In a major blow to fishing in West Virginia, Governor Justice announced that the West Virginia Trout Stocking program is in danger.
The WVDNR stocks trout in more than 200 rivers and streams and over 70 lakes and ponds throughout the state. As a result, many residents and out of state visitors have a chance to reel in a trophy trout.
A 19 million dollar government grant helps to aid in the immense cost of running the program.
However, it was recently announced the US Fish and Wildlife Service has concerns with the negative impact of the program. The government organization stated that the stocked trout are disrupting the habitat of the Candy Darter, a native fish only found in the Gauley, Greenbrier and New River watersheds.
Because of this, the government agency declared that if changes weren’t made the grant funds would disappear. Without the grant, the program could as well.
What Is A Candy Darter
No, not kids in costumes on Halloween. The Candy Darter is a vibrantly colored fish, named for the vertical bright stripes on its body. Typically, the Candy Darter is four inches long and has alternating red and blue stripes the length of its body.
The Candy Darter is native to the upper Kanawha River Basin and was first discovered in 1931. You won’t find it anywhere else in the world. But over the years, the size of its habitat has decreased significantly.
Because of this, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has named the Candy Darter an endangered species.
Like trout, they also live in cool, clear fast moving water. As they inhabit the same types of waters, you can see the potential interactions they may have.
Currently, the US Fish and Wildlife Services is concerned that the stocked trout are negatively impacting the Candy Darter.
What Areas Are Effected by This
The Candy Darter does not inhabit the entire state of West Virginia. In fact, it occupies a very small amount of streams and waterways throughout the state.
To reduce the impact of trout in West Virginia on the Candy Striper, the stocking schedule may be modified at these locations.
- Camp Creek State Park
- Laurel Creek of Cherry
- North Fork of Cherry
- Pinnacle Creek
Hopefully, no further reductions in trout stocking will occur. However, the matter has not yet been laid to rest and plans are not finalized.
What Can We Do To Help
Governor Justice is calling on President Biden to cease the stricter regulations. But we can also do our part. If you’re reading this, it’s likely that trout fishing is important to you as well.
You can reach out to your state legislators and voice your concerns. Call the office of your senators and members of congress. Let them know how important fishing is for the state. Tell them about how you look forward to trout stocking every year.
They want to hear from you, their constituents. Reach out and call them today. Listed below is their contact information.
Senator Joe Manchin
Senator Shelly Moore Capito
Congressman Alex Mooney
Phone: (202) 225-2711
Congresswoman Carol Miller
Phone: (202) 225-3452
The Future Of West Virginia Trout Stocking
At this point, I do not believe we will see an end to trout stocking in West Virginia. Fishing is a major outdoor activity throughout the state and an important tourist attraction. The end would be a major blow to local economies.
Thankfully, US Fish and Wildlife Services plans to partner with West Virginia University to do an official study on the matter. Hopefully the results show that the Candy Darter is not negatively impacted by trout and the issue can be put to rest.
The efforts of Governor Justice and the West Virginia Department of Commerce should lead to a favorable outcome for anglers across the state of West Virginia.
Don’t forget to do your part and contribute to the ongoing efforts of the WVDNR to supply anglers across the state with opportunities to fish for trout.