FishingAn angler’s paradise, West Virginia is home to wide-open lakes, expansive rivers, and babbling brooks just waiting for you to cast a line. From fly fishing our famous brook trout to trolling the river for prized smallmouth bass, there’s plenty to reel in from our network of more than 20,000 miles of streams and 100 lakes. Whether you’re an expert angler or are looking to start the sport, try your hand in the waters of West Virginia.
Fishing in West Virginia’s Regions
Each region of the state is filled with fishing spots to help you connect with nature and unplug from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With over 20,000 miles of streams and more than 100 fishing lakes, you can do everything from casting a reel with your friends to fly fishing with a professional. Where will you go fishing in Almost Heaven?
Wheeling Creek is a popular fishing location for locals. A tributary of the Ohio River, Wheeling Creek, runs for 25 miles through the Northern Panhandle. You can expect to catch catfish, brook trout, and smallmouth bass. Looking to make it a weekend trip? Make Oglebay Resort and Conference Center your home base. Here, you can golf, horseback ride, hike and even visit a zoo.
Just outside of the vibrant college town of Morgantown is Cheat Lake, a 1,730-acre lake known for largemouth bass, yellow perch, crappie, and walleye. The lake is perfect for all ages and experience levels. With various boat launches around the lake, you never have to worry about a crowded pier and the marinas that dot the area can provide gas, snacks, fuel, and more. Cheat Lake is also a great swimming location. Check out the backwaters inlets that allow for warm and calm waters. Designated “no wake zones” make it so your spot is uninterrupted.
Arguably the most popular fishing and boating area in the state is Summersville Lake. Over 2,700 acres of water and 60 miles of shoreline make it West Virginia’s largest lake. Fishermen are sure to find large- and smallmouth bass, walleye, panfish, and catfish. When you’ve had enough of fishing (or if the fish stop biting) visit the nearby Summersville Lighthouse. After climbing 122 steps, you’ll be rewarded with an incredible 360-degree view of the lake.
The Shenandoah and Potomac rivers have healthy populations of tiger muskie, largemouth bass, and walleye, making this area popular among anglers and fishermen. After your day on the river, rest up at nearby Angler’s Inn, a bed and breakfast ready to offer refreshments.
North Bend Lake, near Parkersburg, is the perfect place for a day of fishing. You might reel in bass, muskies, catfish, or crappie. They also offer night fishing if you’re up for a late-night jaunt on the water. Stay awhile and explore all the history Parkersburg has to offer at the Oil and Gas Museum, paying homage to West Virginia’s oil and gas industry. Or visit the Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park for a glimpse into colonial life. The state park is only accessed by a sternwheeler riverboat.
New River-Greenbrier Valley
The Greenbrier River is a great place to catch smallmouth bass, though you can also find catfish and carp in deeper sections. Four sections with put ins make full and half-day trips a breeze. Travel along the river on the 78-mile former railroad turned into a rail trail. On foot or by bike the Greenbrier River Trail is a great way to access the river. Nearby Greenbrier State Forest offers cozy mountain retreats to call home after your day on the water.
Spruce Knob Lake is one of the most picturesque trout fishing destinations in West Virginia. The 23-acre lake is regularly stocked by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Although there’s a small boat launch, a wooden pier along the shore allows you to cast a line for bluegills, sunfish, and smallmouth bass
Right outside of the busy city of Huntington lies an angler’s paradise at Beech Fork State Park. Filled with largemouth and hybrid striped bass, crappie, catfish, sauger, and bluegill, Beech Fork Reservoir offers 720 acres of peaceful fishing. The lake is also popular for boating, kayaking, and standup paddle boarding. Offering 275 campsites, the state park is an ideal place to sleep beneath the stars. The Camper’s Corner Store has everything you need too, like basic grocery needs, fishing supplies, firewood and even hand dipped ice cream.
The Guyandotte River carves through the heart of coal country in the Hatfield-McCoy Mountains region. Here you can expect to catch bass, bluegill, muskies, gar, trout, and walleye. You might even find a turtle or two. There are three boat ramps along the river to provide ample opportunity to get out on the water.
How to Start
Are you a first-time angler in West Virginia? Get started by purchasing your West Virginia fishing license. The easiest way is to purchase your license from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources website. All anglers age 15 and older are required to have a fishing license and licenses are good for the calendar year. Get hooked by catching bass, catfish, trout, walleye, and much more.
What to Bring
Your gear list is always going to vary on the weather, time of year, and Almost Heaven destination. If you are traveling with friends or a local guide, it is always best to consult them on specific gear needs. However, if you’re just looking for the basics, here’s a helpful list that outlines gear almost every adventurer needs.
- License – Make sure you have your license
- Rod and reel
- Bait and Tackle
- Appropriate clothes to fish in
- Dry change of clothes
- A water bottle with extra water
- A rain jacket in case of rainy days
- A small backpack
- Insect repellent
Cast off all year long in West Virginia. Any day during the four seasons can be a good day to go fishing. Cool off during the summer by fishing in any of the secluded streams. Try your hand at ice fishing during the winter. Whatever time of year you go, our rivers, lakes, and streams are stocked with trout, bass, bluegill, and other sport fish.
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