It’s the height of the stocking season here in West Virginia. Every day, trucks filled with brook, brown and rainbow trout crisscross the state delivering their finned cargo.
And as the trucks go their merry way,Â anglers gather in Internet chat rooms and register opinions on message boards either praising or panning the practice of fishing for stocked trout.
Some folks say the state shouldn’t be in the trout-stocking business. To them,Â the stocking of so-called “put and take” trout is akin to a welfare program for unskilled fishermen. Others believe trout shouldn’t be stocked in watersÂ incapable of supporting them year-round, or that non-native brown and rainbow trout shouldn’t be stocked in streams capable of supporting native brook trout. Still others believe their annual trout-stamp purchase entitles them to a certain number of trout, and if those trout come from a truck that’s just too bad.
Here’s what I believe: West Virginia has hundreds of streams capable of supporting trout year-round.Â Where possible, those should be managed — either through fingerling stockings or natural reproduction — for wild and/or native trout.
Note I said “where possible.” Some streams, such as Randolph County’s Gandy Creek, Pocahontas County’s Knapp CreekÂ and Greenbrier County’s Anthony Creek, have such devoted stocked-trout angler followings it would be political suicide to remove them from the stocking list.
What I’d really like is for trout fishermen to try to get along. If people prefer to cast dry flies to wild or native trout, more power to them. If people prefer to chuck Power Bait into a pool filled with stockers, that’s fine too. The idea behind fishing is to enjoy oneself at the level of involvement one happens to choose.
For some, that means strict adherence to catch-and-release fishing and heavy involvement in civilian trout conservation projects. For others, it means following a truck for hours with the idea of bringing home a limit.
It’s been said before, but can’t we all just get along?