In the state of West Virginia flows some of the most beautiful rivers and streams you will find anywhere in the world. In those mountain arteries are an abundance of different species of fish that will challenge the best anglers to a great day of fishing.
Here in Clay, we have one of the best rivers anywhere, and it is basically unknown to many anglers who choose to fish the New, the Potomac and the Greenbrier rivers. Although each one of those rivers are great in their own right, the Elk River, if you know how to fish it, will yield citation smallmouth as well as others like Muskie and walleye.
The Elk has a lot of opportunities that other well-fished rivers, like the New and Greenbrier, do not. The Elk has a very low slope which affords the angler more and longer float trips because it only has class I rapids unlike the others who commonly have class III and IV. The Elk has few rocky areas and is mostly made up of woody structures that hide the big fishes. There are a lot of downed trees that have been washed up on the outside curves of the river and many times pushed into the deeper eddies. There are numerous brush piles as well as sunken logs that are still found from the old days of the lumber industry. Lastly, the Elk is a river that can be fished year round, no matter where you fish.
There are several float trips you may want to try. Clay to Elkhurst is a great one, and depending on where you want to end your trip, you can float and fish for roughly 15 miles. This float is remote for the most part, and the angler can net some good small mouth in this area. From Elkhurst to Queen Shoals is another trip that will be sure to fill your angling needs. Through this section is a lot of even-tempered water, and a boat with a trolling motor or small motor would do well in this area. All through the Elk there are deep eddies and pockets of deep water where the Muskie fisherman and the walleye fisherman would be right at home.
To be successful on the Elk requires a little patience and know-how. A person must know the habits of bass or any other species to do well. Some of the best places on a river to fish are outside curves and current breaks – anything that slows the pace of the river down because bass have a harder time living in a fast current. Bass stay in or near deep pools in the summer and come in the shallows during spawn. During early morning and evening the bass will come up shallower, and this is where you will need to fish the inside of the curves in the river. I could go on and on about fishing the Elk as there are many different techniques one can use. Some are not in any book you can read; they are time tested and proven to work.
Clay has been the home of several of the best river anglers anywhere. One at the top of his class was Eric Workman, a Muskie fisherman that wrote the book on how to fish for Muskie. Jimmy Brogan is also a great river fisherman among many others. There are some new faces on the block that are making a name for themselves on the Elk and in hidden ponds around the state.
Lexi Woodyard has learned how to not only catch bass, but to catch big bass. She is a firm believer in catch and release, unless you’re hungry. Her key is you can catch bass anywhere on the river at any given time but it is water depth that will net the big ones.
Sharaiah McCarty is also a hog hunter when it comes to bass fishing. She consistently nets three to six pound bass from rivers and ponds. Her tip is to keep your line in the water and always get permission from a pond owner before going for a state record.
We all have our ways to fish, and some are better than others. Nobody will tell their true secrets, but that’s what makes it fun. The Elk River is a great place to fish and enjoy; understanding it will make your fishing trip a lot better.
Don’t forget the bass tournament this coming weekend during the Elk River festival. So, the next time you get a chance to get back to nature, go get you a boat, find your place on the bank, or find a deep pocket and make it your own. Catch some fish and send in your pictures and tales of your trip on the mighty Elk River.