Regional Reports-East

Cheat Lake

Some 1.7 million walleye fry were stocked in 1,700-acre Cheat Lake last November-that's 1,000 walleyes per acre. The state DNR stocked the lake with walleyes for the first time ever in preparation for fishing seasons several years away (no walleyes were in the lake prior to the stocking). DNR plans to stock walleyes once each year for the next two years. However, the lake's improved water quality and an increase in forage fish should sustain a reproducing walleye population."I don't know why the lake is doing so well," says Frank Jernejcic, a state fisheries biologist. "We have acid drainage problems from mines upstream, yet bass fishing tournaments have had high success rates since 1990. At first we thought it was just an anomaly, but the lake has maintained itself." Jernejcic is confident that a walleye sport fishery can be established and that anglers should be catching 16- to 18-inch fish as early as 2003. By then biologists should be able to determine if walleye reproduction in Cheat Lake is feasible for the long term. Jernejcic says, "I'm optimistic." Can you wait three years? Cheat Lake is a short distance northeast of Morgantown. Contact: Frank Jernejcic, fisheries biologist, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, District I (304-367-2720).