Gov. Jim Justice is once again calling all West Virginians to grab their favorite fishing pole and get their bait and tackle box ready, because West Virginia’s Free Fishing Weekend is back this Saturday, June 12, and Sunday, June 13.
During these two days, residents and nonresidents are able to fish in West Virginia for free. The annual event gives novice and returning anglers the opportunity to fish without a license.
“Each summer, more and more people of all ages are getting out, enjoying the world-class fishing we have to offer, and taking in the magnificent outdoors that we are blessed with in West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “As someone who’s been a fisherman my whole life and knows the kind of joy and memories fishing can provide, I couldn’t be prouder of this great event, and that’s why we’re always looking for ways to introduce more West Virginians to this wonderful pastime.”
Last year, in an effort to encourage outdoor activity among West Virginia residents at a safe distance during early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Justice greatly expanded the state’s free fishing opportunities, holding dates for free fishing in March, extending the promotion through nearly all of April and May, and holding an additional Free Fishing Weekend in June.
As a result of the increased free fishing opportunities last year, hunting and fishing license sales went up by nearly 40% for the month of June 2020 compared to the same month the previous year.
At Gov. Justice’s direction, West Virginia has also improved and increased it’s fish stocking capabilities over the past several years.
In the week leading up to this year’s Free Fishing Weekend, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will stock catchable-size channel catfish in 59 lakes around the state.
“Free Fishing Weekend is always a great opportunity to remind people of the fun of fishing, especially with family and friends,” WVDNR Director Stephen McDaniel said. “If you already have a license, take someone fishing – it may be your children, spouse, or co-worker – and introduce them to a lifetime of outdoor enjoyment.”
“For many years, West Virginia has been proud to sponsor Free Fishing Weekend to encourage people, especially children, to learn a fun outdoor activity that they can enjoy the rest of their lives,” said Mark Scott, assistant chief of fisheries for the WVDNR Wildlife Resources Section. “It’s a good way to reconnect with family and nature and to de-stress from life’s challenges.”
West Virginia’s Free Fishing Weekend is part of National Fishing and Boating Week, which is being held this year from June 5-13.