Fishing in Virginia: Discover the Top License-Free Spots for Anglers!

Where can you go fishing without a license in Virginia?


Fishing is not only a great way to relax and connect with nature, but it can also be an exciting hobby that brings joy and satisfaction. However, obtaining a fishing license may sometimes feel like an unnecessary hurdle, especially if you’re just starting out or looking for a casual day by the water. Fortunately, in Virginia, there are some places where you can enjoy fishing without needing a license. Let’s dive into the details!

Fishing License Requirements in Virginia

Before we explore where you can fish without a license in Virginia, it’s essential to understand the usual requirements for fishing legally within the state. In general, anglers aged 16 years or older are required to have a valid fishing license issued by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF). However, there are exceptions that allow individuals to fish without obtaining this license.

Public Fishing Piers


Virginia offers various public fishing piers scattered across the state’s beautiful coastline and inland lakes. These piers provide accessible and convenient spots for recreational anglers who do not possess a fishing license. You’ll find these piers equipped with everything needed for an enjoyable experience – from ample space for casting your line to amenities such as benches, restrooms, and even cleaning stations.


Some popular public piers where you can fish freely without worrying about licenses include Buckroe Beach Fishing Pier located in Hampton on Chesapeake Bay; Lynnhaven Fishing Pier situated at Virginia Beach; Ocean View Fishing Pier nestled along Willoughby Spit near Norfolk; JEB Little Creek-Fort Story Joint Expeditionary Base Marina Pier found at Naval Station Norfolk; Twin Lakes State Park pier near Farmville; Holliday Lake State Park pier in Appomattox; and more.

Private Fishing Lakes


Apart from public fishing piers, Virginia also boasts numerous private fishing lakes where you can cast your line without holding a license. These serene and well-maintained lakes usually require visitors to pay a small fee or purchase a day pass for access. Many private lakes provide amenities like picnic areas, rental equipment, bait shops, and knowledgeable staff to enhance your fishing experience.


Some renowned private fishing lakes that welcome anglers without licenses include Lake Chesdin near Petersburg; Burke Lake in Fairfax County; Hidden Valley Sporting Goods Pond located off Route 39 between Lexington and Goshen Pass; Nottoway Falls Reservoir near Victoria; Briery Creek Lake in Prince Edward County; Swift Creek Reservoir situated southwest of Richmond; among others scattered throughout the state.

Catch and Release Areas


An excellent option for those seeking to participate solely in catch-and-release practices is targeting designated areas within Virginia’s waters. These locations allow you to fish freely without needing a license since there is no intention to keep any caught fish. Catch-and-release not only conserves fish populations but also promotes sustainable angling practices while still enjoying the thrill of reeling in your catch.


The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries designates several catch-and-release areas across Virginia rivers, streams, creeks, and reservoirs. Some notable examples are Hughes River Trout Management Area near Sperryville; South River Special Regulation Area nestled beneath Waynesboro’s Ridgeview Park Bridge on South River Road (State Route 624); Big Stony Creek Trout Management Area situated within George Washington National Forest near Edinburg; Barboursville Ruins Fishing Area found east of Charlottesville along the Rivanna River; and more.


While acquiring a fishing license is typically necessary in Virginia, there are various exceptions that allow individuals to enjoy this recreational activity without one. Whether you prefer public fishing piers, private lakes, or catch-and-release areas, the state offers several locations where you can go fishing without worrying about licenses. So grab your gear and prepare for an exciting day on the water! Remember to adhere to size limits, bag restrictions and any specific regulations enforced by these locations to ensure both responsible angling and preservation of Virginia’s aquatic ecosystems.