September 29, 2010
This Raleigh County stream provides topnotch trout fishing throughout the season for big rainbows, browns and brookies.
Photo by Ron Sinflet
By Jeff Knapp
Our state has its share of outstanding trout fishing opportunities. We can thank some "not-afraid-to-get-dirt-under-their-fingernails" folks from the Beckley area for keeping Glade Creek on that list. Because of their Mountaineer-type work ethic, this gem has remained an important trout fishery for over two decades. What follows is a story of a unique fishing resource, what's been done to preserve it, as well as threats that could limit the trout fishing found there.
Steve Porterfield serves as the treasurer of the Glade-Pinch Trout Association. Porterfield has been a member of this group for nearly five years, but the association itself has been in existence for nearly 30 years.
There are several Glade Creeks in West Virginia. This one is found in Raleigh County, several miles east of Beckley. It is a tributary to the New River. Pinch Creek is a feeder water of Glade Creek. The lower three miles of Glade Creek are located within the New River Gorge National River system, with the remainder in private ownership. To Porterfield's knowledge, the work done by the Glade-Pinch group is unique in West Virginia.
STOCKING HISTORY Like many coldwater fishing resources in our state, Glade Creek relies on stocking to provide quality trout fishing opportunities. On Glade, these stockings take place in both the spring and fall. Because of poor access into the stream, stocking efforts by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources became threatened nearly three decades ago.
"The stream is rather remote," said Porterfield, when describing the setting Glade Creek is found in. "There is no hard road that runs along the side of the stream. There are only two ways of accessing the portions of the stream that are open to fishing. One is from the mouth of the creek, down on the New River. The other is from a rather rough road that gets you to about the middle portion of the stocked area. I've seen cars use the road, but it's very rough on them. By far it's best to use a four-wheel-drive."
The remoteness of the stream, and its lack of good access by way of a decent road, led to the formation of the Glade-Pinch Trout Association.
"What happened is that back in the mid-'70s the DNR decided to quit stocking the stream with trout because the road was so bad it was difficult to take their truck down. There were a bunch of gentlemen who loved to fish the stream. They got together and formed the Glade-Pinch Trout Association. They contacted the DNR and asked if they (the DNR) could continue to stock the stream if the association would get the fish into the creek from the top of the mountain. The people at the DNR said, 'Yes, we can do that.' "
With this agreement in place, the association worked hard to acquire the necessary truck capable of transporting several hundred pounds of adult-sized hatchery trout down the mountain to be released in Glade Creek.
"They got an old six-wheel-drive army truck and outfitted it with a tank and aerators," said Porterfield. "That's the way the whole thing started back in the mid-'70s, and that is how it continues today. We go down to the stream and fill the truck up with water right from the creek, then go back up the mountain to meet the DNR truck. The agency calls our group about a week ahead of a stocking date so we can set things up. We've been doing it that way for well over 25 years now. As far as I know, this is the only stream in the state that is stocked this way."
Mike Shingleton, the assistant chief of Wildlife Resources and Coldwater Fisheries Management based in Elkins, concurs on the value of Glade Creek and the work the association does to keep this creek well stocked.
"There is a lot of trout fishing opportunity there," noted Shingleton. "It's relatively high quality, with the upper portion managed as a put-and-take fishery, with a catch-and-release section on the lower part. The Glade-Pinch group is extremely helpful. That road is very rough. Without their assistance, there is no way the creek would be stocked in the manner that it is."
Glade Creek receives one stocking in February and then a stocking every two weeks during March, April and May. The creek may well have gotten its first yearly stocking by the time you read this. Glade Creek also receives two fall stockings each year. According to Shingleton, the put-and-take area of Glade gets about 980 pounds of fish during each of its eight spring stockings. Additionally, fingerling brown trout are introduced in the catch-and-release section. Most of the adult trout are rainbows and browns, though some brookies and golden rainbows are also in the mix.
Members of the Glade-Pinch group are understandably proud of the work they do to keep Glade Creek open and well stocked. This isn't limited simply to trucking the fish down the mountain to be dumped in at convenient access points. The group prides itself in spreading the fish throughout the stream.
"There is no other stream in the state that receives fish in the way that the members of the association stock them," noted Porterfield. "We don't stop at just each large hole in the water and throw in several nets of fish. Each member volunteering to help stock will carry a bucket of fish up- stream stocking one or two fish in each small hole, as well as stocking the larger, more accessible holes and the faster water. These fish are really spread out and will last all year. I have been able to catch trout every month of the year in Glade Creek. We also give the National Park Service about 150 pounds of fish, which they carry downstream into their property with a six-wheel ATV and a trailer for 2.5 miles."
PRESENT STREAM STATUS & ACCESS It would be nice if this were simply a "feel-good" story about a group of sportsmen and the fruits of their labors. As is so often the case in the real world, it's not that simple. Threats to the stream do exist.
"Recently the association has encountered a couple of obstacles in our efforts to keep fish in the stream," said Porterfield. "In the fall of 2002, Glade Springs Resort and Cooper Land Development posted a three- mile section of land that the creek runs through. Therefore, the association is not permitted on this land anymore for any purpose. So we have lost three miles of great fishing water and 300 pounds of fish per stocking.
"They say this land is scheduled for future development. When, they are not sure. They have posted it now, because they say they do not want the four-wheelers and the garbage along the creek. The association has always done litter pickup w
hen we stock, so garbage is not a big problem in this area. We have also suggested gating this section of the trail and making it foot-traffic only. This should eliminate both of their concerns for now and at least allow it to remain open until the land would be developed. We have asked for a meeting with them, but cannot (at the time of this writing) get anyone on their end to respond. So, it looks like three miles of this stream may be gone forever."
Formerly, national park personnel assisted with the stocking of the lower section of the stream. This, too, may come to a halt, though the association will be able to use the federal group's ATV and trailer to stock this section.
"Sometimes it is difficult to find enough people to volunteer to help stock who are not working at their jobs, to just go upstream," said Porterfield. "Now we will need at least another three people to go downstream and another truck and trailer to haul the ATV and smaller trailer. If that were to happen, and we were to lose this section of creek also, this would only leave about 1.5 to 2 miles of stream that we could stock. We would go from receiving 900 pounds of fish per stocking to only 150 to 200 pounds. It would seem hardly worth it."
From a one-time high of over 300 members to its present status of about 74, the Glade-Pinch Trout Association could use a few more warm bodies to help with its efforts. If you are interested, you can contact Steve Porterfield at 145 Woodchuck Lane, Mt. Hope, WV 25880. He can be reached at (304) 877-6406 or work at (304) 253-7932; you may also e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To access the put-and-take area of Glade Creek, Porterfield offers these directions: "From Beckley take Interstate 64 east about 10 miles to the Shady Spring exit. Stay to the right off this exit, which puts you onto state Route 307. After about one-eighth of a mile, take the first dirt road on the left. This will take you down the mountain to the creek, at the mouth of Pinch Creek, where the National Park Service land begins. Here, you will have 2.5 miles of put-and-take water downstream and about 3.5 miles of put-and-take water upstream. Not to mention, you may be able to pull one or two trout out of Pinch Creek, as we do put several buckets of trout into the first couple hundred yards of it each time we stock."
An old railroad grade that has evolved into a trail over the years parallels much of the put-and-take portion of the stream. The trail crosses the stream at nine different points. Porterfield reports that several waterfalls are located within this stream section.
"To reach the catch-and-release area from Beckley, take SR 41 through Stanaford and Piney View, then down Batoff Mountain to the New River," he said. "Follow the river until you reach the bridge, but do not cross the bridge. At the bridge, stay to the right on the dirt road, into the National Park Service Land. Follow this road to the end. It will put you at the mouth of Glade Creek. From the mouth of Glade Creek three miles up to a foot bridge is all catch- and-release water."
EARLY-SEASON TACTICS Glade Creek trout can be finicky at this time of year. One day they'll take worms, and on your next outing only the guy with the minnows seems to be doing any good. Carrying along an assortment of natural baits, and knowing how to fish them, will put the odds in your favor.
Red worms and night crawlers remain among the most popular of early-season natural trout baits. Red worms can be fished as is, but you'll do better by pinching a 'crawler at the collar and fishing only the back portion. Both baits should be fished on a small, fine wire hook no larger than a No. 8, though some anglers prefer a No. 10.
For stream fishing, pinch on only enough split shot to bump bottom on a drift. If it takes several BBs to keep in contact with the bottom, chances are you are fishing in too heavy a flow. The shot should be crimped to the line about 18 inches above the hook.
The key to drifting natural bait is to position yourself in the stream so that your bait bumps along in productive water. During the early season, it's best to fish the head and tail-out areas of deeper runs and pools, avoiding the depths of slow-moving holes and fast-moving riffles.
Make casts that quarter a bit upstream, and swing the bait into the area where you would expect trout to hold. A light-action spinning rod is ideal for this, especially a longer rod of 6 1/2 feet or so. The longer rod can be used to hold the line off the water, which creates a more natural drift. Mealworms, wax worms and salmon eggs can all be fished in the same manner. Steve Porterfield relies heavily on salmon eggs and Power Bait when the water is very cold.
Live minnows are normally threaded onto the rig at this time of year. To do this, one needs a threading needle, small swivels and No. 10 double or treble hooks. Snip off about 3 feet of line to be used as a leader. Tie the swivel to the end of the fishing line.
Take the 3-foot section of leader material and double it back on itself. Clasping both ends of the leader together, tie them to the remaining eye of the swivel by use of an improved clinch knot. Doing so will create an 18-inch loop of line.
Minnow threading needles have a small opening in the eye. Clip the eye of the needle onto the loop of line via this slot. Now the minnow can be threaded by running the needle down the minnow's mouth and out through the vent. Unhook the needle, run the loop of the leader through the hook eye, then open the loop up and hitch it around the hook eye via a girth hitch. Pull the leader and hook shank up into the minnow's body. Crimp any added weight onto the line about the swivel via slip shot. If you don't like dipping your hands into the icy water of a minnow bucket, salted minnows are a good option.
Cast threaded minnows upstream or quarter them upstream. Winding them in from straight downstream isn't as effective, and often results in lost fish as the trout tend not to get hooked as well.
LURES Spinners and spoons are ideal for anglers who like to cover lots of water looking for more aggressive fish. Spinners in the No. 0-.2 sizes tend to be best for most stream-sized trout. Use the bigger sizes for deeper water and more off-colored water.
Keep in mind these tactics are aimed at the put-and-take portion of Glade Creek. Consult your 2004 West Virginia Fishing Regulations Guide for more details on fishing the catch- and-release section.
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