By WILSON BUTT
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
I could not believe my ears when I heard that the Commonwealth of Virginia has put the Falls Mills Fishing Club out of business with the lame excuse that because the state stocks streams that feed into the dam a Virginia fishing license is required and, apparently, the Virginia authorities maintain that the public has a right to use the lake.
As I recall, the railroad built the dam, not the Commonwealth, and as I also recall the fishing club has not turned anyone away that is willing to pay their fishing fee. The fishing club has kept things nice over there. I fished there several times with my father-in-law and we both bought Virginia fishing licenses.
Several websites mention that a Virginia fishing license is required to fish at Falls Mills. These websites also mentioned that the lake at Falls Mills had been stocked with trout at various times. Other species were not mentioned.
I did check Virginia’s Catchable Trout Stocking Plan for 2012. The only waters listed for Tazewell County were Lake Witten, Laurel Creek, Lincolnshire Lake and Little Tumbling Creek. The only other stream mentioned in the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website is the Clinch River, and I think that stream begins at the Great Tennessee Divide and flows southwest.
Mud Fork, the stream that supplies Falls Mills Dam, was not listed as a stream that is stocked and neither is the Bluestone River. Sources say that the Commonwealth has never stocked Mud Fork or the Falls Mills Lake.
I don’t think fish can swim upstream from the Bluestone and over the dam into the lake, but apparently the Virginia officials think so. The fiasco reminds me of a story I heard several years ago. Apparently there was a dispute over a fox caught in a trap at the state line near Peel Chestnut Mountain. The Virginia conservation officers and game wardens were sure that the fox was a West Virginia fox. They summoned the West Virginia conservation offices and game people to the scene. Upon arriving and making a careful review of the situation, the West Virginia officials gathered and came to the conclusion that the fox was not a West Virginia fox. It was indeed a Virginia fox.
The Virginia head conservation officer demanded. “What makes you West Virginia people think that is a Virginia Fox?”
The West Virginian’s reply, “Why he’s chewed off three legs and he is still caught in the trap.”
If the fishing club paid to have the lake stocked that is one thing, if the Commonwealth stocked the lake that is another. It sounds like the fishing club is also caught in a Virginia trap. My, how the long finger of government likes to fix things that do not need fixing. Gov. Bob McDonnell needs to straighten this mess out for the fishing club.
The Mercer County Commission certified the election last Monday. It looks like Gene Buckner will be seated.
The East River Mountain Town Band will present its 16th Annual Christmas Concert twice in December. The first performance will be Sunday, Dec. 2, at 3 p.m. in McKeever Lodge at Pipestem State Park. The band will also perform again Tuesday, Dec. 4, at 7:30 p.m. in the Bluefield Performing Arts Center at Bluefield High School.
Admission is free for all performances. Call 304-953-1792 for more information.
There you have it, a few comments on items of interest to the area. I hope you enjoyed the holiday and I hope you are having a great blue sky day ... the words are “Almost Heaven, West Virginia” and please don’t try to turn the story around.
Wilson Butt, a resident of Bluefield, is a retired Department of Highways official.