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W.Va. is expanding the Gold Rush Season

The 2018 hunting season has not been one of my best and nowhere near what I expected. Last year, I was skunked for the deer season and I only bagged six gray squirrels (three each with two different shotguns). My favorite .22 rimfire squirrel rifle was never out of the gun-safe last fall.

The bushy-tail season does not go out until Feb. 28; but hunting these critters in the “Dead of the Winter” often ends up being a waste of time. Squirrels just don’t stir around during this time of the year like they do in the fall, unless the temperatures are unseasonably warm. So much for the past; now let’s think about the future or 2019.

In early January, the trout stocking trucks should be rolling. With all of the precipitation we have had in the past 12 months, the streams and lakes should be in good shape.

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has announced in a news release that it plans to return and expand the gold rush for the state’s lakes and streams this spring. In 2019, more golden rainbow trout are scheduled to be stocked.

For the week of April 1-6, a special stocking of golden rainbow trout will return. During that week, the WVDNR plans to stock about 40,000 golden rainbow trout at more than 55 lakes and streams throughout the state, which will include 12 state parks. The gold rush is a great opportunity to catch a beautiful golden rainbow trout. This is something I have never done.

If an angler can catch a golden rainbow with a golden tag, they will win an exclusive Gold Rush T-shirt. To claim this free shirt, the angler will have to download and fill out a form from the DNR. Then they will have to mail the form, along with the tag to the Elkins Operations Center. The tag will be returned with the Gold Rush T-Shirt. I wouldn’t mind having one of these shirts for myself.

The real purpose of the “West Virginia Gold Rush” is to get more people, especially children and new anglers, into trout fishing. The Gold Rush stockings are not a part of the DNR’s regularly scheduled trout stockings. During the regular trout stocking season, golden rainbows are stocked with regular rainbow trout at a ratio of 1 to 10.

The golden rainbow trout was introduced to the public in 1963 as part of the West Virginia Centennial Celebration. Today, this fish is prized by anglers, young and old, for it’s bright-golden color. For more than 50 years, it has provided a special experience for anglers who have been lucky to catch them and a lot of frustration for anglers who haven’t.

Golden rainbow trout can be observed at just about all of the state trout hatcheries at certain times of the year. West Virginia’s fish hatchery facilities play an important role in the state’s fisheries management efforts and are open daily to the public for observation.

In order to participate in West Virginia’s Gold Rush, a current fishing license and trout stamp will be required. All anglers 15 and older will be required to have a state fishing license along with a valid form of identification. Fishing licenses are good for the entire calendar year and the DNR recommends they be purchased at the beginning of each year. Resident anglers may also purchase a five-day license. One-day licenses are available for non-resident anglers.

The West Virginia 2019 Fishing Regulations are now available online at www.wvdnr.gov. Anglers need to consult pages 3, 5, 6 and 7 for the details on the changes or what is new for 2019.

State anglers may not realize it, but they are indebted to many local landowners throughout the state. Without their consent, cooperation and generosity; fishing would be highly restricted to state and federal acreage. Most stream closures are often due to slob-anglers who have no respect for private property. Therefore, when using private land for fishing, try to leave the location as nice as when it was found or possibly better.

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