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Creel (Harvest) and Length Limits

Fishing Regulations Virginia Freshwater Fishing

The tables that follow give statewide creel (harvest) and length limits for major sport fish and exceptions for major rivers and lakes. Regulations for many smaller lakes and boat access areas are posted on site, and posted regulations are in effect. For smaller lakes, information can be found online at: www.dgif.virginia.gov/fishing. Creel limits are per person per day. Changes for 2017 are marked in red.

Creel and length Limit

Geographic Exceptions

Creel or length limits for exceptions

Bass

Largemouth, Smallmouth, Spotted

5 per day in the aggregate (combined)

No statewide length limits

LAKES

Briery Creek Lake No bass 16 to 24 inches, only 1 per day longer than 24 inches
Buggs Island (Kerr) Only 2 of 5 bass less than 14 inches
Claytor Lake No bass less than 12 inches
Flannagan Reservoir No bass less than 12 inches
Lake Gaston Only 2 of 5 bass less than 14 inches
Leesville Reservoir Only 2 of 5 bass less than 14 inches
Lake Moomaw No bass less than 12 inches
Philpott Reservoir No bass less than 12 inches
Quantico Marine Base waters No bass 12 to 15 inches
Smith Mt. Lake and its tributaries below Niagara Dam Only 2 of 5 bass less than 14 inches
South Holston Reservoir No smallmouth less than 15 inches, 15 spotted bass per day

RIVERS

Clinch River–within the boundaries of Scott, Wise, Russell or Tazewell counties No bass less than 20 inches, only 1 bass per day longer than 20 inches
Dan River and tributaries down-stream from the Union Street Dam, Danville Only 2 of 5 bass less than 14 inches
James River–Confluence of the Jackson and Cowpasture rivers (Botetourt Cty) downstream to the 14th St. Bridge in Richmond No bass 14 to 22 inches, only 1 per day longer than 22 inches
New River–Fields Dam (Grayson County) downstream to the VA-WV state line and its tributaries Little River downstream from Little River Dam in Montgomery County, Big Walker Creek from the Norfolk Southern Railroad Bridge downstream to the New River and Wolf Creek from the Narrows Dam downstream to the New River in Giles County. (This does not include Claytor Lake which is delineated as: The upper end of the island at Allisonia downstream to the dam.) No bass 14 to 22 inches, only 1 per day longer than 22 inches
North Fork Holston River–Rt. 91 Bridge upstream of Saltville, Va. downstream to the Va-Tn state line No bass less than 20 inches, only 1 per day longer than 20 inches
North Fork Shenandoah River– Rt. 42 bridge, Rockingham Co. downstream to the confluence with S. Fork Shenandoah at Front Royal No bass 11 to 14 inches
Potomac River – Virginia tidal tributaries above Rt. 301 bridge No bass less than 15 inches from March 1 through June 15
Roanoke (Staunton) River–and its tributaries below Difficult Creek, Charlotte County Only 2 of 5 bass less than 14 inches
Shenandoah River– Confluence of South Fork and North Fork rivers, Front Royal, downstream to the Warren Dam, near Front Royal No bass 11 to 14 inches
Base of Warren Dam, near Front Royal downstream to Rt. 17/50 bridge No bass 14 to 20 inches, only 1 per day longer than 20 inches
Rt. 17/50 bridge downstream to VA–WV state line No bass 11 to 14 inches
South Fork Shenandoah River– Confluence of North and South rivers below Port Republic, downstream to Shenandoah Dam, near Town of Shenandoah No bass 11 to 14 inches
Base of Shenandoah Dam, near Town of Shenandoah, downstream to Luray Dam, near Luray No bass 14 to 20 inches, only 1 per day longer than 20 inches
Base of Luray Dam, near Luray, downstream to the confluence with North Fork of Shenandoah, Front Royal No bass 11 to 14 inches
Staunton River–Leesville Dam (Campbell County) downstream to the mouth of Difficult Creek, Charlotte County No smallmouth bass less than 20 inches, only 1 per day longer than 20 inches

Striped Bass

Landlocked Striped Bass and Landlocked Striped Bass X White Bass Hybrids

4 per day in the aggregate

No fish less than 20 inches

Buggs Island (Kerr) Reservoir including the Staunton (Roanoke) River to Leesville Dam and the Dan River to the Union Street Dam (Danville) October 1–May 31: 2 per day in the aggregate (combined) No striped bass or hybrid striped bass less than 24 inches
June 1–September 30: 4 per day in the aggregate (combined) No length limit.
Lake Gaston 4 per day in the aggregate (combined)
October 1–May 31: No striped bass or hybrid striped bass less than 20 inches
June 1–September 30: No length limit
Smith Mountain Lake and its tributaries, including the Roanoke River upstream to Niagara Dam 2 per day in the aggregate (combined)
November 1–May 31: No striped bass 30 to 40 inches
June 1–October 31: No length limit

Anadromous (coastal) striped bass above the fall line in all coastal rivers of the Chesapeake Bay

Creel and length limits shall be as set by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission for recreational fishing in tidal waters None apply None apply

Striped bass in the Meherrin, Nottoway, Blackwater (Chowan Drainage), North Landing and Northwest rivers and their tributaries plus Back Bay

2 per day

No striped bass less than 18 inches

None apply None apply

Walleye, Saugeye

5 per day in the aggregate

No walleye or saugeye less than 18 inches

New River upstream of Buck Dam in Carroll County No walleye less than 20 inches
New River downstream from Claytor Dam No walleye less than 18 inches
Claytor Lake and the New River upstream of Claytor Lake Dam to Buck Dam in Carroll County February 1–May 31: 2 walleye per day; no walleye 19 to 28 inches
June 1–January 31: 5 walleye per day; no walleye less than 20 inches

Sauger

2 per day

No statewide length limits

None apply None apply

White Bass

5 per day

No statewide length limits

South Holston Reservoir No harvest or possession (catch and release only)

Chain Pickerel

5 per day

No statewide length limits

Gaston and Buggs Island (Kerr) reservoirs No daily limit

Northern Pike

2 per day

No pike less than 20 inches

None apply None apply

Muskellunge

2 per day

No muskellunge less than 30 inches

New River-Fields Dam (Grayson County) downstream to Claytor Dam, including Claytor Lake 1 per day

No muskellunge less than 42 inches

New River-Claytor Dam downstream to VA-WV state line 1 per day

June 1–last day of February: No muskellunge between 40 to 48 inches

March 1–May 31: No muskellunge less than 48 inches

Bluegill (bream) and other sunfish excluding crappie rock bass (redeye) and Roanoke bass

50 per day in the aggregate (combined)

No statewide length limits

Gaston and Buggs Island (Kerr) reservoirs and that portion of the New River from the VA–NC state line downstream to the confluence of the New and Little rivers in Grayson County No daily limit

Crappie (black or white)

25 per day in the aggregate (combined)

No statewide length limits

Gaston and Buggs Island (Kerr) reservoirs and that portion of the New River from the VA–NC state line downstream to the confluence of the New and Little rivers in Grayson County No daily limit
Flannagan and South Holston reservoirs No crappie less than 10 inches; South Holston Res.–15 per day in the aggregate (combined)

Rock Bass (redeye)

25 per day

No statewide length limits

Gaston and Buggs Island (Kerr) reservoirs and that portion of the New River from the VA–NC state line downstream to the confluence of the New and Little rivers in Grayson County No daily limit
Nottoway and Meherrin rivers and their tributaries 5 per day in the aggregate (combined) with Roanoke bass

No rock bass less than 8 inches

South Holston Reservoir 20 per day

Roanoke Bass

No statewide daily limit

No statewide length limits

Nottoway and Meherrin rivers and their tributaries 5 per day in the aggregate (combined) with rock bass

No Roanoke bass less than 8 inches

Perch (yellow and white)

No statewide daily limit

No statewide length limit

Lake Moomaw 10 per day

Trout

6 per day

7 inch minimum size

No minimum size limit South Holston Reservoir 7 fish per day—only 2 lake trout. No minimum size.

Catfish

Channel, White and Flathead

20 per day

No length limits

All rivers below the fall line No daily limit

Blue

20 per day

No statewide length limits

Kerr Reservoir 20 per day, except only 1 blue catfish per day longer than 32 inches
James River and its tributaries below the fall line and York River and its tributaries (including the Pamunkey River and Mataponi River) below the fall line No daily limit, except only 1 blue catfish per day longer than 32 inches
All rivers below the fall line other than the James River and its tributaries and the York River and its tributaries No daily limit

Yellow, brown, black, flat, and snail bullhead

No daily limit

No length limits

None apply None apply

All Catfish

South Holston Reservoir 20 per day, only 1 catfish per day longer than 34 inches

American Shad and Hickory Shad

VA waters of Lake Gaston and Buggs Island (Kerr) Reservoir and tributaries to include the Dan and Staunton rivers

No possession: (catch and release only) None apply None apply

Above and below the fall line in all coastal rivers of the Chesapeake Bay

Creel and length limits shall be the same as those set by the Virginia Marine Resources Comm. for these species in tidal rivers None apply None apply

Meherrin River below Emporia Dam, Nottway River, Blackwater River, (Chowan Drainage), North Landing and Northwest rivers, and their tributaries plus Back Bay

10 per day in the aggregate (combined)

No length limits

None apply None apply

Anadromous (coastal) Alewife and Blueback Herring

Above and below the fall line in all coastal rivers of the Chesapeake Bay and their tributaries

Creel and length limits shall be the same as those set by the Virginia Marine Resources Comm. for these species in tidal rivers The Virginia Marine Resources Commission enacted a ban on the possession of river herring, effective January 1, 2012, due to the collapse of the stock, and to comply with an Atlantic States Marine Fisheries fishery management plan directive

Meherrin River, Nottoway River, Blackwater River (Chowan Drainage), North Landing and Northwest rivers and their tributaries, plus Back Bay

No possession

Other native or naturalized nongame fish

20 per day

No length limits

Statewide

Threatened and endangered species

No possession None apply None apply

Grass Carp

No statewide daily limit

No statewide length limit

Anglers may possess grass carp taken from inland public waters, except from Department-owned or -controlled lakes. Anglers must ensure that harvested grass carp are dead.

Northern Snakehead

No statewide daily limit

No statewide length limit

Anglers may possess a snakehead taken from Virginia waters if they immediately kill the fish and notify the headquarters or a regional office of the department; notification may be made by calling (804) 367-2925.

Non-native (Exotic) Fish

Spotted Sea Trout

Back Bay, Brinson’s Inlet Lake (Lake Tecumseh), North Landing River and their tributaries

4 per day, no fish less than 14 inches None apply None apply

Red Drum

Back Bay, Brinson’s Inlet Lake (Lake Tecumseh), North Landing River and their tributaries

1 per day between 18 and 27 inches None apply None apply

Grey Trout

Back Bay, Brinson’s Inlet Lake (Lake Tecumseh), North Landing River and their tributaries

1 per day, no fish less than 12 inches None apply None apply

Southern Flounder

Back Bay, Brinson’s Inlet Lake (Lake Tecumseh), North Landing River and their tributaries

6 per day, no fish less than 15 inches None apply None apply

Longnose Gar

5 per day

No statewide length limits

Bowfin

5 per day

No statewide length limits

American Eel

25 per day; no eel less than 9 inches Back Bay and North Landing River No possession limit for those individuals possessing a permit obtained under4VAC15-340-80