West Virginia is home to some pretty good fishing. Of course, you need to find a good lake to make the most of your fishing trip. There are many options, but the best one for you depends on your preferences, such as the exact kind of fish you’re looking to catch.
We’ve done all the research, including which lakes have which fish. Check it out below!
1. Summersville Lake
Summersville Lake is a reservoir located in Nicholas County, West Virginia. It is the largest lake in the state, with over 2,700 miles of water and over 60 miles of shoreline. It is a very big lake. The lake is formed by a rock-filled dam on the Gauley River, which is just south of Summersville.
This lake is easily accessible thanks to the nearby interstates. It’s within a six-to-eight-hour drive of 60% of the US population. Therefore, you can expect it to be very busy.
Summersville Lake is a popular boating, swimming, scuba diving, picnicking, and fishing destination. It’s home to many fish species, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, catfish, and muskie. The water quality is exceptional, and the sheer sandstone cliff makes it a very beautiful place to visit.
Summersville Lake has many different docks, piers, and boat ramps. It’s built for many fishermen to visit each day. There is a $ 5-a-day use fee for boat launching. However, frequent boat launchers can purchase an annual pass. Nearby, you’ll find conveniently located grocery stores, restaurants, and service stations.
2. Stonewall Jackson Lake
Gorgeous Stonewall Jackson Lake is a reservoir located in Lewis County, West Virginia. It’s a pretty large lake at 2,630 acres, and it’s only three miles off I-79.
This lake has been a popular destination for recreation, especially fishing. It’s home to largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, and muskie. According to many sources, it’s considered the best bass lake in West Virginia.
The lake also has a 374-slip marina, a lighthouse, and a nearby state park. It has several boat ramps and fishing piers for anglers to use, with a $5 fee to use the boat launches. Annual passes are available, as well.
Besides fishing, you can also play at the nearby 18-hole championship golf course. The nearby town of Weston has many attractions, too, including the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum and the Museum of American Glass (which is far more interesting than it sounds).
3. Burnsville Lake
This lake is located just southeast of Burnsville, as you might guess from its name. It’s formed by a dam on the Little Kanawha River, which was built to control flooding in 1938. The lake covers 968 acres and controls the runoff for the surrounding area.
On top of controlling flooding, this lake is also a popular destination for outdoor activities. Its home to various fish species, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, crappie, bluegill, and catfish. The lake also has your usual marina, boat rentals, and several boat ramps.
There are also two nearby campgrounds: Riffle Run Campground and Bulltown Campground. Both provide a place to stay if you want a longer fishing trip.
4. Stonecoal Lake
Stonecoal Lake is a reservoir in Lewis and Upshur Counties, between Weston and Buckhannon, West Virginia. It is an impoundment of Stonecoal Creek, a tributary of the West Fork River. The lake covers 550 acres and is surrounded by the 3,000-acre Stonecoal Lake Wildlife Management Area.
Plenty of fish are in this lake, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, and muskie. The lake holds two state records for muskies, making it a very good place to catch them. It has a rocky shoreline, clear water, and two boat ramps.
The lake area also offers hunting opportunities because a wildlife management area surrounds it. Hardwood forests, brushy fields, and old pastures provide plenty of habitat for deer, turkey, and waterfowl.
Camping and open fires are prohibited in the area, though there are nearby hotels and lodges for visitors.
5. Tygart Lake
Tygart Lake is another popular fishing destination in West Virginia. It’s located in Taylor County near Grafton. It is an impoundment of the Tygart Valley River, hence the lake’s name. It was created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1938 for hydroelectric power and flood control. In total, the lake covers 1,750 acres.
This lake hosts a sizeable population of panfish, crappie, channel catfish, bass, and walleye. It even offers night fishing for those wanting to try something different. The marina and boat ramps make accessing the lake a bit easier.
Tygart Lake also has a state park providing visitors with lodging and camping facilities. There are lodges, cabins, cottages, and campgrounds. Therefore, this lake works great for those wanting an extended camping trip.
Tygart Lake is a hidden gem nestled in the hills of West Virginia, just a 30-minute drive from Morgantown, Fairmont, or Bridgeport.
6. Cheat Lake
Cheat Lake is a popular fishing spot for anglers of all ages and experience levels. You can expect largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, yellow perch, white bass, catfish, and walleye, all lurking below the lake’s surface.
The lake is a reservoir located in Monongalia County – about 10 miles east of Morgantown. It was created largely for flood control but also provides hydroelectric power. The lake spans 1,730 acres and has 43 miles of shoreline.
This lake surprisingly offers night fishing, making it an interesting fishing place. The two marinas and boat ramps provide everything you need to go fishing immediately.
Cheat Lake provides lodging and camping facilities for visitors looking to make a longer trip to the lake. You’ll find many accommodations, including lodges, cottages, and campgrounds. The surrounding park also has a golf course and a swimming beach, so you can do far more than just fish.
7. Bluestone Lake
Like most lakes on this list, Bluestone Lake is actually a reservoir. The U.S. Army Corps made it to provide flood control and hydraulic power to the surrounding area. It covers 2,040 acres, including parts of the Bluestone River.
This lake is best known for its smallmouth bass, rock bass, and bluegill populations. However, the lake is stocked with rainbow trout in the winter, so they can be found, too. The lake is perfect for anglers, with fishing piers, several boat ramps, boat rentals, and a marina.
It is located in a state park and a wildlife management area, so there are many things to do around the lake, too. There are many places to stay, including campgrounds and lodges. There is also a hiking trail, golf course, and a swimming beach.
8. Jennings Randolph Lake
Jennings Randolph Lake is located about eight miles upstream from Bloomington, Maryland. However, it is technically located in both Maryland and West Virginia. It’s a reservoir on the North Branch Potomac River in Garret County, Maryland, and Mineral County, West Virginia.
This lake is an extremely popular fishing destination. It’s stocked with walleye regularly and is known for producing trophy-sized fish. While it’s best known for walleye fishing, you’ll also find bass, trout, catfish, and perch. There are several boat ramps and fishing piers, so getting into the water is easy despite how crowded it often is.
There are also camping facilities for those looking to extend their trip. Stay at the Howell Run Campground or the Robert W. Craig Campground. Both offer a variety of sites, restrooms, and showers. There is also a picnic area with tables and grills.
9. Elk River
While not technically a lake, Elk River is a very popular fishing destination in West Virginia. It is home to a thriving population of trout, smallmouth bass, and muskie. The river also offers scenic views and isn’t as crowded as other spots (due to its long path). Therefore, it’s a great option for those looking to escape the crowds.
There are many access points along the river, including several boat ramps.
Elk River travels through several counties in West Virginia. It’s a tributary of the Kanawha River, which also offers great fishing opportunities. Elk River starts at the Allegheny Mountains in Pocahontas County and joins the Kanawha River at Charleston.
There are several camping facilities for visitors along the river. There is even a 72-mile water trail for paddlers, including maps and signs. The river is located within a wildlife management area that provides plenty of habitat for deer, turkey, and waterfowl.
10. Kanawha River
The Kanawha River is one of the biggest rivers in West Virginia, so it is a very popular place to fish. There are several lakes along the river, but they all provide excellent fishing. Bass, catfish, and walleye thrive in the river. However, you can also find cold water species like trout and muskie.
This river is a tributary of the Ohio River and is formed when the New River and Gauley River meet near Charleston.
Many anglers love that this river has many boat ramps and access points. Therefore, you can get into the river at many different places, limiting travel time. The scenic views also help the river’s popularity, too.
This river is long and popular, so there are many campsites and other accommodations for visitors. It’s also a popular place for hunters, as the surrounding area provides rich deer, turkey, and waterfowl habitats.
11. Ohio River
The Ohio River flows along the western border of West Virginia. It’s a tributary of the Mississippi River and one of the largest rivers in the country. The river is home to both warm and cold-water species, including bass, catfish, walleye, trout, and muskie. With several access points, the river is easy to access.
Because this river is so long, fishing can differ greatly from one area to another. Several lakes along the river provide key habitats for fish species. Where you fish along the river can drastically change what you catch. However, this also means that there is a little something for everyone.
12. R.D. Bailey Lake
While not as popular as other lakes, the R.D. Bailey Lake still provides plenty of fishing opportunities, including walleye, bass, catfish, and trout. There are many scenic views, and wildlife is plentiful. Anglers often enjoy the many fishing piers, which make fishing easy.
This lake covers 630 acres and has a maximum depth of 296 feet. It is actually a reservoir that was built for flood control in Wyoming and Mingo counties in 1980.
There are plenty of camping areas for visitors to take advantage of, too. For instance, you can stop at Guyandotte Campground or the Big Branch Day Use Area, which provides places to “set up shop” while fishing. A visitors center also offers free information on fishing in the area.
Summary of The 12 Best Fishing Lakes in West Virginia
|1||Summersville Lake||Nicholas County|
|2||Stonewall Jackson Lake||Lewis County|
|3||Burnsville Lake||south of Burnsville|
|4||Stonecoal Lake||Lewis and Upshur Counties|
|5||Tygart Lake||Taylor County|
|6||Cheat Lake||Monongalia County|
|7||Bluestone Lake||near Hinton|
|8||Jennings Randolph Lake||Garret County, Maryland, and Mineral County, West Virginia|
|9||Elk River||flows through Randolph, Webster, Braxton, Clay, and Kanawha Counties|
|10||Kanawha River||Begins in Fayette County, runs through Mason County|
|11||Ohio River||along the western border of West Virginia|
|12||R.D. Bailey Lake||Wyoming and Mingo Counties|
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.