Virginia Fishing

virginia state flag







Number of Fish Species (fresh):  210

Number of Fish Species (salt):  no data

State Sportfish (fresh):  Brook Trout

State Sportfish (salt):  Striped Bass

Notable Records:  a 16 lb 4oz. largemouth bass from Connor Lake, a 143 lb blue catfish from Buggs Island Lake, a 61 lb 12oz. striper from offshore, a 19 lb sheepshead from near shore.

Fishing Regs:  To view the fishing regulations click here or download them (right click, save as) here (Virginia regs).

Fishing License Info:  

  Freshwater       Saltwater  
  Residents Non-Residents     Residents Non-Residents
Annual $23.00 $47.00   Annual $40.00 $71.00
5-day $14.00 $21.00   5-day $24.00 $31.00
Trout $23.00 $47.00        

For more license info. click here.

Quickcast:  Fishing the Old Dominion won’t disappoint.  There are a ton of great rivers and streams as well as coastal/nearshore and the blue water offshore.  Probably the top three rivers to fish are the James, Rappahannock and New River.  In the far west of the state is the New River however a better name is probably the “Old River” as its the 2nd oldest river in the world.  Interestingly, this river flows northward which is in contrast to virtually every other south flowing river on the East Coast.  The river supports a wide diversity of sportfish with smallmouth, largemouth, spotted bass, muskie, walleye, perch, crappie and catfish species topping the list.  Heading east is the Smith Mountain Lake which has a surface area of over 20,000 acres.  This lake attracts largely those seeking largemouth bass and has even been host to ESPN’s Bassmaster tournament a few times.  Besides largemouth there are stripers, smallmouth, crappie, catfish species and shad.  At the central-bottom of the state is the John H. Kerr Reservoir or Buggs Island Lake.  This man-made body of water has become popular among fishermen for huge catfish as well as stripers, largemouth and crappie.  North of Buggs Island is one of the better known and better fishing rivers, the James River.  James will consistently produce monster flatheads and huge blue cats as well as largemouth, smallmouth bass, shad, white perch and stripers.  Still farther north is the Rappahannock River.  This 195 mile long river brings in anglers primarily for smallmouths but can also produce great populations of redbreast sunfish, herring species, shad species, catfish species, chain pickerel, and fallfish.  The Potomac River can be found at the northeast border and will produce striped bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, catfish species, shad and now the invasive snakehead.  

Coastal Virginia has plenty of waters to fish with plenty of spot, croaker, red drum, spotted seatrout and flounder.  Nearer to shore anglers will find some of the best striper fishing around not to mention the sea bass, sheepshead and grouper.  Farther offshore expect great things from this fishery of marlin, wahoo, dolphin, yellowfin tuna, sailfish, and the occasional  bluefin tuna.