New hand-fishing season opens June 15 in W.Va.

Catfish may now be taken by hand in W.Va. Photo courtesy W.Va. Dept. of Commerce.

A new West Virginia “noodling” or hand-fishing season launches June 15, according to the state Division of Natural Resources.

A law passed during the 2018 legislative session will allow anglers to hand-fish, or “noodle,” in public waters from June 15 to Aug. 31 between sunrise and sunset.

Noodlers may only hand-fish in naturally-occurring habitats, such as hollow logs and cavities in river banks, and the placement or use of artificial cavities and nesting boxes for hand-fishing is prohibited, according to the division.

Noodling is also prohibited in all state-managed impoundments except Cheat Lake, Stonecoal Lake, Hawks Nest Lake, Mount Storm Lake, and in all lakes managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Daily creel limits for catfish species taken by hand-fishing is four, and only one fish may be more than 35 inches and only two may be blue catfish.

In waters with special regulations, the more restrictive regulations apply. The daily creel limit for hand-fishing counts is part of any daily limit for hook-and-line fishing.

The use or possession of hooks, gaffs, spears, or anything other than hands while hand-fishing is prohibited, as is the use of bait or fish attractors. The use of SCUBA gear or any other artificial breathing apparatus is also prohibited.

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