Fishing in Virginia: Get Hooked Up in the Commonwealth

Virginia offers a diverse fishery that is sometimes overlooked in search of far off and exotic destinations. But between the rockfish (striped bass) in the Chesapeake Bay, the native brook trout in Shenandoah National Park, and the musky hiding in Western Virginia, there are more than enough types of fishing options to keep an angler busy.

So, the next time you’re thinking of making a long weekend from DC, tagging a day trip on to your business trip, or exploring another part of the state, here are some options of fishing in Virginia that do not disappoint. As a local Virginian who grew up fishing all over, these are some of my favorite spots. With corresponding Fisher Guiding guides who you can book, you can be sure to get a lay of the land and make the most of your day on the water.

-Edward Hill

CEO and Co-Founder

LICENSES AND REGULATIONS

TARGET SPECIES:

  • Freshwater: Trout (brook, rainbow, brown), largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, musky
  • Saltwater: Rockfish (striped bass), bluefish, cobia, tuna, sharks, flounder, drum, mahi mahi

SEASONS:

Things cool down in the winter months (November - February), but you can find fish all year round if you’re dedicated! In freshwater, conditions for trout are best in the spring and early summer, then picking up again in the later fall depending on water flow. Bass are most active in the later spring and summer. Summer and fall is a great time to fish for rockfish in the Chesapeake Bay, and if you’re looking to fish deep sea, you can get a chance at billfish offshore then too.

REGIONS:

Chesapeake Bay:

  • Virginia Beach, VACaptain Greg of E-Fishinsea Sport Fishing Charters has puns and a beautiful center console to fish for pelagic fish such as Tuna, Marlin, Mahi Mahi, and Wahoo. Their ride is one of the smoothest-riding fishing boats on the market. It is equipped with a bathroom, plenty of cooler space and bean bags for your comfort on long runs. It’s an oppor-TUNA-ty too good to miss! Book here: https://www.fisherguiding.com/fishing-guide/e-fishinsea-sport-fishing-charters
  • Virginia Beach, VA: Ride in style with Backlash Charters in the 56' Carolina Style Custom, one of the top fishing charters in the state. The Backlash fishes the inshore and offshore waters off of Virginia Beach for Blue Marlin, White Marlin, Sailfish, Yellowfin Tuna, Big Eye Tuna, Wahoo, Mahi and Swordfish, while the inshore waters hold Spanish Mackerel, Taylor Bluefish, Flounder, Small Sharks and Cobia. Book here: https://www.fisherguiding.com/fishing-guide/backlash-sportfishing
  • Cape Charles, VA: Captain Kenny of Fish Freaks Guide Service has been fishing the waters of the Chesapeake bay for 22 years, and charter fishing full time the last seven years. His boat is a 23 foot loaded fishing machine! Kenny can take you out for rockfish, flounder, cobia, and even spear fishing. Book here: https://www.fisherguiding.com/fishing-guide/fish-freaks-guide-service

Central Virginia:

  • Harrisonburg, VA: Kevin Whitfield of Old Dominion Outfitter and Guide Service. Fish the Shenandoah drainage as well as the trout streams in central VA. Luke highly recommends fishing with guide Kevin Whitfield after landing a 23’ rainbow on a guided trip. Kevin has been fishing in his home state of Virginia for the past 40 years, guiding since 2005 and starting his own business in 2014. Book here: https://www.fisherguiding.com/fishing-guide/old-dominion-outfitter-and-guide-service
  • Front Royal, VA:  Take a quick drive from Washington, DC, to Front Royal and hook up with Neal Mason of FishN Mason’s Lane. Float and fish the Shenandoah River for bass and more. “Since the age of 3, fishing has been a part of my life; a passion transcended from Dad and reassured each time I’m on the water. There's something about "the tug" that generates a burst of adrenaline every single time.” Book here: https://www.fisherguiding.com/fishing-guide/fishn-masons-lane-llc
  • Scottsville, VA: L.E. Rhodes of Hatchmatcher Guide Service is a Virginia fly fishing legend. Inventor of the kreelex and other famous flies, since 1999 he has been providing angling adventures for trophy Smallmouth, Musky, Carp, and Gar on over 60 miles of the James River and 40 miles of the Shenandoah River. L.E.‘s easy going attitude and desire to put anglers on fish makes him one of the most sought after smallmouth guides in Central Virginia. Book here: https://www.fisherguiding.com/fishing-guide/hatchmatcher-guide-service

Western Virginia:

  • Abingdon, VA: Matt of Matt Reilly Fly Fishing is a passionate outdoorsman who grew up fishing and hunting the Blue Ridge Mountains. In 2012, he launched his outdoor career as a freelance outdoor writer and photographer, and as the outdoor columnist for The Daily Progress' The Rural Virginian. With the help of several industry-renowned mentors, he launched his career as a guide fishing the highlands of southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee for trophy trout, smallmouth bass, and musky. Matt is the only properly permitted, insured, and licensed guide service in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Book here: https://www.fisherguiding.com/fishing-guide/matt-reilly-fly-fishing

DIY Fishing:

  • Madison, VA: Fisher's Cabin on the Rapidan River, only a few hours from DC and nearby to Charlottesville. A fishing lodge and with exclusive walking access to the Rapidan River and two acre bass pond. The fishing lodge is within a 5 minute drive of Shenandoah National Park, and within an hour drive of Mossy Creek, the South Fork of the Shenandoah, and the Moormans River. https://www.fisherguiding.com/fishing-guide/the-fishers-cabin-on-the-rapidan-river
  • Mossy Creek, near Harrisonburg, VA: Need special Mossy Creek permit, available from the link below. Fishing is restricted to fly-fishing only and a free, written landowner permit is required to fish these waters. This no cost permit can be obtained online through this link: https://license.gooutdoorsvirginia.com/Licensing/CustomerLookup.aspx: Map of Mossy Creek: https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/...
  • Moormans River, near Charlottesville, VA: Downstream of the Shenandoah National Park boundary, the North Fork is managed as a put and take trout fishery till it empties into Sugar Hollow Reservoir. Anglers wishing to fish the put and take section are required to have a trout license in addition to a general fishing license. No lure or bait restrictions are in place on the stocked portion of stream. The minimum size limit is 7″ and the daily creel limit is 6 fish. More info: https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/waterbody/north-fork-moormans-river/

Our state’s slogan is Virginia is for Lovers. We hope you get to experience that it’s for Fishers, too!