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West Virginia Stream Conditions

March 6, 2019

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 drawn down to winter pool.  Be careful boating at this time and be sure to communicate with family/friends where you will be and when expected back. No fishing reports presently.      

BLUESTONE During winter, anglers should fish slowly and methodically.  Fish will still feed but have a slower metabolism as the water cools.  A few bass are being caught off rocky points and where deep water is adjacent to shallow water.  Anglers should look for points that have some cover such as stumps, logs, or ledges.  Bass will be moving with the bait fish as the water warms and cools.  Key in on those spots holding bait fish and game fish will be nearby.  Some Hybrid Striped Bass and Striped Bass may be caught using trolling techniques.  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.  A few anglers are catching some Smallmouth Bass in the tailwaters.  Successful anglers are using one-eighth ounce jigs, jerk baits, and swim jigs.  Anglers should be careful wading this time of year due to the cold water and slippery conditions.  Wear your personal flotation devices.  For Bluestone Lake conditions call 304-466-0156.

BURNSVILLE – The lake is at winter 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.  East Lynn has been drawn down to winter pool.  Be careful boating at this time and be sure to communicate to family/friends where you will be and when expected back.  No fishing reports presently. 

R.D. BAILEY – During winter, fish are still active but have a slower metabolism with the colder waters, 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.  Try trolling for Hybrid Striped Bass.  Best places to try are along the shallow clay flats or deeper pools near the dam.  A few bass are being caught off rocky points and where deep water is adjacent to shallow water.  Bass will be moving with the bait fish as the water warms and cools.  Key in on those spots holding bait fish and game fish will be nearby.

STONECOAL LAKE – The lake is slightly below normal pool as we are working on replacing the courtesy dock on the Upshur County boat launch.  The Lewis County boat launch is fully functional.  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 Muskies 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 winter pool. Bass are in the top ten feet and holding to cover.  Fish of all species can be found in and around hydrilla weed mats.  Before heading to the lake please call Corps of Engineers at 304-269-7463.

SUMMERSVILLE – The lake is at winter pool.  Winter access boat ramps are open.  Fishing is good for Smallmouth Bass and Walleye.  Jigs tipped with minnows and blade-style baits have been effective.  Simple lift and drop action triggers a strike.  Walleye regulation signs are posted around the lake, please take notice.  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.  Bass, Crappie and Bluegill fishing has been good with cooler water temperatures, look for natural downed trees with the tree-top still present.  Before heading to the lake please call Corps of Engineers at 304-765-2705 and go to: http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/kan/sue.

TYGART LAKE – The lake is approximately 50 feet below the summer pool elevation and rising.  The Pleasant Creek boat ramp is open.  All other boat ramps on Tygart Lake are closed.  Walking along the shoreline and fishing with crankbaits or twister tails during low-light periods can be an effective way to catch Walleye.  Recent WVDNR surveys showed a very high abundance of Walleye throughout the lake.  High discharges have allowed Walleye to migrate through the dam and anglers have reported very good success over the last week.  The discharge is about 5,500 cubic feet per second.  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).  Shoreline access to the tailwater is provided on both sides of the river and a ramp suitable for small fishing boats is located at the Grafton Park and Campground just below the dam.  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) – River flows are predicted to go down over the next several days.  During higher flows, fish will move into the mouths of tributaries and the shallow water right along the shoreline.  Fish can be caught in eddies and back-current areas.  Rip-rap shorelines can be especially good during higher flows.   

MONONGAHELA RIVER – River flow is a little higher than average for this time of year, but fish can still be caught in the shallow water right along the shoreline, and in the mouths of tributaries.  Sauger will move into the calmer water just below the Morgantown Lock on the Westover side of the river.  Use a 3-inch chartreuse grub on a ¼ - ounce jig.  The heated water discharge from the power plant on Beechurst Avenue will also attract fish all winter. 

CHEAT LAKE – When Cheat River flows increase coming into the lake causing water temperature to increase, fish tend to move upstream to the head of the lake.  Boaters need to use the winter boat ramp located at the recreational park near the dam.  The fishing piers at Cheat Lake Park provide very nice fishing areas for shoreline anglers.  Channel Catfish can be caught in this area all winter long in about 50 feet of water with nightcrawlers or cut bait.  Shoreline fishing can also be found at the Ices Ferry fishing access site.

RIVERS and 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 as well as flow conditions at:  http://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/ .

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 small impoundment:  http://www.wvdnr.gov/fishing/stocking/dailystock.shtm  

EASTERN PANHANDLE

South Branch and Cacapon Rivers – Flows are currently high with color but not too high to offer good fishing opportunities.  Stream temperatures are currently perfect for catching big, early season Smallmouth.  Focus on warmer evenings to increase chances of picking up bites during this time of year.  Manageable flows with water temperatures in the low 40’s are the best conditions to offer success for Smallmouth Bass this time of year.  Focus on large, deep pools for highest likelihoods of success.  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.  However, don’t underestimate the importance of fish as food item; weighted swim baits may still produce if fished deep.  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.  Not surprisingly, Channel Catfish over 25” have been reported recently by anglers as high in the watershed as Petersburg.  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 Catfish become much more active during elevated flows and turbid water conditions during summer months, so fishing during safe flows as waters are coming down from rain events may increase catch rates for anglers.  Additionally, feel free to browse the 2019 Fishing Regulations Summary to view the streams receiving trout stockings in 2019!  http://www.wvdnr.gov/fishing/fishing_regs.shtm

Shenandoah River – Flows are currently too great to offer any reasonable fishing opportunity.  However, after the pulse of snowmelt runs its course, fishability should increase quickly.  This is a great time of year to concentrate on large Smallmouth.  Focus on warmer evenings and large, deep pool habitats to increase chances of picking up bites during this time of year.  Manageable flows with water temperatures in the low 40’s are the best conditions to offer success for Smallmouth Bass this time of year.  Furthermore, sunny days and cloudy water allows for increased water temperatures and poorer fish visibility, allowing the fish to be more active and less discriminating when it comes to lures.  Smallmouth 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.  Swim baits imitating forage fish low in the water column would be a wise switch occasionally from deeper fished lures if fish are proving to be more active.  Recent reports for Channel Catfish larger than 28” have been reported, as well!  The Shenandoah River is a phenomenal Channel Catfish fishery.     

North Branch River – Flows are currently hovering around 350 cfs, making this a great time to fish the Barnum stretch!  Please note that a whitewater release will be held on the weekends of April 13 and17, and May 11 and 25.  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 – In District 2, Sleepy Creek is being drawn down to manage for vegetation over the winter but will be drawn up within the next month as conditions allow. 

Winter stratification has long since set in, allowing fish to utilize deeper habitats.  When conditions allow, 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!  Not surprisingly, several trophy fish citations have come in over the past couple of months indicating trophy-sized Largemouth Bass, Sunfish and Channel Catfish.  Although they cannot reproduce (natural lack of spawning habitat and predatory Largemouth Bass densities), many of these impoundments are stocked with larger Channel Catfish by WV DNR staff to generate fisheries for this species.  Be sure to browse through the 2019 Fishing Regulations Summary to check out the impoundments that have and will receive trout stockings!  http://www.wvdnr.gov/fishing/fishing_regs.shtm

Jennings Randolph Lake – Jennings Randolph Lake is currently about 22 feet below conservation pool, exposing deeper shoreline habitat.  It is likely that the pool level will fluctuate throughout the timeframe that the lake receives snowmelt.  Recent surveys have uncovered high densities of Smallmouth Bass 15” and greater and Walleye longer than the minimum size limit.  Additionally, WV DNR has been stocking catchable-sized Channel Catfish in this lake.  This location may be becoming a destination for quality-sized Yellow Perch, as anglers have been reporting them caught in excess of 12”.  The West Virginia (Howell) and the Maryland boat ramps will operate throughout the winter but will be closed during inclement weather as determined by the Army Corps of Engineers.  See site for additional information:  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 Helmick Run (southeastern) arm of the lake.  WVDNR staff has recently completed efforts to map this popular fishing lake to provide visual depth and bottom contour information for anglers.  You can download a printable map from: http://www.wvdnr.gov/Lake_Maps/ .  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 greater than 5 over the last year.  An individual recently checked in a Striped Bass from Mount Storm Lake that was 41.5” long, weighing 30.5 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.  Lake depth profiles were recently completed on this lake, which should allow the production of maps that will aid anglers in locating lake bottom features, such as points and historic stream channels, for which to target. 

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 or visit our WV DNR Fishing Map at:  https://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/map/?v=fish .

CENTRAL WEST VIRGINIA

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

SOUTHERN WEST VIRGINIA

The New and Greenbrier rivers are producing a few Smallmouth Bass using tube jigs.  This is a good time to target walleye and musky in the New River.  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 walleye (use big chubs for bait) or lake anglers can find some excellent bass fishing at Plum Orchard Lake.  Best baits are plastic worms fished slowly along the bottom; spinnerbaits are also good choices.  Trout stockings have begun, and anglers are encouraged to check the fishing hotline for news of where fish were stocked in their region at http://www.wvdnr.gov/fishing/stocking/dailystock.shtm.      

SOUTHWESTERN WEST VIRGINIA

Lower Ohio and Kanawha Rivers – Despite winter weather and high flows, hardy anglers have been finding success for a variety of species.  Catfish anglers are finding success fishing drop-offs at tributary mouths and large deep “holes”.  Sauger and Walleye are beginning to congregate below locks and dams on the major rivers.  Fishing will continue to heat up through March for these species.  Try jigs and other slow-moving bottom hugging lures to target these fish.

Other Southwestern Rivers – Check the USGS website ( http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/rt ) for river/stream conditions and check local landings visually before wasting a trip.  Water levels recently have been up and down making fishing difficult, keep checking weather and water levels for suitable flows.  Despite irregular flows, hardy anglers are finding success with Muskies by fishing glide baits and large soft plastics such as Red October Tubes.  For Smallmouth, pick a warm afternoon after a few above temperature days.  Fish slacker, deeper water areas than what one would normally fish in the summer, and fish SLOW.  Despite slow action some very large Smallmouth are caught during colder months.  Try jig and pig combinations, hair jigs, and slow-moving soft plastic baits.

Small Impoundments – Minimal reports right now from D5 impoundments but a warm afternoon in the winter can be a great time to get out.  Try slow moving lures such as a jig and pig, glide or jerk baits for winter success for bass.  Trout stockings will start in January, please refer to the regulations online or contact a district office with questions.  Paste type baits (Powerbait), salmon eggs and bait (worms) fished on the bottom or below a bobber work well for winter trout. 

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.

WEST-CENTRAL WEST VIRGINIA

Winter is a great time to be fishing Ohio River tailwater areas.  Anglers fishing in tailwater areas at Belleville and Willow Island Dams have been catching Sauger and Walleye.  Lead headed jigs with twister tails (white or chartreuses), which are fished along the bottom, are the lure of choice.  Anglers targeting these species should focus their efforts to non-daylight hours.  Areas to target include eddies, back-current sections, and anywhere that river flows appear to be unusual.  Warmwater discharges associated with industrial facilities hold fish in the winter along the Ohio River.  Best bet for lures includes crank baits and rubber jigs.  Expect to catch White Bass, Hybrid Striped Bass and a few other species at these hot spots.

Fishing for Blue Catfish on the Ohio River has been improving, and it should only continue to get better over time.  Ohio River is also home to an exceptional Flathead Catfish population for both numbers and size. Flatheads become somewhat lethargic during winter months, but Blue Catfish will remain active.  Good locations to target catfish include deep areas along islands, outside bends, and near tributary mouths.  Clever anglers are using side-scan sonar units to locate areas that have potential for holding big Catfish.  Please Note:  Special Regulations are in place for Flathead Catfish from Ohio and Kanawha rivers.  http://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/Regs18/specregs.pdf

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 bass angling opportunities include Elk Fork Lake, Woodrum Lake, and O’Brien Lake in Jackson County, North Bend Lake in Ritchie County, Mountwood Lake in Wood County, and Charles Fork Lake in Roane County.  PLEASE NOTE:  Special Regulations are in place for Black Bass in Elk Fork, Woodrum, O’Brien, and North Bend Lakes.   http://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/Regs18/specregs.pdf

Musky streams will likely not be fishable this weekend, due to snow melt and rain.  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, Little Kanawha River, and the Hughes River system hold naturally reproducing populations of Musky.  Additionally, North Bend and Woodrum lakes are also good bets for anglers wanting to catch Muskies when streams are too muddy. 

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 .  USGS stream gages have recently been added to our interactive fishing map.

Conaway Run Lake in Tyler County is currently closed to fishing due to repairs being made on the dam.  The lake was originally scheduled to be reopened to boating traffic by the end of November.  However, the project is behind schedule due to unexpected adverse weather conditions that occurred throughout most of the summer.  The project will not be completed by the scheduled date, and the area will remain closed until all repairs have been completed on the dam.  Spring Trout stocking will be suspended for 2019.

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