Fishing can be a thrilling sport as much as it can be a lazy way to while away an afternoon. In Virginia’s Blue Ridge, we’re thankful our fishing opportunities serve both ends of the spectrum. From huge biters in our vast lakes to tricky trout in our cold streams, the water is fine. Come on in!

Be a #Trailsetter and check out some of the best experiences for fishing in Virginia’s Blue Ridge!

Before You Go: Obtain the necessary fishing license from the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries. Fishing license info >

Creek Fishing in the George Washington & Jefferson National Forest

Creek Fishing - Jefferson National Forest

Creek fishing, according to, is best accomplished with “light line, small hooks, and a stealthy presentation.” Walk the creek a bit before choosing your hole; some deeper spots may yield big surprises. Try your luck at the creeks within Jefferson National ForestNorth Creek, Jennings Creek, and Roaring Run Creek.

Stocked Trout Waters in Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Perhaps your best chances of tagging a trout are in our stocked waters. Use the DGIF Interactive Map as a resource to pinpoint the Designated Stocked Trout Waters of the Roanoke River, Glade Creek, Tinker Creek, Pigg River, and Smith River. You’ll also find the 2019 Catchable Trout Stocking Plan to be helpful in knowing the optimal time to go. There are special considerations for trout fishing, and the DGIF Trout Guide spells it out nicely.

Learn More: Stocked Trout Waters Map >

Fly Fishing in Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Fly Fishing - Roanoke River

Fly fishing is best accomplished in large streams or rivers where there’s room to successfully deploy a two-stroke cast. You’ll find space for that in and around Roanoke in places like Explore Park, Wasena Park, and Green Hill Park – all traversed by the Roanoke River. Keep an eye out for paddlers on this popular stretch of water.

The Orvis store in Downtown Roanoke even offers free fly fishing courses. Course info > 

Fishing on Regional Blueways

Speaking of the Roanoke River, it’s an area blueway, of which you’ll find several in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. The Upper James River Water Trail is 64 miles long and flows from the headwaters in Botetourt County to converge with the Maury River in Rockbridge County. The Roanoke River Blueway is 45 miles and gets its start at East Montgomery County Park, concluding at Smith Mountain Lake in Bedford County. You’ll also want to check out the Smith River Blueway, Pigg River Blueway, and Blackwater River Blueway.

Learn More: Blueways to Explore in Virginia’s Blue Ridge >

Guided Fishing Trips

Just like some of our trickiest mountain biking trails, fishing our rivers is often easiest with a guide who knows the hot spots. Secure a guided river trip with Down River Outfitters, Dead Drift Outfitters, or South Valley Anglers.

Overnight Fishing Trips

Camping - Explore Park - Roanoke River

To take your river fishing up a notch, make it an overnight jaunt on the James River with Twin River Outfitters. Get equipped with a kayak or canoe and then set off for time on the water and an overnight riverside stay.

For camping and fishing on more of your own schedule and whim, consider camping at a Virginia State Park or Explore Park right along the Roanoke River. For something more adventurous, head into Jefferson National Forest for primitive camping - just remember to set up your campsite at least 200 feet away from any stream or water source. 

Fishing at Smith Mountain Lake

Fishing - Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia

Charter and guided fishing trips are also available on Smith Mountain Lake, the second largest lake in Virginia. It’s a favorite for striped bass and catfish. 

If you’d rather lake fish on your own, consider renting a fishing boat at one of the Smith Mountain Lake marinas. Plentiful, you’ll have a range of vessels to choose from.

Learn More: Guide to Boat Rentals at Smith Mountain Lake >

Before You Go: Complete the Boating Safety Education Requirement >

Fishing at Philpott Lake

Further south, Philpott Lake is popular for Walleye. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries calls it “one of the better walleye populations in Virginia.” Experience a bit of solitude at Deer Island Campground, a by-boat island in Philpott Lake.

Download: Philpott Lake Blueway Brochure & Map >

Fishing at Carvins Cove

Carvins Cove - Roanoke, Virginia

Carvins Cove Natural Reserve is also a nice fishing spot. Cast from the shore, pier, or boat. You can bring your own boat (10 HP motor or less) or rent one of theirs. Because Carvins Cove is a reservoir for area drinking water, there are strict limits on activities and vessels allowed in the water. Be sure to read the Boating & Fishing Regulations.

Note - Carvins Cove features multiple entrances & parking areas, but if you're fishing, the best option is the Marina & Boat Launch area at 9644 Reservoir Road, Roanoke, VA 24019.

Learn More: Carvins Cove - Your Adventure Playground >

Kid-Friendly Fishing Spots – Lake Spring Park, Waid Recreation Park, Carvins Cove

When it’s time to take the kids fishing, we have a few favorite places that are easier for them. Lake Spring Park in Salem is popular for its ducks, but kids ages 12 & under can fish there as well. 

Aforementioned Carvins Cove is a great place to introduce your kids to fishing, and it’s easy on the eyes, too. Waid Recreation Park in Rocky Mount is a nice access point for bank fishing Pigg River, and casting a line along the Roanoke River Greenway is a fun way for kids to fish the Roanoke River.

Fishing Gear & Resources

If you’re looking for assistance with gear, try the Orvis Outlet Store in Northeast Roanoke on Route 460. To connect with local fishing groups and organizations, consult this list compiled by Roanoke Outside. You can also refer to the Fish Virginia First website for lots of helpful information.

A bad day fishing is better than a good day in the office, right? You know it. While you’re out casting and reeling, be sure to soak in the beauty. 

When you realize just how amazing your day is, snap a pic and share it with the world. Be sure to add #BlueRidgeDay and #Trailsetter so folks know you’re adventuring in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.