Fishing is part of West Virginia culture

Submitted PhotoThe West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is stocking the same number of trout in the same number of locations, but there’s one key difference. Rather than dumping the fish in at one point, DNR staff and contractors are now spreading them out over longer sections of stream. “This is how our streams should be stocked, and this is how I want them stocked,” Gov. Jim Justice said. “It’s going to be a better fishing experience and it’s going to help bring anglers to West Virginia from all over the place.”

I have to admit: It can sometimes be frustrating. Finding a dedicated day to head to the mountains to fish for trout with a truck full of family, a neighbor kid or two, a cooler full of food, fishing rods and enough fishing gear and tackle to start a store, only to find out the fishing was, well, OK but not great. It can be trying sometimes, and simply amazing other times.

The natural beauty and the wildness of our mountains is the draw and trout fishing in the spring is a very popular activity. And for most folks, besides taking a week of vacation, a trip to the mountains is a long weekend or day trip and bringing home a few fresh trout is very rewarding indeed. It is one of my favorite “staycations” in our home state. It is yet another outdoor activity that helps define our state — great fishing.

As with most things in life, there’s always room for improvement. And our WVDNR has identified and is in the process of implementing an improved trout stocking method.

The DNR is stocking the same number of trout in the same number of locations, but there’s one key difference. Rather than dumping the fish in at one point, DNR staff and contractors are now spreading them out over longer sections of stream.

“This is how our streams should be stocked, and this is how I want them stocked,” Gov. Jim Justice said. “It’s going to be a better fishing experience and it’s going to help bring anglers to West Virginia from all over the place.”

“We heard the governor’s directive loud and clear,” DNR director Stephen McDaniel said. “We are committed to giving anglers the best that West Virginia can offer.”

The DNR is partnering with the West Virginia Association of Rehabilitation Facilities to have more people go along on stocking runs. The company has offices throughout West Virginia, and has helped DNR previously with a variety of maintenance work.

Jim Hedrick, DNR hatchery program manager, said the DNR stocks approximately one million trout a year. That means stopping and releasing fish about 15,000 times in more than 200 streams and lakes around the state.

Hedrick says one of the big things that brings anglers to West Virginia is a continuous open season. That means when out-of-state anglers can’t fish in their home states, they can come to the Mountain State to satisfy their love of the sport. In addition, they can land some prize catches here.

“With the governor’s plan, we now have one of the best stocking programs in the nation,” Hedrick said.

“We stock bigger fish than anybody.” Fishing in our state has a rich heritage and is part of our outdoor culture.

Our mountains and cold water creeks are an absolute spectacular backdrop for a fine day afield.

I applaud our WVDNR for looking at a very popular activity for the residents of our state and its visitors and simply trying to make it better, and I have the utmost confidence that they will be successful.

After all, they are starting with a very successful trout stocking program and dedicating their time and resources to make it even better.

A win-win for all.

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