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the Outdoors

by Cory Boothe


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Just how big are the muskies that swim in the Little Kanawha River? I doubt we have a state record size fish. If we do, it is by length and probably not weight. The state record musky for length is 52.7 inches from 2003. The state record for weight is 49.75 pounds and caught in 1997. Both fish came from Stonecoal Lake, located between Buckhannon and Weston.

A lake is more conducive to the easy life than a river environment. We all know our weight goes up with the easy life. Those state record fish from Stonewall lived a life with more stable water conditions and a larger food supply. Stonecoal Lake muskies live on a diet of minnows, small gamefish, and trout. Yes, these fish consume the trout stocked by the Stonecoal Lake Fishing Club. My friend Rick Dunlap from Rick’s Taxidermy in Buckhannon mounted the 49.75 pound fish caught by Anna Marsh. In its stomach, he found a 16-inch rainbow trout.

The muskies of Calhoun County do not have any trout to devour. I believe they live on a diet mainly of suckers, minnows, panfish, and small bass. They have to face constant high muddy water that hamper spawning success by covering up their eggs with the silt that often keeps the Little Kanawha discolored. They face a fisherman population that is very likely to keep any legal muskie caught. It’s hard to reach 40 or 50 inches in length when you are harvested at 30 inches.

The Little Kanawha is blessed with several large muskies. I have heard of numerous muskies that stretch the tape past 40 inches. My personal best from Calhoun County is 39 inches. I have not heard of any fish that surpass 30 pounds, but I’m sure we have a few heavyweights that make weight.

If you have any stories or photos of gigantic muskies from Calhoun, I would be interested in them for a future article. Contact me at

(Editor’s Note: Cory is the son of Ronzel and Karen Boothe of Russett. He is a 1996 graduate of Calhoun County High School and is a teacher at Meadow Bridge Elementary, Fayette County. He resides near Summersville.)

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