West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is calling on state residents and guests to grab a fishing pole this Saturday, June 12, and Sunday, June 13, during West Virginia’s Free Fishing Weekend.
During the two-day statewide event, residents and non-residents are able to fish in West Virginia for free, providing novice and returning anglers the opportunity to fish without a license.
An avid angler himself, Justice said the annual event is having a positive impact on the sport in West Virginia, which is home to some of the cleanest freshwater streams in the eastern U.S.
“Each summer, more and more people of all ages are getting out, enjoying the world-class fishing we have to offer, and taking in the magnificent outdoors that we are blessed with in West Virginia,” the governor reported.
“As someone who’s been a fisherman my whole life and knows the kind of joy and memories fishing can provide, I couldn’t be prouder of this great event, and that’s why we’re always looking for ways to introduce more West Virginians to this wonderful pastime.”
Last year, in an effort to encourage outdoor activity at a safe distance during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Justice greatly expanded the state's free fishing opportunities, holding dates for free fishing in March, extending the promotion through nearly all of April and May, and holding an additional Free Fishing Weekend in June.
Hunting and fishing license sales jumped nearly 40 percent for June 2020 as a result of the increased free-fishing opportunities.
At the governor's direction, West Virginia has also improved and increased its fish-stocking capabilities over the past several years.
In the week leading up to this year’s Free Fishing Weekend, the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources will stock catchable-size channel catfish in 59 lakes around the state, according to division director Stephen McDaniel.
“Free Fishing Weekend is always a great opportunity to remind people of the fun of fishing, especially with family and friends,” McDaniel said.
“If you already have a license, take someone fishing – it may be your children, spouse, or co-worker – and introduce them to a lifetime of outdoor enjoyment.”
Mark Scott, assistant chief of fisheries for the division's Wildlife Resources Section, said the weekend provides an ideal way to reconnect with friends and family.
“For many years, West Virginia has been proud to sponsor Free Fishing Weekend to encourage people, especially children, to learn a fun outdoor activity that they can enjoy the rest of their lives,” Scott said.
“It’s a good way to reconnect with family and nature and to de-stress from life’s challenges.”
West Virginia’s Free Fishing Weekend is part of National Fishing and Boating Week, which is being held this year from June 5-13.
The division participates in several activities during National Fishing and Boating Week and Free Fishing Weekend. A long-running youth fishing derby will take place on June 12 at Little Beaver State Park near Beckley.
This year, the Little Beaver kids fishing derby will celebrate the event's 30th anniversary.
The event gives children an opportunity to receive basic fishing instruction and to enjoy time outdoors with friends and family. The event is free to attend, but registration is required and will take place on-site from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on the day of the derby.
More information about fishing in West Virginia is available online at wvdnr.gov and can also be found in the 2021 Fishing Regulations brochure, which is available online and at authorized Fishing License Agents.
Following the conclusion of West Virginia’s Free Fishing Weekend, anglers must have a valid fishing license to fish in West Virginia. To purchase a new license or to renew an existing license, visit wvfish.com.
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