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Virginia Fishing Regulations
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Virginia Fishing Regulations

Va Legal Limits and Minimum Sizes

Virginia amberjack

AMBERJACK

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

American eel

AMERICAN EEL  

Minimum Size Limit...........................6 inches
Possession Limit...............................50 per person

BLACK DRUM (DRUM, DRUMFISH)

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

BLACK SEA BASS - (SEA BASS)

Minimum Size Limit.............................12 inches
Possession Limit.................................25 per person

BLUEFISH 

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

COBIA

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

GREY TROUT (WEAKFISH)

Minimum Size Limit......................... 12 inches
Possession Limit...............................7 per person 

KING MACKEREL

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

RED DRUM (CHANNEL BASS, REDFISH)

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

SCUP - (PORGY)

Minimum Size Limit......................8 inches
Possession Limit..........................50 per person

AMERICAN SHAD

Illegal to possess American shad caught from the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries

SHARKS (All species except smooth and spiny dogfish)

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

SPADEFISH

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

SPANISH MACKEREL

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

SPECKLED TROUT (SPOTTED SEATROUT) Minimum Size Limit........................14 inches
Possession Limit.............................10 per person

STRIPED BASS - (ROCKFISH, STRIPER)

STRIPER UPDATE

July 24, 2012: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has lowered the recreational striped bass possession limit for this fall.  The simplified regulation removes the no-take slot limit of 28-34 inches that has been in place since 2005.  So, when the fall season opens Oct. 4 recreational anglers will be allowed to keep two stripers per day with a minimum size of 18 inches and a maximum size of 28 inches, although one of those two fish may be greater than 28 inches.  This loosening and simplification of the striped bass is possible because anglers have been under their catch quota for the past few years.

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..................................................... 2 per person

* 1 fish of the 2 fish possession limit may be 34 inches or larger; no fish may be kept between 28 and 34 inches.


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.

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 and its tributaries, including its Virginia tributaries. 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.state.va.us. For further information on PRFC rules contact PRFC directly.

STURGEON [Code Section 28.2-303]

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

SUMMER FLOUNDER


Minimum Size Limit............................16.5 inches

Possession Limit.................................6 per person

No closed  season after February 28, 2005

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

Minimum Size Limit……………..…14 inches
Possession Limit..............................7 per person

Click on the following PDF links to get a printable, condensed version of the regulations summarized above:
General Size/Possession Limits Card  / Striped Bass Regulations Card  

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, 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. Effective July 1, 2002 a license is required in Virginia ocean waters (click on the license requirements link above to learn more).

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.




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