FISHING NOTEBOOK: Ritchie County

The Hughes River, Nov. 11, 2019

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. 

The North Fork of the Hughes River is a tributary of the Hughes River and runs from the northeastern tip of Ritchie County past Harrisville and Cairo into Wirt County. There it connects with the main track of the Hughes River which is a tributary of the Little Kanawha River and thus the Ohio River. In 2003, the North Fork was dammed at North Bend State Park to create a 300-acre lake that hosts some of the best fishing in the state.

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. 

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Today’s fishing hole

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Second beach, seen via an Instagram post from Oct. 14.

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 debris. No issue, until I overcompensated the life of my rod’s tip and it snapped off. 

Regaining territory at second beach

After a short hiatus from fishing in Harrisville, I returned to tackle another part of the North Bend State Park watershed: Second beach.

Unofficially named so by my parents, second beach is a small area of bank with two main features: A two-person deck that hangs over the steep riverbank, and a small clearing that ends with said steep bank.

Not spending a lot of time out at second beach due to changing weather, I managed to hook a small largemouth bass. It was a reprieve after such a long summer of hardly getting any momentum on the water.


More coming soon

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