OAK HILL —
The New River in West Virginia could enjoy a record walleye season this spring, thanks to river conditions and a state government stocking program, and guides are gearing up for the catch, according to a spokesman for ACE Adventure Resort.
More walleye than ever could be taken on the river this year, says Tommy Canaday, who grew up angling on the New and has helped bolster the standing of ACE as a principal fishing guide service in West Virginia.
“I’m willing to bet that we catch more walleye than have ever been taken,” Canaday said. “They may not all be records, but there’s sure to be a lot of good-sized specimens out there.”
Walleyes on the New River typically spawn in mid-March when water temperatures range from the mid- to high 40s, Canaday said. The average walleye in West Virginia will grow to 12 inches in length in its first year and to 18 inches or more within five years.
In 2010 and 2011, the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources introduced a record number of fingerlings into the New River, according to Mark Scott, a spokesman for the division who backed Canaday’s predictions.
“In 2010 we introduced 14,000, and in 2011, we introduced 22,000 — more than we’ve ever done before,” Scott said.
“Those fingerlings will be reaching the height of their growth in there second, third and fourth years.”
Canaday said the length record for walleye in West Virginia is 35 inches, set in 1976 on the Kanawha River at Kanawha Falls, just downstream of the mouth of the New River.
One of the largest walleye taken in the U.S. was a 19-pound brute caught north of the New on the Elk River in 2004, Canaday said.
Though best known as an outfitter of whitewater rafting trips on the New and Gauley rivers, American-Canadian Expeditions, popularly known as ACE, has also guided fishing expeditions on the New River since the 1980s.
The Travel Channel in 2010 ranked the 1,500-acre resort that ACE operates in the New River Gorge among the eight most extreme resorts in North America, based on the number of guests it accommodates, the number of adventures it provides, and the size of its facility.
In addition to rafting and fishing, the resort offers more than a dozen other outdoor-recreation venues, including zip-lining, rock climbing and ATV touring.
For more on the resort or its guided fishing trips, call 1-800-787-3982 or visit aceraft.com.