It was May of last year when I did a column about the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Catfish Stocking program and how it will bring families together. This is a relatively new program that I feel is not getting the attention from state anglers that it is worthy of.
In about two weeks, the WVDNR will start stocking catchable-size catfish at several public fishing lakes throughout the state. This is a program that is intended to encourage youth and families to spend time together outdoors and get away from the computer games.
This kind of fishing is especially attractive to our youth and is a long-time West Virginia tradition. This year, catfishing opportunities are going to be available at several of the public lakes in the state parks scattered throughout the state.
Other activities will include Kids to Parks Day on May 18, the National Get Outdoors Day on June 8, and the National Fishing and Boating Week from June 1-9. The latter includes Free Fishing days on June 8-9.
When I was growing up, the DNR did not have any of these programs for youth. In some respects, this may have been good, because there was not any place suitable to stock quality game fish in the Greater Charleston area, with the possible exception of the one-acre pond in Kanawha State Forest.
According to Frank Jezioro, director of the WVDNR, "Catfishing is increasing in popularity with young people. Catchable-size catfish are stocked at the user-friendly lakes across the state as one of our warm-water fisheries programs."
The WVDNR and West Virginia's state parks have joined together to make this year even more rewarding. Tagged channel catfish will be stocked into lakes at the following state parks this May: Cacapon in Morgan County, Cedar Creek in Gilmer County, Chief Logan in Logan County, Pipestem in Summers County, and Tominson Run in Hancock County. Anglers who catch a tagged fish are asked to return the tag or tag number, along with information on the date of catch, if the fish was kept or released and the name and address of the angler to WVDNR, 2311 Ohio Ave, Parkersburg, WV 26101. Anglers also can call in this information to 304-420-4550, or provide the information via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anglers, who report a tagged fish, will receive the "tagged reward", park information, a certificate, and a letter of congratulations in the mail after the information is received and recorded by the DNR fish biologists. This year, each certificate holder has a choice of three prizes: a train ride on the Cass Scenic Railroad, a boat ride on the "Island Belle" sternwheeler to Blennerhassett Island, or a Recreational Activity Pass at the Pipestem Resort State Park.
There will be other state park lakes stocked with catfish, but none will be tagged. These will include: Berwind Lake in McDowell County, Laurel Lake in Raleigh County, North Bend State Park in Ritchie County, and Watoga State Park Lake in Pocahontas County.
Fishing at the state parks or forests requires a West Virginia fishing License for anyone 15 or older, except for the scheduled Free Fishing days. West Virginia residents who turn 65 after Jan. 1, 2012, are required to purchase a senior Lifetime License.
For a complete list of the catfish stocking, visit: www.wvdnr.gov.