You need a fishing license to cast a lure in West Virginia legally, and buying one from an approved West Virginia fish and game licensing agent is accessible. All you have to do is go over a tackle shop or outdoor sports shop to procure one. However, if you don't have the time to secure a fishing license personally, you can purchase yours from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources' website. Once you have paid for your license, print it, and you can start fishing for muskellunge, northern pike, rainbow trout or smallmouth bass from any of West Virginia's freshwater body of water.
As there are different fishing licenses available for residents and non-residents, make sure you know what type you prefer. A lifetime fishing license is more practical for avid anglers.
- WV Fishing License Information
- Buy Your WV Fishing License Online
- West Virginia Fishing License Agents
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources employs fish and game agents to see to it that WV fishing regulations and laws are enforced. If not, the possibility of depleted fish populations is increased and might eventually be endangered. Each angler must be responsible enough to know current fishing laws before going on a fishing trip.
Preserving and conserving the fish populations and waterways is everyone's responsibility. We must all work together to ensure that the fish populations remain healthy. How? One way is to practice the correct catch and release technique to make sure that released fish will thrive. Anglers must make sure that they use the appropriate equipment (tackle and hook) in quickly landing a fish. Note that if you intend to take a photo of a caught fish before releasing it, make sure you hold the fish horizontally with wet hands.
Getting a West Virginia Fishing License
There are a few ways to obtain a West Virginia Fishing License.
- In-Person: A person may visit any of the 180 retail licensing agents around the state. There will be an additional $3 issuing fee for a person's first purchase and $1 issuing fee for any subsequent purchases to follow. For licensing agent locations separated by county in West Virginia, please visit the website: http://www.wvdnr.gov/hunting/license_agents.asp
- Online: A person may visit the official West Virginia Department of Natural Resources to purchase a license. A $2 issuing fee will be accessed for online purchases.
- Phone: A person may call the Hunting and Fishing License Unit at the number 304-558-2758. For phone purchases, there will be a $2 issuing fee added to the total purchase order.
For additional questions about obtaining a fishing license, you may contact the Hunting and Fishing License Unit at the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources.
Mail: WVDNR 324 Fourth Ave South Charleston, WV 25303
Types of West Virginia Fishing License and Costs
All anglers who are at the age of 15 and older are required to have a fishing license and a valid form of identification such as a State Issued ID or Driver's License while fishing. All permits in West Virginia are valid for one calendar year.
Resident lifetime hunting, trapping, and fishing licenses
Combination Hunting, Trapping & Fishing-Infant
Senior Lifetime Hunting & Fishing
RESIDENT LICENSES AND STAMPS
Sportsman Hunting/Fishing/Trapping for ages 18 through 64
Junior Sportsman Hunting/Fishing/Trapping for ages 15 through 17
Trout Fishing Stamp
Conservation Stamp- Required for all licensed anglers
Trout Fishing Stamp
Conservation/Law Enforcement Stamp - Required for all licensed anglers
Annual Fishing License
One-Day Fishing License
National Forest Hunting/Trapping/Fishing - Required on National Forests
Junior Sportsman Hunting/Fishing/Trapping for ages 15 through 17
Note: any full-time student of state colleges and universities is considered as a resident and is entitled to state resident license privileges.
West Virginia Fishing License Exemptions
For the following individuals who are categorized as the following are not required to obtain a fishing license:
- Residents who are legally blind and can show proof
- Residents who have turned 65 before the date January 1, 2012. The person must carry a West Virginia driver's license or photo ID
- Both non-residents and residents who are under the age of 15
- Residents who are on active duty in the U.S. armed forces while on military leave. These individuals must provide leave papers while fishing to show the Department of Natural Resources officers for proof.
- Developmentally disabled residents. Individuals must carry a DDFL card.
- Residents or in-patients of any state mental hospital, health, or benevolent institution. The individual must be under proper supervision and carry a written statement or certificate signed by the facility or superintendent of the institution.
- Residents discharged from the U.S. armed forces who receive total permanent disability benefits or former prisoners of war and determined by the Veterans Administration.
West Virginia Fishing License Renewal
To renew a license, all individuals have to purchase a new one. Since the license expires after a calendar year, you may buy another permit once it expires. It's best to buy one at the beginning of each calendar year.
In West Virginia, individuals will abide by the fishing regulations instituted by the state. Any individual who makes a false application for a fishing license will have their fishing privileges suspended for one year. The state also operates under a point system for individuals who violate their rules. When a violator accumulates ten or more points, his or her licenses will be revoked for two years. The points will be removed once the two years have passed or if their license has been restored if wrongfully convicted.
- Ten points for the use of explosives or poison material in taking fish.
- Six points for illegal possession or sale of wildlife.
- Four points for all other violations.
West Virginia Fish Size and Limits:
DAILY CREEL LIMIT
SPECIAL REGULATIONS: Jennings Randolph Lake: 12-Inch minimum limit, daily creel limit 5, and the possession limit 10.
6 or 4
SPECIAL REGULATIONS: Only 4 of 6 trout may be taken from impoundments stocked with trout and their tributaries, designated warm water streams, and Edwards Run. 6 may be taken from Stephens, Stonecoal, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes.
SPECIAL REGULATIONS: Jennings Randolph Lake: 36-inch minimum size limit, daily creel limit 1, and possession limit 1 for muskellunge in aggregate with Tiger Musky. See Special Area Regulations for additional restrictions.
SPECIAL REGULATIONS: Jennings Randolph Lake: 30-inch minimum size limit, daily creel limit 2, and possession limit 2.
Hybrid Striped Bass
SPECIAL REGULATIONS: Bluestone Lake and all rivers: Daily creel limit of 4 and possession limit of 8 applies to fish 15 inches or larger with striped and white bass. No restrictions for these fish under 15 inches.
Mt. Storm, Beech Fork, East Lynn, and R.D. Bailey: 15-inch minimum size limit.
SPECIAL REGULATIONS: Bluestone Lake and all rivers: Daily creel limit of 4 and possession limit of 8 applies to fish 15 inches or larger in aggregate with hybrid striped, striped, and white bass. No restrictions for these fish under 15 inches.
SPECIAL REGULATIONS: Bluestone Lake and all rivers: Daily creel limit of 4 and possession limit of 8 applies to fish 15 inches or larger with hybrid striped, striped, and white bass. No restrictions for these fish under 15 inches.
SPECIAL REGULATIONS: ALL PADDLE FISH MUST BE RETURNED TO THE WATER IMMEDIATELY.
SPECIAL REGULATIONS: ALL SHOVELNOSE STURGEON MUST BE RETURNED TO THE WATER IMMEDIATELY.
SPECIAL REGULATIONS: ALL FISH MUST BE RETURNED TO THE WATER IMMEDIATELY.
Sauger, Saugeye & Walleye
SPECIAL REGULATIONS: Jennings Randolph Lake: 15-inch minimum size limit, daily creel limit 5, and possession limit 5 for walleye.
SPECIAL REGULATIONS: In state-managed impoundments: Daily creel limit 4, possession limit 16. It does not apply to Mt. Storm, Stonecoal, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes.
SPECIAL REGULATIONS: Jennings Randolph Lake: 14-inch minimum size limit, daily creel limit 5, and possession limit 5 for chain pickerel.
SPECIAL REGULATIONS: Season: 9 p.m. DST, June 18 to midnight July 31.Big Sandy and Tug Fork rivers bordering Kentucky Season: Noon, May 20 to midnight, October 31.
DESIGNATED WARMWATER STREAMS
Best Places to Fish in West Virginia
When it comes to fishing in the beautiful state of West Virginia, there are dozens of prestigious locations to fish from. The Shenandoah and Potomac rivers are famous for their abundant amounts of tiger muskie, largemouth bass, and walleye. These rivers are also known to be effective for fly fishing.
For those who are more experienced, we recommend heading on down to Jennings Randolph Lake in Mineral County to catch some great trophy-sized walleye. This lake is a 952-acre lake with many amazing hotspots. For those who are new to fishing, Cheat Lake may be a great option. This lake spans 1730 acres and is known for its largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, yellow perch, white bass, catfish, and walleye.