GLENVILLE, W.Va. – Glenville State University junior and Honors Program student Jared Bishop recently had an article published in the opinion section of the Charleston Gazette-Mail. The March 5 piece, titled “Protection needed for W.Va. wild trout streams,” stemmed from a set of proposed fishing regulation changes discussed at a West Virginia Natural Resources Commission meeting.
Bishop explains that one of the proposals would implement catch-and-release-only restrictions on five trout streams with naturally reproducing populations. Four of the streams included in the proposal are located in West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) District 4 (headquartered in Beckley, West Virginia). “This proposed regulation change coincides directly with the research project I am working on as a requirement for the GSU Honors Program. For this project, I am studying water quality and fisheries health in three of the streams that would be protected. After hearing about this, I felt I should write an editorial to show my support for wild trout conservation in the southern portion of the state and to increase awareness for the proposal,” Bishop said.
An avid fisherman, Bishop says he’s passionate about the conservation of wild trout populations simply because he enjoys fishing. “Without conservation efforts and proper regulation, fisheries would decline rapidly. I want to do my part to ensure that all of the state’s natural resources will be protected for the enjoyment and sustainable harvest of generations to come.”
He notes that the conservation of cold-water fisheries has the potential to improve the entire ecosystem. Since trout require clean water to flourish, conservation efforts often include habitat improvement and environmental remediation. As water quality improves through these fisheries management operations, terrestrial flora and fauna that rely on the affected stream as a resource will become healthier and more abundant.
“Human populations receive the greatest secondary benefits of cold-water fisheries conservation. In places like southern West Virginia that have water quality issues stemming from poor infrastructure and the remnants of extraction-based industries, fisheries management has the potential to mitigate human health concerns associated contaminated water. It can also provide eco-tourism opportunities which will boost the economy, provide jobs, and increase environmental awareness,” he added.
A Princeton, West Virginia native, Bishop has been fishing for as long as he can remember. “My father took me fishing for the first time when I was three years old, and I haven’t stopped fishing since. I spent nearly every weekend of my childhood summers fishing catfish tournaments and selling bait at my family’s pay lake. Once I turned 14, I was given a job there weighing catfish and helping with concessions,” he recalls.
His obsession with trout fishing started at the age of 15 when he and his father went to Elkhorn Creek in McDowell County. While on this trip, they struck up a conversation with another fisherman who suggested they try fishing with a different bait. “He then proceeded to show us the 30-inch brown trout he had in his cooler. After seeing this monstrous fish, I began chasing wild trout (more or less) exclusively,” Bishop said.
“While at Glenville State, I have developed a sense of what it means to be an environmentalist and conservationist. While I was somewhat aware of our state’s environmental and ecological issues before I enrolled at GSU, I now know the mechanisms behind these issues and the procedures commonly utilized to make a positive change. One of the most useful and cost-effective conservation strategies I have learned at Glenville State takes the form of advocacy and education. By raising awareness for issues related to the environment and conservation, you can persuade people to vote for relevant legislation, to become involved with non-profit conservation organizations, and inspire the next generation of outdoorsmen,” Bishop said. “Several Glenville State professors have helped me reach this understanding and get to where I am today…special thanks to Dr. Nabil Nasseri (Assistant Professor of Natural Resource Management), Dr. Jeremy Keene (Associate Professor of Biology), Dr. Rico Gazal (Professor of Forestry), and Dr. Schuyler Chapman (Honors Program Director and Assistant Professor of English).”
After graduating from Glenville State, Bishop plans to pursue a master’s degree in Fish and Wildlife at Virginia Tech and work for the WVDNR fisheries division. He also plans to continue writing.