Lake Stephens has that all-American family vacation atmosphere. Camping, barbeques and a lakeside beach are staples of this 300-acre reservoir, which is just about 12 miles west of Beckley, WV. Lake Stephens was formed in 1963, and has a maximum depth of 70 feet. It has a marina, concrete boat ramp, concessions and large campground.
This warm-water fishery has a variety of fish lurking below the surface, including largemouth bass, walleye, bluegill, sunfish, crappie, rainbow trout, tiger muskie and catfish. Its navigable waters make it the perfect place to introduce your family and friends to the world of Mountain State fishing.
What Makes It Great
While there are a variety of fish you can catch here, aim high and try for the trophy-size largemouth bass or channel catfish, which you might just reel in during the spring. The waterlogged trees and beaver huts along the shoreline create ideal habitats for bass and sunfish. Once summer rolls around and the water has fully warmed, you’ll need to fish deep, because fish will not likely head toward the banks.
There are quiet coves throughout the lake, so if you want to catch those deep-water dwellers, that is your best option. The lake has an unlimited boating zone, except for the upper section, which has a 5 mph speed limit for fishing only. Although there aren’t rentals at the lake, you can bring your own motorized boat for a $5 launch fee. If you don’t have access to a boat, there are 20 miles of trails along the shoreline.
If you want to win some accolades for that prize bass or catfish, stop in for the fishing tournaments Tuesdays all summer long, typically May through October.
Who is Going to Love It
Lake Stephens is a great place for children to learn the basics, and have a good chance at success. There is also a beach and camping nearby, which is convenient in case your family decides they’ve had enough. Since this lake has limited shore access, it’s also great for anglers who want to spend time on a boat. Boat fishing lets you reach the deepest coves with the shyest fish— particularly bass.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The main boat ramp is at the marina, and open for the peak summer months. There is also ample parking nearby.
To reach Late Stephens, take Exit 44 off of I-64/I-77 in Beckley, WV. Follow WV-3/Harper Road for about 8 miles until you reach Dinges-Branch-Stevens Branch/Stevens Branch Road. Continue for 1 mile to Lake Stephens Road.
All anglers have to buy a West Virginia Fishing License either at the WVDNR’s website or a local Walmart store, and you’ll also need a permit to fish at night. You can’t fish at the beach since there are swimmers in that part of the lake, but you can use live minnows as bait.
Some walleye and rainbow trout that live in the lake are tagged because of a 3-year fish movement study. If you happen to catch one of these fish, please release it back into the water.
You can camp on-site, but if hotels are more your style, there are several just a short drive away in the Harper Road area of Beckley.