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Virginia Freshwater Fishing

Updated on November 15, 2014

Freshwater Fishing in Virginia Lakes, Streams and Rivers

Virginia has a wide range of freshwater fishing, including fly fishing, bass angling, catfishing, catch and release shad fisheries and other unique opportunities.

The state offers an excellent range of public lakes, reservoirs, ponds, streams, rivers and other areas for fishing.

Virginia's tidal rivers are important waterways for freshwater fish species. Virginia's most famous and productive tidal rivers include the Potomac, James, Rappahannock and others.

Virginia freshwater and brackish habitats are home to dozens of species of fish. In addition to native freshwater fish, several lakes, reservoirs and streams are stocked with non-native species of freshwater or anadromous fish.

virginia largemouth bass
virginia largemouth bass

Virginia Bass, Crappie and Sunfish

Virginia freshwater impoundments are home to several members of the bass, crappie and sunfish family, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, black crappie, white crappie, bluegill, flier, green sunfish, pumpkinseed, redbreast sunfish, redear sunfish, roanoke bass, rock bass, and warmouth.

Virgnia Blue Catfish

Virginia is known for having several trophy blue catfish fisheries. In 2011, the State Record Fish Committee of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries certified a new state record blue catfish. The record fish is only the second confirmed freshwater fish over 100 pounds ever caught in the Commonwealth. The monster blue cat was caught on March 17, 2011, weighed in at exactly 109 pounds and measured 53 inches in length with a girth of 41 inches.

rainbow trout
rainbow trout

Virginia Fly Fishing

Virginia is famous for stocked and wild trout fishing, with many of the best streams being found in the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains.

The state offers more than 2,000 miles of wild trout streams and about 600 miles of water that have populations of stocked trout.

The brook trout is the only species of freshwater trout native to Virginia. In addition to additions of hatchery-raised brookies, non-native rainbow and brown trout are stocked in streams throughout the state.

Virginia Fishing Books

farm pond
farm pond

Private Farm Ponds of Virginia

Private farm ponds and other bodies of water are stocked by their owners with species such as bluegills, redear sunfish, rock bass, largemouth bass, and other members of the bass - sunfish family. In addition to these popular fish, many owners also introduce bullhead catfish, pickerel, perch, carp or other freshwater species. Forage species such as shad, shiners or crayfish are sometimes stocked in private ponds as a food sources for fish.

Longnose Gar

The longnose gar can be recognized by its long narrow jaws, sharp teeth, cylindrical body, rounded tail fin, and large, bony scales. To catch longnose gar, anglers fish with live minnows or other baits. Gar are also taken by bowfishing or other alternative fishing techniques.


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