Home is where the best fishing is; and where you get humbled

HARRISVILLE, W.Va. – There’s something refreshing about going home. It’s even more refreshing to fish the river you grew up around. 

The section of the North Fork of the Hughes River in Harrisville rests just under 1,100 feet above sea level, giving it a temperate climate during the spring, summer and fall seasons. Lined by tree cover and relatively left alone, the North Fork Hughes is a murky body that rises rapidly in the torrential rain Ritchie County frequently sees. That murky water runs 55 miles from Doddridge County, through Ritchie and into bordering Wirt County before connecting into the main tract of the Hughes. The entire stretch, as well as the South Fork, is host to a laundry list of fish species including musky; multiple species of bass; flathead and channel cats; perch; and bluegill and other sunfish. 

A section of the North Fork Hughes River at Bunnells Run outside Harrisville, W.Va.

The North Fork was dammed in 2003 at North Bend State Park, creating a 300-acre lake that provides some of the best fishing in the state. It also provides an awesome place to camp and explore for weekend getaways, but I digress – this is about fishing, not bragging on my hometown. 

A basic look at the North and South Forks of the Hughes River. (Public domain photo)

After working Labor Day weekend, I was gifted a day off of my choosing by my editor in chief and decided a cool, mid-to-late afternoon was best spent on the banks of my home’s section of the river. I found some old bait I had stored at my family’s cabin, and solely fished spinners and soft plastic worms in the muddy waters. Like my recent failures at Cheat Lake, I didn’t catch anything, but – and it’s a big “but” – I had a ton of interest in my casts. 

It was clear that there was plenty of action along the steep bank I stationed myself at, as some fish kept coming up to the surface to grab quick meals of any bug that made the mistake of landing on the surface. Even a butterfly, who miscalculated and died on the surface, was quickly snatched by what looked like a largemouth a few feet in front of me. For whatever reason, they weren’t into going all in on my baits. 

I set two rigs with my plastics: Texas and Carolina. And man, were those fish nibbling, but just as my luck began to change through the three hours I was casting, I let the bait sink a little too low and got caught on a loose rock or debris. No issue, until I overcompensated the life of my rod’s tip and it snapped off. 

Next time out we’re taking the boat. I’m starting to think my luck on the shores nowadays is limited to just catfish. 

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