West Virginia stocking lakes, streams for Gold Rush

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Gold Rush, a special stocking of golden rainbow trout, will start Monday in waters across the state, the governor said.

Through April 6, the Division of Natural Resources will stock only golden rainbow trout in designated lakes and streams. The first-ever Gold Rush took place in 2018 and was so successful that the state is repeating and expanding it, Gov. Jim Justice said.

“I hope as many West Virginians as possible take advantage of Gold Rush this year,” Justice said. “Fishing is a wonderful tradition in our state. I have so many great memories of times I went fishing with my dad, and I want all West Virginians to have the opportunity to make the same great memories with their families.”

Justice and division representatives will hold a stocking event Wednesday at Babcock State Park. It is open to the public and more details will be released later.

A list of stocking locations is available at wvgoldrush.com. Locally, golden trout will be stocked at Mountwood Park and the tailwaters of the North Bend State Park Lake.

This year, the Gold Rush will happen in 16 streams and 41 lakes, including those in or close to several state parks. State workers will stock golden rainbow trout at 15 state parks and forests, many of which are offering overnight accommodations and scheduling special programming.

To ensure families have plenty of opportunity to participate, whether at the start or end of the week, the division will conduct a big release on April 6, the last day of the event.

Anyone who catches a golden rainbow at a state park is eligible to receive a West Virginia Gold Rush Golden Rainbow Trout Certificate. Anglers can also print their own Gold Rush certificate at wvgoldrush.com.

“The 2018 Gold Rush was an exciting event that brought hundreds of new, active and reactivated anglers back to our lakes and streams,” DNR Director Stephen McDaniel said. “Thanks to the efforts of our trout hatcheries staff, we will be able to do it again with more trout, more locations and more chances to strike gold.”

The division expects to stock about 40,000 golden rainbows this year, up from 35,000 in 2018.

“Last year was a success and I’ve told Director McDaniel that Gold Rush needs to be even bigger and even better this year,” Justice said. “We want more anglers getting out on the water and enjoying what our great state has to offer.”

Anglers must follow West Virginia’s fishing regulations, which can be found online at wvdnr.gov.

Anglers age 15 and older are required to have a West Virginia fishing license with a current trout stamp and a valid form of identification while fishing. A West Virginia fishing license can be purchased at 180 retail agents around the state or online at wvfish.com.

“The vision behind the West Virginia Gold Rush is to get people, especially children and new anglers, excited about trout fishing in West Virginia by giving them a great opportunity to catch this popular fish,” said Jim Hedrick, hatchery program manager. “We will again be tagging some of the goldens so those who are lucky enough to catch one can turn in the tag for a West Virginia Gold Rush T-shirt.”

Introduced to the public in 1963 as part of West Virginia’s centennial celebration, the golden rainbow trout is prized by anglers young and old for its unmistakable, bright-yellow color. For more than 50 years, golden rainbows have provided a special experience for anglers who have been lucky enough to catch them, the state said.