Weekly West Virginia Fishing Report

Shaner bass

Justin Shaner recently hauled this big bass out of Stonewall Jackson Lake in Lewis County. After posing for a quick picture, he released this guy to catch another day. Photo by John Clise

FISHING

BEECH FORK – Anglers should call the Beech Fork Corps of Engineers office at 304-525-4831 and go to http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/twe/bbf for information and current lake levels.  Fishing should pick up for all species with cooling temperature levels.  Jerk baits, and soft plastics are great fall choices for bass.  Husky jerks, pointers, and rapala x raps are all good choices for jerk baits.  Soft plastic choices include beaver style baits, worms, and about anything one has confidence with.  Hybrids (white x striped bass cross) should be active throughout the day near the dam.  Anglers using silver/white lures that imitate their main forage (gizzard shad) seem to do the best.  Low light (dawn, dusk) and overcast skies are good conditions for hybrids.

BLUESTONE – With the nights beginning to cool, the fishing on the lake should begin to pick up.   Anglers should try their luck around any downed trees or weed beds using worms, small minnows or jigs for sunfish.  Bass anglers should concentrate their efforts along areas with good structure such as downed timber, rocky drops, or weed beds.  Top water baits such as rapalas, tiny torpedoes, and sluggoes are excellent choices but anglers will find the best topwater action early or late. Bluegills can provide anglers with some fast action.  Best baits are worms and small jigs.  Anglers can have a blast fishing for sunfish.  Channel catfish are also hitting in the lake primarily at night on chicken livers and worms.  Carp and channel catfish are hitting in the tailwaters with best baits being corn, and nightcrawlers, resp..  Occasionally anglers have been catching some other species such as smallmouth bass in the tailwaters on jigs and minnows

BURNSVILLE – The lake is at summer pool.  Bass are in 10-15 feet holding to cover.  Look for brush piles adjacent to creek channels and downwind sides of wind-blown points.   For more information call Corps of Engineers at 304-853-2398 and go to http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/lka/bus

EAST LYNN – For information on current lake levels call the Corps of Engineers recorded message at 304-849-9861 and go to http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/twe/elt.  Fishing should pick up for all species with cooling temperature levels.  Jerk baits, and soft plastics are great fall choices for bass. Husky jerks, pointers, and rapala x raps are all good choices for jerk baits. Soft plastic choices include beaver style baits, worms, and about anything one has confidence with.  Muskie anglers are doing well by casting to likely areas and by trolling.  Local lures such as Amma bamas, and a variety of buck tails like spring fork blades are good choices.  Our fish are fished over often and large ones have seen it all – sometimes something new or unusual is the ticket to get a bite. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try odd or new color combinations.

R.D. BAILEY – Some spotted bass should be hitting on the lake but as the cool nights increase in frequency, the fishing should pick up. The bass will be found along the rocky drops with points another good spot to try.  Good baits are plastic jigs in black and chartreuse colors or live shad.  Bluegill are providing consistent action in the standing timber.  Best baits are worms and small jigs, resp.  Hybrid striper and channel catfish fishing is good off of shallow points at night.  Best baits are chicken liver and softshell crayfish.   Anglers should concentrate their efforts early and late during periods of extreme heat.  Carp are also providing a lot of fun for night anglers.   Best baits are corn and dough balls.

STONECOAL LAKE – The lake is at normal pool.  Bass are in about ten feet of water and reports of lots of fish being caught.  Crappie, Bluegill and Yellow Perch fishing is picking up.  A few musky have been caught on nice days.  The walleye bite is slow, but a few keeper-sized fish have been reported recently. Find the WVDNR tree/brush piles and you will find fish of all species.

STONEWALL JACKSON – The lake is at summer pool. Bass are in 10-15 feet and holding to cover. Catching a muskie when surface temperatures are above 80 degrees can be lethal for the fish.  Before heading to the lake please call Corps.  Before heading to the lake please call Corps of Engineers at 304-269-7463.

SUMMERSVILLE – The lake is at summer pool.  Smallmouth Bass have been caught in 30-40 feet of water.  Walleye, Yellow Perch and Rock bass have been caught in the 50-foot range.  Bottom-bouncers and nightcrawler harnesses have been effective.  Walleye regulation signs are posted around the lake, please take notice.  For more information contact the Corps of Engineers at 304-872-3412 and go to http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/kan/sug.

SUTTON – The lake is at summer pool.  Bass are suspended in about 10-20 feet of water.  Crappie and Bluegill fishing has picked up with warmer water temperatures.  Before heading to the lake please call Corps of Engineers at 304-765-2705 and go to http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/kan/sue.

TYGART LAKE – The lake level is a few feet below summer pool.  Keep an eye out for white bass chasing shiners near the surface.  Cast small spoons toward the shiners for some fast action.  Walleye will be deep, especially during mid-day.  Anglers are allowed 8 walleyes per day, but they must be at least 15-inches in length.

Call the Corps of Engineers hotline at 265-5953 for the current lake level and tailwater conditions.

NORTHERN WEST VIRGINIA

OHIO RIVER (New Cumberland, Pike Island, and Hannibal pools and tailwaters):
Anglers have reported excellent success for hybrid striped bass and white bass over the last week in the tailwaters below the dams.  Top water lures, shiners, and agitators with a trailer have been good presentations.  Fishing for flathead catfish has been picking up also.  Hannibal tailwater at New Martinsville provides the best shoreline access for anglers.  Pike Island tailwater near Wheeling has a fishing pier on the Ohio shore that also provides good river access.

MONONGAHELA RIVER:  Try fishing for hybrid striped bass and white bass in the tailwater using spoons, topwater lures, or shiners.  Additionally, sauger, smallmouth bass, and walleye can be caught. The best fishing success for saugers and walleyes is during low light conditions at dawn and dusk.  Jigs with minnows are the best baits right now. Channel catfish are abundant throughout the river.  Troll large crank baits for muskies anywhere on the river.

TYGART LAKE: The lake is about 17 feet below the summer level and falling. Walleyes can be at any depth but will move into shallow water to feed at dusk.  Smallmouth bass can be caught using crayfish imitations along the shoreline as the lake level decreases.  Look for white bass at the head of coves or the upper part of the lake.  State park ramps no. 1 and no. 4 are closed.  Pleasant Creek boat ramp is open.

The tailwater temperature is 71F and clear with a flow of around 700 cfs.  Call the Corps of Engineers telephone hotline at 304-265-5953 for daily lake and tailwater conditions, as well as conditions of boat ramps.

CHEAT LAKE: White bass schools can be seen breaking the surface throughout the lake.  Cast crank baits, spoons, or jigs for fast action.  The easiest way to fish the lake for all species is drifting along the shoreline with a night crawler or minnow on a hook with a couple of split shot at a depth of 10 to 15 feet. Cast small rooster-tail spinners for large bluegills and pumpkinseed sunfish in downed trees along the shoreline.  Channel catfish can be caught throughout the lake but are particularly numerous upstream of Mt. Chateau.  The embayments at the Cheat Lake Park are good areas for bank fishermen to catch sunfish and largemouth bass.

RIVERS – Flows are very low in most rivers, making float fishing extremely difficult.  However, flows in Tygart and West Fork Rivers below Tygart Dam and Stonewall Jackson are sufficient for good float fishing trips.  Low flows in Buffalo Creek, Fishing Creek, Cheat and Buckhannon rivers offer good wade fishing opportunities.  Smallmouth bass have been very active the last couple of weeks and successful anglers have been using small spinner baits, buzz baits, and plastic worms hooked wacky style.  To get daily river flow conditions, visit the following U.S. Geological Survey website: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wv/nwis/current/?type=flow
Use the WVDNR online fishing map to find stream access information at:  http://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/

SMALL IMPOUNDMENTS – Small impoundments are excellent places to catch bluegill, largemouth bass and channel catfish.  Several small impoundments are available to anglers across the state.  Call the local WVDNR office for more information.  Use the WVDNR online fishing map at:  http://www.mapwv.gov/huntfish/  to find locations of small impoundments near you.

EASTERN PANHANDLE

South Branch and Cacapon Rivers – Water temperatures are in the mid 70’s and flows are normal and clear, making current fishing conditions great!  However, average flows for this time of year can still mean difficulty floating through many riffle sections.  Recent angler reports indicate high angler catch rates.  Additionally, recent fisheries surveys uncovered higher than normal densities of quality-sized Smallmouth, so take advantage of their availability.  This time of year, large Smallmouth Bass can be caught on soft plastic and skirted jigs, weighted plastics, swim baits, and crayfish imitation crankbaits.  Top water activity has begun to intensify, encouraging anglers to drop soft plastics and crank baits for small buzz baits, small surface plugs, and fly rod poppers and divers, which are all effective at provoking surface bites for aggressive Smallmouth!  Reports of anglers catching Channel Catfish, abundant in the South Branch, are coming in.  Channel Catfish greater than 30” in length have been captured in sampling gear from Petersburg, WV all the way down to the mouth on the South Branch.  Over 2,380 Channel Catfish have been angler reward tagged since 2012, so please keep an eye out for these tagged fish and know what to do if you encounter one http://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/Fish_Tagging.shtm.  Our research suggests that Channel Catfish become much more active during elevated flows and turbid water conditions, so fishing during safe flows as waters are coming down from rain events may increase catch rates for anglers.

Shenandoah River – Stream flows are normal and clear, making fishing opportunities great!  .  Under normal conditions for this time of year, large Smallmouth Bass can be caught on soft plastic and skirted jigs, weighted plastics, and crayfish imitation crankbaits.  Lures that balance lifelike characters and allow a variety of retrieve speeds, such as swim baits, may be the answer to carefully feeding fish. Top water activity has begun to intensify, encouraging anglers to drop soft plastics and crank baits for small buzz baits, small surface plugs, and fly rod poppers and divers, which are all effective at provoking surface bites for aggressive Smallmouth!   Swim baits imitating forage fish higher in the water column would be a wise switch occasionally from deeper fished lures.  River dwelling Channel Catfish activity and angling success has also picked up through much of the region, providing another early angling opportunity in this stream.  The Shenandoah River has an abundance of quality-sized Channel Catfish.

North Branch River – Flows are currently around 250 cfs and are projected to remain there over the next few days.  Please follow Maryland DNR creel and gear regulations for this stream. Check the Corp of Engineers webpage for specifics or schedule changes concerning whitewater discharges.  Flows in the North Branch can be monitored by watching USGS stream gages (http://www.nab-wc.usace.army.mil/northBranch.html) or by calling (410) 962-7687 for a three-day projection of outflows.

Small Impoundments – Conditions are great for black bass, Channel Catfish, and panfish.  These fisheries should be fully set into summer stratification, leaving deeper portions of most impoundments low on oxygen and not suitable for fish habitation.  Fish shallow, typically no greater than 10’ in depth.  These small, easily accessible impoundments provide some of the best opportunities for catching high quantities of quality sized Largemouth Bass, Bluegill and Channel Catfish in the state!

Jennings Randolph Lake – Jennings Randolph Lake is about 12 feet below conservation pool height – normal depth.  Recent surveys have uncovered high densities of Smallmouth Bass 15” and greater and Walleye longer than the minimum size limit.  Additionally, anglers have begun catching creels of quality-size Yellow Perch.  The West Virginia (Howell) and Maryland ramps are open to receive boat traffic: http://www.nab.usace.army.mil/Missions/Dams-Recreation/Jennings-Randolph-Lake/Fishing/
Additional recreational information can also be found at (http://www.nab.usace.army.mil/Missions/DamsRecreation/JenningsRandolphLake.aspx).

Mount Storm Lake – Anglers at Mount Storm Lake should target Striped Bass, Black Bass, and Walleye.  Additional Christmas tree reef structures have recently been added as fish attractors and habitat on the western side of the lake.  Recent surveys revealed greater numbers of quality-sized Channel Catfish, which are overly abundant in this lake. Harvest of Channel Catfish in Mt. Storm is promoted to improve this population.   Additionally, recent biological surveys have revealed plentiful Striped Bass greater than 20” in length!  This population is maintained through WVDNR stocking efforts!  These fish should now be approaching citation size (>25”).  Trolling minnow and shad patterns (crankbaits, jigs, inline spinners, and stick baits) should prove successful for targeting walleye and striped bass.
For detailed information about stream flow, water clarity, and temperature, visit this United States Geological Survey (USGS) page for available stream gauge data:
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wv/nwis/rt

CENTRAL WEST VIRGINIA

Water levels are low and clear.  If you are looking for a place to go, please check the fishing regulations and the WVDNR website for a list of public access sites or call your local WVDNR district office for some advice on places to fish.  The USGS WaterWatch website:   https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/?m=real&r=wv is a good tool for real-time stream conditions while you are planning your fishing trip. 

SOUTHERN WEST VIRGINIA

The New and Greenbrier rivers are providing some good fishing for smallmouth bass.   Anglers should try white/chartreuse buzzbaits, white plastic grubs, or small crankbaits or live bait such as helgrammites or softshell crayfish.  Spots below or above shoals are good spots to try your luck.   Fishing is still best early and late in all of the small impoundments in southern West Virginia and you should catch some fish.  Try spots at the end of points, weed beds, or fallen timber.  Best baits are plastic worms fished slowly along the bottom, spinnerbaits are also good choices.  Lakes such as Plum Orchard, Horse Creek, Hawks Nest, and Pipestem will all provide good bass fishing. Channel catfishing is good in areas like Hawks Nest lake and some of the other small impoundments.  Best time to fish is late night and very early morning with chicken livers or softshells.   This is a prime time to take a child or anyone fishing!   There is no better way to introduce a child or novice to fishing than to take them out for an evening of carp fishing.  Try chumming with creamed corn upstream of where you are fishing and use shredded wheat doughballs or whole kernel corn for bait.  The secret to the doughballs is to mix in a little flavored jello powder as you make the doughball.   Make sure your rods are anchored down with a rock and the drag is loosened or a carp may take it!!!   Good spots to catch a carp are Bluestone and R.D.Bailey lakes, New River, and Kanawha River.

SOUTHWESTERN WEST VIRGINIA

Lower Ohio and Kanawha rivers – All locks along the Ohio and Kanawha fish well throughout the year, but especially during the spring and fall due to preferred temperature levels.  Target your favorite fish with your favorite bait or lure.  Hybrids are active and can be caught on a variety of lures from chicken liver (yes chicken liver), live minnows, to silver/white spoons and spinners or other shad imitating lures.  Catfish can be caught using cut fresh bait, and live bait for blues and flatheads.  Bass can be caught floating fluke style baits and pulling spinnerbaits close to cover.

Guyandotte, Coal, Poca, Elk and Mud rivers – With falling temperature levels NOW is a prime time for a float trip or wade fishing for smallmouth on a variety of rivers in WV.  Bass will still savagely attack top-water with falling temperature levels, but sub surface lures such as soft and hard jerk baits will become excellent choices for angling success in the next few weeks.  Spinnerbaits on a windy day thrown to shoreline structure is also a good way to connect with a citation size smallmouth.  Muskies can be caught using a variety of methods.  Casting plugs and buck tails to likely haunts are good methods, as is trolling when applicable. Top-water is still a good choice for muskies, especially late or early in the day.

Small Impoundments – Small impoundments are an excellent choice for fall angling in WV.  Many spend all their time hunting and the reduction in pressure on impoundment bass means improved success for those willing to get out and try during the fall.  Target beaver huts using jig and pig set-ups and spinnerbaits also work good right now.  Soft plastics are always a good choice when fishing becomes tough or if the sun is high in the sky.  Many soft plastics are flavored or scented with salt and other flavors that help during inactive or slow periods.  A warm afternoon during the fall on a WV impoundment can create a long-lasting memory due to the fish one may catch.  Instead of hunting one day in the fall give a small impoundment a try, you may be surprised what you connect with.

Reservoirs – Check the USACOE website (http://www.lrh.usace.army.mil/) and the USGS website (http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/rt) for reservoir and tailrace conditions.

Rivers and Streams – Check the USGS website (http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/rt) for river/stream conditions and check local landings visually before wasting a trip.

WEST-CENTRAL WEST VIRGINIA 
Late summer is an excellent time to fish Belleville and Willow Island tailwaters of Ohio River.  Anglers fishing below the dams are catching white bass, hybrid striped bass, and a few other species.  Lead headed jigs with twister tails (white or chartreuses), which are fished along the bottom, are the lure of choice.  Recently, heavy metal lures have also been successful.  Best spots to fish these areas include eddies and back-current sections, and anywhere that river flows are unusual.  Schools of hybrid striped bass will periodically move up to the surface to ambush prey, so keep a look out for this activity.  When this activity is seen, agitator bobbers fished with rubber minnow imitations or fresh bait fished with surf casting equipment, generally provides the best result.

Elsewhere on the Ohio River, fishing for catfish has been good.  Channel catfish anglers should use night crawlers, chicken liver, or prepared catfish type baits.  Live fish should be used for flatheads.  Good fishing sites for catfish include deep areas along islands and tributary mouths.

Fishing has been good for largemouth bass in area lakes.  Spinner baits, rubber worms, crank baits, and surface lures are producing bass in areas of good cover.  Good choices for area lakes include Mountwood Lake in Wood County, Conaway Run Lake in Tyler County, Charles Fork Lake in Roane County, North Bend Lake in Ritchie County, and Elk Fork/Woodrum Lakes in Jackson County.  These lakes can also supply good bluegill fishing.  For these sunfish, use trout magnets or spinners, small jigs, or small worms.  Water levels are currently extremely low in O’Brien Lake in Jackson County, making boat launching difficult.

Local musky streams should be fishable this weekend.  This time of year, musky anglers use large crank baits, jerk baits, or top-water.  Best spots are usually around fallen trees or riffle areas.

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