With hundreds of incredible lakes and streams to visit, you can spend your entire life searching for the best fishing waters in West Virginia. But one of the joys of fishing is that you can find something to enjoy almost anywhere you cast a line. And sometimes, a nearby lake or stream you’ve overlooked has exactly what you’ve been looking for.

Elk Fork Lake in Jackson County is one of those lakes. At 209 acres, this lake may be smaller than other fishing destinations in West Virginia, but what it lacks in size is made up with the quality of fish you can catch and the peaceful setting of the surrounding Elk Fork Lake WMA. And you don’t have to travel far off the main highway to find it.

Here’s a few reasons why you should visit Elk Fork Lake.

Elk Fork Lake at a Glance

  • Open: All year
  • Size: 209 acres
  • Game Fish: Channel catfish, largemouth bass
  • Hunting: Elk Fork Lake WMA
  • Terrain: 1,418 acres, hilly with oak-hickory forest
  • Big Game: Deer, turkey
  • Small Game: Squirrel
  • Nearby: O’Brien Lake WMA, Frozen Camp WMA
  • Operated By: West Virginia Division of Natural Resources


Elk Fork Lake is a Great Place to Go Bass Fishing

Lakes like Stonewall may get a lot of fanfare for having great bass fishing, but Elk Fork shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s location between Charleston and Parkersburg make it a popular fishing spot for many, and it’s less than 10 minutes from Ripley.

But the fish are what you’re here for. Elk Fork Lake’s depth, cover and water clarity make it an ideal habitat for bass to thrive. With plenty of timber and submerged wood debris leftover from when the lake was impounded, you’ll know where to go to find the best fishing spots at Elk Fork. And there’s a good chance of reeling in a lot of fish. Elk Fork Lake is under special catch-and-release regulations, which means the bass don’t get fished out.

Download your copy of the 2019 West Virginia Fishing Regulations.

Access to Elk Fork Lake is by boat ramp. There’s a 10-horsepower motor limit. Night fishing is permitted. Before you go, make sure you have a current fishing license. If you need to purchase one, visit www.wvfish.com.

What are you waiting for? Grab your rods and tackle box and go cast a line!


There Are Several Nearby Lakes and WMAs to Explore

Elk Fork Lake is one of many fishing and hunting destinations in the area, so make sure you plan to stay for at least a weekend to check them all out. A week would be even better. There’s nearby O’Brien Lake and Frozen Camp WMAs only 15 minutes away. And several other lakes and WMAs to explore if you want to drive further.

Discover hunting and fishing opportunities in the Mountain State by searching our online hunting and fishing maps.

Elk Fork Lake can get crowded on weekends during the summer, so plan a midweek trip if you want a more secluded fishing experience. If you go on a weekend and the lake is crowded in the morning, you can always cast a line at nearby O’Brien Lake and head back to Elk Fork in the afternoon.

You Can Even Go Hunting at Elk Fork Lake WMA

Elk Fork Lake is all about fishing in the summer, but the nearby WMA is a fall hunting destination. With its rolling hills and stands of oak and hickory, the 1,418-acre Elk Fork Lake WMA offers good hunting land for deer, turkey and squirrel.


From Ripley, travel five miles east on US Route 33, then two miles south on Gay Road. Want more detailed directions? Click the map below and explore the nearby area for local restaurants and businesses to visit during your trip.

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