CLIFFTOP, W.Va. — West Virginia Governor Jim Justice stocked the streams of Babcock State Park full of golden rainbow trout on Tuesday as part of a ceremony celebrating the upcoming 2022 West Virginia Gold Rush.
According to a news release from his office, as part of the ceremony, the Governor unveiled a special coin commemorating Gold Rush’s 5th anniversary and announced that any lucky anglers who catch one of the 50,000 golden rainbow trout that are being stocked during this year’s Gold Rush can request their own commemorative coin online at wvdnr.gov/goldrush by completing this form.
“We want everybody who catches a golden trout to experience something really special, so I told our team we should come up with a coin to give to any person who catches one of these 50,000 golden trout,” Gov. Justice said. “What will happen is that more and more people will come and experience all the goodness this state has to offer. And those who get one of these coins will keep it forever, or they’ll give it to their kids and they’ll keep it forever. It’s a positive experience that will always be tied with the State of West Virginia.”
Additional grand prizes will be available for certain anglers who catch one of 100 specially tagged golden trout. More information is available below under “Gold Rush Contest.”
The commemorative coin isn’t the only addition to this year’s Gold Rush event. During today’s ceremony, Gov. Justice also announced seven new Gold Rush stocking locations have been added across the state.
From March 29 to April 9, the WVDNR will stock golden rainbow trout at 69 lakes and streams around the state – an increase from the original 62 – including waters in or near 15 state parks and forests. The seven new locations announced on Tuesday are:
Conaway Run Lake (Tyler County);
Dog Run Lake (Harrison County);
East Lynn Tailwaters (Wayne County);
Hurricane Reservoir (Kanawha County);
Larenim Park Lake (Mineral County);
Laurel Lake (Mingo County);
Ridenour Lake (Kanawha County).
The Governor was joined for the event by WVDNR Director Brett McMillion and West Virginia Department of Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby.
“Under Governor Justice’s leadership, we’ve started so many incredible projects that are going to create memories for West Virginians for generations to come. Gold Rush is one of those projects. This annual event is a testament to all the opportunities the Governor has given us,” Dir. McMillion said. “The Governor has been the coach that we needed with our WVDNR and our State Parks. We needed someone who was personally committed to our state’s great outdoors, and Governor Justice is that person.”
“Governor Justice keeps pushing us, every day, to do more; go further; make things bigger and better. The same is true when it comes to Gold Rush,” Sec. Ruby said. “That’s why West Virginia is on everybody’s list as a top travel destination in the world. This is the place to come for 2022, and it’s because of Governor Justice and his love for this state.”
Before the ceremonial golden rainbow trout stocking, Gov. Justice also announced that, in an effort to increase angler interest in Babcock State Park year-round, he has directed the WVDNR to immediately begin regularly stocking Glade Creek all the way to the New River with brown trout.
“The New River is going to be our next ambassador to the world,” Gov. Justice said. “The brown trout can stand the warmer temperatures of the summer, so by stocking this stream with great brown trout fishing, we will introduce this park to a whole new audience from far and from near, and the experience will be second to none.”
Gov. Justice was also joined for the ceremony by West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston to announce that work is already underway to connect Babcock State Park with America’s newest national park: the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.
Old Sewell Road, which runs adjacent to Glade Creek in Babcock State Park, used to provide this connection, running about five miles downstream to the New River. After decades of neglect, the road became impassable. But today, Gov. Justice announced that he has directed the WVDOT repair and convert the road into a trail to reconnect the two parks.
“The area that this road goes through is absolutely spectacular, and we have our brand new National Park, so it makes all the sense in the world to make them one in the same,” Gov. Justice said. “We’ve spent $151 million on our parks, and the return has been off the charts, but I always want to do more, and I believe in our WVDOT to get this done.”
“Governor Justice is a guy who’s never completely satisfied. He always wants to move this state forward, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Sec. Wriston said. “This is an amazing project. It’s going to be tough. There are quite a bit of slips that need to be repaired and one bridge that needs to be replaced. But it is so beautiful down in that area that it’s absolutely worth it, and we’re going to entrust our own crews with the WVDOT to make it happen.”
After making his remarks, Gov. Justice made his way down to the bank of Glade Creek, near Babcock State Park’s famous grist mill, and joined WVDNR officials who released buckets of the golden rainbow trout into the waters.
Information provided by the office of Gov. Jim Justice.