity, and temperature, visit this United States Geological Survey (USGS) page for available stream gauge data:
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wv/nwis/rt

CENTRAL WEST VIRGINIA

If you are looking for a place to go, please check the fishing regulations and the WVDNR website for a list of public access sites or call your local WVDNR district office for some advice on places to fish.  The USGS WaterWatch website:   https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/?m=real&r=wv is a good tool for real-time stream conditions while you are planning your fishing trip. 

SOUTHERN WEST VIRGINIA

May trout stockings are in full swing and anglers should find plenty of waters stocked with trout and plenty of fish to catch.  Anglers should check this year’s fishing regulations to see which waters will be stocked.  For a more up-to-date list, please call the hotline at 304-558-3399 or check online at www.wvdnr.gov .  The New and Greenbrier rivers are still somewhat high due to rains, but persistent anglers may catch some Smallmouth Bass using tube jigs or spinnerbaits.  Best spots are just below a shoal or rapid, or in any eddy.  Anglers may also want to try their luck at Kanawha Falls for Musky or Hybrid Stripers (use big chubs and large white jigs for bait) or lake anglers can find some excellent bass and bluegill fishing at Plum Orchard and Pipestem lakes.  Best baits are plastic worms fished slowly along the bottom, spinnerbaits are also good choices for the bass while the bluegill will take small jigs, red worms, or other small live baits. 

SOUTHWESTERN WEST VIRGINIA

Lower Ohio and Kanawha Rivers – Anglers are doing well below locks on the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers for a variety of species.  Hybrids, Blue Cats and Bass catches have been reported regularly.

Guyandotte, Coal, Poca, Elk and Mud Rivers – Numerous catches of nice Muskellunge from the Elk, Mud and Guyandotte reported by anglers.  Consistent baits of choice have been glide baits, and jerkbaits.  Bass are being caught regularly using soft plastics, spinnerbaits, and slower moving baits right now.

Small Impoundments – Check the WVDNR website or call 304-558-3399 for the trout stocking report.  Try paste style baits like Powerbait, wigglers, salmon eggs, and spinners fished very SLOWLY for success.  Trout magnets and super dupers are also good choices.  A number of District 5 streams have also been recently stocked including Pond Fork. 

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

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

WEST-CENTRAL WEST VIRGINIA

The 2018 Trout stocking season is winding down in this district.  Conaway Run Lake would typically be the only impoundment slated to receive trout in May.  However, the trout stocking will NOT occur in May 2018 due to much needed dam repairs.  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 use a variety of baits including small worms, mealworms, salmon eggs, cheese, or power bait.  Small spinners, joe-type flies, and trout magnets also work well.

This is an excellent time to fish Ohio River tailwater areas.  Anglers fishing below the Belleville and Willow Island Dams have been catching Sauger, Walleye, White Bass, Hybrid Striped Bass, and a few other species.  Lead-headed jigs with twister tails (white or chartreuse) are the lures of choice.  Clever anglers are tipping their jig hooks with minnows.  Areas to target include eddies, back-current sections, and anywhere that river flows appear unusual.  Warmwater discharges associated with industrial facilities typically hold fish during cooler days along the Ohio River.  Best bet for lures here include crank baits and rubber jigs.   

Fishing for Blue Catfish on the Ohio River has been good and should continue to improve over time.  Flathead Catfish and Channel Catfish are beginning to turn on.  Good locations to target Catfish include deep areas along islands, outside bends, and tributary mouths.  Some anglers are using side-scan sonar units to locate areas that have potential for holding big catfish.

Fishing for Largemouth Bass can be good during warmer days in area lakes.  Slowly fished rubber worms or jig-and-pig combos are good terminal tackle choices.  Area lakes with good bass angling opportunities include Mountwood Lake in Wood County, Charles Fork in Roane County, North Bend in Ritchie County, and Elk Fork and O’Brien lakes in Jackson County. 

Musky streams are currently fishable.  Anglers typically use glide baits, bucktails, and large swim baits during this time of year.  Target areas with woody debris near the edge of moving water.  Middle Island Creek, Little Kanawha River, and the Hughes River system hold naturally reproducing populations of Musky.  North Bend and Woodrum lakes are also good bets for anglers wanting to fish impoundments.  

There are several useful tools available to West Virginia anglers.  Use the WVDNR interactive fishing map to help locate and get information on a lake or stream near you.  As part of an ongoing DNR project, some lake maps showing contour and bottom structure have been uploaded to this website (look for more in the future).  Use the following website to reach the interactive map:  https://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/map/?v=fish .  Also, the USGS stream gage website is a very helpful tool for anglers wanting to check river/stream conditions prior to planning a fishing trip:  https://waterdata.usgs.gov/wv/nwis/current/?type=flow .

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