SOUTH CHARLESTON – “Catfish in the Parks” is a “Get Outdoors” initiative for kids and families to discover the fun of catfishing. Introduced in 2008 by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Section and West Virginia State Parks, “Catfish in the Parks” program is intended to provide family-based fishing opportunities at selected state parks.
In mid-May, the WVDNR Wildlife Resources Section stocked catchable size (1-2 pound) channel catfish into eight state park lakes located throughout the state. During the week of May 14, state park lakes stocked included Cedar Creek, Cacapon, Chief Logan, Little Beaver, North Bend Lake, Pendleton Lake at Blackwater Falls, Long Branch Lake at Pipestem and Tomlinson Run. Additional lakes not in the state park system are also stocked.
“The catfish stocked at state park lakes has an additional ‘outdoor fun factor’ this year,” according to Sissie Summers with the W.Va. state parks programming services section. “About 12 percent of the stocked catfish will be tagged. Anglers catching a tagged catfish and following the tag instructions for reporting the catch will receive a ‘tagged fish reward.’”
The reward is a choice of a ride to Whittaker Station at Cass Scenic Railroad or a ride to Blennerhassett Island on The Island Belle sternwheeler.
“Cass Scenic Railroad and Blennerhassett are exceptional outdoor places steeped in history,” Summers said. “Both parks have two unique modes of transportation, Shay locomotives for a train ride and a sternwheeler.”
Anglers who report a tagged fish will receive the “tagged reward,” park information, a certificate and a letter of congratulations via US mail after the information is received and recorded by DNR fisheries biologists.
“Evaluations of the stocking program indicate that anglers catch these catfish throughout the summer and into early fall, and most a release the fish for others to enjoy,” said O’Bara.
State park superintendents and staff recognize that anglers are primarily accompanied by family members and a high percent of the anglers are younger than 18 years. In addition, most anglers visit the parks not only to fish but also to enjoy other outdoor recreation, including camping, hiking and biking that is available at most state parks.
Fishing at state parks and forests requires a West Virginia fishing license for anyone age 15 and older except for the free fishing days scheduled June 9 and 10. Also, residents who turn age 65 after January 1, 2012, are required to purchase a Senior Lifetime License.
There is no admission charge to state-operated parks and forests to go fishing. More than 30 areas in the West Virginia state parks system offer fishing opportunities onsite. Catfish stocking is in addition to spring trout stocking at many state park and forests locations.
For information about fishing opportunities in West Virginia and license sales, visit www.wvdnr.gov. For state park and forest information, visit www.wvstateparks.com.