PIPESTEM, WV (WOAY) – As part of his statewide trout stocking initiative, Governor Jim Justice was at Pipestem State Park on Thursday he held a ceremony to release the first trout.
“This was the inaugural stocking of trophy fish, but we’re stocking throughout the state and started yesterday, and that goes for two weeks,” Justice said.
Over the next two weeks, the DNR will be stocking 50,000 trout in 39 lakes and streams across the state and this year, they are adding 6,000 pounds of trophy-sized fish as well.
During the months of May and June, the Division of Natural Resources offered free fishing, and DNR Director Steve McDaniel says at first, it became a major concern because without charging, they were looking at about a $1 million-dollar deficit.
However, according to the DNR, things turned around when the free fishing period was over.
“You know what happened in those 60 days? We had record numbers of people going to our West Virginia streams and lakes and fishing maybe for the first time,” McDaniel said. “So what we saw in June is a whole bunch of new people coming and buying fishing licenses because they had an opportunity to go and try it, and they liked it.”
People were already gathered at Pipestem to reap the benefits of the fresh stocking as Gov. Justice also announced that the state park would be getting $12 million of the $100 million the state is investing in state parks to revamp their facilities.
“What we want to do is we want to upgrade every single cabin, every single state park,” Justice said. “I mean, we want to touch them all. We don’t want to just touch a few. I mean, that’s silly. The biggest problem that Steve McDaniel and Chelsea Ruby have today, You know what the biggest problem is with our state parks? They got to build a bigger parking lot.”
West Virginia Tourism Office Commissioner Chelsea Ruby says the tourism industry is booming thanks to more people getting outside and increased marketing efforts.
Ruby also said that the sales of hunting and fishing licenses are also going up for the first time in years.
“So the last two years when many other states were seeing declines in hunting and fishing licenses, we’re starting to see increases again,” Ruby said. “We’re not just seeing them from in-state folks who are starting to get out but we’re also seeing more out-of-state folks coming in and enjoying the great outdoors.”