Local Dams Darn Good for Fishing Morgantown
Local dams darn good for fishing

Morgantown Dominion Post
30 July 2006
By Dave Milne

The waters near the Opekiska Dam provide great local fishing spot. - Bob Gay photo

A couple of past articles have touted the great fishing on the Monongahela River in this area. Fishing from the shore has been great this spring in the tailwaters below the dams. The bass tournaments have also gone very well.

Sauger fingerlings have been stocked in the past, which has resulted in some great fishing. Also, 1.2 million hybrid striped bass fry have been stocked in the Morgantown and Opekiska pools. These fry were only about one-tenth of an inch long. The DNR also plans to stock muskies in the Uffington and Opekiska pools when they become available.

However, there is more to managing a fishery than just stocking fish.

In order to catch fish, anglers must have access to the water and be able to cast to where the fish are.

One bit of good news in this area is that the boat ramp near Fort Martin on Monongalia County Development Authority property will be completed in 2007. This will provide access to the Point Marion pool and will have parking for at least 50 boat trailers.

The Department of Highways has dredged the water at the Uffington ramp at the mouth of Booth Creek. This ramp is three miles south of the Morgantown Lock and Dam and provides access to the Morgantown pool.

The Prickett's Fort ramp area will be dredged in the next couple of years. However, according to DNR Fisheries Biologist Frank Jernejcic, the future of this area looks bleak. A new site is needed.

The problems with some ramp areas on the Mon River in this area are two-fold. The primary problem is silt. Mouths of tributaries to large rivers become filled with silt or dirt from upstream. When the fastmoving water in the tributary hits the slower-moving water of the larger river, the dirt or silt falls to the bottom and plugs up the ramp area.

The waters below the Morgantown Dam provide a great place for anglers to cast a line. - Bob Gay photo

The next problem is deciding on a location for the ramp area. There is not enough flat land along the river around here to put more ramps.

Another issue of managing a river fishery that has locks and dams comes as a surprise to some people. When you drive by the Morgantown dam, you see water coming through it. This dam has six gates with number one being on the Westover side and number six on the Morgantown side. The question is: which gate or gates to keep open to optimize the shore fishing during summer low-flows.

Fish are attracted to current. If gates one, two or three were open, anglers couldn't cast to the fish since there is little or no

The Opekiska dam has four gates. At this time, the number four gate is open slightly. The DNR is looking at the possibility of opening the number three gate or whether some combination of the two would create the best fishing.

Gate openings may change with different seasons of the year. If anglers notice a significant difference in their fishing success depending upon which gates are open, give the DNR a call. They are interested in this information. Also, if you have any other suggestions for this fishery, give them a call.

Safety is another item that needs to be addressed near the Morgantown dam. A planned riverwalk from the new marina to the dam would give safer access. Grouted paths over the rip-rap along the shore would also make access to the water's edge more safe. access to the river on the Westover side. At this time, the DNR is experimenting with gate number five. This gate can be opened in one-half to one-foot increments. However, this gate has some problems and the Corps of Engineers has to check a camera to see exactly how far the gate opens.

The gates on the Morgantown dam are actually opened and closed by remote control from Point Marion.

The Morgantown dam is approximately 50 years old. Gate number four was recently shut for repairs. Number five has problems and the Corps of Engineers has no money for repairs.

Dave Milne serves on the state Natural Resources Commission.