Trout stock trucks are now rolling
The weather for the first week of 2018 was not fit for anyone or anything to be stirring around in. The weather conditions for the beginning of the second week may have warmed things up, but they still leave something to be desired.
The cold temperatures of the first week did not keep the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources personnel from stocking trout. From Jan. 2-5, the following lakes were stocked: Cedar Creek Lakes in Gilmer County, Hurricane Reservoir in Putnam County, Larenum Park Lake in Mineral County, and Spruce Knob Lake in Randolph County.
According to the DNR 2018 daily trout stocking report, there was six inches of ice on Spruce Knob Lake, along with four inches of snow on the ground when that lake was stocked on Jan. 3. I have only fished in Spruce Knob one time. This was in the 1980s in early May. I may have been out of my vehicle about 20 minutes because I was not adequately dressed for the unexpected cold weather conditions near that lake. I can only feel sorry for the DNR personnel who had to be involved with this chore last week.
On Jan. 9, the following locations were trout stocked: Mountwood Lake in Wood County, and New Creek along with the North Fork of Patterson Creek, both in Grant County.
On Jan. 10, the following lakes, reservoirs and ponds were stocked with trout: Barboursville Lake in Cabell County, Chief Logan Pond in Logan County, Fitzpatrick Lake in Raleigh County, Laural Fork Lake in Mingo County, Lick Creek Pond in Wayne County, Little Beaver Lake in Raleigh County, Pennsboro Reservoir in Ritchie County, Ridenour Lake in Nitro or Kanawha County, Tracy Lake in Ritchie County and Wayne Dam in Wayne County.
West Virginia anglers who are used to following the stock trucks had better beware of the new law that was enacted by the state legislature in 2017. It is illegal to catch, take, kill or attempt to catch, take or kill any fish by any means within 200 feet of DNR personnel engaged in stocking fish in any public waters.
It could be interesting just how rigidly the DNR police are going to enforce this new law. I have talked to several anglers over the years who have wanted a law like this in order to discourage people from following the trout stocking trucks.
In 2017, hunters harvested 3,160 black bears during the combined bow, crossbow and firearms season. This is 5 percent above the 2016 harvest of 3,012, and the second-highest bear harvest in state history. The record black bear harvest was 3,201, set in 2015. This is the third straight year the bear harvest has been over 3,000.
Mast was abundant last year, and the bears were well-scattered. The DNR expected a decrease in the archery harvest, but an increase in the traditional December firearm season. Both of these predictions held true.
The top five counties for the 2017 archery season were: Nicholas (53), Randolph (45), Fayette (43), Mercer (38) and Preston (38).
Firearm hunters took 2,548 black bears in 2017. The top five counties were Randolph (224), Webster (210), Pocahontas (204), Pendleton (193) and Nicholas (187).
All of the big game harvest figures will be official when the DNR releases the 2017 Big Game Bulletin, which will most likely be sometime in March.
This is when I plan to give a more thorough report about all of West Virginia’s big game seasons from last year.