West Virginia Fishing Report
The weekly state fishing report, as produced by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources:
* BEECH FORK – Lake is below summer pool due to the continuing annual drawdown and murky to muddy. For more information call the Corps of Engineers recorded message at 304-525-5092. Fishing is slow overall with a few reports of walleye, sauger and saugeye from anglers willing to brave the elements. During warmer days/periods the bite has been better for all other species as expected. Catfish and carp continue to bite for the shore or boat angler on the reservoir and at the tailrace.
* BLUESTONE – Lake is at summer pool. Lake and tailwaters are slightly cloudy. For more information call the Corps of Engineers recorded message at 304-466-0156. During the winter, anglers should fish slowly and methodically. Fish will still feed but have a slower metabolism as the water cools. A few bass are being caught off rocky points using live minnows. Anglers should look for points that have some cover such as stumps, logs or ledges. Some hybrid striped bass and striped bass may be caught using large chubs. Anglers should try spots such as at the mouth of the Bluestone Arm or near the dam. With any warm, stable weather, fish may become more active. A few anglers are catching some smallmouth bass in the tailwaters. Successful anglers are using one-eighth ounce white doll flies and gitzits. Anglers should be careful wading this time of year due to the cold water and slippery conditions. Wear your personal flotation devices.
* BURNSVILLE – Lake is approximately 9 feet below summer pool and clear. Fishing is fair. Bass are in 10-15 feet of water. Try plastic baits and crank baits. A fair number of crappie have been picked up along the shoreline. Catfish are being caught in the evening with worms and liver. Trout still remain in the tailwaters. Try powerbait and corn for trout. For more information call Corps of Engineers at 304-853-2398.
* EAST LYNN – Lake is at summer pool with a surface temperature of 60 degrees. Water clarity is good with some tributaries still muddy from recent rains. For more information call the Corps of Engineers recorded message at 304-849-9861. Bass fishing is improving. Try Carolina rigged worms, deep running crankbaits, and surface lures under the right conditions. Walleye and saugeye can be caught while using minnows, shad imitating lures (match the size), and grub-tipped jigs fished near rocky points and underwater humps. Recently a new pending state record saugeye was caught in the main lake. Reports of a few nice catfish caught on liver and crawlers have come in from the tailrace area.
* R.D. BAILEY – Lake is approximately 1 foot below summer pool. The lake and tailwaters are clear. For more information call the Corps of Engineers recorded message at 304-664-9587. During winter, fish are still active but have a slower metabolism with the colder waters, so anglers should fish slowly and methodically. Spotted bass are hitting plastic jigs in crawfish colors. The spotted bass will be found along the rocky drops with points another good spot. Walleye are starting to be creeled by local anglers. Best places to try are along the shallow clay flats either early or late. As the year progresses, the walleye will be moving up the river to begin spawning. Best baits are jigs tipped with minnows or nightcrawlers.
* STONECOAL – Lake is approximately 4 feet below summer pool and clear. Bass are in about 10-15 feet of water. Try plastic baits and crank baits. Crappie and bluegill have been caught on beaver huts and snags. Fishing has been good for trout in the tailwaters. Try powerbait and trolling with spinners.
* STONEWALL JACKSON – Lake is approximately 6 feet below summer pool and clear. Fishing is good. Lake surface temperature is 62 degrees. Bass are in 10-15 feet of water. Panfish are active and are hanging around cover. A few crappie have been caught but fish have been hard to locate. Try a minnow and jig. Trout still remain in the tailwaters, try powerbait and worms. Yellow perch and crappie are being caught on live bait. For more information contact Corps of Engineers at 304-269-7463.
* SUMMERSVILLE – Lake is approximately 47 feet below summer pool and clear. Fishing is good. Bass are in about 10-15 feet of water. Crappie and bluegill have also been caught along the shoreline. Outflow temperature is 50 degrees. Trout were stocked in the tailwaters by helicopter on 10/25. If you are looking for a back country trout fishing experience hike down in and enjoy some great trout fishing. For more information call Corps of Engineers at 304- 872-5809.
* SUTTON – Lake is approximately 19 feet below summer pool and clear. Fishing is fair. Bass are in about 10-20 feet of water. Try plastic baits and crank baits. Bluegill fishing has slowed. Try live bait and micro-jigs. Crappie are also in to cover. Outflow temperature is 50 degrees. Powerbait and worms are working the best for trout. For daily information call Corps of Engineers at 304-765- 2705.
* TYGART LAKE – Lake is approximately 30 feet below the summer pool and falling slowly. Walleye move into shallower water after dark to feed and can be caught by shoreline anglers using rapalas or 3-inch plastic grubs. Chartreuse is a good rub color. Bass will be feeding along the shoreline as the water level drops. White bass feed on the surface at dawn and dusk and can be caught with spinners or shallow-running crank baits. The tailwater temperature is 49 degrees. The fall trout stocking has been completed and there are still brood trout present from the August stocking. Walleye fishing is best during higher flows (1,500 to 5,000 cubic feet per second) and trout fishing is best at low flows (less than 1,000 cubic feet per second). Call the Corps of Engineers telephone hotline at 304- 265-5953 for daily lake and tailwater conditions.
NORTHERN WEST VIRGINIA
* OHIO RIVER – New Cumberland, Pike Island and Hannibal pools and tailwaters: Sauger and walleye become very active for about an hour at twilight and this is a great time to fish the tailwaters. The river is at the normal fall level and fishing continues to be very good for all species of fish. Currents are important during low fall water levels because fish are attracted to the moving water. Therefore, lock and dam tailwaters and creek mouths are good areas to fish. Hybrid striped bass move in and out of the tailwaters and are being caught using large crank baits or casting spoons. Game fish such as smallmouth bass, sauger, and walleyes are found along the shoreline where there is current or rock. Minnows have been particularly good baits but 3-inch plastic grubs, tube jigs, and shallow-running crank baits have also been productive.
* MONONGAHELA RIVER – Sauger and walleye become very active for about an hour at twilight and this is a great time to fish the tailwaters. Three-inch chartreuse power grubs are a good alternative to live bait for saugers and walleye. Fish will be attracted to the moving water at the tailwaters of all the locks, and the warm water discharges at the Rivesville, Morgantown, and Fort Martin power plants. Channel catfish can be caught in the tailwaters using chicken liver. Minnows, 3-inch plastic grubs, and crank baits are still the most productive baits for most other species. The shoreline from the Morgantown lock to the mouth of Deckers Creek is always a good place to fish from the shore. There are lots of bass, saugers, and drum along the shoreline. The opposite shoreline is good for larger sunfish.
* CHEAT LAKE – Repairs have been completed on the winter ramp at Cheat Lake Park and it is now open. Winter anglers should target channel catfish and yellow perch. Channel catfish are abundant throughout the lake and can be caught by shoreline anglers at the Cheat Lake Park. Larger yellow perch are being caught by boat anglers around the I-68 Bridge using minnows or worms with a couple of split shot fished 10-15 feet on the bottom. Largemouth bass and sunfish can be caught in the embayments by the Cheat Lake Park. Walleye will move into shallow water at night to feed.
Try the tailwater fishing pier for walleye, sauger, and many other species. Start fishing at dark. The pier is located entirely in West Virginia about 25 minutes from Morgantown, but you have to drive from, and park in, Pennsylvania to get there. Take U.S. 119 from Morgantown to Point Marion, Pa. Turn right after crossing the Cheat River and proceed 4 miles to Cheat Dam. The pier is lighted for night fishing and is handicapped accessible.
* SOUTH BRANCH, CACAPON RIVERS – Local streams are above normal flow and the water is clear. Few anglers have been fishing over the past week due to high water. However, streams are back in good fishable condition and anglers should try slow moving plastics for smallmouth bass. Check the 2006 fishing regulations or our website www.wvdnr.gov to determine if your favorite water received a fall trout stocking. Several trophy sized rainbow trout were caught from the upper South Branch last month and lots of trout should remain in the South Branch and North Fork of South Branch from the fall stockings.
* NORTH BRANCH RIVER – The flows in the North Branch are between 400 and 600 cfs but will likely be cut back by the weekend and in good condition for wad fishing. Water levels in the North Branch are predicted to remain at this level through the weekend. Trout fishing has been good and anglers are catching rainbow and brown trout. Anglers have been successful on spinners, flies, salmon eggs, and powerbait. Maryland DNR has conducted fall trout stockings in the delayed harvest section of the North Branch. Check the Maryland trout stocking information for more details.
* SMALL IMPOUNDMENTS – Small impoundments have been turbid due to the heavy rain last week but should be in good fishable condition by the weekend. Bass and bluegill will soon be in their winter pattern so fish deeper water with slow moving plastics. Many small impoundments are receiving fingerling channel catfish stockings which should be of harvestable size by next summer. Some small impoundments have received fall trout stockings including New Creek Lake, Brandywine Lake, and Rock Cliff Lake. Several trophy citation rainbow trout were caught from Brandywine Lake last month and plenty of trout should be available for the winter months to come.
* JENNINGS RANDOLPH LAKE – Jennings Randolph Lake is approximately 20 feet below summer pool and falling slowly. The boat launches on the Maryland and West Virginia sides are closed for the season. Few anglers are fishing at Jennings Randolph but recent fish surveys by WVDNR showed numerous smallmouth bass in the 2-3 pound range and lots of trout. Jennings Randolph Lake has a new dedicated phone line for up-to-date recreational information 304-355-2890. Recreational information can also be found at www.nab.usace.army.mil/ recreation/jenran/recinfo.htm.
* MOUNT STORM LAKE – Anglers are still reporting good catches of smallmouth bass on crankbaits. Many fish will be actively feeding at these temperatures especially hybrid striped bass and are attracted to the warm water effluents. Recent fish survey by the WVDNR indicated numerous hybrid striped bass in the 2-3 pound range.
CENTRAL WEST VIRGINIA
Area rivers are low and clear. Enjoy some great fall fishing for trout. Check the web page this week for stockings. Smallmouth bass fishing has been good in area waters. Get outside and enjoy the great fall weather. Remember to wear blaze orange out in the field when fishing during hunting seasons. Check the WVDNR web page for updated fishing information (www.wvdnr.gov).
SOUTHERN WEST VIRGINIA
The New and Greenbrier rivers are producing a few smallmouth bass using tube jigs. Best spots are just below a shoal or rapid or in eddies near the shore. Anglers may also want to try Kanawha Falls for walleye (use big chubs for bait) or lake anglers can find some excellent bass fishing at Plum Orchard Lake. Best baits are plastic worms fished slowly along the bottom, spinnerbaits are also good choices.
SOUTHWESTERN WEST VIRGINIA
* LOWER OHIO, KANAWHA RIVERS – The tailwaters of the lock and dam areas continue to produce despite less than favorable conditions and overall decreasing water temperature levels. White bass and hybrid striped bass are hitting shad-imitating lures and minnows suspended below strike indicators. Try shad raps, white butterbean jigs, or any similar lures. Fishing is much better for walleye and sauger near locks when the water is up some and slightly turbid if you can catch a sudden rainstorm. A slight rain, cloud cover, and fishing at night are all good patterns to follow for these toothy critters. Sauger and walleye are being caught on minnows and grub-tipped jigs. Try using live and cut bait for large flatheads during dusk and dawn and into the night. You might be surprised what you catch.
* GUYANDOTTE, COAL RIVERS – A few reports of hybrids being caught using rattle traps and other searching baits around shoals and the upper and lower falls of the Coal River, but generally overall fishing for all species is slow.
* POCA RIVER – Slow fishing conditions predominate reducing reports from anglers.
* ELK RIVER – Musky, walleye and a few bass are showing up and being reported but conditions are slow overall for fishing.
* MUD RIVER – Fishing is slow due to colder weather. A few musky and bass are being reported but most anglers are deer hunting.
* SMALL IMPOUNDMENTS – Fishing is slow due to colder weather. Try targeting channel catfish with cut bait, hot dogs, and or stink baits. Anglers are having some success targeting bass and panfish using baits fished slowly in areas warmed by the sun.
* RESERVOIRS – At this time of the year a change in weather can make fishing conditions poor very quickly. Be sure to check the USACOE web site (http://www.lrhwc.usace.army.mil/wq/lkcond.html) and the USGS website (http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/rt) for reservoir conditions and check local landings visually before wasting a trip. Reservoir anglers will now find gamefish for the most part in a “winter pattern” in reservoirs and will have to deal with decreased water levels or fishing during the drawdown. Fishing can be slow at this time but success can be had if anglers pay attention to a few key points. First, obviously water temperature is now below the favorable range of most gamefish or at he least can greatly curtail their activity for extended periods of time. Bass for example will move back into deeper water and utilize holding positions that minimize energy expenditure. But, during the drawdown fish can also be found at times along the edges of the reservoir taking advantage of prey items struggling to adjust to the changing water levels also. Try to target warm sunny days and areas heated by the sun throughout the day for better success.
The drawdown itself (for rain and snow storage capacity) also creates a number of physical changes to available habitat. As a result of the drawdown less and less habitat will be available to gamefish over time causing them to congregate around what is left. Despite this low water temperatures will greatly affect the bite. Many times slow presentations will be the only technique that will draw strikes. During the drawdown a current can sometimes bye found which will cause gamefish to set up as if they were in a riverine environment. This means they must choose their habitat and holding positions based on eddies, flows, and how food will be washing to them by the currents. Points are excellent at this time due to the relief they provide fish by creating a current break. Searching baits such as rattle traps and crankbaits are good choices to use at this time due to the water one can cover even when reeled somewhat slow due to the colder water temperature levels. Shallow stump filled flats are good choices to try now due to water temperature warming somewhat faster in these areas during the day, and also because baitfish frequently will school up in these areas at this time. Even if you try an area and cannot locate bass come back later and try again, eventually you should find bass taking advantage of the warmer temperatures and forage.
Other species can also be targeted and caught successfully at this time of the year. For catfish continue to use stink baits and cut bait for channels, and live bait and/or fresh cut bait for flatheads. A camping trip during a warmer evening spent concentrating on these whiskered fish by a campfire can be a great time with friends or family. This activity could also be tied to a weekend outing of deer hunting on one of the WMA’s surrounding a state managed impoundment, consult your state hunting and fishing regulations for more information.
Carp can also be caught using various dough baits throughout the colder months. Larger crappie can be targeted at this time but a few different tactics need be applied than what was used in the spring/ summer. A few tips include: 1)using sling shot casts to get back under docks, etc., 2) use larger jigs than in spring, 3) try small lipless crankbaits such as Cordell Spot or Tattle Trap, 4) try blade baits such as the Hoddon Sonar or Reef Runner Cicada, 5) locate and fish around schools of young of the year shad, and 6) live bait can be deadly. Some anglers swear by using rosy reds or orange strained larger minnows for nice winter slabs where legal and available. Make sure you consult your WVDNR regulations to make sure baits is legal where you plan to fish. Walleye, sauger, saugeye and hybrids will bite good during the colder months due to their preference for “cooler water.” Fishing during cloudy, stormy, overcast weather (or at night) will increase ones odds of catching a nice one even further. Walleye for example are adapted to see better under low light conditions and frequently are more active at these times.
* RIVERS AND STREAMS – Be sure to check the USACOE web site (http://www.lrhwc.usace.army.mil/wq/lkcond.html) and the USGS web site (http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/rt) for river/stream conditions and check local landings visually before wasting a trip. Sometimes it is better to wait a few days until flows come back down and the water clears if the weather becomes bad.
River and stream fishing will slow down over the next few months due to environmental conditions but fish still need to eat. Many trophy anglers target the winter period due to the lack of competition from other angles and due to the chance of catching a lunker. Some feel that if a gamefish is to eat at this time it will be to maximize its catch, therefore many anglers who fish at this time use large baits fished slow and deep and around structure. Sometimes under winter conditions one must literally place the bait on the nose of the holding fish before it will strike due to their reduced activity levels. Bait is a great choices now. Due to it being the “real deal” fish will have more incentive to eat bait, sometimes bringing the only strikes for the day. Other choices include large jig and pigs for bass, and large jigs for walleye fished slowly. Musky will continue to bite well in colder weather, try artificials fished slightly slower than in summer in deeper holes, etc. and rigged suckers. As stressed so many times before, seams (areas where slow or slack water meets faster water) will be the ticket and or deeper areas adjacent to the seam areas during the colder months. Often gamefish will lay in wait in the deeper adjacent areas and move into the seam during the warmer periods of the day to feed. Another pattern worth trying is to concentrate on shallow areas warmed by the sun. If these patterns don’t work try to figure what the fish are doing using various techniques and approaches. Usually a successful approach can be utilized over and over until present conditions change once again.
WEST-CENTRAL WEST VIRGINIA
Now is the time to be thinking about combining fishing with your up coming deer hunting trip. The West-Central part of West Virginia offers a variety of opportunities for this combination. Musky streams are expected to be fishable this weekend and excellent musky populations can be found in the following waters: The Little Kanawha River, The Hughes River and its major forks, Middle Island Creek and Mill and Sandy creeks in Jackson County. Fall musky anglers use large crankbaits or jerkbaits and riffle areas are hot spots.
Anglers seeking bass after the hunt also have many choices of water to consider. Conaway Run Lake in Tyler County, North Bend, Tracy and Pennsboro lakes in Ritchie County, Mountwood Lake in Wood County, Charles Fork Lake in Roane County, and Elk Fork and O’Brien lakes in Jackson County all have excellent largemouth bass populations. Slowly fished bass lures are the baits of choice this time of year.
Deer hunters along the Ohio River also have great opportunities for the combination. The fall is an excellent time to fish Ohio River Tailwaters. Anglers fishing below the Belleville and Willow Island dams are catching sauger, walleye, hybrid striped bass, and a few other species. Lead headed jigs with twister tails (white or chartreuse), which are fished along the bottom, are the lure of choice. Clever anglers are tipping their jig hooks with minnows or shad. Best spots to fish these areas include eddies and back- current sections, and anywhere that river flows are unusual.
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