Your Guide to Getting a Virginia Fishing License

Fishing in Virginia is more than just a pastime—it’s a way of life. With a diverse range of fishing opportunities, from freshwater and saltwater fishing to fly fishing and ice fishing, Virginia is a paradise for anglers. But before you can join the thousands of fishing enthusiasts who flock to Virginia each year, there’s one thing you need—a Virginia fishing license.

What is a Virginia fishing license?

A Virginia fishing license is your golden ticket to fish in the waters of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is a permit that the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) has issued to both Virginia residents and non-residents. The funds collected from fishing licenses are used to protect and manage the fish and wildlife resources of the state. So, when you buy a fishing license, you’re not just buying a permit to fish—you’re contributing to the conservation of Virginia’s rich wildlife.

Types of Virginia Fishing Licenses

The Virginia DWR offers a variety of fishing licenses to cater to different needs. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Resident Fishing License: If you’ve been a resident of Virginia for at least 30 days prior to applying for the license, you can get this license for $23. A 5-day resident license is also available for $10.
  • Non-Resident Fishing License: If you’re not a resident of Virginia, this license is for you. It costs $47, and a 5-day non-resident license is also available for $21.
  • Saltwater Fishing License: Planning to fish in Virginia’s tidal waters? You’ll need this license. It costs $17 for residents and $50 for non-residents. A 7-day non-resident saltwater fishing license is also available for $10.
  • Trout Fishing License: If trout fishing is your thing, you’ll need this license in addition to your regular fishing license. It costs $23 for residents and $47 for non-residents.
  • Combination License: If you want to hunt and fish at the same time in Virginia, this license is for you. It costs $43 for residents and $125 for non-residents.

Resident License and Fees

License Fee
Sportsman’s License (16 years of age or older) Includes all of the following: hunting license, bear license, deer/turkey license, archery license, muzzleloader license, freshwater fishing license and trout license $100
County/City Resident Freshwater fishing $16
Resident State Freshwater fishing license (age 16 and older) 1-Year License: $23, 2-Year License: $44, 3-Year License: $65, 4-Year License: $86
Resident State Fresh/Saltwater Fishing $39.50
Resident Saltwater Fishing License $17.50
South Holston Reservoir Fishing License: This license allows anglers to fish in both Tennessee and Virginia waters of South Holston Reservoir upstream of the dam $21
Resident 5-Day Freshwater Fishing (5 consecutive days; not valid for trout waters) $14
Resident 5-Day Fresh/Saltwater Fishing (5 straight days; not valid for trout waters) $24
Resident 10-Day Saltwater Fishing (10 consecutive days) $10
Resident Tidal Boat Sport Fishing $126
Resident 65 and Over Annual Freshwater Fishing $9
Resident Trout Fishing (October 1 to June 15) $23

Non-Resident License and Fees

Non-residents who wish to fish in stocked trout waters from October 1 to June 15 need a valid non-resident trout license in addition to other permits. This costs $47 annually and $555 for a lifetime.

License Fee
Nonresident State Freshwater Fishing (age 16 or older) $47
Nonresident Saltwater Fishing License $25
Nonresident State Fresh/Saltwater Fishing $71
Nonresident 1-Day Freshwater Fishing $8
Nonresident 5-Day Freshwater Fishing (5 consecutive days) $21
Non-resident 10-Day Saltwater Fishing License (10 straight days) $10
Non-resident 5-Day Fresh/Saltwater Fishing (5 consecutive days) $31
Nonresident Tidal Boat Sport Fishing $201
Non-resident Trout Fishing (October 1–June 15): Required if fishing in stocked waters $47

Miscellaneous Licenses and Fees for Specific Areas

License Fee
Daily Permit Required at Clinch Mountain, Crooked Creek, and Douthat State Park Fee Fishing Areas $8
National Forest Permit $4
Virginia State Forest Use Permit $16
County Dip Net Permit $4.50
Public Access Lands for Sportsmen (PALS) Permit for Lake Merriweather in Rockbridge County $18

How to Get a Virginia Fishing License

Getting a Virginia fishing license is a breeze. Here are the different ways you can do it:

  • Online Through The Virginia DWR Website: The easiest and quickest way to purchase a Virginia fishing license is through the Virginia DWR website. Just visit the website, select the type of license you want, fill out the necessary personal information, and pay the required fees. You’ll get a temporary fishing license that you can print out and use until your official license arrives in the mail.
  • Over The Phone: If you’d rather buy your Virginia fishing license over the phone, you can call the customer service center of the Virginia DWR at 1-866-721-6911. They are available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. You’ll need to provide the same information as you would online, and you can pay the fees by credit card.
  • In Person: You can also get a Virginia fishing license by visiting a Virginia DWR service center or an authorized license agent in person. You can locate an agent near you by visiting the Virginia DWR website. When purchasing a fishing license in person, be sure to bring all necessary identification and payment information. You can pay by cash, check, or credit card, depending on the agent.
  • At A Sporting Goods Store: Several sporting goods stores, including Walmart, Bass Pro Shops, and Dick’s Sporting Goods, also sell Virginia fishing licenses. Before you go, check with the store to confirm that they sell fishing licenses and ask about any specific requirements.

Where to Buy a Virginia Fishing License

You can buy a Virginia fishing license at several places, including:

  • Virginia DWR Offices: You can buy your fishing license in person at any of the DWR offices in Virginia. At these offices, you can also find out about Virginia’s fishing rules, conservation efforts, and wildlife management. You can visit the Virginia DWR website at to find a full list of their service center locations.
  • Sporting Goods Stores: You can also purchase your fishing license at popular sporting goods stores in Virginia. It’s always a good idea to call ahead to confirm that the store you plan to visit has fishing licenses available and to inquire about any specific requirements or documents you may need to bring with you.
  • Online Through The Virginia DWR Website: If you prefer to purchase your fishing license online in Virginia, you can do so through the Virginia DWR website at Simply visit the website and follow the instructions provided. You will need to provide some personal information and payment details to complete the transaction.

Virginia Fish Size and Limits

Virginia has specific size and limit regulations for different types of fish. For trout, the trout season is open year-round, and the statewide limits are 6 per day, and no fish caught shall be less than 7 inches. For largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass, only 5 per day can be caught, and there are no statewide length limits. For a detailed list of fish size and limits, please refer to the Virginia DWR website.


In conclusion, if you want to fish in Virginia, you need a fishing license from the Virginia DWR. The type of license you need will depend on your residency status, the type of fishing you plan to do, and whether you plan to hunt as well. The cost of a Virginia fishing license varies depending on the type of license you need, but the money goes towards the conservation and management of Virginia’s fish and wildlife resources. So, make sure you have the right license before you cast your line, and have fun fishing in Virginia!

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