CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For once, West Virginia's anglers won't have to fish in dried-up streams during the fall trout-stocking season.
Unusually wet weather during the summer has many trout streams flowing in their normal range, and those that are low aren't critically so. Tom Oldham, a fisheries biologist for the state Division of Natural Resources, said overall stream conditions are "better than usual."
"It's been a really wet summer," he said. "Streams won't be full, but they'll probably have more water than usual for this time of year. With the wet summer, there's probably a better chance that trout have carried over from the spring, and that should lead to better fishing than usual."
This fall's stockings are scheduled to begin Oct. 15. Oldham said hatchery crews would stock 27 streams and eight lakes. He added, however, that hatcheries have fewer trout to stock this year.
"We'll be stocking roughly 30,000 pounds of trout. That's a little less than we've had in the past. It's kind of strange, because with all the water we had in our hatcheries you'd think production would be better. But you never really know what you have until you do the inventory, and that's what our inventory says we have," he explained.
All those fish will be stocked in nine days - four days on the week beginning Oct. 14, and five days the following week. As usual, the stockings will be a combination of young fish and trophy-sized "brood fish."
"We try to do a combination of both," Oldham said. "Some of the fish will be bigger than you're expecting, and some will be smaller. That's the mixed bag you get in the fall."
Getting the right mix of species and sizes to each stream can be a challenge. Oldham said hatcheries spend the weeks leading up to the stockings transferring tons of fish from one facility to another.
"You would not believe the movements it takes ... to get these fish to where they're needed," he added. "It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort, but we do it because we want our sportsmen to enjoy a quality experience."
Oldham said DNR officials perform the fall stockings so hunters can get in a little trout fishing while they're afield.