I grew up in a State with beautiful waterways, as in lakes, rivers, and creeks. Fishing was a must as my grandparents ran their own fishing dock. But here in Hampton Roads, we have so many different options: fresh-water fishing, salt-water fishing, brackish-water fishing, out-on-the-sea fishing, and more. Below are a few great places to go fish, but if you have a secret spot not mentioned, please leave it in the comments (as long as it is a legal spot to fish).
Rules and Regulations
Before you head off on your fishing adventure, be sure you have the legalities covered. The Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries oversees licenses, etc., and their site has quite a bit of information. Some piers and boat-fishing excursions have you covered or offer licenses at the location. Depending on the type of water you’re fishing in, you may need a different license. My advice? Read the fine print or ask. You don’t want to turn a nice fishing day into a problem down the line.
Fishing Charters and Excursions
Here are a few ideas to get you out on the sea and fishing for that big fish you’ve always dreamed of. There are many, many more charter companies than this, though. If you’ve loved one, let us know in the comments.
What I like about AquaMan Sportfishing Charters (other than the name) is that they offer an excursion where you walk onto a boat that hasn’t been filled. They also offer group rates like the others, but if you are just a single person wanting to go fishing, this may be more economical.
The cleverly named E-Fishinsea group takes you deep sea fishing or inshore. The price covers your license.
KeyDreams Charter Boat Service will take you through the Norfolk or Virginia Beach waterway for a 4, 6, or 8-hour excursion. They also clean your fish, but I think it is an added bonus that they’ll teach you how to do it. All tackle, bait, and licenses are included in the price.
Matador Sport Fishing Charters has different experiences depending on what you’re into: wreck fishing, inshore fishing, shark fishing, or family charter fishing
Burnt Mills Reservoir is a lake full of many species of fish. This is a boat fishing area as no bank fishing is allowed, and you’ll need a boater’s license as well as a fishing license.
Located in Chesapeake parallel to the foot of the Jordan Bridge, the Elizabeth River Park Fishing Pier offers lots of parking, a double wide boat ramp with docs, and a large picnic shelter. You’ll need a saltwater recreational fishing license to use this facility.
Hampton / Fort Monroe
For the love of all things cobia, you can fish Dandy Point Landing. Offering two double-wide ramps and a large parking lot, this is a popular spot for cobia anglers, though it also touts an abundance of others as well.
Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, April through December (except in bad weather), you can fish the James T. Wilson Fishing Pier in Hampton. You can purchase a license at the pier, but if you already have the Virginia Salt Water Fishing License, you get a discount on the admission to the pier. You can even rent a rod at the pier if you don’t already have one.
The Engineer Wharf Fishing Pier at Fort Monroe is a great place for striped bass, rock fish, and white perch. You’ll need a Virginia Saltwater Fishing License for this one, but it is open sunrise to sunset each day of the season.
The James River Fishing Pier has various opening times, so be sure to check the website closely. Bait and tackle are available, and you don’t have to have a fishing license to use it.
Located in Newport News Park, Lee Hall Reservoir, anglers can look for largemouth bass, black crappie, chain pickerel, bluegill, yellow perch, pumpkinseed, redear sunfish, and more. You can rent boats by day and there are different fishing fees depending on where in the Reservoir you’ll fish. The park itself is full of activities if you are with some non-fishers (including paddle boats, camping, trails, picnic shelters, and playgrounds.)
The Newport News King-Lincoln Park Wavescreen Fishing Pier allows you to fish the James River and is open to the public from 7am to 10pm. There is no fee to fish, but you do need the Virginia Saltwater Fishing License.
Not as well seen for those who don’t live in the area, you can actually fish the Bill Harbert Fishing Pier in East Ocean View for free (though you need the saltwater fishing license). In addition to the pier itself, there is parking, a playground area, covered picnic tables, and fishing equipment.
In Norfolk, you can cast off at the Ocean View Fishing Pier. There is a restaurant on site with more limited hours, but the pier itself is open daily at 8am. This pier also offers rod and reel rentals.
Portsmouth and Suffolk
Bennett’s Creek Park offers many activities, including a crabbing and fishing pier. You’ll need a fishing license to fish off the pier or a boat here.
Lake Cohoon may be located in Suffolk, but it is actually operated by the City of Portsmouth. This lake offers fishing for many types of fish. You’ll need a city permit to boat or fish here (from Portsmouth), but the permit will set you up for this lake as well as the city’s three other lakes: Lake Meade, Lake Kilby, and Speights Run. There is bank fishing in one area only.
For the royal angler, Lake Prince is a pretty area in Suffolk where striped bass enjoy court. Other fish hanging out at the watery palace as well, and their website lists what kinds in which seasons. This is big for boat fishing, though there is a small bank fishing area.
You can fish, go crabbing, participate in archery, canoe, and so much more at Lone Star Lakes Park. This park requires a freshwater license, and you can only shore fish in certain areas.
Lake Smith and Lake Lawson Natural Area offers boat ramps, fishing platforms, a playground, picnic shelter, restrooms, and more. Be sure to note the areas where fishing is allowed and where it isn’t, and you’ll need a Virginia Freshwater Fishing license. When I asked my fishing friends where to go, this place came up the most.
For fishing on the bay, check out the Lynnhaven Inlet Landing. There are boat ramps, restrooms (with showers!), and a vending area. You can pay a fee to cover the fishing license, but if you already have the saltwater recreational fishing license, you get a discount. It is open 24/7.
If you love the Oceanfront, and you want to get some fishing in, head to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Fishing Pier. The only access is from the boardwalk, so the parking isn’t as convenient as some of the others, but there is quite an assortment of fish. During the season, it is open 8am to 8pm (weather permitting), and you can rent gear there as well.
If you want to get away from the main hustle and bustle of the Oceanfront Fishing Pier, head to Sandbridge Little Island Fishing Pier. This site is open all year long with varying hours depending on the season. There is paid-parking available as well as restrooms, beach access, sheltered picnic tables and grills, and a playground area.
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