Spring is here and anglers everywhere have fishing on the brain. More and more fisherman are flocking to Cheat Lake to enjoy a recovering fishery. A quick snapshot of Cheat Lake tells a story of industrial development, watershed reclamation, and a recovering fish population that has some anglers touting it as one of the best bass lakes in the state.
The Cheat Lake Impoundment
Cheat Lake is a 1,729 acre impoundment about ten miles east of Morgantown, West Virginia. The lake was created by the construction of a 125 ft. high hydroelectric dam in the 1920’s. Recent permitting guidelines for these types of dams include management plans for boating recreation, improving water quality and monitoring fish populations.
Historically, Cheat Lake was not celebrated as a good fishery due to acid mine drainage (AMD) in the polluted waters of the Cheat River. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that the watershed group known as the Friends of Cheat began working to remediate acid mine drainage in the area. This group remains at forefront restoring and preserving the Cheat Watershed.
According to fishery biologists, Cheat Lake has seen a significant increase in sport and forage fishes since the early 1990’s. The most notable species are catfish, largemouth, smallmouth, and walleye. Today, fish populations are making a comeback. In fact, the Cheat Lake Angler’s Bass Club is hosting five fishing tournaments on the lake this year, three of which are open to the public.
Everyone has their favorite honey hole where the big one got away. Many enjoy public access points off the docks and piers at Cheat Lake Park – this gets you closer to some of the deep water fishing by the dam. Some prefer casting or wading below the dam during the release. The new carry-down boat launch by the Ices Ferry Bridge is also a great spot to fish from the shore. Old Christmas trees have been submerged here for habitat. Finally, if you’re a boater, there’s 26 miles of shoreline to cast with feeder streams and inlets like Morgan’s Run, Rubles Run, Quarry Run, and Buzzard Run just to name a few. Look for maps at public access points around the lake, and satisfy that itch for spring fishing today!