Announced by Gov. Jim Justice earlier this month, the fishing event of the year in West Virginia is officially underway. The West Virginia Gold Rush has returned for its fifth year and includes 12 days of special golden rainbow trout stockings in 69 lakes and streams around the state.

”It’s a great time to be an angler in West Virginia and the Gold Rush returning for its fifth year just adds to that excitement,” said Jim Hedrick, hatchery program manager for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “We can’t wait for folks to get out and enjoy a fishing adventure with their family over the next two weeks.”

Through April 9, the WVDNR will stock 50,000 golden rainbow trout at 69 lakes and streams around the state, including waters in or near 15 state parks and forests. Stocking locations and details about the Gold Rush can be found at WVdnr.gov/goldrush.

“You have to see these fish to believe it, but they’re absolutely gorgeous,” Hedrick said. “We have larger fish to put in this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of anglers reeled in a golden trout as big as 10 pounds.”

West Virginia’s golden rainbow trout is prized by anglers for its unmistakable, bright-yellow color. These fish were selectively bred by WVDNR biologists over several years and introduced to the public in 1963 as part of West Virginia’s centennial celebration.

While golden rainbow trout are a unique fish, Hedrick said there’s no secret or special technique required to catch them.

”Golden rainbows tend to be a little finicky and more difficult to catch, but you can get them to bite if you’re patient,” he said. “I recommend using a small hook and bait. Use very little weight, try to make the bait float naturally and give it some time.”

Gold Rush Contest and Prizes

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of Gold Rush, the WVDNR is giving anglers a chance to win prizes. Of the 50,000 golden rainbow trout that will be stocked during the event, 100 will receive a special tag. If an angler catches a trout with one of these tags, they can enter the number online for a chance to win a free West Virginia lifetime fishing license, a one-night stay in a state park or forest cabin, a West Virginia State Parks gift card or exclusive Gold Rush merchandise.

Anglers who catch a golden rainbow trout during the two-week event, with or without a tag, also can request a commemorative Gold Rush coin online at WVdnr.gov/goldrush by completing this form. The commemorative coin was unveiled by Gov. Justice during a ceremonial Gold Rush stocking last week.

Purchase a Fishing License

All anglers 15 and older are required to have a West Virginia fishing license with a current trout stamp and a valid form of identification while fishing during Gold Rush. Licenses and stamps can be purchased online at wvfish.com. Anglers must also follow West Virginia fishing regulations. For more information about stockings and other fishing resources, visit WVdnr.gov.

Gold Rush Lodging Discount

To encourage anglers and their families to plan a Gold Rush adventure, West Virginia State Parks is offering a 15 percent discount on lodge room and cabin stays booked for dates between March 23 and April 30. To receive the discount, book online at WVstateparks.com and use offer code GOLD at checkout. Some exclusions apply.