New year brings new round of trout stockings
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For West Virginia's anglers, the turning of the calendar from one year to the next also marks the beginning of a new trout-stocking schedule.
If weather permits, some hatchery trucks will begin running as soon as Jan. 2. Others won't make their first runs until Jan. 6. Mike Shingleton, who heads up the Division of Natural Resources' trout program, said a quirk in the calendar caused the delay.
"New Year's Day falls on a Wednesday this year, and that will leave us only two days in that week to make stocking runs," he explained. "Most of our hatcheries will be ready to go on Jan. 2, and I told them if the weather is good, to go for it.
"At one or two of our hatcheries, we had some personnel take leave in December, and those hatcheries will be a few days later getting ready. Trucks will start running from those hatcheries on Jan. 6."
At least that's the plan. The always-fickle January weather will determine when trucks can and can't run.
"If the roads aren't safe, we'll stock later," Shingleton said. "We want to get the trout out to anglers as quickly as possible, but not if it puts our personnel and trucks in danger."
By the end of January, if all goes as planned, 50 streams and ponds will have received roughly 40,000 pounds of trout. Shingleton described this year's hatchery production as "similar to previous years'," so all waters are scheduled to receive their usual allotments.
Anglers will, however, see fewer trophy-sized "brood trout" this winter than they did during the winters of 2012 and 2013.
"We'll be stocking 10 percent brood fish this year, as opposed to 20 percent the past couple of years. Anglers should keep in mind that 10 percent is the amount of brood we traditionally have stocked. We only did 20 percent because we happened to have surpluses of brood fish," Shingleton said.
The average early season trout will be a bit smaller than the 11-inch fish anglers are accustomed to seeing. Shingleton said the size would increase throughout the remainder of the stocking season.
"The fish we stock in January are smaller because our hatcheries are at their fullest and there's a lot of competition for food," he explained. "As more trout are stocked and the hatcheries become less crowded, there's less competition and the fish grow faster. The later into the season a fish is stocked, the bigger it will be."
All waters listed as weekly, biannual or monthly-January in the DNR's stocking schedule should receive trout before the end of the month. Weekly waters will receive two stockings. Biannual and monthly-January waters will receive one.
Shingleton said the only change to the traditional January stocking schedule is for Preston County's Wolf Creek, which has been taken off the list.
"Wolf Creek has access problems," he explained. "The landowner leased the surrounding area to a sportsman's club, and now the land is posted. We don't stock posted waters."
A full list of the state's stocked waters can be found on the Fishing Regulations page of the DNR website, www.wvdnr.gov.
Reach John McCoy at email@example.com or 304-348-1231.