Gov. Justice extends free fishing for West Virginians through end of May

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WDTV) -- West Virginia residents will be able to enjoy another month of free fishing.

According to a press release from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Governor Jim Justice announced the continuation of free fishing for West Virginians Monday.

The requirement to possess a fishing license to fish in state-regulated waters has been waived for state residents through May 31st, according to DNR. Anglers are asked to continue practicing social distancing.

DNR officials say regular trout stockings will continue as set forth in the 2020 Fishing Regulations. Thousands of golden rainbow trout are being stocked in streams and rivers throughout West Virginia.

DNR encourages anglers to watch out for specially tagged Goldens.

Of the 50,000 golden trout stocked, 150 fish have specially marked, numbered tags, DNR officials said. Anglers that catch a golden with a numbered tag may enter to win one of five grand prizes.

DNR says law enforcement will continue to patrol state waterways. Officers may require proof of West Virginia residency, a valid driver's license or a state-issued ID.

Existing license and stamp requirements for out-of-state residents remain in place. According to DNR, all fishing regulations remain in effect both for residents and nonresidents; these include bag limits, slot limits, catch-and-release areas and fly-fishing-only areas.

The waiver of the license applies to fishing licenses, and it also includes a waiver for trout and conservation stamps, DNR officials said. All requirements for hunting licenses remain in effect.

DNR officials remind anglers not to interfere with trout stocking personnel, follow social distancing guidelines and maintain a safe distance from hatchery staff. A DNR Law Enforcement officer will join each stocking run.