Monongahela National Forest provides boundless angling opportunities

Chris Ellis/For The Register-HeraldNo matter what level angler you may be, the Monongahela National Forest offers something for everyone, writes Chris Ellis.

It’s that time of year when children of all ages think about spring and remote places to relax during their spring break. Growing up on Elk River, my dreams of the perfect spring break were the Monongahela Forest and getting lost in the “mountains.”

The vastness, the beauty, the mountain air — all were exciting and could be found in the forest. But to be honest, fishing for trout was the star of the show and main draw for me, my family and our friends. I spent many spring days in the mountains and still long for their tranquility today.

So when a note passed across my desk from the forest service about one of my favorite places on Earth, I simply had to share it.

Whether you are an avid trout angler in pursuit of those colorful and elusive native brookies, the weekend angler seeking a high-quality fishing experience or a visitor just traveling through the area, the Monongahela National Forest is for you!

The Monongahela is home to 87 species of fish, including a wide variety of game fishes and associated nongame fish species. With more than 900,000 acres of National Forest System lands that range in elevation from 1,425 to 4,863 feet above sea level, the Monongahela offers a diversity of freshwater fishing experiences for everyone. You will find an assortment of aquatic habitats to explore and enjoy in the hundreds of miles of mountain streams and the more than 250 acres of man-made lakes on the forest.

The Monongahela National Forest features more than 600 miles of coldwater streams that are inhabited year-round by native brook trout. These streams are prized for the vital habitat they provide in sustaining West Virginia’s only native trout. In addition, some trout streams on the forest have become home to non-native rainbow and brown trout populations that are now wild and naturally reproducing.

Approximately 350 miles of stream in the forest provide seasonal trout waters that transition exclusively into coolwater or warmwater fisheries as summer makes its way into the West Virginia highlands. Many of these streams are stocked during the fall, winter and spring with hatchery-raised rainbow, golden rainbow, brown and brook trout by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to provide put-and-take trout fishing opportunities. The warmwater angler will especially enjoy honing his or her skill in streams such as the South Branch Potomac River and the Greenbrier River, which offer some of the state’s best smallmouth bass waters.

Those that enjoy the relaxing tranquility of lake fishing will want to experience the 251 acres of man-made lakes that are distributed among four reservoirs nestled in the mountains across the forest. Bass, bluegill, catfish and trout are fair game for those who wish to explore the water’s depth beneath the mirrored images cast upon these lakes.

Whether it is trout or bass, lakes or streams, you are sure to discover your fishing interests in the Monongahela National Forest.

Thanks for the note and the trip down memory lane. I appreciate it greatly and just marked a few days on my calendar — “trout fishing in the mountains.”

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