Early June is ordinarily a good time to go fishing.
By and large, waters are neither high nor low, cold nor warm. Daytime temperatures haven’t yet become insufferable. Perhaps most important, though, early June is when West Virginia holds its free fishing days.
This year’s free days are scheduled for June 8-9. Mark Scott, assistant chief in charge of fisheries for the state Division of Natural Resources, said it’s a perfect opportunity to get away from the TV, computer screen or handheld device and enjoy the outdoors.
“In today’s world, there are so many things going on,” Scott said. “Everybody is busy. There’s no better way to relax than to get out and do a little fishing.”
For adults, going fishing ordinarily involves having to purchase a fishing license. On free fishing days, they don’t have to. Scott said it will be perfectly legal for anyone, adult or youth, to fish the public waters of the state without a license.
“No license required, and if you fish for trout, no trout stamp either,” he confirmed. “You still have to abide by all the other fishing regulations, though. The creel limits remain the same, and if you fish in a catch-and-release area, you’ll still have to release what you catch.”
West Virginia is one of many states that conduct their free fishing days during National Fishing and Boating Week, traditionally observed during the first full week of June. State fish and wildlife agencies intend for the free days to get young people involved in fishing, encourage adults to try the pastime, and to give former anglers a chance to renew their interest in it.
“It’s especially perfect for single parents,” Scott said. “You can take the kids out, and it won’t cost you a dime.”
During West Virginia’s free fishing days, the DNR and conservation organizations try to involve young people by conducting fishing derbies for kids at locations around the state.
This year’s derbies are all scheduled for June 8. The largest of the three will be held at the DNR’s Bowden Fish Hatchery near Elkins. Another will be held at Little Beaver State Park near Beckley. Still another, sponsored by the Beyond the Backyard organization for young people, will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Cabela’s store in Charleston.
At the Bowden event, youngsters will be allowed to fish in three hatchery ponds stocked with trout. At Little Beaver, they’ll fish in a stocked section of Little Beaver Lake. At Cabela’s, they’ll fish in an artificial pool stocked with fish.
Scott said, however, that it isn’t necessary to attend a public event to enjoy the free fishing opportunity.
“There are any number of streams and ponds where people can go to fish for bluegills, sunfish and other panfish,” he explained. “Panfish are easy to catch, and they’re very active because a lot of them are spawning at that time.
“For beginners, and especially for kids, it’s important to enjoy a little success early on. Panfish usually provide pretty steady action. If you use a bobber, it becomes very interactive. A bobber moves when the fish takes the bait, and it gives you something to watch.”
Would-be anglers who wish to pursue larger quarry will be able to visit ponds and lakes at 41 sites throughout the Mountain State. All of those waters are being stocked with adult-sized channel catfish in the days leading up to National Boating and Fishing Week.
Twelve are located in West Virginia’s state parks and forests: Babcock SP, Fayette Co.; Blackwater Falls SP, Tucker; Cacapon SP, Morgan; Cedar Creek SP, Gilmer; Chief Logan SP, Logan; Coopers Rock SF, Preston; Little Beaver SP, Raleigh; Moncove Lake SP, Monroe; North Bend SP, Ritchie; Pipestem SP, Summers; Seneca SF; Pocahontas; and Watoga SP, Pocahontas.
The other waters are located at smaller state parks, city parks and state-run wildlife management areas. In DNR District 1, those include: Deegan Lake, Harrison; Dunkard Fork L., Marshall; Hinkle L., Harrison; Mason L., Monongalia; Newburg L., Preston; Teter Creek L., Barbour; Tomlinson Run L., Hancock;
In District 2: Edwards Run Pond, Hampshire; Fort Ashby L, Mineral; Parker Hollow L, Hardy; Sleepy Creek L., Berkeley;
In District 3: Big Ditch L., Webster; Camp Caesar L., Webster; French Creek Pond, Upshur; Handley Pond, Pocahontas; Indian Rock L, Nicholas; Wallback L., Clay;
In District 4: Anawalt L., McDowell; Berwind L., McDowell; Plum Orchard L, Fayette;
In District 5: Barboursville L., Cabell; Coonskin Pond, Kanawha; Hurricane L., Putnam; Krodel L., Mason; Laurel L., Mingo; Lick Creek Pond, Wayne; Miller Fork Pond, Wayne;
In District 6: Conaway Run L., Tyler; Mountwood L., Wood.