Virginia offers a wide range of fishing opportunities with more than 2,800 miles of trout streams, in addition to numerous ponds, small lakes and reservoirs. With the Atlantic Ocean, the Chesapeake Bay and its many tributaries, the state is the nation's third largest seafood producer. The Eastern Shore is especially known for blue crabs, oysters, clams, and sea scallops, flounder, and catfish.
LicensingA fishing license is required for anyone over 16 years of age. Licenses are valid for one year from the date of purchase. Virginia offers freshwater and saltwater fishing licenses. A license in not required to crab recreationally in Virginia as long as you do not use commercial fishing gear and limit your take to one bushel of hard crabs or two dozen peeler crabs per day. Two crab pots per person are allowed without a license.
Apply online for a freshwater fishing license
Apply online for a saltwater fishing license
Reciprocal Recreational Saltwater Fishing Licenses: Anglers with saltwater licenses from either Virginia or Maryland may fish in any portion of the Chesapeake Bay, or any of the saltwater reaches of its tributary rivers, as well as seaside bays and creeks and the Atlantic Ocean where a saltwater license is required. Maryland licensees may fish in VA tidal waters, but must register in the VA Fisherman Identification Program.
RegulationsIt is the angler’s responsibility to know the fishing limits and regulations. Fishing is permitted 24 hours a day unless otherwise posted at lakes, ponds, streams, or boat access sites. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries oversees the licensing and regulations of freshwater fishing and saltwater fishing is handled by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.
Most Popular Fish Species in VirginiaFreshwater: Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Spotted Bass, Black Crappie, White Crappie, Bluegill, Flier, Green Sunfish, Pumpkinseed, Redbreast Sunfish, Redear Sunfish, Roanoke Bass, Rock Bass, Warmouth, Hybrid Striped Bass, Striped Bass, White Bass, White Perch, Sauger, Walleye, Yellow Perch, Chain Pickerel, Muskellunge, Northern Pike, Brook Trout, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Blue Catfish, Channel Catfish, Flathead Catfish, White Catfish, Alewife, American Shad, Blueback Herring, Hickory Shad, Bowfin, Carp, Longnose Gar and Freshwater Drum
Saltwater: Amberjack, American Eel, Black Drum, Black Sea Bass, Blue Catfish, Bluefish, Cobia, Grey Trout, Grouper, King Mackerel, Red Drum, Scup (Porgy), American Shad, River Herrings, Shark, Sheepshead, Spadefish, Spanish Mackerel, Speckled Trout, Striped Bass, Sturgeon, Summer Flounder, Tautog, and Tile Fish
Shellfish: Bay Scallop, Blue Crab, Eastern Oyster, Horseshoe Crab, and Hard-shell Clam
Places to Go FishingVirginia offers endless opportunities for fishing and crabbing. Here are some resources across the state:
- Virginia Lakes
- Virginia Streams
- Fishing in Shenandoah National Park
- Eastern Shore of Virginia - Charter Boats
- Virginia Beach Fishing Center
Fishing Spots in Northern VirginiaCook Lake
Beaverdam Creek Reservoir
Locust Shade Park
Where to Buy Fishing GearBass Pro Shop – Outdoor World, 1972 Power Plant Parkway Hampton, VA 23666 (757) 262-5200 and 11550 Lakeridge Parkway Ashland, VA 23005 (804) 496-4700.
Greentop Hunt and Fish - 10193 Washington Hwy Glen Allen, VA 23059 (804) 550-2188.
Angler's Lane - Graves Mill Shopping Center Forest, VA 24551 (434) 385-0200.
Bobcat's Bait and Tackle - 12690 Highway 15, Clarksville, VA 23927 (434) 374-8381.
Chris Bait and Tackle - Rt. 13, Capeville, VA (757) 331-3000
Dicks Sporting Goods – Locations in Virginia include Fairfax, Woodbridge, Baileys Crossroads, Dulles, Manassas, Gainesville, Fredericksburg, Richmond, Williamsburg, Glen Allen, Roanoke, Charlottesville, West Chesterfield, Christiansburg, Virginia Beach, and Suffolk
See also, Fishing in Washington DC and Fishing in Maryland