West Virginia trout-stocking is getting into full swing. It may be cold, snowing, and threatening hypothermia outside, but the diligent, passion-driven sportsmen and women are gearing up for this avocation. Trout-stocking begins in January or February depending on the location. The trout season in West Virginia is a big deal, and “big deal” doesn’t adequately describe it for some. I have heard stories of fishermen trailing on the bumper of the stock truck while it was heading to their favorite fishing hole. I have even heard of people being lookouts for the stock truck and immediately notifying all their friends and family of its arrival. Trout fishermen are quite passionate about their hobby and can be competitive at times for their favorite fishing spot. Trout season has its own political ramifications and persuasions as well. Trout is big money for the state, and let’s hope it always will be.
The brook trout, Salvenlinus fontinalis, is native to the pristine, clear waters of Appalachia and technically not a trout at all. It is actually a char, as denoted by the genus, Salvenlinus. West Virginia’s state fish is a brook trout, but it is also claimed as the state fish by seven other states. These are Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia. The brook trout is one of the most beautiful things that I have ever laid eyes on. The colors and striations are spellbinding and are as unique as a person’s fingerprints. To me, there is nothing more beautiful than a native brook trout from a wilderness area in the majestic wild and wonderful mountains of West Virginia. They are truly beautiful creatures and more importantly, tasty too.
The Northern Panhandle of West Virginia does have a nice array of stocked trout waters, including seven creeks and five reservoirs. Listed from north to south the reservoirs include: Tomlinson Run Lake, Castleman’s Run Lake, Bear Rocks Lake, Middle Wheeling Creek Lake, and Dunkard Fork Lake. The list of stocked streams are listed from north to south including Tomlinson Run, Kings Creek, Buffalo Creek, Middle Wheeling Creek, Wheeling Creek, North and South Fork of Fishing Creek. Tomlinson Run, Kings Creek, Bear Rocks, Middle Wheeling Creek, and Wheeling Creek have already been stocked this year, and the others will be soon. To fish for trout in West Virginia waterways, you must have a valid fishing license and a trout stamp. Further information can be obtained from the WV DNR website, http://www.wvdnr.gov/fishing/fishing.shtm, for the trout-stocking report, trout-stocking map, and state fishing regulations.
With the advent of trout fever on our recreational lands I do ask fellow patrons to practice leave-no- trace ethics. Please pack in and pack out all materials that you bring with you. Take pictures, catch some fish, and leave only footprints. Please help keep these areas free of litter and more beautiful than you found them. Also, if you are an avid fisherman, please try to teach someone else to fish and how to appreciate these precious natural areas. I know I will forever cherish the memories of my father and grandfather teaching me to fish. Happy fishing!