What’s New for 2019

Fishing Regulations Icon Virginia Fishing

More details can be found in sections that follow this summary.

General Information

  • Lake Merriweather, a 450-acre impoundment owned by the Boy Scouts and located in Goshen, VA, is now open for public fishing on a seasonal basis. In addition to an appropriate fishing license, a Public Access Lands for Sportsmen (PALS) permit is needed to fish this lake.
  • There are additional streams where anglers are restricted from using fish as bait. These include Big Stony Creek in Giles County, Dismal Creek in Bland and Giles counties, Laurel Creek in Bland County (Wolf Creek drainage) and Cripple Creek in Smyth and Wythe counties.
  • Goldfish are now legal to take with bow and arrow or crossbow.

Creel (Harvest) and Length Limits

  • There are new largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass length and creel limits on Claytor Lake as well as new length and creel limits for striped bass and striped bass X white bass hybrids. 
  • A new trophy fish regulation has been established for smallmouth bass on the Levisa Fork River in Buchanan County. .
  • New length limits for crappie on Buggs Island Lake/Kerr Reservoir, Briery Creek and Sandy River reservoirs. 
  • Creel and length limit changes for striped bass. 
  • There are new creel and length limit changes for white bass on Buggs Island Lake/Kerr Reservoir. 
  • There are new creel and length limits for blue catfish on Lake Gaston. 
  • Rock bass and Roanoke bass regulations have been revised statewide for simplification purposes and to protect rare Roanoke bass populations. 
  • Moratorium on possession of American shad. Anglers on the Meherrin River below Emporia Dam, Nottaway River, Blackwater River (Chowan Drainage), North Landing and Northwest rivers and their tributaries plus Back Bay are no longer allowed to harvest American shad. Possession of American shad while on public waters is prohibited statewide.

Nets and Seines

  • Use of cast nets in the Staunton and Dan Rivers – It is now legal to use cast (throw) nets in the Staunton and Dan Rivers to collect bait fish. The use of other types of nets (other than hand landing nets and cast nets) is still prohibited in these rivers.


  • A trout license is not required to fish designated stocked trout waters during Free Fishing Days, June 7-9, 2019.
  • Hearthstone Lake (Augusta Co.) and North Fork Moorman’s River (Albemarle Co.) will not be stocked in 2019.
  • Two new special regulation (catch and release) waters established, Beaver Creek (Bristol) and Wolf Creek (Abingdon).