CHARLESTON, WV (WFXR) — It has been said the Mountain State is almost Heaven, and now West Virginia is about to get a little more heavenly for anglers.

That is because the annual West Virginia Gold Rush is just weeks away. The Gold Rush is a yearly event to celebrate the golden trout. Golden trout are a strain of rainbow trout that are gold in color. The strain was developed sixty years ago by West Virginia Department of Natural Resources fisheries managers.

This year’s Gold Rush will run from March 28 to April 8. During that time more than 50 thousand golden trout will be stocked in lakes and streams around West Virginia. Some of those bodies of water are a short drive away from the southwest and central Virginia.

“The golden trout is really a unique fish,” said Jim Hedrick of the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. “it’s not a cross between any other fish; it’s really just a golden phase of a rainbow trout. Other animals have color phases, as well, like albino and black. In the case of a golden trout, it’s just a yellow phase.”

Golden trout in a West Virginia stream (Photo: West Virginia DNR)

West Virginia’s golden trout program has been in the works since 1963. That’s when fisheries managers started a selective breeding program to raise the fish in numbers to provide people with a unique angling opportunity.

“It was developed at our Petersburg hatchery,” Hedrick said.

If you plan to become part of the Gold Rush, you’ll need a West Virginia fishing license and trout stamp. A map with Gold Rush stocking locations can be found here.