SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. – It’s National Fishing and Boating Week and West Virginia is celebrating with Free Fishing Weekend June 8 and 9.

As a part of the weekend, no fishing license is required for the two days.

“This is the perfect time to take your son, daughter or grandchild to your favorite fishing spot and get them hooked on fishing,” said Mark Scott, assistant chief in charge of fisheries for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR). 

As a part of the weekend, the DNR and conservation organizations are holding fishing derbies for kids at locations around the state on Saturday, June 8. 

The largest derby will be held at DNR’s Bowden Fish Hatchery, which is in Randolph County, nine miles east of Elkins on Route 33. It’s scheduled from 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with registration starting at 7:30 a.m. Kids will be allowed to fish in three hatchery ponds stocked with trout. The DNR will provide the bait and poles if needed.

Each angler will be permitted to take home two trout. A catch-and-release pond also will be available, and certificates will be handed out to kids who make a catch.

Fishing times are scheduled based on school grades:

 8:00 – 9:15 a.m.                   Pre-school and kindergarten
 9:15 – 10:30 a.m.                 1st and 2nd grade
 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.       3rd, 4th and 5th grade
 12:15 – 1:30 p.m.                 6th, 7th and 8th grade
 8 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.                Catch and Release pond fishing 

You can learn more about the fishing derby and download a registration form here.

The second derby will be held at Little Beaver State Park in Raleigh County, where children will get the opportunity to fish in Little Beaver Lake from 9:00 a.m. to noon. The event’s theme is “Get Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs.” Children should bring their basic fishing gear. A limited amount of bait will be provided.

Registration will run from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. Children must be registered to be eligible for prizes and no late registrations will be accepted. Children may fish any time after registering.  Prizes will be given out after the derby while supplies last.  There will also be other events for children, including archery and hay rides. For more information, call Bob Knight at 304-256-6947.

The third fishing derby, sponsored by the Beyond the Backyard organization for young people, will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Cabela’s store in South Charleston, where kids can fish in a stocked artificial pond. 

Cabela’s staff will also hold free seminars in the afternoon on various fishing topics of interest to both experienced and beginning anglers.

You can find more information about licensing after Free Fishing Weekend and about fishing opportunities in West Virginia, including at state parks and wildlife management areas, here.