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Bluestone is a 2,040-acre impoundment on the New River in Summers County. Filled with highly productive water, Bluestone Lake provides a great setting for growing big catfish. Anglers need to be aware that due to precipitation from the lake's large drainage area and hydropower needs, Bluestone's summer pool level fluctuates frequently.
Most anglers fishing near Hinton will be looking to hook up with big cats on the New River, but Bluestone Lake is a dynamic trophy flathead fishery in its own right.
Jim Reed of Three Rivers Edge in Hinton gets to witness lots of trophy catfish in his store. Anglers will bring them there so the fish can be weighed and measured for trophy fish citations. Reed has lived near Bluestone Lake for 41 years and is familiar with most of the local rivers and the lake. According to Reed, most of the flatheads brought to the store average between 15 and 20 pounds, but 30-pounders come along pretty regularly as well.
Reed feels that fishing on Bluestone Lake has really improved over the last few years and adds that there has definitely been an overall increase in the number of fish caught from the lake during that time. Additionally, Reed comments that the average size of individual catches has gone up, particularly among catfish. So there are bigger fish and more of them to catch. Sounds like the kind of trend that anglers dream about.
Bluestone has traditionally earned a reputation as a topnotch lake for channel catfish, but the lake also harbors some huge flatheads. According to Reed, the best catfishing locations are in the upper portions of the lake where the river channels start to narrow.
The New and the Bluestone rivers meet about a mile or so above the dam and each arm of the lake provides lots of riverine fishing opportunities on their upper ends. Over 10 miles of Bluestone Lake's New River arm presents river characteristics that catfish seem to crave. Reed indicates that the New River arm offers better flathead fishing, primarily due to its larger size. He also adds that the Bluestone River arm has its share of big flatheads and probably receives less fishing pressure than the New River arm.
Reed revealed that one of the local hotspots that always seem to produce trophy flatheads lies near Bull Falls on the New River arm. Even during the winter, anglers seem to find quality flatheads in this area, and during the summer months, the area can provide dynamite angling.
Anglers may catch flatheads on an assortment of jigs and soft-plastic lures, but to hook up with trophy- sized catfish on a consistent basis, anglers rely on live bait. Bluegills and shad are popular with flathead anglers, but many anglers on Bluestone Lake use rock bass for flathead bait. Called redeyes or goggle eyes by some, these small river dwellers are abundant in the New River drainage. There is no doubt that rock bass serve as a fine meal for flatheads, and when one is dangling enticingly from a hook and line, it will likely be too tempting for a lunker flathead to resist.
Anglers traveling to Bluestone Lake will find a variety of public access sites to launch their boats. Many of the sites offer shoreline-fishing opportunities in addition to boat ramps. A good portion of Bluestone Lake runs along state Route (SR) 20 and two access ramps are actually visible from the highway. Access ramps can also be found on both arms of the lake, but the easiest ramp for visiting anglers to find is located just south of Hinton under the SR 20 bridge.
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