Do I Need a License to Fish New River BA?

As a grizzled fishing veteran who has been casting lines in these parts for over 30 years, I’ve fished up and down the New River more times than I can count. And let me tell you, she’s a real beauty – flowing cool and clear through those ancient Appalachian valleys. I’ve pulled fat smallmouth bass from her waters and wrestled mighty muskies in the Claytor Lake stretch. So if you’re looking to wet a line in the New, you came to the right place. Just make sure you got that license in order first.

The short answer? Most anglers need some type of license to fish the New legally. But there’s a bit more to it than that. Licensing regulations can get confusing, especially with the river crossing state lines between Virginia and West Virginia. Let me break it down for you…

Virginia (VA) New River Fishing Licenses

If you’re dropping a line anywhere along the VA stretch of the New, all anglers 16 and older need a basic freshwater fishing license – whether you’re a resident or not. Now these annual resident licenses will run you about $23. Non-residents pay around $16 for the year. Not bad rates to access quality fishing like this!

You can also grab short-term licenses if you’re just visiting the area briefly:

  • 1-day license – $7 residents / $10 non-residents
  • 5-day license – $12 residents / $20 non-residents
  • 10-day license – $18 residents / $30 non-residents

Now here’s where things get a bit tricky – certain sections of the VA New River have special trout regulations.

So if you’ll be fishing any designated stocked trout waters, you need to pick up a trout license in addition to your basic freshwater license. This applies year-round but is especially important during trout season, which runs October 1st through June 15th. The trout license will run VA residents an extra $23 per year. Non-residents pay $30 annually.

You can review special regulation trout waters here. But to name a few spots along the New River:

  • Claytor Lake
  • Sections near Allisonia
  • Certain parts downstream of Claytor Lake Dam

West Virginia (WV) New River Fishing Licenses

Now if you’re headed just across the border to fish the WV stretch instead, licensing works a bit differently over there. All anglers 15 and older need a WV state fishing license to fish the New River.

Resident license fees are around $30 annually while non-residents will pay $65 per year. Short-term options like 3-day, 7-day, and 15-day licenses are also available. Residents under 16 fish for free.

And just like the VA side, certain areas have special regulations during trout season (October 1st – December 31st). So in addition to your basic WV fishing license, you need to pick up a trout stamp ($15 residents, $30 non-residents) to fish designated trout waters.

Where To Get New River Fishing Licenses

Alright, so you know what licenses you need for the New. Now where do you get ‘em?

The easiest route is to purchase online through each state’s licensing platform:

If you need some help, you can also grab licenses in-person from certain retailers or by phone. Check agency websites for specifics on vendors.

I prefer to stop into local bait & tackle shops along the New River. Some of them sell licenses right over the counter. Plus they’ll give you the latest fishing reports and tips for what’s biting. The folks at Allisonia Supply are real good for that.

In certain cases, VA residents can also get licenses at Circuit Courts and Government Centers in bordering counties. But check regulations because that option is not available everywhere.

Exceptions & Exemptions

I know that’s a lot of rules and red tape. But fishing regulations & licensing help conserve this river we all love. Still, there are some folks who don’t need licenses:


  • Children under 16 can fish without a license
  • Resident landowners can fish their own property without a license
  • Residents 65+ get discounted rates
  • Disabled veterans fish for free

West Virginia

  • Residents under 15 don’t need licenses
  • Residents over 65 get free lifetime licenses
  • Certain disabled residents can receive special exemptions

So there are some exceptions. But I always say if you’re able, it’s good to have that license in your tackle box. The modest fee supports fisheries management and trout stocking programs to keep this river fishing healthy.

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