This sign posted at the Nitro boat ramp caused a stir, but DNR officials say it was put there by mistake and has since been removed. Although it may only be a matter of time before it is posted for real.

NITRO, W.VA. — A sign posted last week at the Nitro boat ramp caused a stir among bass fishermen on the Kanawha River.  The sign indicated largemouth bass virus had been detected in the water, but Jeff Hansbarger, fisheries biologist for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources said the sign had been placed there by mistake. The signs were one of a number of informational postings at boat ramps throughout the district and the one at Nitro was removed.

“Largemouth bass virus in District 5 has been found in the East Lynn Reservoir, the entire Ohio River, and the RC Byrd pool of the Kanawha River,” said Hansbarger. “Which would not include the Nitro access, but it would include Buffalo, Leon, and our Point Pleasant ramp.”

Hansbarger admits chances are pretty strong if it’s below the Winfield Lock and Dam, it’s upstream as well. However, ongoing monitoring and study hasn’t yielded a positive case of the virus upstream.

“We are currently testing fish collections and I’m right now looking at 2010 to 2012,” said Hansbarger. “That’s the results we have now, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t change in the future.”

The signs were a series of educational messages for anglers about invasive species as well as largemouth bass virus and the importance of cleaning a boat and livewell before moving to another body of water.  Hansbarger said there’s also a need to not transport water or fish from one body to another.

Hansbarger even suggested bass tournaments which cover multiple pools of a river can be problematic.

“That can be an issue and some of our staff are looking at ways and suggestions  to not allow that,” he said. “You definitely don’t want to move water from one pool to another.  You have it one pool but not another, that’s not to say it’s not there,but our testing hasn’t found it yet.”

The virus has only been around a few years.  Hansbarger said it impacts mostly larger fish at times of increased heat.

“It’s really magnified during warmer water.  It affects their swim bladder and usually affects larger fish two pounds or bigger,” he said. “Sometimes you’ll see them swimming on top of the water, there are not really any external characteristics or lesions associated with it, you mainly see them swimming on top.”

“It’s relatively new and we don’t know a lot about it. We’re studying it and a lot of other people are studying it, but right now we’re just trying to control the spread,” he added. “It’s a lot like some of the deer diseases, trying to control its spread.”

Hansbarger said there are guidelines posted on signs at the ramps and on the DNR website urging boaters to wash or at least wipe down their boats each time they pull them from the water and to use mild bleach in the livewells to clean them after each use.   But he stressed there’s no impact on humans.

“If you follow your normal guidelines and cook them the way you normally do, there’s really no threat to humans,” he said. “It’s a virus that really impacts the fish and doesn’t impact the consumer.”

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  • Dr. Sarcasm

    Only trashy people leave trash!

  • Fishman

    On the litter problem how about putting abar code on items sold and then match it with a camera recording Hmmm

  • Adam

    I share your concern for littering. I wish the state would pass tougher penalties for litterbugs, especially since they are rarely caught. My suggestion for littering penalties, at a minimum, should include a healthy fine, required community service of picking up trash, and the loss of hunting/fishing license for a year.

  • Brandon

    Sounds kinda fishy to me...doesn't the same water flow through all of the "pools" on the kanawha river...and to mention not allowing bass tournaments...hmmmmm

  • Litter hater

    I've noticed that too. WV in general has a terrible litter problem. It seems worse in the southern part of the state, but it's bad everywhere. Totally inexcusable.

  • Fred

    Why are fisherman such terrible litterbugs? Every popular fishing area has fishing-related trash strewn over the banks and throughout the surrounding vegetation.

  • Jeff

    WV fan from Boston or Craig from Mink Shoals, feel free to call me, I can elaborate further. Only so much I can say in the short interview. Mainly for education...Have a great day!

    Pt. Pleasant DNR office - 304 675 0871

  • Chris Lawrence

    It can, but they can also get over it and be okay. It's a virus which mainly impacts them, like the story said, when the water temperatures are high. It's an infection of their swim bladder. It's been a common problem in the south where it was first discovered maybe 15 to 20 years ago. It's been found in West Virginia--but hasn't caused any great negative impact on the bass numbers.

  • WVU fan in Boston

    “It’s relatively new and we don’t know a lot about it" and " there’s really no threat to humans,”


  • Craig from Mink Shoals

    Dang!!! Whats next? Does it kill the fish infected?