I just moved to Virginia (Fairfax County) a few months ago. I've done some hiking around the area, mostly by the Potomac. With Spring starting I want to get in to some fishing. Can anyone give me some information on the fishing rules around here. I know I have to get a license, but is fishing permitted anywhere on the Potomac? Are the different rules for state vs. county water, or between lakes and rivers?

Also what are some good fishing spots in Fairfax County?

  • welcome to the site! I just need to narrow things down a little more. Are you wanting to get on a boat and head out into the Potomac or other lakes or do you want to fish from the shore/dock?
    – Justin C
    Commented May 22, 2013 at 15:46
  • I would be fishing off shore, and I would probably stick to freshwater.
    – Dan
    Commented May 22, 2013 at 16:45

2 Answers 2


As for the Potomac, it can be complicated because you have a large freshwater river with tributaries in multiple states that opens to the ocean. If you plan to saltwater fish you can find license information here.

If you are staying in the fresh water portions you can find the license you need here. Depending on where you are along the Potomac things can be a little different.

As for other water sources in the Fairfax area the key is who owns the land. If it's a private lake you need to speak to whoever owns the lake. If you are on a public lake or river a typical VA fishing license will cover you.

As for "best places" I would focus on the various tributaries of the Potomac on the VA side, just pick one close to where you are or can get and you're set.


I can relate to the desire to fish close to home. I rarely travel more than 30 minutes to fish. However I think you would be missing out on a lifetime experience if you didn't spend some time fishing the small brook-trout streams out in Rappahannock, Madison and Greene Counties. I'm talking about the Rapidan, Rose, and Conway rivers for starters.

The fishing is only "good" if you like challenging fly fishing. However even when the fishing is mediocre, the experience is incredible. Follow these streams into deep chasms cut off from most man-made noise and you'll encounter picturesque scenes you'll ache to take home with you.. Much of the time you'll have the place to yourself, and the audio - between the water rushing through rocks and the birds and the wind in the trees - is the stuff of movie sound tracks.

And should you be luck enough to catch an 8" or 9" brook trout, you'll feel as though you held a pile of jewels in your cupped hands.

As you can tell, I'm quite moved by the time I spent up there and wish I could get back.

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