Fishing the Mountains Streams (part 2)

June 6, 2014 |

Today, fly-fishing in West Virginia is a big sport that attracts thousands of visitors each year to the mountain state. The streams of the Monongahela National Forest in Pocahontas County, are some of the best known for trout fishing in the region. With warmer weather arriving in spring, we decided to check out some of these mountain streams and talk so some of the folks who come out here to fish.

I’m Bob Harvey I’m from Peterstown, West Virginia and I’m up here enjoying the day fishing,” Bob Harvey is spending the day fishing on the Williams River, by the Tea Creek Campground in the National Forest. This is a popular fly fishing spot for anglers—or sport fishermen—because of its accessible location.

Fishing at the Tea Creek Campground.

“I like it because it’s kind of isolated you have about 22 miles of river here, there’s no housing, just people out here enjoying themselves.”

“Have you caught anything today?”

“Yes I have, I caught one rainbow trout. This is what I call the catch and grease area. We take these home and eat them!”

Tea Creek Campground.

The mountain streams in Pocahontas and surrounding counties are known for their trout fishing. Native brook trout once thrived here and countless stories from past generations tell of fishing trips to the mountains that would net hundreds of trout. Today, you’re lucky if you catch a handful of trout on a day on the stream. The trout population is smaller, but it is more diverse, since the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources began stocking streams with Brown, Rainbow, and Golden in addition to the native brook trout. Jeff Williams manages the DNR trout hatchery in Edray that stocks the streams in the area.

At the Edray Trout Hatchery.

“My name is Jeff Williams, I’m the manager of the Edray trout hatchery. We are one of seven trout hatchery is with the West Virginia DNR. We were built in 1932 by the Civilian Conservation Corps and pretty much nothing here has changed since then [laughs]. Just about every building here is original except for two.

Basically, we raise Brooke and Brown from egg, which we take ourselves and hatch and also we stock rainbow and gold which come from other hatcheries because we don’t have the water in the summertime to support that — it’s all trout, nothing but trout here.”

Edtray trout hatchery.

Eight rivers originate in the high rugged mountains of Pocahontas County, and the cool mountain tributaries make an ideal environment for trout, which tend to inhabit cold, clean water. For this reason, people from all over the state and the region come to fly-fish in the streams here. Gil Willis, runs the Elk River Inn & Restaurant, located at the headwaters of the Elk River. Gil also runs a touring center that offers mountain biking, cross country skiing, and guided fly- fishing trips.

“You know we’re down here next to the elk River, you can hear it. I live along 219. I operate a small tourism based business here called the Elk River Inn & Restaurant.

Right as the winter ends, it’s almost like the same day, people start showing up and wanting to fish on their own or doing guided trips. Even do trips all winter, too, if the temperature is over 33°, you wouldn’t think it but there are bugs hatching and there are people that want to come out and fish in the winter. But primarily, the prime time is late April into July.”

Trout angling on the Elk River.

Outdoor recreation is a big industry in counties like Pocahontas, and visitors come year round for activities like fly-fishing, hunting, and skiing. For this reason, many locals like Gil are really invested in maintaining the quality of the local streams and forests, and seeing continued land use in beneficial and sustainable ways.

“You know, fishing and doing things in the outdoors, hunting, biking, cycling, these are very inexpensive, compared to other things, for a family and it’s important that we take care of our water and keep it clean and keep in good shape because it’s a resource that will continue to get back to us in many many ways.”


Check out part one of this story, which explored fishing the mountain streams in past generations.

You can find more information on the Elk River Inn & Restaurant here, as well as the Elk River Touring Center here. The Tea Creek Campground is located at the confluence of Tea Creek and the Williams River, just off the Highland Scenic Highway about 18 miles from Marlinton. Check the Monongahela National Forest website for directions and more information.


Category: Blog, Collections, Elkins to Marlinton, Family & Community

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