Favorite Fishing Waters
Game Fish Defined • Sport Fish Identification • Trout Stocking Schedule
Daily Trout Stocking Report • Stream Flow Information (USGS) • Consumption Advisory
Float Fishing Trips • Public Fishing Access • Methods of Fishing • Fishing Areas
Fishing Streams • State Fishing Records
Best small mouth bass waters
Summersville and Tygart Lakes; New, Shenandoah, Greenbrier, Cacapon, South Branch of the Potomac, mainstream Potomac, Ohio River upstream of New Martinsville, Elk, and Little Kanawha rivers. Favorite tackle and baits--Spinning tackle of medium light and ultra light weight using spinners and other artificial lures resembling minnows, night crawlers, hellgrammites, crayfish, crank baits, rubber grubs, jigs, and numerous topwater baits.
Cranberry, Williams, South Branch of the Potomac near Franklin, North Fork of the South Branch, Shavers Fork of Cheat, and Elk River above Webster Springs.
Best muskie waters
Little Kanawha, Hughes, Elk (downstream of Sutton), Buckhannon, West Fork, Mud, New, Gauley, and Monongahela rivers; Middle Island, Dunkard, Mill and Sandy creeks; East Lynn, Stonecoal, Stonewall Jackson and Burnsville Lakes. Favorite tackle and baits--Bait casting reels using lures imitating minnows; large spinners. Live creek chubs, suckers, or large minnows are excellent bait.
Best crappie waters
Bluestone, Burnsville, East Lynn, R.D. Bailey, Stonewall Jackson, Sutton, Summersville, and Tygart lakes. Favorite baits--Minnows, jigs, and lures imitating minnows.
Best walleye waters
Elk and lower Gauley rivers; Kanawha, Monongahela, and Ohio River dam tailwaters; Summersville, Tygart, Stonecoal, Jennings Randolph and R.D. Bailey lakes. Best baits--Live minnows and night crawlers are best natural baits. Best artificial baits are jigs, minnow-imitating crank baits and spinners.
Best white bass waters
Ohio and Kanawha rivers; Tygart Lake. Best baits-Jigs, crank baits, spinners, streamers, and live minnows.
Best hybrid striped bass waters
Ohio and Kanawha rivers; Beech Fork, Bluestone, East Lynn, and R.D. Bailey lake. Best baits--White jigs, silver spoons, shad imitation lures, and live minnows.
Best largemouth bass waters
Burnsville, Beech Fork, East Lynn, Bluestone, Sutton, R.D. Bailey, and Stonewall Jackson lakes; Ohio River backwaters; most farm ponds and state managed lakes; Best baits--minnows, nightcrawlers, crayfish, crank baits, spinner baits, rubber worms and jigs, and most topwater lures.
Best channel catfish waters
Bluestone, East Lynn, Burnsville, Stonecoal, Tygart, and Stonewall Jackson lakes; South Branch of the Potomac, Kanawha, New, and Ohio rivers. Most warm water streams and state managed impoundments. Best baits--minnows, nightcrawlers, chicken livers, and natural baits.
GAME FISH DEFINED The following are game fish: brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, golden rainbow trout, black bass (largemouth, smallmouth, spotted), striped bass, pickerel, muskellunge, northern pike, tiger musky, sauger, walleye, white bass, rock bass, crappie, bluegill, other sunfish, channel catfish, flathead catfish, and all game fish hybrids.
Meal Advice For Eating West Virginia Game Fish
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises anglers and consumers to follow a national advisory warning pregnant women, women of child-bearing age, nursing mothers and children about the health concerns of consuming fish that may be contaminated with mercury. These groups should follow EPA's recommendation limiting fish consumption to one meal per week. Meal size is 1/2 pound.
Click here for cleaning and filleting instructions.
Click here for more information on consumption advisories from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources
South Branch Float Trips
Only experienced canoeists should attempt to float the New River. Portaging some areas will be necessary.
Gigging, Snagging, & Snaring
Suckers, carp, fallfish and creek chubs may be taken by snaring year-round. Other non-game fish, turtles, and eels may be taken by gigging, snagging, or snaring from January 1 through May 15 and from July 15 through December 31, except that snagging and gigging shall be prohibited within 100 feet of all U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Locks and Dams and their appurtenances.
Dipping for non-game fish is legal from February 1 to midnight April 30. A dip net may not exceed thirty-six (36) square feet in overall area, and its mesh may not be smaller than one-fourth (1/4) inch.
Carp may be taken by bow year-round. Other non-game fish may be taken by bow during all months of the year except May and June. Residents must have a valid fishing license and nonresidents must have a valid hunting license in order to fish using a bow. All persons using a bow to fish must observe all applicable fishing regulations. It is illegal to use an arrow having an explosive head or shaft or an arrow dipped in or smeared with poison or other chemicals while bow fishing.
Trotlines & Droplines
Trotlines and droplines must be attached to the bank or a tree thereon, must bear an identification tag that is legible and waterproof, and must be attended every twenty-four (24) hours. Wire or cable lines and hooks with more than one point are prohibited. It is illegal to fish with trotlines and droplines in State managed impoundments except Stonecoal, Hawks Nest, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes. It is illegal to attach a trotline to public piers and docks or within fifty (50) feet of dam appurtenances. Droplines are prohibited on the Elk River, Hughes River, Little Kanawha River, Middle Island Creek, and South Fork of Hughes River.
Seining for Minnows - Minnow Traps
Game fish may not be seined or trapped. A seine may be used to obtain minnows for use as bait provided the seine is not longer than six (6) feet nor deeper than four (4) feet. A thrownet may be used provided the diameter is no larger than six (6) feet and mesh size no larger than three-eighths (3/8) inch. Minnow traps may be used provided the openings are not larger than one (1) inch in diameter. A person may have in his possession no more than 50 minnows nor more than a total of 100 aquatic animal life unless obtained from a licensed dealer and a bill of sale is provided. Possession of mussels or any parts thereof is prohibited.
It is illegal to use a firearm, a crossbow, dynamite or any like explosive, or a poisonous mixture placed in the water for the purpose of killing or taking fish, frogs, aquatic turtles, or other forms of aquatic life. It is illegal to fish with more than 2 lines or poles in an impoundment stocked with trout by the DNR from January 1 through May 31.
Hatchery Fish Removal
It is illegal to take fish, frogs, aquatic turtles, or other aquatic life from a State fish hatchery.
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