Meadow River is a sleeper for anglers
The Meadow River is currently touted among tourists as a small, feisty stream that offers a mix of opportunities for anglers and kayakers.
The Meadow’s shaded summer pools keep anglers coming back year after year, and its lower reaches attract increasing numbers of kayakers in the spring when the creek swells its living Water heels.
And while the little river between Fayetteville and Summersville was something of a sleeper when it came to fishing in the past, that’s not the case anymore.
With restocking by the DNR and a growing interest in the wetlands along Interstate 64, the Meadow River is quickly becoming known throughout the eastern United States.
Many species of warm water fish inhabit the Meadow River: smallmouth bass, spotted bass, rock bass, flathead catfish, carp, bluegill, white suckers and river chub are the most common.
It also has a good musky population, according to Mark Scott, sous chef fisheries biologist at the DNR in Charleston.
“Local anglers often caught muskellunge between 30 and 35 inches on the river,” said Scott. “Some fish have been reported in the 40 inch class.”
David Scott Richmond from Grandview fishing the Meadow River with various of his fellow fishermen.
The passionate fisherman uses a variety of superior water lures and homemade spinners. From time to time, he will launch a “woolly bugger” or another handcrafted imitation minnow with his fly rod.
“I use whatever works so far,”richmond said laughing. “I am one of those people who never manage to take enough material. I never know what I’m likely to encounter or need.”
richmond is the first to recognize that Meadow River’s features belie its aquatic resources. “It looks like a sluggish, muddy creek in the upper course,” he says. “As it descends to the Gauley River, however, it takes a slope and becomes a smallmouth stream.”
Several local anglers have learned the basics of muskellunge fishing on the Meadow River.
Jason Robert of Hico remembers catching large muskellunge from the Meadow River in the Nallen near WV 41, but he says bass fishing is just as exciting.
“I’ve seen fly fishermen there casting their dry flies,” he says, adding that fishing for smallmouth bass and common bass in the Meadow River in the Gorge area below Rainelle is a highlight for many anglers.
An MNR stocking program supports a good muskellunge fishery in the Meadow River between Rupert and Nallen.
Biologists first stocked muskellunge in 1963, according to the DNR. Since 1974, this section of the river has been stocked each year with musk fry.
“Anglers usually catch large muskellunge on the creek,” Scott Explain. “Eggs for these fish are sourced from New York State and are raised at our (DNR) Ridge Fish Hatchery in Morgan County.”
He says public fishing access sites on the Meadow River are located at Tommy Hall Road Bridge near Rupert and Division of Highways Roadside Park in Charmco, both in Greenbrier County.
The access sites are suitable for transporting small watercraft to the river. Undeveloped fishing access is available along US Route 60 which runs along the river between Rainelle and Rupert.
The rugged section of the gorges downstream of the Rainelle to the mouth of the stream, Neverthelessnot suitable for float trips due to dangerous whitewater conditions.
“Shore fishing and wading are recommended for this remote area,” Scott Explain. “During low water periods, wading becomes more feasible for anglers fishing in the gorge.”
Although walk-in public fishing access to the Meadow River Gorge is accessible from the U.S. Route 19 bridge, the trail is long and steep, the biologist says.
Two tributaries of the Meadow River, Big Clear Creek and Little Clear Creek are stocked with trout from February to May.
Big Clear Creek also receives a fall trout stocking in mid-October in conjunction with the opening of squirrel hunting season.
The low leveling of the upper part of the river from Dawson to Rainelle makes fishing suitable for a variety of float fishing trips and offers good shore fishing, Scottsaid.
Below Rainelle, the characteristics of the Meadow River change dramatically, as the once slow-moving stream descends 30 miles through a gorge into the Gauley River.
This section is not recommended for the average boater. “Only the most experienced kayaker should attempt to navigate this part of the river,” Scott adds, noting that inside the gorge area, the prairie becomes inhospitable.
“The river is threatening,” he says. “It’s the ultimate experience for kayakers. It’s one rapid right after another. You don’t have the long pools you have on the New River.
“There are times, with its high rocks, where it is dangerous for everyone. Some call him the “suicide bomber” of the East.
“Extremely dangerous rapids and exposed rocks in the gorge make the river potentially deadly for boaters, so only the most experienced kayakers should attempt to navigate it.”
The Meadow River, named for the lush grasslands in its headwaters, originates in eastern Summers County near Grassy Meadows and flows more than 80 miles to the Gauley River at Carnifex Ferry.
Most of the Meadow River shoreline is privately owned.
The lowest five and a half miles The reach, however, is within the Gauley River National Recreation Area and is designated the River Meadow Wild and Scenic.
“From its beginnings on Red Spring Mountain to Rainelle, the Meadow River is a low-gradient stream, meandering through wide agricultural valleys and draining the vast wetlands found in its headwaters,” said Scott.
“Interstate 64 crosses the Meadow River Wetlands between Dawson and Sam Black Church in western Greenbrier County.”
The Meadow River area is enhanced by three nearby public recreational facilities, and MNR is actively seeking public access sites for future development on the river.
The state’s largest lake, 2,700-acre Lake Summersville, offers excellent warm water fishing for smallmouth bass and walleye.
Year-round trout fishing is available in the Gauley River below the Summersville Dam.
Babcock and Hawks Nest State Parks provide an additional 4,400 acres of public recreation land.
“The Kanawha Falls Wildlife Management Area is located near the Gauley Bridge and offers some of the best warm water fishing in the state,”according to Scott. “Several special needsFacilities have been set up to accommodate people with reduced mobility.”
The biologist foresees the thoroughfares leading to Meadow River are overflowing with traffic as fishing becomes an even greater attraction in years to come.
“If you want to go back in history,” Scottadds, “drive the famous Midland Trail (US Route 60) through the Meadow River Valley.
“You will discover that it is one of the hidden treasures of the state.”