Trout From Above


It’s not a site you see very often in West Virginia.  A low-flying helicopter hovers just a few feet above the Gauley River while volunteers on either side dump a trashcan filled with fish into the water below.   This week, the West Virginia Professional River Outfitters Association and the DNR hooked up for one of their annual trout stockings on the remote waterway in Nicholas County.

"We took about a thousand pounds of trout and stocked them below the tailwaters of Summersville Dam," said Mark Lewis, executive director of WV-PRO. "The goal is to create a more remote fishery, where people can hike in and get that scenic experience and create a really nice fishery down there."

The annual stockings are funded by a fee that’s added to the cost of every Gauley River rafting trip in the fall.   The Gauley Season is created by a series of fall releases of water from Summersville Lake.  The controlled release comes as the Corps of Engineer’s prepares the reservoir for summer runoff and snow melt.   Downstream, the timed release of the water creates Class V whitewater conditions and draws people from around the world for the thrill of the ride.   The stocking is a way the river outfitters give back to the public for their commercial use of the resource.

"The (whitewater) outfitters pay into a fund that is administered by the DNR," explained Lewis. "We partner with them to provide the manpower and they administer the logistics."

The logistics can be complicated.  Crews ferry fish from the stock truck, via trashcan to the chopper.  The aircraft then takes run after run down river to put the fish into the remote waterway.  Anglers hoping to catch some of the trout will have to hoof it into the canyon and back out.  There is no vehicle traffic in most of the location.

"We start with the pools just below the dam.  Then with each successive trip we move downstream," Lewis said. "We try to drop them into the pools just below the rapids."

When it’s not raging with the fall whitewater, the Gauley is a gently flowing mountain stream.   The temperatures coming out of the bottom release Summersville Dam stay at a level that will carry trout all summer under normal circumstances.

"The water temperatures out of the base of the dam, generally at this time of year are below 60-degree and the trout will hold over," said Lewis. "They will grow and they will achieve a more natural coloration.  They’re just beautiful to catch after they’ve been in the river six months to a year."

The trout stocked this week all average between one and 1.5 pounds.   The group plans to have another stocking later in the fall after the Gauley Season is complete. 


More Outdoors

DNR Police ready for start of boating weekend
Memorial Day weekend typically kicks off the pleasure boating season, officers will be looking for break downs and violations on the waters of the Mountain State.
May 25, 2023 - 2:29 pm
Hunting is a family affair for the Shell family in Wyoming County
Buford and Lena Shell and their 11 year old son Levi all tag out during the spring gobbler season, for the second time in three years.
May 22, 2023 - 2:34 pm
Smallmouth hunting on Lake Erie
Just a few hours drive north of West Virginia, Lake Erie can be a smallmouth bass fishing paradise during the spring months
May 19, 2023 - 5:34 am
Scott wins Lake Ontario fishing derby
A vacation fishing trip to Lake Ontario turned into a money maker for WV DNR's Mark Scott
May 18, 2023 - 10:27 am

Your Comments