Cold Season Fishing To Warm Your Heart

Written by: Kenneth Reaves, Professional Angler & Writer – Perfect Captain

Fishing in West Virginia shouldn’t take a back seat in winter. You just need to know where the best spots are.

Here are 3 great places to cast a line in West Virginia during the cold winter season. You won’t be bored this winter if you venture out and fish!

#1 – Elk River

The upper Elk River is a prime fly-fishing spot for both seasoned and beginner anglers. Ask a local to point you toward one of the prime fishing spots like Mill Pool or Clay Banks.  Or you can try your hand on one of the two Catch & Release sections: a 4-mile section on the Back Fork of the Elk in Webster County or a 2-mile section on the main Elk River in Randolph County.

Trout are territorial and you will find them  in areas where they can feed without expending lots of energy such as undercut banks or eddies behind large rocks. If flyfishing, you will need to match the hatch with your fly. Trout can be very finicky in the clear cold waters so be prepared with a good selection of flies or other baits and downsizing to smaller baits is often the key!

If you want to target warmwater fish, try your hand catching musky, walleye and smallmouth bass in the Elk River downstream of Sutton Lake dam where these species are abundant. To target them, anglers should use  Jigs or swimbaits, live minnows or large glide baits for musky. Fish are cold-blooded so you will need to use something you can fish very slowly.   

If you’re looking for a place to stay, try Elk River Inn, where you’ll have access to a private stream. Before you head out for a day’s fishing, start your morning with their homemade blueberry pancakes and locally roasted coffee!

For dinner, head to the Foxfire Grill, where you can drool over the pork shanks with greens, potatoes and cornbread! The wings and roast beef are just as delicious.

#2 – Spruce Knob Lake

Spruce Knob Lake is near the highest point in West Virginia. The lake is stocked with trout beginning in January and continues through May. Anglers should use a light line and downsize their baits as the water is very cold and the trout can be finicky. 

You can also target bluegill in the area. Try small jigs tipped with waxworms for a little added enticement!

While you enjoy some restful fishing at Spruce Knob Lake, you are in perfect proximity to catch a glimpse of the beautiful Seneca Rocks. Whether you take in the view from the road or venture up for a rocky hike, you are sure to be enchanted by this grand structure.

Need a place to rest your head? Check out Smoke Hole Caverns & Log Cabins Resort to find the perfect spot for you.

#3 – Kanawha Falls

Kanawha Falls is just downstream of where the New and Gauley Rivers meet to form the Kanawha River. Winter fishing at the falls can be very good especially for musky and walleye. Each year several trophy-sized fish are caught by anglers!

Anglers can fish from shore or use a boat to access areas that bank anglers cannot reach. Winter is big fish time at the falls so make sure your gear is well maintained and suitable to handle large fish.

Best baits include live minnows or larger swimbaits. Anglers should make sure they are using at least medium-heavy gear to do battle with these large predatory fish!

After a day of fishing, head just 30 minutes up the road to the bustling and cultural town of Fayetteville. Find a restful night’s sleep at the Historic Morris Harvey House Bed & Breakfast.

Get a full dinner of smoked brisket and your favorite country veggies at The Pink Pig and head to The Stache for a sweet treat to round out the day.

Does this have you dreaming of winter adventure? It is not too late to be in the know this season in Almost Heaven. Sign up today to receive snowy updated straight to your inbox!

Kenneth Reaves

Kenneth Reaves has been a professional angler for over two decades, and has plenty of experience fishing competitively. He gets out on the water every chance he gets and shares his knowledge and passion over at Perfect Captain.

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This post was last updated on February 23, 2022