ELKINS, W.Va. — While much of West Virginian has sweltered through the month of July, West Virginia’s high mountains have been chilling. Well, that might be an over statement, but when the National Weather Service was handing out Extreme Heat Warnings a couple of weeks ago like hall passes in high school along the Ohio River, the high mountain counties were on nary a list for temperatures or heat index values to hit the triple-digits.
An 80 degree day with a mountain breeze is quite a respite from extreme summer conditions in the western lowlands. Add to that, streams flowing straight out off the mountains carry temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s in some places year round. Any questions about Almost Heaven?
The hidden gem which many anglers tend to overlook is those cool mountain streams are still teaming with trout. There are several streams in West Virginia which remains cool enough to sustain trout all year. A good many fishermen tend to lose track of those waters when the stock trucks are parked in late May. Trout Program Manager Dave Thorne for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources said it’s unfortunate, because anglers are missing out on the perfect time to head to the mountains.
“There are always cool spots in most of our rivers where fish will hunker down near the mouths of tributaries where the water is cooler,” he said.
But even Thorne admitted rainfall is the life blood of summertime trout fishing in West Virginia. Water temperatures will sustain trout, but the lack of water becomes the enemy when those streams start to run low with no substantial rain.
Years of experience in the agency’s put and take trout program has shown, despite the most ardent critics’ claims, the trout are not caught out by anglers in the spring.
“Data shows there’s quite a bit of carryover after the stock trucks quit running,” Thorne said.
“In the warmest summers, in the largest streams the fish will move out, die, or succumb to predators, but in the coldest streams they’ll carry over every year. We have a lot of fish that provide summer, late season, and winter fishing opportunities for people.”
“Last year we had an extended rainy summer. The fish held over really well and the rain kept the temperatures down and the flows up. It got fish into place where fishermen typically don’t get to go,” he said.
The summer of 2019 hasn’t been quite as wet as 2018, but there was substantial rainfall during the spring which has kept flows improved for the summer.