Better Water in Mon
DNR: Based on fish caught
Morgantown Dominion Post
28 September 2013
By Tom Terrarosa
Based on the number of fish caught in the Monongahela River, state
officials conclude the water quality has improved.
Frank Jernazik, with the West Virginia Division of Natural
Resources, reported this finding Friday during a press conference
held by B.A.S.S. Nation of West Virginia to highlight the Northern
Qualifier fishing tournament.
The tournament will be held Oct. 5-6 on the Monongahela River,
near Pricketts Fort.
Among other topics of discussion were the improved quality of the
Monongahela River and the economic impact fishing has on the
“This is a great fishing comm u n i t y, ” said Tim Mitchem,
president of B.A.S.S. Nation of West Virginia. “We want people to
know about it.”
Jernazik was among the first to speak and said the improvement to
the water quality in the Mon has been significant. He explained
that can be measured by the increase in numbers and types of fish
present compared to years ago.
“It is my pleasure to talk about the improvement in water
quality,” Jernazik said. “In the late 1970s the catch-rate for
large bass was 0.05 fish per hour. Today it is 0.18 fish per hour.
So we have a 3.5 times increase in success rate.”
Jernazik explained that more fish being caught means there are
more fish in the river; and if there are more fish in the river,
this means the quality of the water is improving.
According to Metchem, area coal companies have done a great job
cleaning up the remnants of the mines, leading to a decrease in
the pollution caused by their drainage into the river.
Metchem said that this has played a large role in the improvement
of the Mon River’s water quality.
Participants in this tournament must be part of the B.A.S.S.
Nation organization. Fishermen can join clubs in their area,
Those clubs hold mini-tournaments and funnel the best fishermen,
both on-boat and off-boat, into the regional qualifiers.
The Northern Qualifier tournament has about 90-110 participants
each year. About half the field from each regional qualifier will
advance to the state tournament in Summersville. In the northern
region, that means 27 boaters and 27 non-boaters will advance.
The entire Mon River from where it begins near Tygart Lake to the
last lock in West Virginia is open for tournament fishing.
Pennsylvania waters are off-limits.
One issue many of the speakers touched on was the closing of the
Mon River locks. Jernazik said the closure of the locks limits use
of 13 miles of the river, leaving only 17 miles left for fishing
by those in boats.
For the tournament, the locks will be temporarily reopened, but
several speakers advocated working with the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers to reopen them indefinitely.
Barry Pallay, president of the Upper Mon River Association, said
the Mon River and its locks and dams have been critical to
commerce in the Morgantown economy, and he believes the locks need
to be left open to fully capitalize on that commerce.
“Please support efforts to reopen the locks,” Palley said to those
Mitchem said he has done calculations using economic indicators to
determine the impact fishing has had on the local economy. He
estimates that since 2002, tournament fishing on the Mon River has
brought about $6 million to the local economy.
That would include fishermen who visit the area for a tournament
and spend money at hotels, restaurants and other businesses.
Other speakers were Jim Summers, vice president of B.A.S.S.
Nation; Randy Huffman, cabinet secretary of W.Va. Department of
Environmental Protection; Bill Raney, president of the W.Va. Coal
Association; and Miranda Kessel from CONSOL Energy.