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WV Wildlife: Blackwater Falls--A Unique Trout Stocking Experience

Blackwater Falls has long been an icon of the Mountain State. Due to the rugged terrain here, stocking these fish can be dangerous; that's why DNR biologists came up with a clever & relatively safer way to do that. (WCHS/WVAH)

Stocking fish.

Believe it or not, but it can be an art.

You can either simply do it by hand--by boat--by backpack--or even by rail.

Or, as strange as it may sound--by hose.

Recently, WV DNR biologists used this creativity at one of the most iconic places in West Virginia--Blackwater Falls in Tucker County.

Jim Hedrick, WV DNR Hatchery Program Manager, says this is the 2nd time they’ve done this—and it’s been a success both times.

"The trout come from the hatchery and grow them up to a certain size. When they bring them up on the truck, we have a hose connector and it just hooks to the back of the truck and we can just essentially drain the truck into the hose", said Hedrick.

About 25,000 of these 5-month old brown trout took a trip of their young lifetime--down 500 feet of winding hose into the Blackwater River below.

It's an advantage for the fish and for all involved--even visitors of the park stop and ask questions.

"This is one way where you actually don't have to touch the fish and ultimately, they don't come out of the water--so it's better for the fish as well", said Hedrick.

After all the hoses are hooked up and can reach the water--its go time!

It's not quite as dramatic as you would think at first, but eventually--thousands of these young brown trout reach their new home.

Instead of braving the rapids, these little ones find peace in a gentler pool of water at first--smart move.

"Even though they're small now--only 3 inches now--by late-fall, they are going to be sub-catchable fish. If you were to take a fly rod, they're going to be 5-6 inches", said Hedrick.

Once these fish grow larger, the beauty and solitude of this area is what will make this fishing experience in the coming years, but Hedrick does have some words of caution.

"You do have to use a lot of caution with these rocks being big. All of the splashing and mist off these rocks--they get wet and they get very slick when that happens".

This region of the state used to be a terrific trout fishery. Due to acid runoff, though, those days may be in the rear-view mirror, but liming stations have been setup to improve the water quality--and the fish are coming back thanks to the hard work done by DNR biologists.

"You have to hike down, so it's a unique experience to get someone that type of fishing experience that is very unique, they can't get that just anywhere", said Hedrick.

  • To visit the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources homepage, just click here.

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