Fishing in the Marlinton Area

By ,

October 6, 2020

Southern Pocahontas County holds some of the best, if not the best, fishing opportunities in West Virginia, especially for trout. The Marlinton area has something for all anglers, from freshwater and stocked trout fishing in rivers and lakes to exceptional catch and release fly and spin fishing, including the Cranberry River, named one of America’s top 100 trout streams according to Trout Unlimited. 

Boat Fishing Near Marlinton

Handley Pond

There are three lakes within a short drive of Marlinton that are all accessible and offer the ability to fish from a boat. However, gas-powered motors are prohibited. To the northeast lies Handley Pond, a shallow 5-acre fishery that receives spring trout stocking and is a great place to take the kids since only children under 10 and people with lower extremity disabilities can fish for trout in the spring. All other citizens can fish for the species after May 31st. Night fishing is allowed for people who want to try their hand at catching catfish, and there is a good chance to catch other freshwater fish as well. 

Seneca Lake

Northeast of town is Seneca Lake, a 3-acre lake with an average depth of 6 feet. It is stocked from February through May and again in October. The lake also holds largemouth bass and sunfish; although, night fishing is illegal. With picnic areas and about ten miles of foot trails available, it is a great place for the family. 

Watoga Lake

Watoga Lake is south of Marlinton. The 11-acre lake within Watoga State Park offers camping, cabins, hiking, and borders the Greenbrier River in one area. Most of the opportunities for fishing in this lake are for catfish and night fishing, largemouth bass, and sunfish, but trout are also present, with the fall being the most likely time to hook into one. 

Fishing From the Rivers

Greenbrier River

The town of Marlinton sits right on the Greenbrier River. Although the water in this section is too warm to support trout, it is an excellent warm-water fishery, and people travel from all over to fish it for its smallmouth bass. While floating the river from one of its many access points is the best way to fish it, you can also wade the river. 

Williams River 

The Williams River is widely hailed as a top-5 trout fishery in the state, with a 22-mile put-and-take section that is stocked once in January, twice in February, weekly in March through May, and twice in October. An additional 2-mile stretch of the river is stocked once in April and is designated as catch and release. 

Cranberry River

The Cranberry River is perhaps the best place to fish for trout in the state of West Virginia. In fact, it is named one of America’s Top 100 trout streams according to Trout Unlimited. There are stocked, wild, and native trout present, a catch-and-release-only section, and a fly fishing-only section as well. The South Fork of the Cranberry is stocked for nearly 3 miles from February to May and is best accessed by foot from the Cranberry Glades parking area. From where the North and South Forks of the river converge downstream four miles to Dogway Fork is stocked once annually and is designated as catch and release. The Dogway Fork is designated as a Fly fishing-only area. From this fork of the river down to Woodbine is a 16.5 mile stretch of water stocked from January to May and twice in October. What makes this river so popular is the fact that it is in a designated backcountry area where no motor vehicles are allowed, so to get to the river one has to hike or bike, making it a more rewarding venture. 

There are numerous native trout streams throughout the county that can be accessed through public lands for those who want to catch a piece of history and see what makes the only fish native to the state so special. 

Out by the Creek Fishing

Knapps Creek

There are also numerous creeks that are stocked by the WVDNR and are accessible from Marlinton. One of these is Knapps Creek, a trout stream that flows from the east into Marlinton. It offers 8 miles of water that is stocked from January through May and twice again in October. 

Hills Creek

For those who want to get out of town and explore a little more and wet a line along the way, Hills Creek is a good choice. The creek is stocked once a month from February to May from the first bridge at Lobelia upstream 3 miles along WV Secondary Rt. 29/3. 

Deer Creek

At about the midway point between Durbin and Marlinton lies the town of Cass, and along with the railroad, it also has Deer Creek, a stream that is stocked for a mile and a half once a month from February to May starting at the Rt. 7 bridge. This section of water is not paralleled by any roads so if you plan to fish it, you’ll have to walk.


Angling is said to be the most unpredictable sport in the world, and as many know, anything can happen. That being said, some places offer better chances than others. Some of the smaller lakes and more heavily stocked streams are likely better places to catch fish, however rivers like the Williams and Cranberry offer the challenge of fooling smart trout. If you visit in the summer, you’re more likely to catch fish in the Greenbrier and catch and release areas of the rivers. Remember that wading can be difficult and dangerous and make sure to wash your gear or let it dry completely when going from fishery to fishery as not to transfer any invasive species. 

What to Bring

A valid fishing license, a fishing pole and tackle are the most important items to get you started. Depending on where you head and what species you targe,t you may need anything from tiny flies to big bass bugs so read up on what you may need. It never hurts to have a variety of sizes and colors of lures, and if you’re fly fishing, try to match the hatch as best as you can. Waders will help get you to a lot more places and good hiking shoes or a boat are good to have in case you want to get out on the water or hike deep into a place like the Cranberry. Remember to pack water, food, maps, and if needed, a GPS; many areas of West Virginia have poor cell reception depending on your provider, so be prepared. 

How to Get There

Most of these waterways can be accessed with a vehicle from Marlinton in about a half an hour, however some places are a little deeper in the mountains and take some more time to get to. 

Most of these waterways can be accessed with a vehicle from Marlinton in about a half an hour, however some places are a little deeper in the mountains and take some more time to get to.  

Coordinates to the lower end of the Cranberry Backcountry: 38.297950, -80.614129

Coordinates to the upper end of the Cranberry Backcountry: 38.208271, -80.282956

Coordinates to Deer Creek: 38.415636, -79.858747

Coordinates to Hills Creek: 38.136182, -80.299447

Coordinates to Knapps Creek: 38.212587, -80.071603

Coordinates to the Greenbrier River: 38.224565, -80.095480

Coordinates to the Williams River: 38.350577, -80.409154

Coordinates to Watoga Lake: 38.118200, -80.125038

Coordinates to Seneca Lake: 38.306168, -79.943359

Coordinates to Handley Pond: 38.312619, -80.188793