CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Thanks to its investment in hatcheries, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources stocked nearly 130,000 more trout in 2023 than in 2022, according to officials.
Between January and May, division staff stocked 802,481 trout in lakes and streams around the state, which is a 19% increase over the 673,148 trout stocked during the same period in 2022.
Gov. Jim Justice, an avid outdoorsman, announced the increase, emphasizing the hatcheries' role in developing economic opportunities for fishing in the state.
“Our hatchery program plays a crucial role in creating an exceptional fishing experience for anglers across West Virginia,” Justice said.
”This significant increase can be attributed to investments in our hatchery infrastructure and the dedicated work of our staff who make all this possible. My administration has focused on our trout stocking program and directed investments toward it because it pays dividends.
"Not only do our residents enjoy our lakes and streams, but so do a lot of tourists from all over the world who come here to enjoy our waters.”
One of the most significant investments was the expansion of the Bowden Hatchery from 40 fish-rearing units to 60, which allowed the division to produce an additional 100,000 pounds of trout.
Other improvements have been made to the Edray, Reed's Creek, and Tate Lohr hatcheries to shore up fish production.
In addition to hatchery facility improvements, the increase in trout production can be attributed to warmer weather during the winter months, which created ideal conditions for trout to thrive.
Brett McMillion, director of the division, said his office was excited about stocking in autumn.
“As we look ahead to fall trout stocking, we are optimistic that we will be able to achieve record-breaking stocking numbers this year,” McMillion said.
“With more fish in the water, I want to encourage anglers all across West Virginia and beyond to get out there and enjoy a trout fishing trip this year.”
It is important to note that the long-term growth of the trout population is dependent on various factors, including habitat, weather patterns, and other environmental elements.
McMillion said the division remains dedicated to preserving and enhancing West Virginia's natural resources to ensure sustainable fishing opportunities for generations to come.
All anglers 15 years old and older must have a West Virginia fishing license, trout stamp, and a valid form of identification while fishing for trout. To purchase a license and stamp or to learn more about trout stocking and fishing regulations in West Virginia, visit WVDNR.gov/fishing.
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