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.
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