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West Virginia Master Angler Program: How to Qualify

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Castlemans Run Lake_West Virginia
Photo via Aaron Schultz/Premier Angler

West Virginia Master Angler Program: How to Qualify

The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources announced a game-changing program for fishing enthusiasts in the Mountain State at the start of 2022.

Moving forward, the West Virginia Master Angler Program offers anglers the chance to receive a unique fishing award.

So, how does it work?

The WVDNR has separated fish species into six unique categories (or “slams”) to “promote fishing and recognize anglers for their accomplishments over a wide range of species and ecosystems.” If an anglers catches at least one fish of qualifying length for each species listed in a particular “slam” within a calendar year, that “slam” will be completed.

If an angler completes all six slams, the WVDNR will grant a West Virginia Master Angler award, which will be considered a “lifetime achievement for an angler.”

Specific Rules to Qualify for the West Virginia Master Angler Award

According to the WVDNR, the following criteria must be met in order to qualify for the Master Angler award:

  • All species listed under each particular “slam” must be caught legally – this means you will want to make sure your West Virginia fishing license is current
  • All catches must meet or exceed the minimum listed length requirement
  • Applications must include time-stamped photos of the angler holding the qualifying fish
  • Each “slam” must be completed within one calendar year
    • Note: The Master Angler Award – which is obtained by completing all six “slams” does not have to be completed within a calendar year
  • If an angler legally completes all six “slams,” the WVDNR will award the Master Angler distinction

The Six “Slams”” Qualifying Categories and Species

As we mentioned above, species will be separated into six categories.

The good news for anglers hoping to earn this distinction is that the minimum qualifying length is considerably below what many our consider “trophy” level. With that said, the goal is not necessarily to catch a bunch of massive fish, but rather to increase fishing awareness and opportunities. Anglers will have an opportunity to step outside of their comfort zones and fish for nearly two dozen different species.

Whether you fish bass, panfish, catfish, or trout in West Virginia, this will certainly provide an exciting chance to work toward an exciting new award.

The six “slams” are listed below. All lengths listed are the minimum for qualification:

Black Bass Slam

  • Largemouth Bass: 12 inches
  • Smallmouth Bass: 12 inches
  • Spotted Bass: 12 inches

Catfish Slam

  • Blue Catfish: 20 inches
  • Flathead Catfish: 20 inches
  • Channel Catfish: 16 inches

Non-Game Slam

  • Fallfish: 12 inches
  • Bullhead: 12 inches
  • Freshwater Drum: 12 inches
  • Common Carp: 20 inches

Panfish Slam

  • Sunfish: 6 inches
  • Rock Bass: 7 inches
  • Crappie (White or Black): 8 inches
  • Yellow Perch: 8 inches

Predator Slam

  • Muskellunge: 30 inches
  • Walleye: 15 inches
  • Striped or Hybrid Striped Bass: 15 inches

Trout Slam

  • Rainbow Trout: 12 inches
  • Brook Trout: 12 inches
  • Brown Trout: 12 inches
  • Golden Rainbow Trout: 12 inches
  • Tiger Trout: 12 inches