I am not sure if many people know that West Virginia stocks blue cats in the Ohio River through the Robert C. Byrd hatchery at the locks and dam in Gallipolis Ferry.
Blue cats are a game fish that everyone loves to fish for because it can grow very large and gives one heck of a fight. But there are those that have been pulling way too many of them out of the river and selling them in Ohio to “pay fishing lakes.” They not only pull blue cats, but they also take flatheads, shovelheads, channels and who knows what else.
Several constituents brought this to my attention last summer. With the information provided, which included pictures with vehicles and tanks on them, I knew we needed to bring this to the attention of the West Virginia Legislature to put a stop to it and give the DNR some teeth to go after them.
I also found out that this happened in Kentucky a few years ago and they, too, had to pass legislation to put a stop to it.
The problem is that we have a lot of fishing derbies and various other activities that bring in a lot of money through gas and food sales, as well as others, and these people that are taking the fish are damaging our local economy. So we decided to put a stop to it through House Bill (HB) 4330, which was passed in the House and Senate and then signed by the governor. It was effective from the date of passage, which shows how important this bill is to West Virginia waters.
I was proud to be the lead sponsor on this bill.