There’s never a bad time to grab a fishing pole and hit one of West Virginia’s many streams or lakes — and that includes the cold winter months when people tend to stay indoors.
Cold-water fish like trout enjoy winter conditions, making this time of year a good time to fish without large crowds. While there are many native trout streams where you can cast a line, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources stocks trout in lakes and streams around the state during the winter in order to provide even more exciting fishing opportunities.
“We start stocking trout in January in some select waters,” said Jim Hedrick, DNR’s hatchery program manager. “And then as February and March come along, we stock more and more waters at a higher frequency.”
While getting a fish to bite requires some skill and a little luck, casting a line in stocked waters gives anglers, especially kids, a better chance to catch a fish.
“It’s all about providing a memorable experience for our anglers and getting kids and new anglers excited about fishing in West Virginia,” Hedrick said.
West Virginia’s hatchery program makes trout stockings possible
Stocking trout takes a lot of patience and hard work. At the Bowden Fish Hatchery in Randolph County, where Hedrick works, around 240,000 brook and brown trout are spawned and raised each year. Rainbow and golden trout eggs come in from the Petersburg Hatchery. Once the fish are mature, Hedrick and his team stocks them in popular lakes and streams, as well as some remote waters accessible only by rail.
“Throughout the entire year, we stock all four types of trout — the goldens, the rainbows, the brooks and the browns,” Hedrick said. “They aren’t in every stocking at every location, but sometime during the year we are typically stocking all four of those types of trout somewhere.”
And with Spring around the corner, Hedrick says trout stocking in some waters will increase to a weekly basis. There’s also the upcoming West Virginia Gold Rush and the annual announced stockings at state parks and forests.
“You can go fishing any time of year and have a good time, but these new stocking events are really exciting opportunities to go fishing with your family or introduce a friend to the sport,” Hedrick said.
West Virginia’s trout stocking program continues to grow
After many successful years, West Virginia’s trout stocking program is expanding and in need of some extra hands to help.
“We are going to hire some temporary additional labor this year to assist with the spring stocking season,” Hedrick said. “We want to get out into these lakes and streams and make sure the fish are better distributed and spread out better, so anglers have a better fishing experience.”
If you’re interested in applying for a fish stocking position, call 304-637-0245.