By Bob Fala Outdoors Columnist
July 6, 2014
Smallmouth bass can literally make for the second shift of big time fishing action. That is, for when the springtime trout action comes to a halt, the scrappy smallmouths are more than willing to take on the summer fighting duties on the other end of the line. Whether it’s the traditional camp country river, stream, lake or the one just out your back door, there is no shortage of perhaps the Mountain State’s most frequently caught game fish species, the venerable smallmouth bass.
The million or so stocked trout in West Virginia have either been caught out or become somewhat dormant. The naturally reproducing smallmouth bass provide their brethren the old fashioned way without the tremendous costs of a hatchery dependent fishery. And that proposition my friends is one of nirvana to the fish manager.
What’s more, with continually improving water quality and an all but universal catch and release ethic practiced by the bass angling community, the fishing is getting better and better all the time. In testament, the trophy fish citation size for smallmouth bass in the Mountain State had to be raised from three to four pounds some years back. That was done to prevent the State from being inundated with too many trophy applications. Problems, problems…
The common denominator for the smallmouth bass is its second to none ounce for ounce fighting ability. Yet another is its fondness for rocky bottomed substrate. And by the way, its mouth is in no shape or fashion small, especially in comparison to that of a trout. The namesake diminution merely segregates it from its bigger mouth cousin, the largemouth bass of course.
The relatively fast flowing, rocky bottomed Greenbrier, New, Cacapon and Potomac Forks are perhaps the state’s best known smallmouth rivers. Summersville may take the top honors in the lake category. But you certainly don’t have to travel far for a sampling of smallmouth action. Just like for deer, bear and turkey, there is plenty of opportunity all but out the back door.
Mingo County has the shoal like portions of the Tug Fork, Pigeon Creek and the mighty Guyandotte River for starters. Wyoming County may lay claim to the rocky bottomed upper Guyandotte and Clear Fork, a major tributary. Logan has many miles of a now much bigger lower Guyandotte River. Throw in some of its tributaries for some small stream action the likes of Huff and Buffalo Creeks and Spruce Fork.
Spruce Fork makes its way bigger and better into Boone County where it picks up Pond Fork to form the Little Coal and then the Big Coal and its fine bass fisheries of another “Clear” Fork and Marsh Fork and just where do you start on the local level? Like for modern era squirrel hunting, these are all mostly under-utilized backyard resources.
Popular baits include night crawlers, minnows, crayfish and a host of artificial baits that imitate them. After that, all you need is a fishing pole, a pair of old sneakers for wading and a little elbow grease….
In the most recent May election cycle, five more counties were voted in to the West Virginia Sunday hunting category. This now brings the state total to nineteen of its 55 counties that afford the option, which already includes the bulk of the local counties. The new five are: Braxton, Calhoun, Nicholas, Webster and Wirt. Again, this is for private lands only with written permission of the landowner. The WVDNR web-page (wvdnr.gov) has been updated to reflect this change in case you need to refer back.