WV Wildlife: Structures Drawing in a wide variety of Fish at Summersville Lake

Underwater footage proves that these structures are already covered with fish. Several different species use these habitats for feeding, hiding and spawning. (Courtesy: Aaron Yeager WVDNR)

It doesn't really matter what type of species you're talking about, but most fish like cover.

That cover can be rock outcrops, weeds or even trees--just something to give the fish, and their little ones, an underwater house so to speak for spawning, feeding & even hiding purposes.

At Summersville Lake, these habitats are simply lacking. The largest lake in West Virginia was made by damming up the Gauley River for flood control purposes by the US Army Corps of Engineers in the 1960s. Creating fish habitat then was simply an afterthought.

That's why WVDNR fisheries biologist, Aaron Yeager, and technician, Jeremy Quick, have been working hard here for the last two years.

Recently, Yeager showed us how that work was paying off via sonar.

"See, these are the tree structures. The tree piles that we put in, and these are fish hanging off the edge", explained Yeager.

Underwater video confirms that these random piles of brush and trees--which were brought down to the lake by heavy machinery--are already attracting a wide variety of fish!

"Yellow perch, crappie--white and black crappie--bluegill. They all need more natural, woody-type complex structure. And if we can help those fish--we can help the larger predatory fish like walleye and smallmouth and flathead catfish in here. It's just a matter of dropping a line in and seeing if anything is hungry", said Yeager.

And since it was a beautiful day, we tried just that! Given the chilly April that we saw, though, water temperatures were still a little on the cool side. The fish weren't too active--at least yet--but Aaron did manage to catch a nice bass!

"Pretty nice little smallmouth. Right out of that tree we put in".

Once the water continues to warm-up, Yeager says these structures are a blast to fish around--even perfect for kids new to fishing.

"In the summer, when the fish are really on these structures heavily, it's a fish every cast! And it is that simple--you add it, and the fish will come".

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