CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — Nothing is more rewarding than catching, cleaning, cooking and eating a fish you caught, but if you’re fishing in West Virginia, eating certain species could be dangerous.
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources releases annual advisories for statewide and area fishing on what you should and shouldn’t eat. According to the statewide advisories, several types of bass should only be consumed in moderation if caught anywhere in West Virginia due to Mercury and PCBs contamination:
- White Bass – Limit: 1 meal per month
- Black Bass (Smallmouth, Largemouth, Spotted) – Limit: 2 meals per month
- Channel Catfish that are at least 17″ – Limit: 2 meals per month
- Flathead Catfish – Limit: 2 meals per month
- Hybrid Striped Bass – Limit: 2 meals per month
- Walleye – Limit: 2 meals per month
- Sauger – Limit: 2 meals per month
- Saugeye – Limit: 2 meals per month
- Rock Bass – Limit: 1 meal per week
- Channel Catfish less than 17″ – Limit: 1 meal per week
- All Suckers – Limit: 1 meal per week
There are also advisories for specific bodies of water, including the Ohio River, parts of the Kanawha River and its tributaries, the Bluestone River, Sutton Late, Summersville Lake, Mt. Storm Lake and Shenandoah River.
The following fish should not be eaten at all, according to the advisories:
- Channel Catfish, Carp and Suckers caught in the Kanawha River
- Channel Catfish that are 18″ or larger caught in the Ohio River in Brooke, Hancock, Marshall, Ohio, Pleasants, Tyler, Wetzel and Wood counties
- Carp caught in the Shenandoah River
Check Your Fishing Spot
If fishing in one of the following bodies of water, make sure you are following the given advisories on how often fish can be eaten.
Ohio River (Jackson, Mason, Cabell and Wayne counties)
- Channel Catfish that are 18″ or larger, Striped Bass and Hybrid Striped Bass should only be eaten every two months
- Channel Catfish smaller than 18″, Common Carp, Flathead Catfish, Freshwater Drum, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Spotted Bass, All Suckers and White Bass should only be eaten once per month
Ohio River (Brooke, Hancock, Marshall, Ohio, Pleasants, Tyler, Wetzel, Wood)
- Channel Catfish 18″ or large should not be eaten
- Channel Catfish smaller than 18″, Common Carp, Striped Bass Hybrid and White Bass should only be eaten every other month
- Flathead Catfish, Freshwater Drum, Largemouth Bass, Sauger, Saugeye, Smallmouth Bass, Smallmouth Buffalo, Spotted Bass, all Suckers and Walleye should only be eaten once per month
- Carp should not be eaten
- Smallmouth Bass should only be eaten once per month
- Channel Catfish, Carp and Suckers should not be eaten
- All other species should only be eaten once per month
- Walleye, Flathead Catfish, all sizes should only be eaten once per month
Some bodies of water are mostly considered safe for fishing but have one type that consumption needs to be limited. The following types of fish should only be consumed for one meal per month:
- Carp caught in the Bluestone River
- Sauger caught in the Hughes River from mouth upstream to North and South Forks
- Sauger caught in the Little Kanawha River from mouth upstream to Wells Lock
- Striped Bass caught in Mount Lake Storm
- Chanel Catfish larger than 17″ caught in RD Bailey Lake
- Black Bass larger than 12″ caught in Sutton Lake
The amount someone should consume to be considered a meal depends on their weight; click here for a guide.
The DHHR fish and advisory guide says that in general, larger, older and fattier fish are more likely to be contaminated. To stay safe, the DHHR recommends eating smaller, younger and leaner fish like perch and crappy. Fish that are prepared properly so that the fat can drip away are also considered safer, according to the guide; pan frying or deep frying the fish will not help remove contaminants.
For more information about what fish have what contaminants, visit the DHRR website. Although, for example, a smallmouth bass caught in the Shenandoah River is considered safe to eat once per month, they should not be consumed by pregnant women because of possible mercury pollution.