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WV Wildlife: Winter Trout Stockings

A WVDNR hatchery worker hoists a net full of trout while stocking Chief Logan State Park Lake. (WCHS/WVAH)

A New Year is always exciting, but especially to those who love to trout fish.

January is when our West Virginia DNR begins to stock lakes and streams all over the state again with these beautiful members of the salmon family.

The season runs through the end of May, and it looks to be a good one thanks to all of the rain we saw in 2018.

"This year, we have lots of fish. The hatcheries--they require a huge amount of water, and it serves a couple purposes. One thing is, especially during warm times of the year--it keeps those fish cool because trout are very temperature sensitive. The other thing is, the flushing of that hatchery also prevents any kind of toxins that are normally excreted by the fish. It keeps those toxin levels down, and that also helps the fish grow", said Jim Hedrick—Hatchery Program Manager with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.

And some of those fish have definitely grown--like an eight-pound rainbow that was recently stocked at Chief Logan State Park!

Not to say they'll all be trophy-sized, but finding trout to catch shouldn't be an issue.

"You can expect more fish starting off this year than what we had during most of last year in each stocking. They are about average size right now", said Hedrick.

And those fish, and DNR personnel, are well traveled--considering that all the state’s hatcheries are located in the eastern mountains, where the water stays chilly enough year-round to raise them.

"A lot of times, our hatchery staff have 12 and 13--sometimes 14 hour days in order to get trout to the far side of the state to some of those locations, but to bring those trout and be able to distribute them and give a lot of people local fishing opportunities--it's worth it to do that", said Hedrick.

That’s why the sale of fishing licenses and trout stamps is so important

"We do have to have that revenue to operate the program. It's not really about the money--it's really about encouraging anglers and keeping the heritage going forward with fishing. We raise as many trout as we can--and we stock every one of them for the anglers. So, the one thing you can be sure of with your trout stamp is when you buy it, you're getting all the fish as an angler because we stock them all".

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