Unlock the Best Time to Fish: All About West Virginia’s Fishing Season!

When Does Fishing Season Start in West Virginia?


Fishing enthusiasts and outdoor lovers eagerly await the start of fishing season in West Virginia. The state’s diverse waterways, stocked with various fish species, provide ample opportunities for anglers to cast their lines and experience thrilling catches. In this blog post, we will explore the start dates of fishing season in West Virginia and highlight some key considerations for a successful and enjoyable angling adventure.

Fishing Licenses

Before embarking on your fishing trip, it is crucial to obtain a valid fishing license from the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Fishing licenses serve as permits that allow you to legally fish within the state’s borders. They also contribute towards conservation efforts and help maintain healthy fish populations.

To purchase a fishing license, you can visit the DNR website or any local authorized vendor. The cost varies depending on factors such as residency status and duration of validity (daily, annual, etc.). Additionally, specific regulations may apply depending on whether you plan to fish recreationally or commercially.

General Fishing Seasons

In general terms, most rivers and lakes across West Virginia are open for year-round fishing; however, there are designated seasons where certain rules apply. It is essential to be aware of these seasonal restrictions before planning your angling excursion:

1. Trout Season:
– Spring Trout Stocking: In early spring (around February), the DNR conducts trout stocking programs throughout selected waters across the state.
– Regular Trout Season: This typically begins around mid-April and extends through May.

2. Bass Season:
– Largemouth Bass: Open year-round except during spawning season.
– Smallmouth Bass: Open year-round with no specific closed seasons.

3. Panfish Season:
– Panfish species like bluegill, crappie, and sunfish are generally available year-round for fishing.

4. Catfish Season:
– Channel Catfish: Open year-round without any specific closed seasons.
– Flathead Catfish: No specific closed seasons, but the majority of anglers target them during the summer months.

5. Walleye Season:
– Walleye fishing season in West Virginia typically starts in early March and lasts through April, allowing anglers to enjoy this sought-after game fish.

Exceptions and Special Regulations

While general fishing seasons apply across most waters in West Virginia, it is crucial to be aware of exceptions and special regulations that may differ depending on the region or water body you plan to fish in. Always consult the official Fishing Regulations set by the DNR before heading out on your adventure.

For example:
– Some streams or lakes might have specific catch-and-release-only rules.
– Closed areas or periods might apply for certain rare species or sensitive habitats.
– Trophy-sized fish may have different bag limits compared to regular catches.

Understanding these exceptions ensures that you abide by all regulations while preserving natural resources for future generations of anglers to enjoy as well.


Fishing season in West Virginia brings joy and excitement to both seasoned fishermen and beginners eager to experience the thrill of reeling in their next big catch. By acquiring a valid fishing license, familiarizing yourself with general fishing seasons, adhering to exceptions and special regulations when necessary, you can embark on memorable angling adventures throughout the state’s stunning waterways. So pack your gear, study up on local regulations, and get ready for an unforgettable journey into West Virginia’s bountiful world of fishing!