Virginia is seeking new ways to hook more anglers on trout fishing. This effort coincides with a time when license sales have dwindled and the average age of a trout angler has plummeted to 55 years old.
According to Steve Reeser, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries biologist over trout stocking, recruitment of fresh blood is critical. One solution is to tag trout being stocked and offer a reward to anyone who catches one.
Officials in Virginia and West Virginia believe one answer to declining trout license sales is to make the trout program more family friendly. West Virginia recently listed 104 trout streams and impoundments it plans to stock on weekends this spring.
Stocking these lakes and streams on Fridays and Saturdays will provide a unique fishing opportunity to recruit anglers, according to Stephen McDaniel, director of the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources.
In an effort to attract more kids to trout fishing, last year Virginia set aside seven streams/impoundments for youth-only fishing. The response was surprisingly low, only about 20-kids per stocking on average showed up. The low turnout was blamed on the lack of publicity.
The same waters will be set aside for youngsters this season, each getting three stockings between April 1 and June 15. The program will be highlighted on www.huntfishva.com and in a digest titled “Freshwater Fishing & Boating in Virginia.”
A few youth-only fishing spots may be added. Pre-announced stockings informing will be stocked is in works instead of announcing stockings after the fish are in the water.
Last year 12 streams/impoundments were set aside for pre-announced stockings that give fishermen a chance to plan. It puts school kids and working people on an equal footing with hatchery truck followers.