CLIFFTOP, W.Va. — The longtime procedure of stocking trout in West Virginia is about to change. Governor Jim Justice wants trout stocked not just in the biggest holes which are easiest to reach with the stock truck, he wants trout deposited at points throughout the Mountain State’s trout waters.
“If you dump all of those fish into a hole and 40 people stand around casting into that same hole, it’s not a terrific angling experience,” Justice told a small crowd Wednesday at Babcock State Park. “Not only that, 70 percent of the fish leave within an hour of hitting the water. We’ve got to stop that.”
Typically the hatchery sends one or two employees on daily stocking runs. Some of those are long hauls across much of the state and take time. Historically trout are dropped into the stream where it is safest and easiest to access with the truck. Generally bridges and wide spots along the road are the places the fish will be unloaded. Seldom are they carried for any distance to be put into more remote stretches of water. The Governor wants a change.
Justice was on hand to take part in a ceremonial stocking of golden trout into Glade Creek in front of the iconic Babcock Grist Mill Wednesday. The stockings are part of this week’s Gold Rush promotion in which the Division of Natural Resources is stocking 40,000 golden trout, many of them in waters in close proximity to the state parks.
“We’re going to start stocking our streams how they should be stocked,” said Justice. “We’re going to be dad-gum proud of it and we’re going to market ourselves as doing so.”
Justice shared a story of when he was a student at Marshall. He and a friend would often assist the Superintendent of Babcock and the DNR in stocking the same stretch of Glade Creek. The Governor said the two would carry buckets of fish over a longer distance and drop in a few with every few steps throughout the creek, breaking up the concentration. He has ordered such a practice to become the norm in the state’s trout program.
“We dump a bunch of fish in one hole, then drive to the next big hole and dump a bunch of fish and hope they will disperse,” he said. “It’s not a very good way to do it.. What if the truck showed up with four guys and they all carried buckets of trout up and down the stream, dropping two here and three there until the whole stream was stocked.”
The Governor said additional personnel on the stocking runs will mean additional DNR staff. He also suggested there are volunteer organizations who would be willing to offer manpower to accomplish the goal.
“I have told them as a mandate that’s exactly the way I want it done and I want it done starting today,” Justice said. “We’re going to market ourselves, so people know you can come to West Virginia anytime and have great opportunities to catch lots of fish.”