There’s a lot on the line this weekend in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. The hook has been baited and now we’re hoping to reel in some new fishing enthusiasts with Free Fishing Days throughout the commonwealth! 

All you’ll need this weekend to enjoy a great outdoor tradition is your rod, a reel and a whole lot of patience. June 3, 4, and 5, 2016 throughout Virginia is Free Fishing Days and no license of any kind is required to fish in freshwater or saltwater, except in some designated stocked trout waters. 

This weekend is the perfect time for a trip to Virginia’s Blue Ridge to enjoy some of the best river fishing holes and deep water lakes. Pack up the family, grab your tackle box and let’s get started!

Here are 6 of the best local spots to cast your line.

1. Smith Mountain Lake

Boat on Smith Mountain Lake

Of the many first-class fishing spots found in our region, Smith Mountain Lake stands out as one of the best opportunities for anglers to reel in a trophy-sized bass, worthy of your best fishing story. 

Boasting more than 500 miles of shoreline, Virginia’s second largest freshwater lake first became popular as a fishing destination due to the abundance and size of stripers, but many anglers now pursue the generous populations of largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappies and bluegills. 

Once you’ve had your fill of free fishing, head to the Smith Mountain Lake Visitors Center at Bridgewater Plaza. Inside, you’ll find a ton of resources for family fun and dining on the lake.

2. Big Pine Trout Farm

Big Pine Trout Farm

Located in the Western Highlands in scenic Craig County, Big Pine Trout Farm offers a fishing experience you’ll not soon forget. Guests enjoy the challenging fishing found along the swift moving Meadow Creek, a natural mountain stream running through the Big Pine Trout Farm property. Fly fishing enthusiasts often reel in wild and stocked trout along the seasonally stocked creek. 

Big Pine’s upscale lodging can accommodate groups of five to eight, making the entire experience a fantastic opportunity for a family getaway or corporate retreat.

3. Fishing at Carvins Cove


A photo posted by Kenton Steryous (@kenton_steryous) on

Most commonly known for the 45 miles of multi-use trails that extend through the nature reserve, Carvins Cove is also an incredibly accessible area to fish. 

Fishing the Cove is permitted from the shore and from row/jon boats. During Virginia’s Free Fishing Days, no fishing license is required, however the nominal $2 daily land use fee is still required. 

Carvins Cove is the second largest municipal park in the nation and offers anglers old and young, new or experienced, a great opportunity to get outside and cast a line!

4. Fairy Stone State Park

Located in Stuart, VA, Fairy Stone State Park’s 168-acre lake is an ideal waterway for family fishing. The state park has an abundance of pan fish, making this the perfect lake to teach a young child how to use a rod and reel. Parents, Fairy Stone has you covered as well with a healthy selection of largemouth bass. 

Free Fishing Days means the park's fishing waters are open to everyone, however, if you don’t make it out for Free Fishing Days, Virginia fishing licenses are sold in the park office. 

A fishing area is accessible to visitors with physical disabilities and a boat launch ramp is available for those who wish to get off the shore and onto the lake. Electric motors are allowed on the lake and rowboats, paddleboats, kayaks and canoes can be rented during the summer season.

5. Roanoke River Blueway

Fishing in Virginia's Blue Ridge

Made up of 45 miles of beautiful river scenery, the Roanoke River Blueway (or water trail) runs from the South Fork Roanoke River at East Montgomery County Park to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) Hardy Ford boating access at Hardy Road (634) at Smith Mountain Lake

The Blueway offers a great deal of fishing opportunities along the route, accessible by local parks, the Roanoke River GreenwayBlue Ridge Parkway, Explore Park and more. 

With miles of Roanoke River to explore, the Blueway is begging for you to take a comfortable float, find your secret fishing hole and reel in a trophy fish!

6. James River Fishing

James River

Rounding out our list of Virginia’s Blue Ridge fishing opportunities are the 45 miles of reel and rod opportunities along the James River in Botetourt County. Combing big catch opportunities with breathtaking scenery featuring the Alleghany and Blue Ridge Mountains, the Upper James River Water Trail is known for its smallmouth bass, as well as spotted and largemouth bass varieties. 

Of course, you never quite know what you’ll reel in from the James with its abundance of additional species, including channel catfish, flat head catfish, various sunfish and the rare and elusive Muskie.  

Overwhelmed by the opportunity? Take a guided fishing excursion with the professionals at Twin River Outfitters, which has a shop conveniently located along the river in the Town of Buchanan.

Fishing offers a rare opportunity to disconnect from the world, and reconnect with family and friends along the beautiful waterways in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

Free Fishing Days, June 3 – 5, provides the perfect excuse to dust off your tackle box or cast out a line for the first time. 

For more fishing opportunities throughout Virginia’s Blue Ridge, visit our Fishing section! Not going to make it this weekend? No worries. Virginia fishing licenses are always available online and finding an excuse for your next trip to Virginia’s Blue Ridge is as easy as subscribing to our e-newsletter!

Header photo via Sam Dean Photography in Botetourt County.