Favorite Fish Species

Of the more than 30 varieties of fish commonly taken in West Virginia, ten are perennial favorites and draw anglers from throughout the eastern U.S. The W.Va. Division of Natural Resources maintains updated lists of favorite fish and the lakes and streams in which the fish are most commonly taken. The following information has been provided by the division.

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Channel Catfish

Channel catfish are a popular species found in most warmwater streams in the state and in lakes managed by the Division of Natural Resources in West Virginia. According to the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources, effective lures for channel catfish include chicken livers and natural baits such minnows and night crawlers. The largest channel catfish caught on record in West Virginia was 33.42 pounds and 40.3 inches long was taken in Patterson Creek by Michael Sears in 2005.

Crappie

Most of the largest lakes and waterways in West Virginia are favorite crappie waters, though the species is found in most lakes and slow-flowing streams in West Virginia. According to the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources, effective crappie baits in West Virginia include jigs, minnows, and lures and imitate minnows. The largest crappie caught on record in West Virginia was 4.05 pounds and 19.75 inches long and was taken in Meathouse Fork of Middle Island Creek by Leonard Edgell in 1971.

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass are a perennial favorite in farm ponds across West Virginia, though favorite waters for the species are in the Mountain State’s largest lakes and in the Ohio River. According to the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources, the most effective bait for the largemouth bass include jigs, crayfish, minnows, crankbaits, night crawlers, spinner baits, soft-plastic baits, and most top-water lures. The longest largemouth caught on record in West Virginia was 9.62 pounds and 25.75 inches and was taken in 2001 on Dog Run Lake, near Clarksburg, WV, by Eli Gain. The longest was 12.28 pounds and 24.8 inches and was taken by David W. Heeter at a farm pond in Grant County in 1994.

Muskie

Good muskie fishing is common among the smaller lakes and moderately large streams in West Virginia. According to the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources, the most effective bait and tackle for muskellunge include suckers, large minnows, large spinners, live creek chubs, and lures that imitate minnows. The West Virginia records for both the longest and largest muskies are from Stonecoal Lake, near Weston, WV. The longest was 38.5 pounds and 52.7 inches and was taken in 2003 by Glenn Boyd. The largest was 49.75 pounds and 50.37 inches and was taken in 1997 by Anna Marsh.

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass fishing is best among the largest rivers in West Virginia. According to the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources, the most effective bait and tackle for smallmouth include jigs, crayfish, crankbaits, night crawlers, hellgrammites, soft plastic and top-water baits and medium-light and ultra-light spinning tackle and artificial lures that resemble minnows. The longest smallmouth bass caught on record in West Virginia was 7.5 pounds and 25.5 inches and was taken in the New River in 1976 by Franklin J. Elliott. The largest was 9.75 pounds and 24.25 inches and was taken in the South Branch of the Potomac River in 1971 by David Lindsay.

Striped and Hybrid Striped Bass

Some of West Virginia’s largest lakes and rivers are favored among anglers for their striped bass and hybrid-striped bass. According to the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources, the most effective bait for both fish include white jigs, live minnows, silver spoons, imitation shad lures. The largest striped bass caught on record in West Virginia was 45.70 pounds and 47.16 inches long and was taken in Bluestone Lake by James Brooks in 2010. The longest hybrid striped bass was 14 pounds and 32.1 inches and was taken on Kanawha River by Frankie Harris in 2000, and the heaviest was 16.75 pounds and 31.5 inches long was was taken by Robert Honaker, also in the Kanawha River.

Trout

Highland streams that splash down from the Allegheny Mountains region of eastern West Virginia are among the best trout streams in the eastern U.S. The largest brook trout taken on record in West Virginia was 22.25 inches long and 7.64 pounds and was pulled out of the Shavers Fork of the Cheat River by Gary M. Chapman in 2004. The longest brook was 23.5 inches long and 4.78 pounds and was taken on Lost River in 1981 by Jack E. Foltz. The largest and longest rainbow trout on record in West Virginia was taken April 30, 2014, by Eric Files Sr., who pulled the 33.11-inch, 19.40-pound specimen from a private pond in Berkeley County. The largest golden on record was 26.4 inches long and 9.31 pounds and was taken by Danny Crider in 1998 on Brushy Fork Lake. The largest and longest brown trout taken on record was 32 inches long and weighed 16 pounds and was pulled out of the South Branch of the Potomac River in 1968 by Paul Barker. The largest and longest tiger trout taken on record was 28.7 inches long and 10.65 pounds and was pulled out of the Krodel Lake, in Mason County, in 2011 by Mike Connolly.

Walleye

Favorite fishing waters for walleye are found throughout West Virginia, though most are concentrated on lakes and rivers near the center of the state. According to the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources, the most effective bait for walleye in West Virginia are jigs, night crawlers, live minnows, and spinners and crankbaits that imitate minnows. The longest walleye caught on record in West Virginia was 15 pounds and 35 inches and was taken in 1976 at Kanawha Falls, near Gauley Bridge, WV, by Fred Cline. The largest was 18.97 pounds and 30.87 inches long and was taken on the Elk River by Jerry Rose in 2004.

White Bass

The most popular destinations for white bass in West Virginia are its largest rivers, though its lakes also produce excellent specimens. According to the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources, the most effective bait for white bass are jigs, spinners, streamers, crankbaits, and live minnows. The largest white bass caught on record in West Virginia was 4.56 pounds and 20 inches long and was taken on the New River by Louis Puskas in 1985.

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Fishing is one of the most popular forms of recreation accommodated in West Virginia, and it’s hard to keep up with the constant change and expansion. If you’ve noted inaccuracies in our content or would like to contribute as a correspondent, please contact a member of our editorial staff.

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