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Williams River is a fantastic trout stream

February 5, 2011
By Kenneth Cobb

I have to openly admit that I am not as enthusiastic on fishing as I am on hunting. I do enjoy fishing when I am catching something. On the other hand, when the fish are not biting, there are many other things that I would rather be doing.

For example, several years ago I went to Teter Creek Lake in Barbour County on a clear spring day in early April. My oldest daughter, sister in-law and I fished all day; and none of us got as much as a little strike. The 40 to 50 anglers near us were not having any luck either. To me, that day was a total waste of time. The best part of the trip was when we stopped on the way home to get an ice cream cone at what used to be J & H Market near Montrose.

Right now, the trout stock trucks are moving, and just about all of the state trout lakes and streams are being stocked with thousands of catchable fish. This is all well and good.

One of the best trout streams in the state has to be the Williams River.

This stream begins in Pocahontas County on Black Mountain and flows west for about 33 miles through the Cranberry Wilderness to where it empties into the Gauley River near Cowen in Webster County.

This river is an intermediate-sized stream with an average width of 40 feet.

There are many reasons why the Williams River is a favorite among trout anglers. The primary ones are its cold water temperature and low turbidity. The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources stock more than 25,000 pounds of trout in the Williams each year. In most years, there is one stocking in January, two in February, weekly March through May, and twice in October.

A two-mile section of this stream is fish-for-fun (catch and release). This begins two miles below Tea Creek and extends downstream. All trout caught in this location must be returned to the water at once. There are several other regulations when it comes to fishing in catch and release areas, and I recommend that anglers read and know these regulations printed in the state fishing regulations each year.

Access to the lower end of the Williams River near Cowen is by secondary Route 46 and National Forest Service Route 86. These roads follow closely to the Williams River.

There are also 30 separate campsites located along the Williams River on National Forest Routes 86 and 216. These campsites are open year round, but are usually inaccessible during the winter months. Each campsite has a parking space, picnic tables, fire ring with a grill, waste receptacles and lantern hook.

There are also several pit toilets in safe locations near the campsites. These are the many reasons why the Williams River is popular with anglers who want to spend a weekend or a few days outdoors.

The Williams River Trail is another attraction of this scenic area. This 2.7-mile trail begins at the Tea Creek Campground and follows the river upstream along an old logging railroad grade, which makes easy access for anglers. It is also an easy bike riding trail. The trail ends at the Little Laurel Creek, which is the boundary with the Handley Public Hunting and Fishing Area in Pocahontas County.

Anglers need to remember that to fish for trout in any stream in the National Forest, a National Forest Stamp must be purchased along with a state trout stamp, plus a resident or non-resident fishing license.

This beautiful setting combined with easy access and good habitat make the Williams River a favorite among trout anglers of all ages.

For more complete information about the Williams River Recreation Area, consult the Tea Creek Area Hiking Trails Marlinton Ranger District. I obtained this pamphlet from the Monongahela National Forest office on Sycamore Street.



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