Greetings Virginia Anglers,
I hope your 2022 fishing season was productive and your 2023 season is even better.
If 2023 will be your first fishing season, keep an eye on Free Fishing Weekend on June 2, 3, and 4. We will be hosting “learn to fish” workshops across the state and will be providing tackle, bait and instruction to new anglers – or those who haven’t gotten out in a few years. On these dates, no fishing license is required to fish freshwater areas in Virginia (with the exception of the three fee fishing areas). It’s also a great weekend to take someone fishing who has never been!
I also want to draw your attention to a new fishing opportunity – tiger trout. Tiger trout are a hybrid between a brook and a brown trout that has a unique color pattern. We grow these at our hatcheries and stock them in waters throughout the state, including some of our urban waters. Keep your eye out for these trout, and remember, we post info on trout stockings on our website on a daily basis throughout the trout stocking season at virginiawildlife.gov/fishing/trout-stocking-schedule/ .
Speaking of urban waters, we continue to support our FishLocalVA initiative, which aims to provide quality fishing opportunities in population centers throughout the state. Our goal is to bring the fish to the people, and we stock catfish and trout in many of these waters. Beyond those species, nearly all FishLocalVA waters host largemouth bass and sunfish and many provide a really great opportunity to catch a quality fish in an urban setting. More details on the FishLocalVA program can be found at virginiawildlife.gov/fishing/fish_local/ .
Lastly, we have some new regulations in place to help combat invasive species, one of the greatest threats to our aquatic systems. Our clean, drain and dry regulations require a boater to take the simple steps of removing vegetation from their trailer and boat as well as removing the bilge plug when taking their boat out of the water. These actions can help prevent the spread of “aquatic hitchhikers” such as water chestnut and zebra mussels, which may attach themselves to boats and trailers and consequently be released into new waters when boats are launched in the future. This regulation builds on our campaigns to prevent other invasive species, such as northern snakehead and Alabama bass, from spreading further through Virginia. You can find more information on invasive species in General Information, Freshwater Fish Regulations, Invasive Alabama Bass, and Safe Boating. This and other new regulations for 2023 are detailed in the “What’s New” section.
Ryan J. Brown