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Director's Message

Picture of Executive Director Ryan J. Brown

Greetings Virginia Anglers,

Did you know that recreational freshwater fishing results in nearly $600 million in economic impact to the commonwealth? When you go fishing, you not only get the chance to get outside, but you also contribute to a sport that supports more than 4,000 jobs and countless small, medium, and large businesses. To help maintain these opportunities, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources relies on license revenue and Federal Aid in Sportfish Restoration. Every dollar spent on sportfish management in Virginia results in nearly $60 of total economic output.

We use these resources to provide a diversity of quality fishing opportunities—which means no matter where you are in the state, you’ve got the chance to catch something special. Our reservoirs, small impoundments, and tidal river systems host strong populations of largemouth bass, some of which may exceed 8, 10 or even 12 pounds. Our larger inland rivers support smallmouth bass, walleye, and musky, which, at a maximum size of about 40 pounds, is one of the most exciting fish that you can catch. Many of our cold-water streams host native brook trout—Virginia’s state fish—and throughout the state, we stock brook, brown, rainbow and tiger trout.

And don’t forget about the waterbodies in our FishLocalVA program—we intensively manage small impoundments in developed areas through stocking and habitat improvements to make sure that you don’t have to drive far to catch fish. More details on these opportunities can be found in the “Best Fishing” sections of the Fish Identification portion of this guide as well as on our website. And remember, you can always reach out to DWR directly at [email protected] for more information about where and how to target your favorite species.

If you are looking to introduce someone to the sport of fishing, we offer our annual Free Fishing Days on June 7–9. On these dates, a fishing license is not required, except for a few Fee Fishing Areas. This is a great opportunity to take out a friend or family member who either hasn’t gone fishing or hasn’t been fishing in a long time. And if you have never been fishing, keep an eye out for workshops that we will be running on those dates at several sites across the state. We will have gear, bait, and lessons available to those who stop by. These events are family friendly and great for people of all ages and ability levels. Many people have become lifelong anglers after visiting one of these workshops.

Looking forward to seeing you on the water in 2024!

Ryan J. Brown

Executive Director