In an effort to improve and diversify fishing opportunities in the Mountain State, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has been managing New River walleye populations since the 2000s. Those management efforts are paying off and the Eastern Highlands walleye, also known as the New River walleye, is thriving in lakes and rivers around the state.

But did you know that part of managing the walleye population requires us to use a surveying technique called electrofishing?

What’s Electrofishing?

Electrofishing is a common method of sampling fish populations to see how they’re doing in a given water. Two electrodes are used to send electric currents through the water, which attracts fish and makes them easier to catch and study.

“This is a standard sampling procedure for a lot of different species,” said Mark Scott, assistant chief of fish management. “We can set it to different frequencies and target catfish, smaller fish and bigger fish. And it doesn’t hurt the fish. It just immobilizes them.”

Studying New River Walleye

Once a biologist catches a fish, they weigh, measure and immediately release it back into the water. All the information collected from these surveys, helps us set fishing regulations for walleye.

To see special area regulations for walleye, check page 8 in your copy of the 2020 West Virginia Fishing Regulations.

New River walleye thrive in West Virginia’s rivers. They grow big, fast and quickly, making them a popular sport fish for anglers. And their eggs are about twice as large as the Lake Erie walleye, which at one time was the predominate strain in some waters around the state.

So, the next time you find a trophy-sized walleye on the end of your line, don’t be shocked. Sound management practices lead to a healthier fish population and happier anglers who get to enjoy fishing for these incredible fish.

Plan your next fishing adventure

West Virginia has thousands of miles of native and stocked streams and hundreds of lakes. If you want to enjoy the thrill of catching a walleye, make sure you have a fishing license and plan a trip to one of these lakes or rivers:

Cheat, Jennings Randolph, Summersville, Stonecoal, Tygart, Stephens

Elk, Lower Gauley, New