Before rafting became insanely popular, the whitewater season ended well before the fall stockings began. Then the outfitters, corps officials and the DNR found a way to make the season even more profitable.
Instead of opening the floodgates and having high flows for three weeks straight, the powers-that-be decided to spread the flows out into a series of four-day weekends. The weekend-centered format allowed more people to raft the river.
Unfortunately for fishermen, it also extended the season into the trout-stocking weeks of mid-October. The outfitters recognized the inconvenience they were creating, and they agreed to fund a supplemental Gauley River trout stocking to compensate aggrieved anglers.
But why does the stocking occur in early June?
Think about it. If it occurred in the fall, after the whitewater season ends, anglers would have a Hobson's choice of activities - fish for trout in November's often-iffy weather, or go bow hunting for deer. In West Virginia, deer always win out.
From the first of March to the end of May, DNR hatchery crews stock the dam's tailwaters every two weeks. That doesn't leave much time to work in an additional stocking.
The early June date coincides with National Fishing Week, and it comes just in front of the state's annual Free Fishing Days. It also comes at a time when anglers haven't completely shoved trout fishing aside for the year.
About the only disadvantage to the date is that it comes when brush and undergrowth are most lush, making access to and from the river difficult in the remote, roadless Gauley canyon.
For anglers hardy enough to beat the brush and walk a few miles, the rewards can be great. Even if the fish don't bite, at least the water will be cold and refreshing. In West Virginia's broiler-like summer months, that's no small reward.