Fishing is a popular pastime in Virginia, with over 800,000 licensed anglers across the state. Whether you’re new to fishing or a seasoned expert, you’ll need to obtain a proper fishing license before casting your line in Virginia’s abundant waters. This guide covers everything you need to know about getting a Virginia fishing license.
Who needs a Virginia fishing license?
Nearly all anglers need a license to fish in Virginia. Here are the requirements, according to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR):
- Virginia Residents 16 or older: Require a state freshwater fishing license to fish in inland non-tidal waters. Additional licenses are needed for designated trout waters or tidal waters.
- Non-residents 16 or older: require a non-resident freshwater or saltwater license. Those under 16 can fish license-free.
- Disabled Veterans: Those with at least a 30% VA disability rating qualify for discounted or lifetime licenses.
There are a few exceptions, such as fishing on private ponds you own or rent. But in most cases, you’ll need a license printed or saved on your phone.
Types of Virginia Fishing Licenses
Virginia offers fishing licenses valid for 1 to 4 years. Choose the duration that meets your needs. The most common options are:
|Resident Freshwater (1 year)
|Non-Resident Freshwater (1 year)
|Resident Saltwater (1 year)
|Non-Resident Saltwater (1 year)
|Resident Combination (freshwater + saltwater)
You can also get a Virginia lifetime freshwater fishing license for just $260.
How to Get Your Virginia Fishing License
Getting an official Virginia fishing license is quick and convenient through three methods:
The quickest way is to purchase online through the Go Outdoors Virginia website. Create an account, pick your license type, pay the fee, and you can save a digital copy right on your phone.
Call (804) 367-1000 during regular business hours to purchase your license over the phone. Have payment information ready.
Visit an authorized license agent like some clerk’s offices and sporting goods stores. Pay in-person and get your printed license immediately.
Once purchased, be sure to sign your license and keep it with you when fishing as proof of compliance. Licenses are valid for 365 days from the date of issuance.
Displaying Your License
While fishing, licenses must be displayed according to DWR guidelines:
- Printed licenses must be kept on your person, not in the tackle box or elsewhere.
- Digital licenses can be displayed on a phone or tablet screen. Just have the device readily accessible.
- When checked by officials, politely present your license right away.
Fishing without a license or failing to display it properly could result in fines over $100.
Fishing License Fees and Discounts
License fees help fund freshwater fisheries management and conservation efforts. They are modestly priced for most anglers:
- Resident licenses start at $23 per year.
- Non-resident licenses start at $31 per year.
- Disabled veterans with at least 30% VA disability get 25% off lifetime licenses.
Kids under 16, disabled residents, and blind residents can receive license-free fishing privileges.
What Your License Fees Support
The Virginia DWR receives no general tax dollars, so your license fees help support key initiatives like:
- Monitoring and sustaining healthy fish populations through hatchery stocking programs. Over 2 million trout are stocked annually!
- Protecting critical habitats and water quality across Virginia’s 82,000 miles of waterways.
- Providing public recreational access through boat ramps, fishing piers, and more.
- Funding education programs that create new generations of responsible anglers.
So your license purchase keeps Virginia’s world-class fisheries running for all to enjoy!
Do I need multiple licenses?
You may need additional permits or stamps depending on where you fish.
- National Forest Permit: Required when fishing in National Forests like George Washington and Jefferson.
- Trout License: Needed to fish stocked trout waters during trout season from October 1 to June 15.
- Saltwater License: Required when fishing in tidal waters or pursuing saltwater species. Stamped on the fishing license.
So check area regulations to ensure you have the proper permits before getting started.
Key Items to Bring Fishing
On your Virginia fishing trip, be sure to come prepared with:
- Valid, signed fishing license
- Gear appropriate for target species
- Baits and lures relevant to location and conditions
- Layered clothing for changing weather; sun protection; hats, glasses, and and lotion
- Insect repellent to ward off bugs
- First aid kit for minor injuries
- Sharps disposal container for hooks and lures
- Water and snacks to stay fueled and hydrated
- Charged phone for emergency calls
Packing smart ensures you’ll have what you need for an awesome, safe day reeling in your catch!
So now you know how to get a Virginia fishing license quickly online, in person,, or by phone. Follow area regulations, display properly when fishing, and consider getting additional permits for certain zones or species. Doing so shows your commitment to sustaining healthy habitats and fish populations in Virginia’s abundant waters for all anglers to enjoy.