After fishing in the Put and Take section of the Williams River, I continued to drive east to reach the Catch and Release end of the river.
The Williams has a long C&R area that presents an interesting physical alternative to the Put and Take section. As soon as you see the first sign announcing entry into the C&R section driving east, the river changes dramatically from being broad and boring to tight and interesting. At the start of the C&R, the river channels between large boulders; creating tight runs as it drops through many significant gradient breaks. This got my blood running and I pulled over at the first turnout I could find.
After gearing up to climb down the steep bank to get to the river, I was a little disappointed in this particular spot since the bottom was barren. Granted, I was surrounded by large boulders and deep channels that all led to good pools, but those pools were flat bedrock — no rocks, no underwater structure to protect fish. It was all stripped clean. The bedrock also made walking difficult and wading almost impossible since the rock was slick and with a layer of slime and mud that resisted the grip of my cleated boots.
I walked upstream until I found a likely looking section, hoping that the stock truck had preceded me, and flipped a set of tandem nymphs into the flow. When they did not spark any interest, I switched to streamers with continued disappointment. In fact, I did everything except attach a stick of dynamite to the end of the line. No luck – skunked. Bummed out, I climbed back up the bank and hopped in the truck to drive to the next spot. It was a little better there in terms of the structure put my luck remained the same.
I still wanted to fish the Slaty Fork of the Elk, so I recognized a bad situation and got back in the truck to head in that direction. I continued to see other fishermen in turnouts with a big cluster at the campground at the bottom end of the stocked section. I was amazed to see at least 15 people standing on the bridge across the river. They were all staring intently at the water; sparking my curiosity. I pulled off and wandered over to see what was going on. Apparently, this is the last stop for the stock truck and it had just dumped a boat load of fish into the pool underneath the bridge. All these guys were working as hard as they could with anything they could to try and pull one of those inexperienced fish from the water. Not for me. I shrugged my shoulders and headed back to the truck with anticipation of what I would encounter on the Slaty Fork at the top of my mind.
Bottom Line: I know there are a lot of people who are great fans of the Williams River but it misses the key characteristic of remoteness – and that makes it a nonstarter for me. It’s great road fishing for those who do not have the ability to walk far to get to good water. With so much other better water in the vicinity of the Williams River, I don’t think I will return here.
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Date Fished: 10/13/2009
Getting There: From Marlington, WV, go north on US 219 / Rt 55. Turn left (west) on Rt 150. Turn north on Williams River Road (PR 86) and drive 9 miles to reach this spot.
Google Local Coordinates: 38.370867,-80.274868
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the following place in addition to the West Virginia DNR stocking site:
Downstream from the entry point
Perfect looking water above the stream
Good flow and plenty of gradient breaks
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore