Catfish stocking is a relatively new program that was introduced by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources in 2008. During the week of May 14, 2012, the WVDNR will be stocking catchable size channel catfish (1 to 2 pounds) in state park lakes throughout the state. These lakes include: Cedar Creek in Gilmer County, Cacapon in Morgan County, Chief Logan in Logan County, Little Beaver in Raleigh County, North Bend Lake in Ritchie County, Pendleton Lake at Blackwater Falls in Tucker County, Long Branch Lake at Pipestem State Park, and Tomlinson Run Lake in Hancock County.
"Catfish in the Parks" is a program for children and families to discover the enjoyment of catching catfish. When I was growing up in Kanawha County in the 50's and 60's, catfish were considered a poor man's fish.
We would catch a few of them at a backwaters that branched off the Great Kanawha River near Dunbar. At that time, the Kanawha River was absolutely filthy from the chemical wastes and sewage that was being dumped into that stream. While catfish can live in this kind of water to a certain degree, no one would ever consider eating any fish that may have been caught in that river.
Today, Dunbar has helped solve some of this problem with its own city lake (Anderson Lake) located near the Wine Cellar Park on Dutch Hollow Road.
This seven-acre lake is also stocked with trout in January and March of each year.
The catfish being stocked are a combination of those hatched and raised at the DNR's new Apple Grove Fish Hatchery in Mason County and those purchased from the private sector. This idea is to not only provide fishing opportunities, but to encourage all residents and those visiting our state to try out our state parks during the warm weather months.
"The catfish stocked at the state park lakes has an additional 'outdoor fun factor' this year", according to Sissie Summers with the West Virginia 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 on the Cass Scenic Railroad to Whittaker Station or a ride to Blennerhassett Island on the Island Belle Sternwheeler near Parkersburg.
I have been on both of these rides. I think anyone trying this out for the first time will find it highly interesting and enjoyable.
Evaluations made of the catfish stocking program indicate that anglers catch these fish throughout the summer and into the warm days of the fall. From reports received, a large percentage of the fish caught are returned to the water for others to enjoy.
State Park superintendents and staff recognize that a lot of young anglers are accompanied by family members. In addition, most anglers visit the parks not only to fish, but to also enjoy other outdoor recreation that includes biking, camping, hiking, picnicking, horseshoes, volleyball, etc., available at several of West Virginia's state parks.
Fishing at state parks and forests requires a valid West Virginia fishing license, However, there is no admission charge to fish at state-operated parks or forests.
When making your plans about where to travel this summer, consider visiting a state park.
Bring your fishing gear and participate in the "Catfish in the Parks" program.