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Cary Wolfe of Bristow Striped Bass Record 1-20-12

RECREATIONAL FISHING REGULATIONS

FOR VIRGINIA'S MARINE WATERS

« ALL REGULATIONS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE MONTHLY «

It is the angler's responsibility to know and abide by all current regulations and laws.  Individuals must obtain a saltwater recreational fishing license which entitles them to use rod and reel (hook & line), spear or gig,  hand line, cast net, dip net or two eel pots; other rules may apply to these specific gears.  Click here for more on license requirements.

Regulation Cards are available at most tackle/bait shops.  Downloadable printable cards available: 
Regulation Cards 

Recently updated or added regulations

Note: click on the name of the fish to view more information on a particular fish. These links will take you to other web sites on the Internet.   Some pages require that you scroll through to the actual fish you wish to see.  Please be aware that the images provided do not constitute a legal description of the species, if you have a question about the identification of a fish contact the Fisheries Management Division or a Marine Patrol Officer.

Fish illustrations courtesy Duane Raver (may not be reproduced without permission). 

Amberjack

AMBERJACK

 [Regulation 4 VAC 20-510-10 et seq.]

Minimum Size Limit........................32 inches
Possession Limit.............................2 per person

 

American Eel

AMERICAN EEL  

[Regulation 4 VAC 20-500-10 et seq.]

Minimum Size Limit...........................9 inches
Possession Limit...............................25 per person

 

Black Drum

BLACK DRUM (DRUM, DRUMFISH) 

[Regulation 4 VAC 20-320-10 et seq.]

Minimum Size Limit............................16 inches
Possession Limit.................................1 per person

 

Black Sea Bass

BLACK SEA BASS  

 [Regulation 4 VAC 20-950-10 et seq.]

Minimum Size Limit................................12 1/2 inches
Possession Limit.....................................15 per person
Open season......May 19-September 21 and October 18-December 31

Blue Catfish BLUE CATFISH - [Click here for applicable DGIF regulations]

No minimum size or daily limit, except only one blue catfish per day per person longer than 32 inches. 

 

Bluefish

BLUEFISH 

[Regulation 4 VAC 20-450-10 et seq.]

Minimum Size Limit............................none
Possession Limit................................10 per person

Cobia

COBIA  

[Regulation 4 VAC 20-510-10 et seq.]

Minimum Size Limit........................37 inches
Possession Limit.............................1 per person

Grey Trout

GREY TROUT (WEAKFISH) 

[Regulation 4 VAC 20-380-10 et seq.]

Minimum Size Limit......................... 12 inches 
Possession Limit...............................1 per person 

 

Grouper

GROUPERS

[Regulation 4 VAC 20-1120-10 et seq.]  

Any private recreational fishing vessel, charter boat or head boat, must obtain a Tilefish and Grouper Landing Permit, for that vessel, from the Marine Resources Commission in order to possess aboard, or land any tilefish or grouper, harvested recreationally.  If the vessel is USCG or DGIF registered this no- cost permit can be obtained at a MRC Licensing Agent.

Minimum Size Limit......................... None
Possession Limit..............................1 per person

King Mackerel

KING MACKEREL  

[Regulation 4 VAC 20-540-10 et seq]

Minimum Size Limit............................27 inches
Possession Limit.................................3 per person

Red Drum

RED DRUM (CHANNEL BASS, REDFISH)

 [Regulation 4 VAC 20-280-10 et seq.]

Minimum Size Limit.......................18 inches
Maximum Size Limit.......................26 inches
Possession Limit............................3 per person

Scup (Porgy)

SCUP (PORGY) 

[Regulation 4 VAC 20-910-10 et seq.]

Minimum Size Limit......................8 inches
Possession Limit..........................30 per person

American Shad

AMERICAN SHAD  

 [Regulation 4 VAC 20-530-10 et seq.]

Illegal to possess American shad.

Click here to go to a MD web site showing differences between American shad and hickory shad (there currently are no restrictions on hickory shad fishing).

 

River Herrings

RIVER HERRINGS  

 [Regulation 4 VAC 20-1260-10 et seq.]

Illegal to possess river herrings (blueback herring and alewife herring)


Click here to go to a MD web site showing differences between shad and river herring.

 

Shark

SHARKS (All species except smooth and spiny dog sharks)*

[Regulation 4 VAC 20-490-10 et seq.]

Minimum Size Limit………………………………54 inches fork length **

Possession Limit………………………..…………………1 per vessel ***

A non-boat assisted shore angler is entitled to a vessel possession limit

Season Closed…………………………………………....May 15 - July 15

(Includes Blacktip, Bull, Great Hammerhead, Lemon, Nurse, Scalloped Hammerhead, Smooth Hammerhead, Spinner, and Tiger Shark)

Federal waters, beyond the Three Mile Limit governed by different regulations set by the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council.

*Recreationally Prohibited Species – It is illegal to take, catch or possess any shark from the “Recreationally Prohibited Species” list, as defined in
Regulation 4 VAC 20-490-10 et seq., including but not limited to the following species commonly encountered in Virginia: Atlantic Angel, Dusky, Sand Tiger, Sandbar, White, and Bigeye Thresher Sharks. No size or possession limits apply to Dog Sharks.

**All sharks (All species except Spiny Dog Sharks) must be landed with head and fins attached; hammerhead sharks must be 78 inches fork length (FL) or greater, no minimum size applies to Atlantic Sharpnose, Bonnethead, Blacknose, and Finetooth Sharks.

***Possession limit for Atlantic Sharpnose and Bonnethead Sharks is 1 per person.

SHARK IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION  (shark regulations vary by species, shark species can be difficult to differentiate, please visit this link to learn more on how to properly identify the species of sharks).

Sharks may only be taken by handline or rod and reel; Spearing and bowfishing illegal.

Sheepshead SHEEPSHEAD

[Regulation 4 VAC 20-1110-10 et seq.]

Possession Limit.............................…4 per person

 

Spadefish

SPADEFISH  

[Regulation 4 VAC 20-970-10 et seq.]

Possession Limit.............................…4 per person

Spanish Mackerel

SPANISH MACKEREL  

[Regulation 4 VAC 20-540-10 et seq.]

Minimum Size Limit........................14 inches
Possession Limit.............................15 per person

Speckled Trout

SPECKLED TROUT (SPOTTED SEATROUT) 

[Regulation 4 VAC 20-280-10 et seq.]


Season is closed March 1, 2014 through July 31, 2014
Minimum Size Limit.......................................................14 inches
Possession Limit ......................................................5 per person
Only one speckled trout of the 5-fish limit may be 24 inches or greater 

Striped Bass STRIPED BASS (ROCKFISH, STRIPED) 

[Regulation 4 VAC 20-252-10 et seq.]

Virginia Coastal Seasons ..................................................................January 1 through March 31  &
.......................................................................................................................…May 16 through December 31
........................................Minimum Size Limit............................................... 28 inches
........................................Possession Limit.................................................... 2 per person

Note that there is a coastal trophy season from May 1 to May 15; the regulations summarized below for Virginia Trophy Seasons apply to the coastal trophy season.


Coastal regulations apply in Virginia's Territorial Sea, plus all of the creeks, bays, inlets, and tributaries on the seaside of Accomack County, Northhampton County (including areas east of the causeway from Fisherman Island to the mainland) and the City of Virginia Beach (including federal areas and state parks fronting on the Atlantic Ocean and east and south of the point where the shoreward boundary of the Territorial Sea joins the mainland at Cape Henry).  Click here for map of coastal boundary near the CBBT.

Virginia Trophy Seasons:  Coastal Area (May 1-15); Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries (May 1 through June 15)

........................................Minimum Size Limit................................................32 inches
........................................Possession Limit.....................................................1 per person


Additional Trophy Season Regulations:  Catch Report Required;  no possession of 32" or greater striped bass in the Spawning Reaches  May 1 through June 15.  Trophy Season regulations apply in Virginia's Territorial Sea and the Chesapeake Bay and its Virginia tributary rivers, except for the tributary rivers emptying into the Potomac River (see note below for more information on Potomac River striper regulations).

Chesapeake Bay Spring Season .................................................May 16 through June 15
........................................Minimum Size Limit.............................................. 18 inches
........................................Maximum Size Limit * .......................................... 28 inches
........................................Possession Limit ...................................................2 per person

* 1 fish of the 2 fish possession limit may be larger than 32 inches ( catch report required  if striped bass 32" or greater is kept ); No possession of 32" or greater striped bass in the Spawning Reaches May 1 through June 15.

Chesapeake Bay Fall Season
.........................................................October 4 through December 31
........................................Minimum Size Limit..............................................................18 inches
........................................Maximum Size Limit * ......................................................... 28 inches

........................................Possession Limit - October 4 through December 31..................2 per person

* 1 fish of the 2 fish possession limit may be 28 inches or greater.

Chesapeake Bay regulations for both the Spring and Fall seasons described above apply in the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia's Chesapeake Bay tributary rivers, except for the tributary rivers emptying into the Potomac River (see note below for more information on Potomac River striper regulations).


Other Virginia restrictions: 
You may not combine possession limits when seasons overlap or you fish in multiple jurisdictions.  Gaffing striped bass or attempting to gaff striped bass is illegal in Virginia marine waters.  It shall be unlawful for any person fishing recreationally to take, catch, or attempt to take or catch any striped bass by any gear or method other than hook and line, rod and reel, hand line, or spearing. 

Federal water striped bass regulations:  Atlantic Ocean waters beyond the 3 mile limit are closed to the taking and possession of striped bass all year.

Potomac River striped bass regulations:  Different regulations apply in the Potomac River.  These areas are subject to the rules and regulations of the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, P.O. Box 9, Colonial Beach, VA 22443, (804) 224-7148; (800) 266-3904; http://www.prfc.us.  For further information on PRFC rules contact PRFC directly.

Sturgeon

STURGEON  [Code Section 28.2-303]

..............illegal to possess

Summer Flounder

SUMMER FLOUNDER

[Regulation 4 VAC 20-620-10 et seq.]

Minimum Size Limit............................16 inches

Possession Limit.................................4  per person

The above flounder restrictions apply to Virginia tidal waters, except that in Virginia's Potomac River tributaries the minimum size limit, closed season, and possession limit will be the same as established by PRFC for the mainstem Potomac River.

Tautog

TAUTOG  

[Regulation 4 VAC 20-960-10 et seq.]

Minimum Size Limit……………..…16 inches
Possession Limit.......................... 3 per person
Closed Season:  May 1 through Sept 19

Tile Fish TILEFISH

[Regulation 4 VAC 20-1120-10 et seq.]

Any private recreational fishing vessel, charter boat or head boat, must obtain a Tilefish and Grouper Landing Permit, for that vessel, from the Marine Resources Commission in order to possess aboard, or land any tilefish or grouper, harvested recreationally.  If the vessel is USCG or DGIF registered this no- cost permit can be obtained at a MRC Licensing Agent.

Possession Limit.............................…7 per person

 

Click on the following PDF link to get a printable, condensed version of the regulations summarized above: Size/Possession Limits Summary Sheet

Click here for a summary of recreational spearfishing size and possession limits

ADDITIONAL REGULATIONS:

Saltwater Recreational Fishing License Requirements......Individual license required in Chesapeake Bay, and its tributaries, and Virginia ocean waters unless fishing on licensed pier, licensed charter boat or licensed private boat; or specifically exempted.  Click on link to see specific information on licensing requirements, license fees, or license agents.  

Cast Net.................................License required to use cast net, except to catch small quantities of mullet, menhaden, or minnows.

Measurements.......................Size limits are total length measurements; fish must be measured tip of nose to tip of tail, except black sea bass, which are measured from tip of nose along the centerline of the body, to the center of the tail.

Altering fish while on board boat.......alteration of fish such that the fish can not be identified or properly measured may not be legal. Consult Regulation 4 VAC 20-580 for more information.

Snagging................................Illegal to snag, or attempt to snag, any fish.

No Sale....................................Sale or barter of recreationally caught fish is prohibited.


« ALL REGULATIONS are Subject to Change; Regulations affecting Virginia fishermen are established by the Commonwealth of Virginia, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and federal management agencies; these regulations are subject to review and change throughout the calendar year. For more information on the most current regulations, contact: Virginia Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Ave., Newport News, VA 23607 (757) 247-2200.   This web page will be updated with the most recent rule changes within a week of rule adoption.

Revised September 9,  2014

 

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