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WV Wildlife: Free Fishing Weekend!

No fishing license is required this weekend for anyone wanting to cast a line! (WCHS/WVAH)

If you've never experienced the excitement of catching a fish, you should give it a try this weekend!

It's free fishing weekend across West Virginia--no fishing license or even trout stamp required!

David Thorne, state cold-water fisheries biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, says this is always a popular event.

"It's a nationwide program; I think all states do it anymore. It was started years ago as a way to promote recreational fishing as an outdoor pursuit. I think it's a great program—it does get more interest and you see more people out fishing on the free fishing weekend”, said Thorne.

If you do give it a cast this weekend, you still need to follow any special rules or regulations. You can find these on the DNR website, or in this year's rules & regulations booklet.

The hope is to get more people interested in the sport of fishing, especially the young ones.

"It's absolutely a good way to engage young anglers and anglers of all ages that may or may not be interested in buying a license, but hopefully we can turn a few people on to buying a license", said Thorne.

The money that comes from these fishing licenses is crucial. Not only will it help the resource--these beautiful fish that call the Mountain State home--but it will protect their habitat, too.

“It stays within our agency. It doesn't go to general revenue, it stays within the wildlife resources and goes back into fisheries conservation. It's huge--we couldn't do what we do without the support of our license buyers", said Thorne.

This is actually one of the best times of the year for this free fishing ‘trial', too.

"It's a great time to do it because fishing is best this time of the year everywhere, and it's going to be great this weekend. The water's low as it's been, flows are consistent. Trout fishing is really at its peak right now. Smallmouth fishing is absolutely spectacular this time of year”, said Thorne.

Thorne says the entire family can enjoy free fishing weekend!

"It's a great family activity. It's a great time of the year to get out into the West Virginia wilds and see what our state has to offer as far as fisheries and aquatic resources. Just come out and enjoy it. Take advantage of it and get hooked and hopefully, we'll see you as a lifetime license buyer".

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