West Virginia is known as the Mountain State, and the unique topography gives the state an abundance of rivers and streams. With waters ranging from small headwater brook trout streams to raging whitewater rivers to large, navigable rivers, West Virginia offers many opportunities for fishing and boating.

To learn more about fishing and boating access, visit the WVDNR Interactive Fishing Map

The smallest fishable waters are native brook trout streams. These streams are found primarily in the most mountainous regions of the state and are usually associated with National Forest property.   Native brook trout waters are typically very small rocky streams with high gradients, often flowing through rhododendron thickets.  These streams are also limited in species present. Anglers will only find brook trout and possibly a minnow species present.

Native brook trout streams often flow into larger streams that are stocked with trout annually.  Streams such as Cranberry River, South Fork of Cherry River, Williams River, and the upper Elk River are just a few examples of these waters.  A larger list of streams stocked with trout can be found in the WV Fishing Regulations.  These streams are typically rocky and do not have as steep of a gradient as the brook trout waters. Some of these waters will hold trout year-round. Anglers can also usually find some smallmouth bass and rock bass present in these waters.  

The rivers in West Virginia may range from sluggish mud/sand bottomed streams to very rocky, whitewater streams.  These waters are our most productive and anglers can target many gamefish species such as smallmouth bass, walleye, musky, and flathead catfish.  Many of these rivers are very popular spots for float-fishing as well as wading.  Anglers visiting these waters should check USGS gauges upstream of where they will be fishing to monitor water levels.  These gauges can be found at by clicking this link.    

Our largest navigable rivers are often very busy with barges transporting materials up and downstream as well as recreational boaters and anglers.  These rivers are made navigable by a series of lock and dams.  Each of these lock and dams have angler fishing areas present and are excellent spots to target walleye, sauger, hybrid striped bass, blue catfish, channel catfish, and many other species. Boaters on these rivers must be alert for barge traffic and the large wakes produced by these craft.   

Featured Articles

Discover the Beauty and Benefits of West Virginia’s Wild Yards Program

Wild Yards improve wildlife habitat, save time and promote natural beauty Do you want to be part of a movement that helps native plants and wildlife thrive and save time and money maintaining your property? The West Virginia Division of…

Summer Fishing Guide: 5 West Virginia Lakes and Streams Worth Exploring

Dive into a summer fishing adventure in #AlmostHeaven With thousands of miles of mountain streams, navigable rivers and numerous lakes and impoundments, West Virginia is a great place to cast a line. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or new to…

5 life jacket myths that can get you killed

WVDNR examines common misconceptions about who needs a life jacket, how they fit and when they’re required When it comes to wearing a life jacket while boating, there are many myths and misconceptions that people have come to believe. For…

The Beginner’s Guide to Summer Boating Safety

Navigate West Virginia’s rivers and lakes with these safe boating basics Are warm breezes and glistening sunlight beckoning you to get out on the water? With more than 2,000 miles of navigable streams and dozens of boatable lakes and impoundments,…

Ultimate summer fishing guide for Tygart Lake

Discover the best fishing spots, recommended gear and pro tips for an unforgettable adventure Whether you’re a seasoned angler tuned into the whisper of the line or a novice drawn to the serene beauty of the lake, Tygart Lake in…

Pro tips to help you become a West Virginia Master Angler in 2024

Complete six slams and receive West Virginia’s most prestigious fishing award So, you want to be a Master Angler? To earn your stripes, you’ll need to complete six slams, each requiring you to reel in specific fish species that meet…

Participate in wildlife conservation with these 4 WVDNR citizen science surveys

Your collaboration will help biologists monitor the population of native species Have you ever wanted to be part of a team studying native wildlife? Now you can combine your love of nature with your passion for discovery by helping the…

7 bucket list items to help you celebrate West Virginia Gold Rush’s 7th year

Plan the ultimate Gold Rush fishing trip and explore 68 of West Virginia’s most popular lakes and streams The West Virginia Gold Rush is returning for its seventh year on April 1-13, bigger and better than ever! For two weeks,…

Cast a line at one of these 5 streams in West Virginia this spring

Experience the essence of spring fishing at these Almost Heaven streams Spring brings a spirit of revival and fresh starts — not just for nature but for our hobbies and passions. If your fishing routine has become a little stale…

Spring gobbler season arrives April 15 in West Virginia

Hunting safety tips, essential gear and best hunting locations to help you enjoy turkey hunting in West Virginia Spring is just around the corner in West Virginia, and soon, the forests will come alive with the sights and sounds of…

WV DNR Police guide Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy Cadets on second annual deer hunt

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) Police officers from District four and District six partnered with the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy (MCA) for two deer hunts. Officers took 16 cadets through a hunter education course and then an antlerless deer…

Angler catches tagged trout – you won’t believe what happened next!

There’s nothing more exciting than feeling a tug at the end of your line and reeling in a monster trout in West Virginia — except for maybe reeling in a tagged monster trout. That’s what happened to Dylan Young during…