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 fishing, the five waters included in this blog are must-visit spots for a memorable summer fishing experience. Plan your trip today and see for yourself!

Kanawha River

Flowing nearly 100 miles from Kanawha Falls in Fayette County northwest through Kanawha, Putnam and Mason counties, the Kanawha River has become a premier destination for flathead and blue catfish fishing in West Virginia. With numerous boat ramps and shoreline fishing spots, such as the Marmet Locks and Dam and Winfield Locks and Dam tailwater areas, anglers have ample opportunities to target sizable catfish. It’s not uncommon for anglers to catch flathead and blue catfish more than 40 pounds, and the blue catfish state record has been broken several years in a row. For more information, search for the Kanawha River on our online fishing map.

When to Go
Flathead and blue catfish can be caught throughout the summer, but low river flows later in summer make it more challenging. Cast your line at night when catfish are more active. Daytime fishing can be fruitful with strategic targeting.

What to Know
The daily creel limit for flathead catfish is four, and only one may exceed 35 inches. For blue catfish, the limit is four (25-inch minimum length) and only one may exceed 35 inches. To purchase your fishing license, visit WVfish.com.

South Branch of the Potomac River

Located in the Eastern Panhandle, the South Branch of the Potomac River offers excellent summertime fishing for smallmouth bass and channel catfish. With 17 boating access sites from Petersburg to the Maryland border in Hampshire County, the South Branch offers abundant opportunities for anglers to enjoy float fishing and quality catches. For more information, search for the South Branch on our online fishing map.

Popular sections of the South Branch can be found in Grant County, Hardy County and Hampshire County, but you’ll want to check out a section known as “The Trough.” This seven-mile float runs through a scenic canyon on the river, from the McNeil access site north of Moorefield, downstream to the Harrison’s access site in Hampshire County. 

When to Go
Fish can certainly be caught throughout the day but are more active during morning and evening hours. Plan an early-morning adventure or an evening fishing trip to take your visit to the South Branch to the next level. 

What to Know
Two sections of the South Branch in Hardy and Hampshire counties are under a catch and release regulation for all black bass, including smallmouth. See the West Virginia Fishing Regulations Summary for more details.

North Bend Lake

Located in Ritchie County, North Bend Lake spans 235 acres and offers a great place for new and experienced anglers. With excellent habitat in the form of flooded standing timber, North Bend Lake is renowned for its abundance of crappies, though anglers can reel in plenty of other species.

There are three main access sites with boat ramps and fishing piers. Most of the lake lies within North Bend State Park, which offers kayak, canoe and jon boat rentals, as well as lodging and camping for overnight stays.

When to Go
Crappies can be caught throughout the day all summer but can become more difficult as summer goes on. The best results will come in the early morning or late evening.

What to Know
General fishing regulations for crappie apply in North Bend Lake. The daily creel limit is 30 fish. To purchase your fishing license, visit WVfish.com.

Stonewall Jackson Lake

Located in Lewis County and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the 2,650-acre Stonewall Jackson Lake is one of the largest reservoirs in the state. Stonewall Jackson Lake offers anglers several places to launch a boat or fish from the shore and numerous creek arms and flooded standing timber provide excellent habitat for sizable largemouth bass and musky.

Due to its central location in West Virginia and being part of Stonewall Resort State Park and Stonewall Jackson Wildlife Management Area, Stonewall Jackson Lake is a perfect place to enjoy a fishing trip. Make it an overnight stay by choosing one of the many camping or lodging options nearby, including the stunning alpine-style lodge at Stonewall Resort State Park.

When to Go
Largemouth bass can be caught all summer, but anglers will have more success during morning or evening hours. Musky can be sensitive to hot water conditions, so anglers should focus on early summer periods before water temperatures get too warm.

What to Know
Special regulations exist on Stonewall Jackson Lake for largemouth bass and musky. For largemouth bass, the daily creel limit is six fish, but only one may exceed 18 inches. For musky, the daily creel limit is one fish and all fish under 52 inches must be released.

New River

With popular sections in Raleigh and Fayette counties, the New River offers beautiful scenery and excellent fishing opportunities for smallmouth bass and walleye. Due to numerous access sites located along the river, it is the perfect setting for scenic float trips. Shoreline and wade fishing opportunities are plentiful at Sandstone Falls and in a section known as “The Dries,” downstream of Hawks Nest Dam, which is located near Hawks Nest State Park.

When to Go
Fishing is good throughout the summer, but anglers should check river conditions to ensure river flows are at a safe level. Like other summertime fishing, success is often found in the morning and evening hours.

What to Know
There are special regulations for smallmouth bass and walleye on the New River. For most of the river, a protected slot limit is in place for smallmouth bass and fish 14–22 inches long must be released. There is also a catch-and-release segment for all black bass. For walleye, most of the New River has a two-fish daily creel limit, and all fish 20-30 inches must be released. One fish over 30 inches may be harvested. There is also a segment of the New River where catch and release of walleye is required. See the West Virginia Fishing Regulations Summary for more details.

Upgrade your fishing experience — buy a durable license card today

Plan a trip today so you don’t miss your chance to explore these remarkable lakes and streams and experience the best of fishing in West Virginia this summer. Just make sure you have a West Virginia fishing license before you cast a line. Consider upgrading to one of our new durable license cards for an enhanced angling experience.