For those of you from West Virginia, this report should be very valuable. For those of you not from WV, let this analysis serve as a reason for you to make a trip down South to the state known for being “Wild and Wonderful”!
In an effort to provide the most relevant information to our members (by the way, this report is a direct result of a request from one of our members, Todd – remember, if you are a paying member of Musky Lure Club, you can access Musky Analytics and the wealth of information we can provide), we undertook a review of all of the muskies caught in WV over the last 5 years (2007-2011). Here is what we found:
- West Virginia produces Musky – it is definitely worth a trip, especially if you consider its productivity in the months were we, up North, do not have a fishing season. For the time of year when we are unable to fish (Dec. to April), WV anglers are busy catching fish – over 400 fish have been caught by Muskies Inc. members duing the last 5 years during December to April.
- This might seem low, but consider the following – the number of active musky fishermen in WV is most likely much less than what it is up here in Wisconsin or Minnesota. In fact, we see in the data a massive uptick in the number of fish being caught from 191 in 2007 to 438 in 2011, an increase of 130% in just 4 years:
- The above increase is most likely due to increasing interest in musky fishing not necesarrily increasing productivity – because the growth rate in musky caught is so high, we can deduce there is plenty of opportunity. In other words, West Virginia does not have the fishing pressures we are accustomed to up North, and is just waiting for musky fisherman to enjoy its supply of great fish!
- The greatest percent of fish caught is in the month of July, followed by August, June and May; however fish are caught in December to March (months in number format to the right):
- As one can imagine, there are limited fisheries in West Virginia that can support Musky, so when you make the trip down, or if you live in WV, you can focus your attention. 5 Lakes/Rivers (out of the ~40 total lakes/fisheries where recorded fish have been caught) account for over 50% of all the fish caught in WV, these are:
- Stonewall Jackson Lake (17%)
- Middle Island Creek (13%)
- Little Kanawha River (12%)
- North Bend (9%)
- NF Hughes River (6%)
With all of that being said, let’s take a quick look at the top 2 producers, Stonewall and Middle Island.
- Stonewall Jackson
- Best Month: July
- Best BaitType: Crankbaits
- Best Lure: Silver Crane Bait
- Best Conditions: Clear Skies, Calm Winds from the NW
- Average Size Fish: 38.5″
- Biggest Fish: 53.25″
- Middle Island Creek
- Best Month: June
- Best BaitType: Crankbaits
- Best Lure: White Crane Bait
- Best Conditions: Clear Sky with a Slight Southwest Wind
- Average Size Fish: 36.9″
- Biggest Fish: 47″
Hope the above data summary provides all of you with at least some motivation to consider a trip down South! For those of you already in West Virginia, I hope this gave you some useful tidbits.
Also, please be aware that the above simply summarized the data. We’re going to get to work on a model that will tell us the best bait/lake combination in West Virginia to catch the big fish! Predicting fish size based on different conditions is very different than summarizing fish caught (which was done above). By using the predictions from the model, we can determine the factors that really matter to the big fish, and we can communicate these factors to all of you! In other words, we will be using advanced statistics to tell you where to fish and what to use – and, if you follow these recommendations, you can be guaranteed that you are putting yourself in the best position possible to increase the size of the fish you catch!