Fishing regulations in West Virginia

In addition to being one of the smallest states in the United States, West Virginia has the unfortunate distinction of having the second lowest household income of any of the 50 states in the country. Almost the entire state is covered in mountains, which leaves plenty of room for natural lakes and rivers to be exploited by residents.

Climates that are generally colder provide the ideal conditions for the development of natural ecosystems and the proliferation of fauna and flora. The biodiversity in the area is abundant, and the natural landscapes are nothing short of breathtaking.

West Virginia is also one of the most popular fishing destinations in the United States, both for residents and visitors. Residents account for the vast majority of the 400,000 hunting and fishing licenses issued each year. Given that the state’s total population is approximately 1.8 million people, more than close to a quarter of the state’s total Mountaineers are in possession of a valid hunting and fishing license.



Licenses and permits

Licenses and permits are only valid for one calendar year, which means that they are not effective from the date of validation, but only from the first day of the following year. Residents can obtain a fishing license for the entire year for less than $20, and a five-day fishing permit is available for $8. Nonresidents will be required to pay a $37 annual fee for fishing, while a one-day fishing permit will be issued for only $3 to residents.

The fees for hunting and fishing licenses in West Virginia are among the lowest in the country when compared to other states, making it highly recommended that you travel to this state and put your fishing skills to the test as often as possible.

Some residents do not require a fishing license if they fall into one or more of the following categories: completely blind people, residents who turn 65 before the beginning of 2012, nonresidents and residents under the age of 15, residents who were honorably discharged from the United States armed forces, and others.


Daily Creel Limits

West Virginia has a diverse range of lakes, rivers, and ponds, resulting in a diverse range of fish species to be found in the state. The daily creel limits refer to the maximum number of fish that can be caught by a single person in a single day from each species. Possessions of any kind of fish are limited to twice the daily maximum creel limit in any one location.

As a result, you are only permitted to own the number of fish from the most popular species listed below: 6 black bass and trout, 2 Northern pike and blue catfish, 30 hybrid striped bass, striped bass, and white bass in any combination, 8-10 sauger and saugeye, and no more than 10 frogs are allowed per person per day.

Fishing for hybrid striped bass, striped bass, and white bass is not permitted in Rollins Lake, and any caught should be released immediately after capture.

Fishing for paddlefish, shovelnose sturgeon, and lake sturgeon is prohibited in all West Virginia waters, including the Potomac River. If you happen to catch one of these species, you must release it as soon as possible.


Other rules and regulations

  • It is only under strict regulations that catch and release fishing practices are permitted. These practices include the immediate release of a fish after capturing it, as well as handling the fish with bare or wet hands.
  • It is strictly prohibited to use any fishing methods other than a rod, line, and hooks while on the water.
  • Illegal to use firearms, crossbows, dynamite or any other explosive for the purpose of catching and killing fish. It is also illegal to use poisonous mixtures for the purpose of catching and killing turtles, frogs, and other amphibians.
  • Between the beginning of January and the end of May, it is also illegal to use more than two lines or poles when fishing.
  • Use of holes larger than 10 inches in diameter for ice fishing is prohibited on all public waters within the state of West Virginia where ice fishing opportunities are available.
  • Seining or trapping game fish is strictly prohibited.
  • Jug fishing and hand fishing are both prohibited under all circumstances.