Regional Reports-East

Summersville Lake

For some mysterious reason, the miserable late-winter weather of February and March triggers the finest walleye fishing of the year on Summersville Lake. "No other time of year comes close," says C.J. Hamilton, lake resource manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The fish tend to bunch up in the upper portion of the lake near the Route 39 bridge, attracted to the in-flowing current of the Gauley River. The relatively shallow, rocky waters here provide ideal spawning habitat for the walleyes. Though fish of one to three pounds dominate most anglers' catches, trophy walleyes from five to six pounds are caught with good frequency. "These walleyes stuff themselves on whatever food they manage to locate," says Bert Pierce, the former chief of warm-water fisheries for the state Division of Natural Resources. In the past, Summersville walleyes have hit white bucktail jigs tipped with four- to five-inch minnows. With the winter draw-down of 77 feet, the 2,790-acre impoundment shrinks to just 920 acres, making it much easier to cover. Contact: West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (304-558-2771).