Fishing in West Virginia is a beloved pastime, offering anglers a chance to experience the state’s beautiful waterways and diverse fish populations. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, understanding the latest fishing regulations is crucial for a safe, legal, and enjoyable fishing experience. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about West Virginia’s fishing regulations for 2024, including licensing requirements, species-specific rules, and tips for a successful fishing trip.

Licensing Requirements

Who Needs a License?

All anglers aged 15 and older must have a valid West Virginia fishing license. This applies to both residents and non-residents. Additionally, a valid form of identification must be carried while fishing.

Types of Licenses

West Virginia offers various types of fishing licenses to cater to different needs:

  • Resident Fishing License: Available to individuals who have lived in West Virginia for at least 30 days.
  • Non-Resident Fishing License: For visitors who wish to fish in West Virginia.
  • Youth Fishing License: Required for anglers aged 15 to 17.
  • Senior Lifetime License: Available to residents aged 65 and older.
  • Trout Stamp: Required for anyone fishing for trout.

Licenses and stamps can be purchased online at or at 156 retail locations across the state.

Updated Regulations for 2024

Species-Specific Rules

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) has updated several regulations for 2024 to ensure sustainable fishing practices:

  • Blue Catfish: Minimum size limit has been adjusted.
  • Channel Catfish: New possession limits have been established.
  • Sauger and Saugeye: Updated limits to protect these species.

New State Record Fish Categories

The WVDNR has introduced new state record fish categories for black crappie, redbreast sunfish, redear sunfish, pumpkinseed sunfish, and redhorse suckers. Anglers can consult page 23 of the fishing regulations for a complete list and instructions for reporting a catch.

Fishing Techniques and Tips

Hand-Fishing for Catfish

Hand-fishing, or “noodling,” is legal for catfish in West Virginia public waters from June 15 to August 31, with fishing permitted from sunrise to sunset.

Bow Fishing

Bow fishing for game fish is not permitted. However, common carp, bighead carp, silver carp, and grass carp may be taken by bow year-round. Anglers must have a valid fishing license and observe all applicable regulations.

Ice Fishing

Holes cut for ice fishing must be no larger than 10 inches in diameter. This regulation applies to public waters where ice fishing is allowed.

Conservation and Safety

Fish Consumption Advisories

Due to selenium levels detected in Upper Mud Reservoir, a fish consumption limit of “one meal a week” is advised for largemouth bass, white crappie, bluegill, and green sunfish.

Protecting Fish Populations

The WVDNR establishes regulations to prevent overharvesting, protect spawning fish, and maintain healthy populations. Anglers are encouraged to follow these rules to help preserve West Virginia’s unique fish communities.

Fishing Opportunities and Events

West Virginia Gold Rush

Each spring, the WVDNR stocks over 50,000 golden trout in lakes and streams across the state during the West Virginia Gold Rush. This event gives anglers the chance to reel in a prized golden rainbow trout.

Fishing Tournaments

West Virginia hosts numerous fishing tournaments throughout the year. Anglers can view the complete list of upcoming tournaments on the WVDNR website.


Fishing in West Virginia offers a wealth of opportunities for anglers of all skill levels. By staying informed about the latest regulations and practicing responsible fishing, you can enjoy a safe and rewarding experience in the state’s beautiful waterways. For more information and to purchase your fishing license, visit

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