MATEWAN — Local fishing enthusiasts in the Tug Valley area now have a new one stop spot where they can buy all of their fishing needs.

The Fish Trap, located at 2825 Rt. 65 in Matewan, officially opened for business Saturday, Sept. 21, after much anticipation from the fishing community.

The store is owned and operated by longtime Mingo County native and local angler Wesley Blankenship, who said this is his second attempt at opening a bait and tackle shop in Mingo County.

“I opened a shop over in Gilbert around 12 years ago, and it didn’t take off too well,” Blankenship said. “Now going off of the input of the Friends of the Tug Fork River Facebook page, I decided to give it another shot.”

The Fish Trap offers a wide selection of fishing needs, including live bait, and a varying selection of tackle including soft baits, crank baits, hooks, sinkers, fishing line and more.

Blankenship is currently stocked with live minnows, both golden shiners and fatheads, as well as night crawlers and meal worms. He also plans on selling crawdads, and potentially leeches and hellgrammites in the future.

They also have rod-and-reel combos for rent at $5 per day, which is something the Matewan CVB told Blankenship that Hatfield-McCoy trail riders ask for frequently when visiting the town, and will eventually offer WV fishing and hunting licenses.

“Walmart is fairly close to Williamson, but if you are on a river bank and are muddy you don’t want to get in your car and go 25 to 30 minutes to get supplies,” Blankenship said. “Now you can come right up the road and get everything you need for a day on the river.”

Once approved by the WV DNR, The Fish Trap will be the second location in Mingo County besides the Mingo Couty Courthouse certified to sell hunting and fishing licences

Blankenship also said the National Coal River Heritage Survey noting a lack of bait and tackle shops along the Tug Fork River as another key reason in him opening the shop.

The Coal River Heritage Group held workshops in communities all along the Tug River earlier this year talking about what needs to be done to designate the Tug River as a water trail.

“I think Matewan and all the towns along the Tug have a good opportunity with the growth along the river recently, we really have to capitalize on everything we have in this area.”

The Fish Trap also has bundles of firewood for sale at $5.99 a bundle, and Blankenship says beginning in the spring they will offer kayak and inner tube rentals as well as offering cold drinks, ice and snacks.

Blankenship, who has lived in Mingo County his entire life, said that even though they are all a small shop, their prices are fair.

“My prices aren’t high like you would think, a lot of people associate a small business with high prices,” Blankenship said. “But I’m really not. I’ve been told I’m pricing my items too cheap actually by some of my customers so far.”

Currently for the fall fishing season, The Fish Trap is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday-Sunday.

Blankenship, who also works a full-time job at the Senior Center in Matewan, says he will continue taking feedback from the Friends of the Tug Fork River Facebook page and will keep making improvements to the store prior to the start of fishing season next spring.

For more information on The Fish Trap visit https://www.facebook.com/REALFISHTRAPMATEWAN/ or call 304-426-4489.

Jarrid McCormick is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.