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West Virginia’s free fishing weekend to take place Saturday and Sunday

CHARLESTON — West Virginians and residents of surrounding states are invited to grab their favorite fishing pole and get their bait and tackle box ready, because the state’s free fishing weekend is back Saturday and Sunday.

During these two days, residents and nonresidents are able to fish in West Virginia for free. The annual event gives novice and returning anglers the opportunity to fish without a license.

“Each summer, more and more people of all ages are getting out, enjoying the world-class fishing we have to offer, and taking in the magnificent outdoors that we are blessed with in West Virginia,” Gov. Jim Justice said. “As someone who’s been a fisherman my whole life and knows the kind of joy and memories fishing can provide, I couldn’t be prouder of this great event, and that’s why we’re always looking for ways to introduce more West Virginians to this wonderful pastime.”

Last year, in an effort to encourage outdoor activity among West Virginia residents at a safe distance during early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Justice greatly expanded the state’s free fishing opportunities, holding dates for free fishing in March, extending the promotion through nearly all of April and May, and holding an additional free fishing weekend in June.

As a result of the increased free fishing opportunities last year, hunting and fishing license sales went up by nearly 40 percent during June 2020 compared to the same month the previous year.

West Virginia has also improved and increased it’s fish stocking capabilities during the past several years.

In the week leading up to this year’s free fishing weekend, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will stock catchable-size channel catfish in 59 lakes around the state.

“Free fishing weekend is always a great opportunity to remind people of the fun of fishing, especially with family and friends,” said Stephen McDaniel, director of the WVDNR. “If you already have a license, take someone fishing — it may be your children, spouse or co-worker — and introduce them to a lifetime of outdoor enjoyment.”

“For many years, West Virginia has been proud to sponsor free fishing weekend to encourage people, especially children, to learn a fun outdoor activity that they can enjoy the rest of their lives,” said Mark Scott, assistant chief of fisheries for the WVDNR Wildlife Resources Section. “It’s a good way to reconnect with family and nature and to de-stress from life’s challenges.”

The weekend is part of National Fishing and Boating Week, which is being held this year through Sunday.

The WVDNR participates in several activities during National Fishing and Boating Week and free fishing weekend. A long-running youth fishing derby will take place Saturday at Little Beaver State Park near Beckley.

This year, the Little Beaver kids fishing derby will be celebrating its 30th anniversary. The event gives children an opportunity to receive basic fishing instruction and to enjoy time outdoors with friends and family. The event is free to attend, but registration is required and will take place on-site from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on the day of the derby.

Information about fishing in West Virginia is available online at wvdnr.gov and in the 2021 Fishing Regulations brochure, which is available online and at authorized Fishing License Agents.

Following the conclusion of West Virginia’s free fishing weekend, anglers must have a valid fishing license to fish in West Virginia. To purchase a new license or to renew an existing license, visit wvfish.com.

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