When it comes to hunting and fishing, there is not very much to talk or write about this time of the year, except for maybe the trout stockings. Between Jan. 22 and Feb. 1, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources only stocked in three locations because of the inclement weather. This was on Jan. 29 at the Cranberry River (location not disclosed), along with Anderson Lake in Dunbar (the town I grew up in), and Milltree Lake in Roane County (where my ancestors are from).
This past Monday, the DNR stocked Knapps Creek and Seneca Lake in Pocahontas County, Teter Creek Lake in Barbour County, the tail waters of Tygart Lake in Taylor County, and Warden Lake in Hardy County. On Tuesday, the DNR stocked Anthony Creek in Greenbrier County, Dillons Run and Edwards Run in Hampshire County, Fort Ashby Reservoir and New Creek in Mineral County, South Branch of the Franklin Section in Pendleton County, and Watoga Lake in Pocahontas County.
On Wednesday, the DNR stocked Brandywine Lake and Brushy Fork Lake in Pendleton County, Fall Run in Webster County, French Creek Pond in Upshur County, and South Mill Creek Lake in Grant County. Anyone who has ever helped the DNR with stocking trout will be quick to tell you that it is work. I would have to agree with them, especially with the kind of weather we have had for the past week.
On Thursday, the DNR announced a few changes that are being made with the 2013 trout stocking season. The stocking of Laurel Fork of Holly River in Webster County will be delayed because of the repair work going on at Holly River State Park. This state park is currently closed because of the damage inflicted by Superstorm Sandy. The DNR hopes to be able to stock trout at this location next month.
New Creek Lake (Site 14) in Grant County will not be stocked until the Natural Resources Conservation Service has completely filled this impoundment. This lake was drained a few years ago because of needed repairs on the water-release structure. Trout stocking is expected to resume sometime in the Spring.
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I just recently read in "Outdoor America", the quarterly magazine for the Izaak Walton League of America, the number of hunters in the United State grew nine percent between 2006 and 2011. This data is from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. While this is good news, these gains have not made up for several decades of losses. Total hunting participation is below 1996 and earlier levels. In many states, hunter numbers continue to decline or remain stagnant.
I have often said hunting is more than a sport: it is a vital segment of this state's economy. A large percentage of hunters dollars go into the many rural communities where they pay for food, gas, lodging, and more.
All hunters need to work together to increase the ranks of new hunters across the nation, particularly our youth. It has been a few years since I have worked with novice or youth hunters. Last year, I reinstated my membership with the Mountaineer Chapter of the Izaak Walton League; and I would like to be more involved with this program.
Any person can become an angler. All they have to do is purchase an inexpensive rod, reel, and some power bait. After that, all they need is to have access to a lake, pond, or stream.
Training new hunters takes time and money. Youth cannot become hunters until they complete the mandatory hunter safety course that requires certified instructors.
This is why adults who hunt need to be more proactive about introducing youth and adults to sport hunting.