Gov. Justice kicks off Gold Rush with ceremonial stocking at Babcock State Park
CLIFFTOP, WV — Gov. Jim Justice ceremonially kicked off the 2023 West Virginia Gold Rush today during an event at Babcock State Park.
The West Virginia Gold Rush officially begins for anglers on Tuesday, March 28, and will include 12 days of special golden rainbow trout stockings at 68 lakes and streams around the state, including waters in or near 15 state parks. The sixth edition of the Gold Rush runs until April 8.
“There’s no trout stream anywhere that’s this quality,” Gov. Justice said of Glade Creek. “It’s so beautiful it’s off the charts. I’m so proud of everyone for what this event has blossomed into.”
During today’s stocking, Gov. Justice also announced the opening of Old Sewell Road, a hiking trail connecting Babcock State Park with New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. The newly renovated path runs alongside Glade Creek in Babcock State Park downstream to the New River.
Gov. Justice also presented certificates to the West Virginia Division of Highways Central Heavy Highway Maintenance Crew for their efforts in renovating the trail.
“Getting this trail finished is an incredible feat, and I am so proud of everyone,” Gov. Justice said. “Who would’ve thought that West Virginia would be in an international travel guide saying this is the place to be? There’s no way of imagining what you’ve accomplished. All I did was turn you loose. I believed it all along. Now, I’ve got you believing it too. That’s a powerful force.”
During the Gold Rush, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will stock 50,000 golden rainbow trout, a fish prized by anglers for its unmistakable, bright-yellow color.
“Like gold panned from a mountain stream in the old west, catching a golden rainbow trout is an experience you won’t forget,” WVDNR Director Brett McMillion said. “To be able to give anglers and their families — especially kids — a really good chance to catch one of these golden beauties is a reminder that the natural resources we have here in West Virginia are to be treasured and preserved for future generations to enjoy. We hope that the excitement and thrill of the West Virginia Gold Rush will inspire more people to explore our state’s natural wonders and to appreciate its diverse wildlife and unique habitats.”
The 12 days of Gold Rush stockings are not part of the WVDNR’s regular trout stockings. As a fishing event, the Gold Rush is unique because only golden rainbow trout are included in the stockings. During traditional trout stockings, only one golden rainbow trout is stocked for every 10 regular rainbows.
“Gold Rush has brought a lot of positive attention and economic activity to West Virginia over the last six years that will be paying us dividends for years to come” West Virginia Commerce Secretary James Bailey said. “Thanks to big ideas like this from Gov. Justice, his administration is firing on all cylinders to make West Virginia a place of true economic and recreational opportunity, where businesses want to come and people never want to leave.”
Old Sewell Road
Old Sewell Road had become impassable due to neglect over the years. So, in February 2022, Gov. Justice directed the West Virginia Department of Transportation to rehabilitate the dilapidated road into a public trail connecting Babcock State Park and the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.While hiking on the trail, visitors are advised to exercise caution, especially when approaching unstable historic structures in the abandoned community of Sewell. There is currently no legal river access.
Gold Rush Contest
Once again, the WVDNR is giving anglers a chance to win prizes during the Gold Rush. Out of the 50,000 golden rainbow trout that will be stocked during the event, 100 trout will receive a numbered tag. If an angler catches a trout with one of these tags, they can enter the tag number at WVdnr.gov/goldrush for a chance to win a free West Virginia lifetime fishing license, a one-night stay at a state park or forest cabin, a West Virginia State Parks gift car, or exclusive Gold Rush merchandise.
Gold Rush Lodging Discount
To encourage anglers and their families to plan a Gold Rush adventure, West Virginia State Parks is offering a 15 percent discount on lodge room and cabin stays between March 15 and April 15. To receive the discount, book online at WVstateparks.com and use offer code GOLD at checkout. Offer is valid only at parks receiving Gold Rush stockings.
Purchase a Fishing License
All anglers 15 and older are required to have a West Virginia fishing license with a current trout stamp and a valid form of identification while fishing during Gold Rush. Licenses and stamps can be purchased online at WVfish.com. Anglers must also follow West Virginia’s fishing regulations. For more information about stockings and other fishing resources, visit WVdnr.gov.