Gov. Justice announces completion of major Bowden Hatchery upgrades

Recognizes West Virginia’s first Master Angler Award recipient 
BOWDEN, WV — Gov. Jim Justice today announced the reopening of the Bowden State Fish Hatchery, which has been closed since 2020 for major renovations. The hatchery features more than one mile of raceways where fish are reared.

I want to see West Virginia transformed into the best trout fishery in the country,” Gov. Justice said. “With all these new renovations we have here today, we’re quickly making that a reality. People are waking up to the fact that West Virginia has some of the most pristine and beautiful fishing waters in the world. I truly believe that when we invest in our tourism resources, like fishing, we see returns beyond what we can imagine.”
“The Bowden State Fish Hatchery has been upgraded to a state-of-the-art aquaculture facility capable of producing 50 percent more trout than the original hatchery,” said Jim Hedrick, hatchery program manager for WVDNR. “In addition to providing more physical space for rearing fish, these upgrades provide enhanced water filtering, sterilization and the direct addition of oxygen into the system. The renovation project at Bowden State Fish Hatchery cost $10 million and is expected to result in the production of more than 300,000 trout each year for stocking throughout the state.”

Visitors to the hatchery are reminded to refrain from throwing objects into the raceway, attempting to feed the fish and placing hands or other objects in the water. 

“Upgrading and maintaining our fish hatcheries are critical components of West Virginia’s trout management program,” noted WVDNR Director Brett McMillion. “These hatchery enhancements will increase trout production and improve fishing opportunities for anglers across the state.”

The Bowden State Fish Hatchery is open from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. daily. Opening and closing times may vary to ensure public safety and depending on hatchery activities. For more information, call 304-637-0238.

Gov. Justice also announced today that an angler from Cabins, West Virginia, has received the state’s first-ever Master Angler Award, a program that recognizes anglers for catching 22 fish over a wide range of species and ecosystems.
Zach Adkins, an avid multi-species angler, was given a plaque commemorating his accomplishment today during a ceremony at the Bowden State Fish Hatchery in Elkins with Gov. Justice and West Virginia Division of Natural Resources officials.

“When we announced this exciting new program back in January, we knew it was going to be a game-changer for fishing and here we are today with the proof that West Virginia has some of the best fishing programs and opportunities you can find,” said Gov. Justice. “I want to congratulate Mr. Adkins for being the first to complete this lifetime achievement and to encourage all our anglers to get out there and try and become a West Virginia Master Angler.”

To receive the Master Angler Award, anglers must legally catch all species listed for the specific slam and submit a time-stamped photo with their catch with their application. Each slam must be completed within a calendar year to qualify, but all six do not need to be completed in the same year. Adkins officially completed the program on West Virginia Day, June 20, 2022.

“I just want to give a big thanks to everyone attached to this new program,” Adkins said. “As a multi-species angler, it’s been a blast checking all the boxes.”
For the program, fish species are separated into six categories, or slams, with three to five fish between 6 and 30 inches, depending on the slam and species. Each Master Angler slam is included below.

Black Bass SlamLargemouth Bass: 12 inchesSmallmouth Bass: 12 inchesSpotted Bass: 12 inchesCatfish SlamBlue Catfish: 20 inchesFlathead Catfish: 20 inchesChannel Catfish: 16 inchesNon-Game SlamFallfish: 12 inchesBullhead: 12 inchesFreshwater Drum: 12 inchesCommon Carp: 20 inchesPanfish SlamSunfish: 6 inchesRock Bass: 7 inchesBlack or White Crappie: 8 inchesYellow Perch: 8 inchesPredator SlamMuskellunge: 30 inchesWalleye: 15 inchesStriped or Hybrid Striped Bass: 15 inchesTrout SlamRainbow Trout: 12 inchesBrook Trout: 12 inchesBrown Trout: 12 inchesGolden Rainbow Trout: 12 inchesTiger Trout: 12 inches“From small mountain streams with native brook trout to large navigable rivers with blue catfish, impoundments with largemouth bass and rivers with walleye and smallmouth bass, West Virginia is known for its diverse fishing opportunities,” said WVDNR Director Brett McMillion. “Our Master Angler Program is just one of the ways we’re giving our anglers something to get excited about and a great incentive for anglers who want a challenge.”

Earlier this year, the WVDNR introduced the Master Angler Program to promote fishing and recognize anglers for their accomplishments over a wide range of species and ecosystems. For a complete list of rules and to download an application for the award, visit