By: Chris Shaffer
Northern West Virginia doesn’t boast the same grand trout fisheries the central and southern portion of the state do. Meanwhile, there are a few season fisheries that draw large crowds and enable anglers to trout fish close to home. They aren’t destinations, perhaps opportunities for anglers to catch a limit without having to venture a few hours south or north into Pennsylvania.
A prime example of this is little Coopers Rock Lake, a place Morgantown and Fairmont residents smother when the trout truck arrives. A small pond that can be seen alongside Interstate 68, Coopers Rock Lake rests in the Cooper Rock State Forest and gets slammed by anglers. In fact, if you arrive within a few days of a stocking expect wall-to-wall anglers. Show up the day of a stocking and it will be a chore to find a place to cast from.
Nevertheless, this fishery expires by the end of May when water gets too warm to support trout. On the other hand, for the next few weeks anglers will find golden rainbows, brook trout, rainbows and some browns. Most of them tend to run 12 inches, but trophy trout have been planted this year and remain available. The lake was last stocked May 2 and has a large inventory of trout currently.
There’s no secret to catching trout at Coopers Rock. It’s a bank anglers dream. The entire shoreline alongside the road and adjacent to the parking area is fit for anglers to toss out from the shore. Access is favorable. In fact, there are few better places in the region to bring kids fishing. Not only are the trout corralled into a fairly small lake, but the shoreline is gently sloped so those of all ages can find a spot.
While anglers find success with an array of methods dough bait stands out with locals. Of course, we showed with Pautzke Fire Bait (Chartreuse, Natural, Garlic Salmon Egg & Rainbow) and caught and released trout when we stopped to check the place out on the way to Elkins a few weeks ago. It’s the perfect place to wet a line before or after work and a short distance from Morgantown.
The water is fairly clear (and can get clearer if it hasn’t rained much recently). There’s no need for fancy tackle. An inexpensive, lightweight rod is ideal. I’d recommend four-pound test and even fluorocarbon, which likely won’t be necessary this week with all that rain that’s fallen recently. Traditional sliding sinker setups are ideal. You can get away with using a salmon egg style hook or a dough bait hook.
Editor’s Note: There’s no fee to park at Coopers Rock. For more information on updated stocking reports please visit the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources http://www.wvdnr.gov/Fishing/stocking/DailyStock.shtm.