West Virginia didn't fare nearly as well where fishing was concerned. The Mountain State's 15-percent participation rate ranked 23rd, slightly better than the nationwide rate of 13 percent.
It should surprise no one that Alaska finished first. An astounding 40 percent of the people who live in the Land of the Midnight Sun identify themselves as anglers. Wow.
Minnesota, Mississippi, Wyoming, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Montana, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Idaho and Louisiana all had participation rates greater than 20 percent.
Compared to surrounding states, though, West Virginia comes out on top. Ohio's participation rate of 14 percent came close to the Mountain State, and Kentucky finished right behind Ohio at 13 percent. From there, though, the rate drops all the way down to Virginia's 11 percent, Pennsylvania's 9 percent and Maryland's 8 percent.
Think about those numbers a little bit.
West Virginia is a landlocked state with zillions of little creeks and a few large rivers, but only one natural lake - and that lake, Trout Pond in Hardy County, is only 1 acre in size. Even the Mountain State's largest artificial reservoir, 2,700-acre Summersville Lake, is relatively small by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers standards.
Now consider that Ohio has Lake Erie; Pennsylvania has Lake Erie and world-class trout fishing; Kentucky has Kentucky, Barkley and Cumberland lakes plus several other large reservoirs; Maryland has the Chesapeake Bay; and Virginia has the Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic Ocean and some enormous impoundments.
Despite having much less water and few fisheries as highly regarded as those of neighboring states, West Virginians still maintain a higher fishing participation rate. That, if you ask me, is pretty darned impressive.