West Virginia’s muskie anglers have a new club to join.
The Frametown-based South Central West Virginia Chapter of Muskies Inc. was approved by the Muskies Inc. national board in February. Chapter officials have already drawn up plans to hold seven tournaments and a youth outreach event by December.
“It has taken off pretty well,” said Jake Flint, a spokesman for the fledgling chapter. “We have 31 members already, and we expect more as the year goes on.”
Before the new chapter’s formation, West Virginia had only one Muskies Inc. chapter, which focused mainly on the northern part of the state.
“I have been a Muskies, Inc. member for several years, and when I ran into people out on the river and urged them to join, they said they didn’t want to because everything was up north,” Flint said. “I decided to start a chapter that would focus more on the state’s central and southern regions.”
Most of the new chapter’s members hail from Braxton and Clay counties, but Flint said the organization also has several members from Charleston and two from as far away as Wayne County.
“As the word gets out, I figure a whole lot more people will want to join,” he added.
Muskies, Inc. is a national organization that, according to its website, is “dedicated to the conservation of muskellunge and the enjoyment of muskie fishing.” The 48-year-old organization has 6,000 members and more than 50 chapters.
At a March 8 meeting, members of the fledgling chapter firmed up their schedule of events for 2014. In addition to working with Division of Natural Resources officials on muskie-conservation projects, members plan to hold seven tournaments.
Flint said all of this year’s tournaments will be “mail-in” tournaments, in which members fish in designated waters and report their catches (supported by photos and witness’ statements) by e-mail.
“We got started too late to pull [DNR] permits to hold tournaments at lakes, so all of this year’s events will be mail-in,” he explained.
The Spring Tournament, scheduled for April 26-27, leads off the schedule. Subsequent events include the Three River Shootout May 17-18 on the New, Gauley and Kanawha rivers; the Streams-Only Tournament on June 28-29; the Elk River Tournament Sept. 27-28; the Burnsville Lake Tournament Oct. 25; the Fall Tournament Nov. 8-9; and the Winter Blast on Dec. 6.
In addition, Flint said the chapter plans to hold an Aug. 10 Youth Day event at Wallback Lake, a 15-acre pond located within the Wallback Wildlife Management Area.
“We want to hit the ground running and try to promote muskie fishing within the state, and especially the idea of catch-and-release muskie fishing,” Flint added.
Work is underway on a both Facebook page and a website for the new chapter, both of which will be designed keep members abreast of the organization’s activities. Members will also get a subscription to Muskie Magazine and a muskie-themed calendar, both published by the national organization.
“Those alone are worth the [$35 a year] membership dues,” Flint said.
Flint said people interested in the South Central chapter can get more information by calling him at 304-364-8878, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.