Our State'™s 2007 Fishing Calendar

Our State'™s 2007 Fishing Calendar

We've selected some top fisheries where you'll find great angling, from the first of the year to the last month. (February 2007)

Our state provides a wide range of angling choices. Throughout the year, there is something to pursue, from catfish to muskies. Given the extensive array of angling choices, coupled with the fact that all species tend to provide peak action at certain times of the year, it makes sense to have a game plan of sorts in place for the entire season.

It is with this in mind that West Virginia Game & Fish offers up its "2007 Fishing Calendar." What follows is a 12-month list of fishing choices spread across the state, and aimed at pointing you toward good fishing action. The accompanying graphic provides second and third choice picks for your consideration.

JANUARY

Gauley River Walleyes

Few species bite as well during the winter months as do walleyes, particularly river-dwelling members of this species. The Gauley River, specifically the portion located between the Summersville Dam and the Gauley's merger with the New River near Gauley Bridge, is worth investigating for winter walleyes.

The Gauley River is perhaps best known for the outstanding rafting it provides, particularly when Summersville Lake is being drawn down during the early fall. But the river also plays host to a good walleye fishery, including fish of trophy proportions. The former state-record walleye (for weight) was taken in 1990, weighing in 17.22 pounds and taping out at 33 inches. The Summersville Lake tailwaters was the site of the record catch, and represents one of the better areas on the Gauley.

One of the biggest factors with the Gauley River is access. Access is good in the Summersville tailwaters area. Below the tailwaters area the river flows swiftly through a remote canyon -- the Gauley River National Recreation Area -- where access is limited and is good walleye habitat. The lower portion of the Gauley is a slower moving water, and provides the better walleye water. Check out the river section between the town of Swiss on down to where it joins the New River to form the Kanawha River, at K&M Junction. Public access areas are found at Persinger Creek in Nicholas County and Jodie in Fayette County.

If river conditions aren't good, it's certainly worth checking out Summersville Lake. If open-water conditions exist, the reduced pool of the lake can make for some outstanding winter walleye fishing.

FEBRUARY

Stonecoal Lake Trout

West Virginia's aggressive trout-stocking program provides outstanding recreation on many rivers and creeks. Lakes, too, are part of the program, particularly ones such as Stonecoal. Stillwater environments are particularly attractive when the streams are running high, as well as for folks who can't, or don't care to, hike along the rugged stream banks often found along trout streams.

Currently, Stonecoal Lake is the site of two state-record trout, the length records for both golden rainbow and rainbow trout. Stonecoal's reputation as a producer of big fish isn't limited to trout, as the place also coughs up some exceptionally large muskies.

Stonecoal Lake is located in the Stonecoal Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The deep, cold lake covers 550 surface acres. Two concrete boat ramps are provided, as is fishing access for the handicapped. Boats are limited to 10-horsepower outboards.

Stonecoal Lake is located in Lewis and Upshur counties near the towns of Weston and Buckhannon. It is a short distance off Interstate 79.

MARCH

Kanawha River Hybrid

Striped Bass

Hard-fighting hybrid stripers can provide a good way of shrugging off the early spring cold. The Kanawha River is one of the state's better hybrid fisheries.

Hybrid stripers are a cross between a female striped bass and a male white bass. Products of the state's hatchery system, hybrids are stocked on a regular basis in several state impoundments and rivers. The Kanawha River represents a good place to key in on hybrids.

Focus your hybrid attention to the lower portion of the Kanawha River, where the lock and dam system creates pools. Three dams are found there, structures that attract both fish and fishermen. Dams are located at London, Marmet and Winfield. Shore-anglers will find good access and facilities below the dams. Boat anglers can cash in on the action, but need to stay below the buoy line that cordons off the restricted area. If buoys are not in place, the commonly accepted boundary of the restricted area is an imaginary line that crosses the river at the downstream end of the lock's approach wall.

Another key for anglers, boat anglers in particular, is the presence of a warmwater discharge into the river. Such discharges, common at industrial sites like power plants, attract baitfish and game fish, such as hybrids.

If the hybrids aren't biting, March is a key time for river saugers below the Kanawha's dams.

APRIL

South Branch Trout

Come April, there's no better place to be than on one of the state's blue- ribbon trout streams, which would have to include the South Branch of the Potomac.

Bluegill fishing need not be made complicated. Both shore- and boat-fishermen should score well working shoreline areas. Larger 'gills may be found in somewhat deeper water.

The state manages the South Branch in three sections -- the Franklin, Smoke Hole and catch-and-release stretches. Among the three there is something to meet the needs of pretty much any trout angler.

The Franklin section is stocked from about a half-mile from the Virginia line downstream, past Franklin to about two miles south of the Upper Tract, located near the old Poor Farm. State Route 220 (SR) provides good access to most of this stretch. The Franklin section is stocked every week from March through May. It also received a stocking in January and two in February.

The Smoke Hole section runs from the SR 220 bridge downstream to the Big Bend Recreation Area. U.S. Forest Service Road 74 provides access to a portion of this stretch, as does SR 2. The Smoke Hole section is stocked on the same schedule as the Franklin section.

Located within the Smoke Hole section is a one-mile stretch managed as catch-and-release waters. This stretch begins about two miles below the SR 220 bridge. The South Branch is located in Pendleton Coun

ty.

MAY

New River Smallmouth Bass

Warming waters mean smallmouth bass will be getting more aggressive. It's time to take advantage of one of the state's best angling opportunities -- river smallies. The New River provides one of the best places to pursue this activity.

One of the world's oldest rivers, contrary to its name, the New River, plays host to outstanding fishing opportunities. The 53 miles located within the New River Gorge National River contain some of the best smallie fishing, including a 12-mile-long catch-and-release section.

The New River provides a blend of pools and fast water. Access is limited. It may be wise to make use of an outfitter. Float trips are available that run from as little as half-day to overnight trips. The lack of access, coupled with a strong catch-and-release ethic, means New River anglers can expect a good chance at a lunker bass.

River access is available in Fayette County at Hawks Nest Lake, McKendree and Stone Cliff. Raleigh County access areas include Glade Creek, McCreery and Sandstone Falls. Summers County offers several additional access points.

The catch-and-release area runs from the I-64 bridge down to the National Park Service's access section near Quinnimont. Access the area from SR 41.

JUNE

Stonewall Jackson Lake

Largemouths

Stonewall Jackson Lake was developed with a more "enhanced" plan in mind than older Corps of Engineers flood-control lakes. Anglers continue to benefit from this, largemouth anglers in particular.

Unlike most state reservoirs, bass anglers will find plenty of cover in Stonewall Jackson Lake. Flooded timber, present in many of this 2,650-acre lake's bays and coves, will be one of the cover options you'll want to investigate as you search out post-spawn bass. The 26 miles of shoreline ensure it will take you some time to do so. Catch-and-release regulations on black bass, put in place since the lake was first opened, ensure the potential for lunker-sized largemouths.

Stonewall Jackson, by West Virginia standards, is somewhat wide and shallow. About a fifth of the lake is under a no-wake restriction. There is no horsepower restriction. It is located in Lewis County, near Weston, just off Interstate 79. Being a flood-control lake, subject to changing levels, it's wise to check on conditions before embarking on a trip there. Daily lake and recreation information on Stonewall Jackson can be obtained by calling (304) 269-7463.

JULY

Burnsville Lake Catfish

West Virginians take their catfishing seriously. That's not surprising when you consider the number of rivers and lakes that hold good catfish populations, primarily channel catfish and flatheads. Burnsville Lake is one of these waters, and a good place to key in on for some midsummer catfish action.

An impoundment of the Little Kanawha River, Burnsville Lake covers just less than 1,000 acres. Not so typical of the state's flood-control impoundments, Burnsville is relatively shallow. It has a length just shy of 10 miles.

Both flathead and channel catfish are found in Burnsville Lake. No horsepower restrictions are in place. Launch ramps are located at the Riffle Run Day Use Area, Bulltown Day Use Area and the Bulltown Camping Area.

In that many catfish anglers will ply their craft at night, the camping option at Burnsville is a good one to consider. You can fish deep into the night, then retreat back to camp during the wee hours for a few hours of much needed sleep.

Call (304) 853-2398 for a recorded message providing updated information on lake and tailwater conditions, precipitation, launch ramps, fishing, hunting, campground, and special statements. The Bulltown Campground can be reached at (304) 452-8006.

AUGUST

Tygart Lake Bluegills

Given the many choices one has in regard to species and locations, it's easy to overlook fun-filled options like panfishing. When late summer comes around, and thing get a bit tough for the "glamour" species, the time is right to step back and do a little low-stress panfishing. Tygart Lake is a good place to gather up the kids for a trip aimed at bluegills.

Also known as Grafton Dam, due to its proximity to Grafton, Tygart Lake is formed by a dam on the Tygart Valley River. Besides providing good fishing for panfish species such as bluegills, Tygart Lake plays host to a variety of species, most notably bass and walleyes. Fishing is popular in the tailwaters area, which is stocked during the springtime with trout.

Bluegill fishing need not be made complicated. Both shore- and boat-fishermen should score well working shoreline areas. Larger 'gills may be found in somewhat deeper water.

Tygart Lake State Park is located along the lake, and provides a camping option, as well as a four-lane launch ramp. The city of Grafton also has a campground. There is no horsepower restriction on the lake, which is also visited by recreational boaters and water skiers.

Call (304) 265-5953 for daily updated information on lake conditions and recreational information.

SEPTEMBER

Mountwood Lake Muskies

With quality muskie waters like the Buckhannon River and Stonewall Jackson Lake, it's easy to miss out on the action from lesser-known waters. Mountwood Lake, which contains a viable tiger muskie population, is such a water.

September brings cooler and shorter days, equating to dropping water temperatures. This can play in favor of the muskie angler. With hunting action about to kick in, generally one finds less competition on the water, which is an added plus for the anglers who are seeking the fish of 10,000 casts.

Mountwood Lake covers 48 acres with a maximum depth of 48 feet. Despite its small size, it is capable of producing big muskies. The state- record tiger muskie (muskellunge x northern pike hybrid) was taken from Mountwood in 1994 by Clyde Beckett. That fish measured 49 1/4 inches and weighed 36.5 pounds.

Hard-fighting hybrid stripers can provide a good way of shrugging off the early spring cold. The Kanawha River is one of the state's better hybrid fisheries.

A county park lake found in Wood County, Mountwood Lake is limited to electric motors only. A camping area, handicapped-accessible fishing pier and concrete ramp are provided.

OCTOBER

South Branch Smallmouths

The turning of the leaves furnishes an aroma that makes the outdoorsperson think

of the many activities he or she can undertake. If only the month could have a few extra days? One outing the angler must pursue is river smallmouth action, with the South Branch of the Potomac being a quality venue.

Hardy and Hampshire counties play host to some excellent river smallie fishing on the South Branch, including two catch-and-release areas.

Catch-and-Release Area 1 covers eight miles of the South Branch. It starts three miles east of Petersburg at the Petersburg Gap Bridge. This section extends downstream to the Fisher Bridge (county Route 13 bridge). The second area, which takes in 9.5 miles, runs from the Romney Bridge down to the Blue Beach Bridge (state Route 28 bridge).

All bass taken from these two sections must be returned to the water. Access is good on the South Branch. Hardy County access areas include Fisher Bridge, McNeil and Old Fields Bridge. Hampshire County adds no fewer than 13 additional access sites.

NOVEMBER

Cranberry River Trout

Many of the state's better trout streams receive stockings in mid-October. Fishing pressure is light during the fall, so many of these trout will still be around come November. The Cranberry River is a good place to get your fill of late-season trout action, something to help keep the trout-fishing embers glowing until next spring.

A 16.5-mile section of the Cranberry River is stocked with trout. In addition to the October stockings just mentioned, the river receives a stocking in January, two in February and is stocked weekly March through May. The stocked section runs from the Woodbine Recreation areas upstream to the mouth of Dogway Fork. A catch-and-release area is located upstream of Dogway Fork. This section entails 4.3 miles and extends up to the confluence of the North and South branches of the Cranberry.

The Cranberry River flows through Pocahontas County and much of the area is national forest land.

DECEMBER

Bluestone Lake Hybrids

An impoundment of the New River, Bluestone Lake covers just over 2,000 surface areas. Housing a wide variety of warmwater species, Bluestone is a popular fishing destination. With the year winding down, it's a place worthy of a trip geared toward hybrid stripers.

Bluestone is considered one of the state's best hybrid waters. Like many of West Virginia's flood-control project lakes, it is steep sided and narrow. Some mudflats are present. Warning buoys may not be in place at this time, so use extra caution when motoring around points and such. There are no horsepower restrictions.

As many of the state's reservoirs experience a winter drawdown, it's a good idea to call ahead for the status of ramps and other recreational features. Call (304) 466-0156 for a recorded message.

Find more about West Virginia fishing and hunting at: WVGameandFish.com

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