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Free Fishing Weekend returns to West Virginia Saturday

CHARLESTON — West Virginia’s Free Fishing Weekend returns Saturday and Sunday, the governor has announced.

Residents and nonresidents, novice and returning anglers can fish without a license and for free.

“Free Fishing Weekend is always a great opportunity to remind people of the fun of fishing, especially with family and friends,” said Stephen McDaniel, director of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “If you already have a license, take someone fishing, it may be your children, spouse, or co-worker, and introduce them to a lifetime of outdoor enjoyment.”

West Virginia’s Free Fishing Weekend is part of National Fishing and Boating Week, which is being held this year from June 5-13. In the week leading up to Free Fishing Weekend, the DNR stocked catchable-size channel catfish in 59 lakes around the state.

“For many years, West Virginia has been proud to sponsor Free Fishing Weekend to encourage people, especially children, to learn a fun outdoor activity that they can enjoy the rest of their lives,” said Mark Scott, assistant chief of fisheries for the DNR Wildlife Resources Section. “It’s a good way to reconnect with family and nature and to de-stress from life’s challenges.”

The DNR participates in several activities during National Fishing and Boating Week and Free Fishing Weekend.

The Little Beaver kids fishing derby, celebrating its 30th anniversary, will be held Saturday at Little Beaver State Park near Beckley. Children can receive basic fishing instruction and enjoy time outdoors with friends and family.

The event is free to attend, but registration is required and will take place on-site from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on the day of the derby.

“Each summer, more and more people of all ages are getting out, enjoying the world-class fishing we have to offer, and taking in the magnificent outdoors that we are blessed with in West Virginia,” Gov. Jim Justice, an avid fisherman, said. “As someone who’s been a fisherman my whole life and knows the kind of joy and memories fishing can provide, I couldn’t be prouder of this great event, and that’s why we’re always looking for ways to introduce more West Virginians to this wonderful pastime.”

Last year, to encourage outdoor activity of residents at a safe distance during early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Justice expanded the free fishing opportunities, holding dates for free fishing in March, extending the promotion through nearly all of April and May and holding an additional Free Fishing Weekend in June.

As a result of the increased free fishing opportunities last year, hunting and fishing license sales went up by nearly 40 percent in June 2020 compared to the same month the previous year.

At Justice’s direction, West Virginia also improved and increased it’s fish stocking capabilities over the past several years.

More information about fishing in West Virginia is available online at wvdnr.gov and can also be found in the 2021 Fishing Regulations brochure, which is available online and at authorized Fishing License Agents.

Following the conclusion of West Virginia’s Free Fishing Weekend, anglers must have a valid fishing license to fish in West Virginia. To purchase a new license or to renew an existing license, visit wvfish.com.

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