Friday, July 6, 2012

Cranberry & Williams River WV Part 2

Continued from Part 1

Friday morning we woke up at sunrise and headed out for a day of fishing. This time we drove a bit downstream before starting to walk the river. The fishing started off much slower this time, we walked for about 30 minutes before finding the first decent stretch of deeper water. I started catching creek chubs left and right and also a couple smallmouth. I was using pieces of nightcrawler on a small Aberdeen hook, the same method as the previous evening. The smallmouth weren't particularly big, averaging 6 to 10 inches. Pictured below is about the size of the average smallmouth throughout the entire trip.
Smallmouth Bass
At the end of the first hole I spotted a trout, which I managed to sneak up on and successfully catch. It was a rainbow trout, similar to the size from the previous evening. We then continued downstream in search of the next hole. Soon we found some deeper water around 2 huge boulders. I could see some bigger smallmouth hanging out underneath one of the large boulders but the angle of the rock and the current made getting a bait close enough impossible. I did catch a few rock bass at this spot. They were pretty average in size ranging from 4 to 8 inches.
Rock Bass
We headed further downstream with similar results and no more trout. After a few hours we decided to head back to camp for some lunch. After eating we drove upstream. The water was even shallower upstream but I still managed to find a few more rock bass and smallmouth. Eventually we found ourselves at a big log jam. We climbed up onto the logs to see if any fish were hiding within. I spotted another rainbow trout in a hard to reach spot. I got myself within casting distance and put my nightcrawler in front of its face and it couldn't resist. With no bank to easily land the fish, I pulled it out of the water to grab it by hand. A split second after grabbing the trout it slipped from my grasp and went back in the water. At this point we decided to head back to camp once again.

Since it was so hot we wanted to go swimming. It was decided that we would go to the Williams River to swim because there was some cool rocks to slide on in the fast moving current. It ended up being quite the drive, about 18 miles on gravel roads takes a while. Williams River was somewhat similar to Cranberry except it had more of a solid rock bottom which the water had worn grooves in. These grooves made great natural slides. After swimming for a while I started fishing. I started tossing a Rebel teeny craw this time around and immediately had success with the rock bass and smallmouth. The rock bass were hitting like crazy in the areas with rapids. Later we were fishing a spot for about 10 minutes when I told Stephanie, "I'm going to cast to what I think might be a fish". What I thought was a fish shaped rock laid motionless for the entire time we were fishing this spot. As my teeny craw hit the water near it, to my amazement what I thought was a rock slowly turned. A couple cranks later and the fish drilled my teeny craw. It was a trout and it put up quite the fight in the current, pulling drag more than once. I pulled the fish out of the water and it wasn't a rainbow trout. I didn't know at the time but it was my first ever Brook Trout at almost 14 inches.
Brook Trout

Brook Trout
Soon thereafter we decided to head back to camp before it got too dark. This is where the trip turned south really quick. We drove off in my truck, Stephanie's parents were sitting on a cooler in the back. After a few miles we noticed that it was getting cloudy and a light breeze started blowing. Out of no where the wind starts blowing like crazy. I pulled over to let Stephanie's parents get inside the cab. During the transition the trees started falling all around us. I thought we were going to be crushed, or at least my new truck was. Her parents managed to get in the truck and we were still in one piece so I drove off, the wind still blowing. Branches and trees littered the small road, at some points there was so many green leafs that you couldn't see the road at all. A couple miles down the road we came to a stopped truck with a huge tree down in front of it. At this point it was pouring down rain and two more trucks were stopped behind us. After determining that nobody had a chainsaw and there was no way we could move the tree, a few of us decided to turn around and find another way around, which would probably be a very long way around.

We headed several miles back the road, avoiding downed trees and sometimes having to get dangerously close to the cliff that lined the road. We made it to a house that sold campfire wood and stopped and told them what had happened. They acted like they would handle the huge tree and we headed out in the direction we were going to find another way around. In hindsight this was a bad idea. Several more miles down we found ourselves stuck at another downed tree. This one was only about a foot in diameter. One of the trucks following us had some tow traps so we hooked them up to my truck and I attempted to drag the tree. After dragging it about 5ft it was really stuck. I started giving it slack and jerking on it. After a few quick jerks the tree shattered. We continued on, driving over a couple thigh sized trees until we finally made it to a two lane road. I had no idea where we were at or where we were going, I just wanted to get to some kind of civilization and cell phone service.

We continued on this road for what seemed like forever with occasional debris dodging but nothing as bad as the smaller road. Eventually we arrived at another huge tree across the road. Upon inspection, it was way worse than it looked. Behind the first visible tree laid what looked like an entire forest fallen on the road. The other guys started breaking limbs off the first tree one by one using the tow straps. Still raining just as hard, I started thinking we would be stranded in my truck until morning at least. I've never felt so helpless, it was a horrible feeling. We watched the other guys struggle with the first tree for about 30 minutes before it finally quit raining. Finally they threw in the towel. I didn't know what to do, it was 11pm at this point and the storm hit at 8:30pm. The other guys decided they would head for another town in the other direction. With nothing else to do, I followed.

When we got back to the road we originally came from I decided to head back this direction in hopes that it had been cleared. At the least we would be closest to our camp and if I had to walk 15 miles to get a chainsaw I would. After navigating the fallen trees once again we made it to where the big tree was and it had been cut. We passed several more cut trees and thankfully made it back to camp, which was still intact, around 12:30am. Exhausted and stressed I went to bed.

I slept in Saturday morning. After waking I went fishing once again. I went back downstream to where we saw some big fish Friday morning. Results were similar to the first two days. I caught one rainbow trout in some rapids, a few rock bass, and a couple smallmouth, one of which was the biggest of the trip at 12.5 inches. Saturday night we cooked trout on the fire and relaxed. By this point we had herd on the radio that a good majority of West Virginia's electricity was knocked out and many gas stations were out of gas. This didn't make getting home sound easy.

Sunday morning we packed up and headed out. We had herd they had gas in a town about an hour away so that's where we headed. We ended up waiting about 45 minutes in a line directed by police at a gas station. Once we had a full tank of gas I was finally confident we could make it home.

The trip definitely had its ups and downs. The extremely clear water made for some interesting observations because you could see most fishes' every reaction to your bait. Almost every fish would at least notice your bait, many would investigate, but only a few would actually eat it. Some fish would even tail the bait but never attempt to eat it. I imagine these same things happen in water where you can't see what is happening. My advice to any would be West Virginia trout fisherman would be the following. Search for deeper water and look for visible fish without spooking them. Also try drifting your bait through rapids ending in deeper water. Nightcrawler is my favorite bait option, weightless in water less than 5ft deep and a 1/32 jig in the deeper holes. Finally, always bring a chainsaw with you, you never know when a freak storm will pop out of no where.


  1. Stumbled on your blog somehow, looks like you guys are having a ton of fun from all your posts, i've enjoyed reading! Just wanted to comment on your trout though, as I would have to say that's actually a brook trout. The white edges on all the bottom fins is a good way to tell when you have a brookie that isn't as vibrantly colored. I had to check what kind of population of brook trout you have in Ohio and from what I read on their DNR site it's a pretty rare fish there! Anyway hope the fishing is just as good in 2013-


    1. After looking at some more pictures of brown and brook trout I would have to agree that it is a brook trout, thank you for pointing that out. Many pictures of brook trout show a very bright red belly so I guess that is what threw me off. I will make the correction to the post. Thanks for reading and I'm glad you enjoyed!