As spring fishing season has us all heading to our favorite fishing holes, consider two important points critical to the sport’s progression: 1) Host a kid, or any beginner, and you’ll open the door to their personal angling development; 2) First-time lessons need a realistic starting point so hold the dock skipping and deep cranking stuff for down the road.

In many cases, catfish offer a user-friendly option with a good chance of catching something big enough to eat. From the smaller channel cats to the blue variety reaching hefty proportions, catfish are fairly indiscriminate eaters with respectable fights and tasty fillets. Other words, they’re the ideal “beginner” fish.

No disrespect to those advanced catfishermen, but beginner level stuff can actually be quite simple. A Carolina rig or a 3-way swivel rig baited with chicken livers, hot dogs or any of the various “stink baits” will do. For a multi-level angling experience, use crickets or wiggler worms on light spinning gear to catch small panfish and bait catfish rigs with fresh filets. The benefit: Starting off with the typically fast action of panfishing balances the waiting common to catfish pursuits.

West Virginia’s mid-May catfish stockings comes just in time to encourage youth and family participation in Kids to Parks Day, May 8 ( National Get Outdoors Day on June 8, and National Fishing and Boating week, June 1 -9. The latter includes Free Fishing days on June 8 and June 9 in West Virginia.

The state’s Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section and West Virginia’s state parks have partnered to make catfishing even more rewarding by releasing tagged channel catfish into lakes at these state parks: Cacapon (Morgan Co.), Cedar Creek (Gilmer Co.), Chief Logan (Logan Co.), Pipestem (Summers Co.), and Tomlinson Run (Hancock Co.). Anglers who catch a tagged fish are asked to return the tag or the tag number along with information on the date of capture, if the fish was kept or released, and the name and address of the angler to WVDNR, 2311 Ohio Ave, Parkersburg, WV 26101. Anglers also can call in the information (304-420-4550) or provide the information via e-mail

Anglers who report a tagged fish will receive the “tagged reward,” park information, a letter of congratulations from the DNR and a certificate for either a train ride at Cass Scenic Railroad, a boat ride on the sternwheeler “Island Belle” to Blennerhassett Island or a Recreational Activity Pass at Pipestem resort. For a complete list of catfish stockings visit