Sources: Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Virginia Marine Resources Commission

Virginia Fishing Schedule

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Virginia Fishing Regulations

Freshwater Regulations


Resident Fees

To fish in county or city of residence: $5
To fish statewide: $12
To fish statewide for 5 consecutive days: $5
To fish in designated stocked trout waters (required in addition to regular fishing license or 5 day license: $12
65 and over license to fish (trout license required in addition: $1
Special lifetime to fish (trout license required in addition: $250
Total and permanently disabled special lifetime license (trout license required in addition: $5
Total and permanently disabled Veteran lifetime license to hunt and fish (trout license required in addition: $12

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Non-Resident Fees

To fish statewide: $30
To fish statewide for 5 consecutive days: $6
To fish in designated stocked trout waters (required in addition to regular fishing license or 5 day license: $30
Nonresident special lifetime to fish (trout license required in addition: $500

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Miscellaneous Fees

National forest permit, required in addition to license, to hunt, fish or trap on national forest (holders of senior citizen [age 65] license excepted): $3
County dip net permit to take shad, herring, and mullet: $3.50

A 50 cents issuance fee will be added to each license
(Obtain licenses from some county circuit court clerks, city corporation court clerks and other authorized agents).
Licenses and permits valid from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.

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Who Qualifies For a Resident Fishing License

Virginia residents age 16 and older are required to obtain a fishing license before fishing on the inland waters of this state. Those entitled to buy resident licenses are:
  1. Persons who have physically resided in the city, county, or state for six consecutive months immediately preceeding the date of application for license;
  2. Persons who have been domciliary residents of the state for at least two months upon approval of a completed affidavit to be furnished by the Game Department. Legal voters, members of the armed forces on active duty stationed in Virginia and students regularly enrolled in and boarding at any bona fide school who presents a certificate of enrollment. When authorized by the commanding officer of a military reservation, a member of the U.S. armed forces on active duty may purchase a resident license to fish on that reservation only. Unnaturalized owners of real property in Virginia who have resided in a county for five years immediately prior to making application for a license may apply for resident licenses only in the county where they qualify. It is unlawful to fish on waters of any public or private club, association or preserve without proper license.

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Who Does Not Need a License

Persons not required to have fishing licenses are:
  1. Residents under 16 years of age (also do not need a trout license;
  2. Landowners, their spouse, children and minor grandchildren within the boundaries of their own land;
  3. Tenants on the land they rent and occupy if they have written permission of the landowner;
  4. Guest fishing in individually owned private ponds;
  5. Non-resident children under 12 (except in designated stocked trout waters) when accompanied by a properly licensed adult; and
  6. Legally blind persons.

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National Forest Permit

All persons required to have a license (except holders of a senior citizen license) are required to have a National Forest Permit when fishing on National Forest lands except the North and South Fork of the Shenandoah River, Skidmore Lake in Rockingham County, Lake Moomaw, the Jackson River below Gathright Dam, and in Wilson Creek below Douthat Lake in Alleghany and Bath counties.

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General Freshwater Fishing Regulations

Fishing in inland waters must be made by angling with a hook and line or rod and reel, held in the hand. (See exceptions for nongame fish.) A hand landing net may be used to land fish legally hooked in all waters. Any person who fishes on another's property must have the landowner's permission to do so except on designated stocked trout waters along which signs have been placed indicating that the waters are open to public fishing. No species of fish, freshwater mussel or mollusc may be taken in inland waters to be sold, except under special permits provided by law. It is unlawful to use lime, dynamite or any other substances to destroy fish, or to cast or allow noxious matter to pass into watercourses that might destroy fish or fish spawn, or to deposit trash in streams of lakes or along their banks. It is unlawful to have more than the daily creel limit of any fish in posession while afield or on the waters. The daily creel limit includes live possession of fish. It is unlawful to stock any species of fish into inland waters of the Commonwealth without first obtaining written approval from the Department (private ponds excepted.)

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Virginia Game Fishes

"Game fish" as defined by the Code of Virginia means and includes trout, all of the sunfish family (including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and spotted bass, rock bass, bream, bluegill, and crappie), walleye, white bass, chain pickerel, muskellunge, northern pike and striped bass

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Designated Stocked Trout Waters

"Designated stocked trout water" will include those waters that are stocked with harvestable-sized trout and are listed by the director in the annual Trout Stocking Plan. These waters will only be considered designated stocked trout waters from October 1 through June 15 (trout license required). A trout license is not required from June 16 through Septermber 30. Designated stocked trout waters are posted by the Department with appropriate "stocked trout waters" signs.

It is unlawful to fish in designated stocked trout waters after the daily creel limit of trout has been obtained of during the closed hours for taking trout. It is unlawful to feed, bait or snag trout in designated stocked trout waters. It is unlawful to use seines, nets or more than one rod and one hook in these waters, although it shall be lawful to use a hand-landing net to land legally hooked trout.

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Free Freshwater Fishing Days

The first Saturday and Sunday in June have been designated as Free Fishing Days in Virginia. No fishing license of any kind will be required for rod and reel fishing in freshwater except in designated stocked trout waters.

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