With 18,758 acres of public land and water to hunt, fish and explore, Bluestone Lake Wildlife Management Area has many recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. It also includes Bluestone Lake, West Virginia’s third largest body of water, and several miles of the New River, home to world-class white-water rafting, rock climbing and the county’s newest national park.

So, whether you enjoy hunting big game, fishing, boating, kayaking, birdwatching or hiking trails, Bluestone Lake WMA is a great place to enjoy nature. Here are a few things to know when planning a trip.

Bluestone Lake WMA At-a-Glance

  • Open: All year  
  • Size: 16,718 acres of land, 2,040 acres of water
  • Elevation: 1,400-1,928 feet
  • Terrain: Moderate to steep slopes, oak-hickory forests, stands of mixed and cove hardwoods, linear forest openings
  • Big Game: Deer, turkey, bear 
  • Small Game: Squirrel, raccoon, grouse, dove, woodcock, waterfowl
  • Trapping: Mink, raccoon, red and grey fox, bobcat, beaver, coyote, skunk, opossum, otter
  • Game Fish: Smallmouth bass, rock bass, trout, walleye, crappie, largemouth bass, striped bass, muskellunge, catfish
  • Accommodations: Shooting range
  • Nearby: Pipestem Resort State Park, Bluestone State Park, Bluestone Lake and dam, New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

Located in Summers, Monroe and Mercer Counties, Bluestone Lake WMA is a popular hunting and fishing destinations in southern West Virginia. Bluestone is 20 miles south of Hinton and access to the WMA is provided by State Route 20, 12 and 3.

There also are several county roads and interior WMA roads that provide access to the area and Bluestone River.

Changes to Bluestone WMA Access During Bluestone Dam Work

Over the next 10 years, portions of Bluestone WMA may be flooded more frequently and for longer periods of time due to work being done on the Bluestone Dam.

Bluestone WMA staff have learned to improvise, adapt and overcome by moving habitat management projects to higher elevations during this phase of construction.

For access gate closure information and updates, you may contact the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources District 4 office in Beckley by calling 304-256-6947.

Click here for current Bluestone Lake level information and water conditions.

Fishing at Bluestone WMA

Anglers visiting Bluestone WMA can target channel catfish, crappie, striped bass, rock bass, largemouth bass, muskellunge, smallmouth bass and white bass. And with Bluestone Lake and the Bluestone and New rivers, there’s no shortage of places to cast a line in Bluestone WMA.

The main boat launch for Bluestone Lake is located at the Pit Area off Route 20 and secondary launches for smaller jon boats and canoes are at Bertha, Bull Falls and Bluestone State Park. Boat motors are not restricted by horsepower on the lake, but boaters must follow rules for restricted areas and no wake zones.

The New River also is popular for float trips and features put in and take outs at Shanklin’s, Cedar Branch and at the mouth of Indian Creek. Bluestone lake and river also have a special regulation for walleye, with a slot limit where fish 20-30 inches must be returned to the water at once. Two walleye may be kept per day, only one of which may be over 30 inches long.

Indian Creek is also a good place to cast a line and gets stocked with trout each month, from February to May.

Hunting and Trapping at Bluestone WMA

From its large river bottoms along the New River to its spectacular ridgetop hideaways, Bluestone WMA offers diverse hunting lands where you can pursue small and big game species.

Deer Hunting

Bluestone WMA offers deer hunters a unique opportunity to pursue mature bucks thanks to special hunting regulations that require all antlered deer to have a minimum outside antler spread of 14 inches to be legal for harvest.

Dove and Waterfowl Hunting

Bluestone WMA also offers good dove and waterfowl hunting opportunities. Areas designated for dove management include the Harman Fields area, located on the west side of the New River, and the Shanklin’s Ferry area, located on the east side of the river in. Wildlife openings located in these areas receive annual plantings of sunflowers, winter wheat, buckwheat, sorghum and corn, to attract doves. 

A 15-acre wetland complex located on the west side of the river in the Crumps Bottom area, is managed for waterfowl by fluctuating water levels each year to encourage vegetation growth. Additional waterfowl hunting opportunities are available on the New River, from the Virginia State Line to Bluestone Lake.

Trapping for Furbearers

Trapping opportunities exist for furbearers, including mink, otter, beaver, raccoon, red and grey fox, bobcat, coyote, skunk and opossum.

Hunting and Trapping License Requirements

Anyone 15 and older who wants to hunt at Bluestone WMA must purchase a West Virginia hunting license and any required stamps. To trap on the WMA, you will need a trapping license and free trapping permit, which can be obtained from the area wildlife manager or WVDNR district wildlife biologist. All other West Virginia hunting and trapping regulations and license requirements apply.

Active Wildlife Management at Bluestone WMA

Bluestone Lake WMA has uninterrupted tracts of oak hickory forest and large groups of managed wildlife openings, which are perfect for managing forest species such as wild turkey, white-tailed deer and ruffed grouse, as well as field species such as cottontail rabbits and mourning doves.

Wildlife management operations at Bluestone are focused heavily on managing the numerous wildlife openings. These wildlife openings are maintained in herbaceous cover by mowing, burning or strip disking, and are periodically reseeded with legume mixes or annual small grains.

Forest management practices are also utilized on the area to benefit multiple wildlife species. These practices include timber sales and timber stand improvement projects to improve forest age class diversity.

Outdoor Recreation at Bluestone WMA

Bluestone WMA has a public shooting range equipped with eight shooting benches, which are covered by a pavilion. Earthen backstops with target holders are located at 25, 50 and 100 yards.  The range shelter is handicap accessible and has a concrete walkway to a multi-purpose shooting bench.

In addition to providing hunting and fishing opportunities, Bluestone WMA is a great place to hike, watch birds and take a canoe or kayak out on the water. There are several nearby state parks and forests where you can enjoy outdoor adventures during a hunting and fishing trip or family vacation.

Each park has campsites and cabins where you can spend the night and Pipestem Resort offers lodge accommodations. Visit WVstateparks.com to book your trip. Additional campsites along the Bluestone River (Bertha, Mouth of Indian Creek, Indian Mills, Cedar Branch, and Shanklin’s Ferry) are provided by Summers County.

Plan your trip today!