ROANOKE, W.Va. — Large bass tournaments at Lewis County’s Stonewall Jackson Lake may soon become a lot more interesting. A change in the regulations for registered bass tournaments was one of the fishing regulation changes approved in the most recent meeting of the West Virginia Natural Resources Commission.
“All of those are catch and release tournaments and we feel like it will be minimal impact on the fishery,” said Mark Scott, Assistant Chief for Fisheries for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
The change will allow for those fishing in a bass tournament which is registered and has a permit from the DNR to keep multiple five over 18 inches in length. The current regulation allows anglers to keep only one fish over the 18 inch limit, the other five must be under 18 inches. it’s created difficult circumstances for competition anglers who were forced to throw back sizeable fish.
“It’s an opportunity to relax the regs and see how it works for the tournaments,” Scott explained. “There’s a lot of big fish there and it’s a way of to showcase the lake through the larger tournaments.”
The rule change applies only to the larger, open bass fishing events and not to smaller “club tournaments’ which are not required to register for a permit. The restriction of only one black bass over 18 inches remains in effect or all other anglers on the lake.
The new regulations will take effect January 1, 2019 along with all other fishing regulation changes the commission okayed.
The rule changes will make four well known native brook trout watersheds catch and release only. The waters include Middle Fork of Williams River and all tributaries in Webster and Pocahontas Counties, Tea Creek (upstream of Tea Creek Campground) in Pocahontas County , Red Creek upstream of County Route 45 bridge and tributaries in Tucker County, and Otter Creek and tributary water in Randolph and Tucker Counties.
For many years native brook trout streams were largely protected because few knew where they were. The DNR also deliberately didn’t advertise their locations out of fear over fishing might negatively impact the fragile species. However, that wasn’t an authorized management plan according to Scott.
“We want the public to enjoy these streams, and we’re spending federal dollars on them so we can’t keep it a secret,” he explained. ” We wanted to put on the catch and release regulation which will allow people to fish there and not harm the fishery.”
Two other regulations are more localized. One would make Edwards Run in Hampshire County a fly-fishing only water. The stream is being restored as a native brook trout stream upstream from Edwards Run Pond to the boundary of the Edwards Run Wildlife Management Area.
The final change approved by Commissioners for fishing regulations was establishment of a slot limit of 12 to 16 inches on black bass at Parker Hollow Lake in Hardy County.