Home to wide-open lakes, expansive rivers and babbling brooks, West Virginia is an angler’s paradise. Youth fishing is a key part of the heritage of fishing in Almost Heaven. 

Whether you and your family are expert anglers or are looking to start the sport, fishing in West Virginia is the perfect activity for families to spend quality time together and create lasting memories.

If you’re new to fishing, explore our list of tips and tricks below to get started and try your hand in the waters of West Virginia. 


  1. Buy a fishing license. The first step to planning your fishing adventure is getting a valid fishing license. For your convenience, fishing licenses can be purchased online here. Those looking to purchase their license in person can take advantage of the approximately 150 retail license agents across the state. Another option is purchasing your license over the phone, directly from the WVDNR Hunting and Fishing License Unit, at (304) 558-2758. Note: Residents and non-residents under the age of 15 do not have to purchase a license.

  2.  Purchase fishing equipment. Visit your local sporting goods store or larger retail stores to find a beginner’s fishing kit, which includes a basic rod and reel combination and some tackle. You’ll also need live bait, which works the best for beginning anglers. Keep it simple at first, and after you get some fishing experience, you can add different types of gear for specific fish or water conditions.

  3.  Find a place near you to go fishing. For first-time anglers, it is recommended to find a fishing spot close to home and only go for a short time. Check our website to find current fish stocking locations, online fishing maps and area fishing guides, which highlight public fishing areas around the state. Shore fishing at a local stream or lake area are great places to start. West Virginia’s state parks and forests and wildlife management areas also provide excellent opportunities to learn. As your interest grows, experiment with different locations and equipment. A small fishing boat, canoe or kayak can also increase your enjoyment of the lifetime sport of fishing. 

  4. Practice basic skills. Take some time at home to practice tying hooks on the line and casting in the yard before going to a stream or lake. With no time you’ll be a pro!

  5. Go out and enjoy the outdoors. Take time to enjoy the fresh mountain air and awe-inspiring views of Almost Heaven. Fishing is the perfect sport to develop a lifelong hobby and make incredible memories. Don’t forget to bring snacks, a camera and a small cooler. Oh, and dressing appropriately for the weather conditions is always important.


For more information, call a nearby WVDNR district office and ask a staff member for fishing advice and places to fish throughout the state. 

Main Office: (304) 558-2771

District 1: Farmington: (304) 825-6787 

District 2: Romney: (304) 822-3551

District 3: French Creek: (304) 924-6211

District 4: Beckley: (304) 256-6947

District 5: Alum Creek: (304) 756-1023

District 6: Parkersburg: (304) 420-4550 

Elkins Operations Center: (304) 637-0245

The WVDNR sponsors many outdoor events during the year that offer instructions for youth fishing and also provides equipment to use at the events. These events are great places to learn how to fish; National Hunting and Fishing Days, fishing derbies during Free Fishing Weekend and State Conservation Camp. Other great resources include fishing organizations like Bass Nation Youth, Bass Federation Youth and Muskie, Inc.

Catching their first fish is an experience children will cherish all their lives. To commemorate the event, print out a full-color First Fish Certificate. You can fill out the PDF online and print it at home at your convenience. Enjoy this time together. You’ll be making memories that last a lifetime.

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