Trash and Trout: State chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers releases March campaign to clean up public waterways

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – “We need your help to clean up our trout streams! Angler litter specifically … you know what we’re talking about. It sucks.” 

That call to action is one that likely brings images burnt into the forefront of anyone’s mind who’s spent time on a public stream. Images of plastic bottles, Bud Light cans, cardboard, maybe even a tire or two grounded into a stream bed – all trash that shouldn’t be there. It’s for this reason the West Virginia Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers has decided to rally its member base and other folks in the public to hit the trout waters, rod and trash bag in hand. 

“If you’ve spent any time on our streams, you know that they, unfortunately, collect the majority of our litter,” West Virginia BHA Secretary Logan Bockrath said. “Rivers are nature’s gutter system and so the trash thrown on the highway makes its way by wind and rainfall down to a creek which then brings it to a river. None of our rivers are immune. Even on a pristine high mountain trout stream in the Mon National Forest, it’s not uncommon to find a half-used jar of Powerbait left behind in plain sight. To be frank, as a fisherman, I’m often embarrassed by the litter other anglers leave behind.”

The campaign kicked off Thursday and runs to the end of March, with a large, group event set to begin at 11:30 a.m. on March 27 on the Glady Fork of the Cheat River. Chapter leadership and volunteers are set to meet at the first campsite where the sign for the “Lower Glady Camping Area,” according to a release by the organization. 

Volunteers are asked to bring trash bags, gloves, fishing gear and whatever snacks, drinks or gear they may need. 

Further, clean water is important not to just trout species, native or stocked, but to all fish and wildlife that utilize it, including humans. Without the activism over the last few decades by Friends of Deckers Creek, the stream would have remained a cesspool and dead stream, but now is a vibrant source of life. Brown trout stockings take place annually, thanks to another conservation organization chapter, the P. Pendleton Kennedy Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Another public waterway that once was classified as dead that now successfully supports fish, like golden trout, as well as tourism at Audra State Park, is the Middle Fork River. 

“With Trash and Trout we’re trying to make an effort to clean up our streams,” Bockrath said. “We know that the majority of anglers revere the streams they fish on and want to see them clear of litter. We’re hoping to have as many anglers as possible participate and hook them up with some cool prizes for helping. “ 

The prizes Bockrath mentioned are part of a social media contest that’s a portion of the campaign, as they hope to see people from around the state, BHA members or not, participating. Participants are asked to submit photos on either the group’s public Facebook page or on Instagram. If posting on Instagram, the organization asks that submissions have the hashtag #trashandtrout so they can easily find the post and awareness around the event increases. And those prizes? The first-place winner will receive an Astral Robby Fisher life jacket; second-place secures a casting clinic with professional guide and chapter chair Charlie Mooney; and third-place receives chapter swag. Points are awarded based on the size of a person’s trash haul, and extra points are given if a contestant submits a photo of a trout they caught along with the trash they collected in the background. 

For more information, go to the organization’s Facebook or Instagram (@westvirginiabha) pages, or email

TWEET @andrewspellman_