How Much Is a Fishing License in Virginia?

Fishing in Virginia’s bountiful waters is a beloved pastime for anglers of all ages. However, before you can cast your line, it’s crucial to understand the state’s fishing license requirements and fees. This ultimate guide will provide you with all the information you need to ensure a smooth and legal fishing experience in Virginia in 2024.

The Importance of Obtaining a Virginia Fishing License

Fishing licenses are not just a legal requirement; they also play a vital role in conserving and managing Virginia’s aquatic resources. The revenue generated from license sales helps fund various programs and initiatives aimed at protecting and enhancing the state’s fisheries. By obtaining a fishing license, you’re contributing to the preservation of Virginia’s natural treasures for generations to come.

Who Needs a Virginia Fishing License?

In Virginia, anyone 16 years or older must have a valid fishing license to fish in public waters, including lakes, rivers, streams, and coastal areas. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule:

  • Fishing on private property you own or have permission for
  • Fishing on saltwater charter boats (license required for the charter crew)
  • Active-duty military on official leave
  • Legally blind individuals
  • Native Americans residing on reservations or recognized tribe members
  • Residents 65 and older fishing in saltwater (saltwater license still required for other ages)

It’s important to note that these exceptions may have specific requirements or limitations, so it’s always best to check the official Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) website for the most up-to-date information.

Types of Virginia Fishing Licenses and Fees

Virginia offers a variety of fishing licenses to cater to different needs and preferences. Here’s a breakdown of the most common options and their associated fees for 2024:

Resident Licenses

  • County/City Resident Freshwater Fishing: $16 (valid only in your county/city of residence)
  • State Resident Annual Freshwater Fishing: $23
  • State Resident 5-Day Freshwater Fishing: $14
  • State Resident Annual Saltwater Fishing: $17.50
  • State Resident Annual Freshwater/Saltwater Combo: $39.50
  • Resident Trout Fishing: $23 (in addition to other licenses for stocked trout waters)

Non-Resident Licenses

  • Non-Resident Annual Freshwater Fishing: $53
  • Non-Resident 5-Day Freshwater Fishing: $21
  • Non-Resident Annual Saltwater Fishing: $30
  • Non-Resident 10-Day Saltwater Fishing: $10
  • Non-Resident Annual Freshwater/Saltwater Combo: $71
  • Non-Resident Trout Fishing: $53 (in addition to other non-resident licenses)

It’s important to note that these fees are subject to change, so it’s always a good idea to check the DWR website for the most up-to-date information before purchasing your license.

Additional Permits and Fees

Depending on where and how you plan to fish, you may need to obtain additional permits or pay extra fees:

  • National Forest Permit: $4 (required for fishing in National Forests)
  • State Forest Use Permit: $16 (required for fishing in State Forests)
  • County Dip Net Permit: $4.50 (required for taking shad, herring, and mullet)
  • Daily Permit: $8 (required at Clinch Mountain, Crooked Creek, and Douthat State Park fee fishing areas, in addition to regular licenses)

It’s essential to check the specific regulations for the water body you plan to fish, as some may have additional requirements or restrictions.

Where to Buy a Virginia Fishing License

Virginia offers several convenient options for purchasing your fishing license, including:

  1. Online: Visit the Go Outdoors Virginia website to create an account and purchase your license electronically. This is often the most convenient option, as you can print your license immediately or save it on your mobile device.
  2. By Phone: Call (804) 367-1000 during regular business hours to purchase your license over the phone.
  3. In Person: Many Circuit Court clerks, license agents, and the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) headquarters sell fishing licenses. You can find a list of license agents on the DWR website.
  4. Mobile App: Download the Go Outdoors Virginia mobile app to purchase and store your license on your smartphone.

Pro Tip: If you lose your printed license, you can easily reprint it by logging into your Go Outdoors Virginia account or visiting a license agent.

Tips for Choosing the Right Virginia Fishing License

With so many license options available, it can be confusing to determine which one is right for you. Here are some tips to help you make the best choice:

  • Consider your residency status: Resident licenses are significantly cheaper than non-resident options, so make sure to purchase the appropriate license based on your residency.
  • Think about where you’ll be fishing: If you plan to fish in both freshwater and saltwater, a combo license may be more cost-effective than purchasing separate licenses.
  • Evaluate your fishing frequency: For occasional anglers, a short-term license (5-day or 10-day) might be more economical than an annual license.
  • Check for additional requirements: If you plan to fish in specific areas like National Forests or State Parks, remember to purchase the necessary permits.
  • Look for discounts: Some discounts may be available for seniors, veterans, or youth anglers. Check with the DWR for current promotions or discounts.

By considering these factors, you can ensure that you’re getting the most value for your money and avoiding any unnecessary expenses.

Responsible Fishing in Virginia

While obtaining the proper license is crucial, it’s equally important to practice responsible fishing in Virginia. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Familiarize yourself with regulations: Regulations can vary depending on the water body, species, and season. Check the Virginia Freshwater Fishing Regulations and Virginia Saltwater Fishing Regulations before your trip.
  • Practice catch-and-release: Consider releasing your catch, especially if you don’t plan to consume the fish. This helps maintain healthy fish populations.
  • Respect the environment: Properly dispose of any litter, bait containers, or fishing line to protect Virginia’s natural resources.
  • Report violations: If you witness any illegal fishing activities, report them to the DWR’s Wildlife Crime Line at 1-800-237-5712.

By following these guidelines, you can help ensure that Virginia’s fishing opportunities remain abundant and accessible for generations to come.

Do I need a separate trout license in Virginia?

Yes, if you plan to fish in designated stocked trout waters, you’ll need to purchase a trout license in addition to your regular fishing license. The trout license fee is $23 for residents and $53 for non-residents.

Can I use my Virginia fishing license in other states?

No, your Virginia fishing license is only valid within the state’s boundaries. If you plan to fish in other states, you’ll need to purchase the appropriate license for that state.

Are there any free fishing days in Virginia?

Yes, Virginia offers several free fishing days throughout the year when anyone can fish in public waters without a license. These dates are typically announced on the DWR website.

How long is a Virginia fishing license valid?

Most Virginia fishing licenses are valid for one year from the date of purchase, with the exception of short-term licenses (5-day, 10-day) and lifetime licenses.

Can I renew my Virginia fishing license online?

Yes, you can easily renew your license through your Go Outdoors Virginia account or by visiting a license agent.


Fishing in Virginia’s diverse waters is a rewarding experience, but it’s essential to ensure that you’re properly licensed and informed about the regulations. By following the guidelines outlined in this guide, you can enjoy a hassle-free and responsible fishing experience while contributing to the conservation of Virginia’s aquatic resources.

Remember, obtaining the correct fishing license is not just a legal requirement; it’s also a way to support the preservation of Virginia’s natural treasures for future generations of anglers to enjoy. So, before you cast your line, make sure you have the appropriate license and familiarize yourself with the regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable fishing adventure.

For more information and updates, visit the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources website or consult with local fishing experts and enthusiasts.

Scroll to Top