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Recreational Fishing Regulations

June 1, 2016: At its May meeting, the Commission voted to extend the recreational cobia fishing season in Virginia waters to August 30, 2016, with a one fish per person limit and a two fish daily vessel limit only when two fishermen or more are aboard any vessel, for all recreational fishing vessels including for-hire (charter and head boats). The minimum size was increased to 40" total length with only one of the two fish vessel limit allowed to exceed 50" total length. There will also be a prohibition on gaffing. The Commission voted for a mandatory reporting system in 2017 for recreational and charter boat cobia catch (harvested and released fish). The Commission also agreed to a start a pilot, voluntary program for cobia permitting and reporting in 2016 for both recreational and for-hire cobia fishermen, which is now available. Cobia anglers are encouraged to participate, as more specific information about cobia fishing in Virginia has the potential to be used in the regional fishery management processes that are directing cobia management along the East Coast. Visit the following web links to learn more about the new no-cost cobia permits, harvest reporting, and harvest regulations. [New Online No-Cost Cobia Permits | Recreational Cobia Harvest Reporting using the SWJ | SWJ Mobile | For-Hire Cobia Harvest Reporting using CBOR | General Saltwater Fishing Regulations (scroll down for cobia info) | Cobia Regulation 4 VAC 20-510 | Paper Reporting Forms | Cobia Harvest Reporting FAQ]

March 28, 2016:
The Virginia trophy striped bass season starts in May; the permit for this fishery can now be obtained for 2016. In 2015, participants in the striper trophy fishery were for the first time required to obtain an annual, no-cost permit. This new permit was made available via a new online process. The new permitting process is very simple, and resulted in over 2,000 trophy permits being issued in 2015. Many of the anglers that obtained a permit in 2015, did so because it was easy and they thought there was a chance they may get a chance to fish. One of the purposes of the new permitting process is to gauge participation in the trophy fishery, so Commission staff would like to request that fishermen obtaining the 2016 permit have definite plans to fish for trophy striped bass, keeping in mind that in the Virginia Bay waters open for trophy striped bass, the fishery is very much an incidental fishery with low numbers of trophy fish available and caught. 2016 permittees, as in 2015, are also required to report if they fished or not, and for any fishing days, report their harvest or lack of harvest. The reporting process is done though the Commission's Saltwater Journal (SWJ) recreational fishing web site which requires anglers to have a SWJ login (past SWJ users can use the forgot password/retrieve username link on the main SWJ web site login page to re-establish their login to the SWJ). New in 2016 will be a SWJ mobile feature that will allow permittees to comply with harvest reporting requirements. Anglers that decide to apply for and get a 2016 trophy permit should use the web links below to obtain a permit, and review fishing regulations for the trophy striper fishery, as well as the reporting requirements for permittees. Failure to report in 2016 may prevent issuance of a permit in the 2017 trophy season, so please only obtain a 2016 permit if you intend to fish - keeping in mind too that the online permitting process just takes a few minutes, particularly if the angler was permitted in 2015 and remembers their unique VMRC ID that is printed on your 2015 permit.

[MRC Online No-Cost Permit Process | VMRC License Agent Locations | General Saltwater Fishing Regulations (scroll down for striper info) | Striper Regulation Summary Card | Trophy Striped Bass Harvest Reporting FAQ | Main SWJ Web Site | Forgot SWJ Password or Retrieve User Name | SWJ Mobile | Paper Reporting Form]

August 7, 2015:  The tilefish/grouper recreational landing permit required for all vessels to land tilefish and grouper in Virginia has been available for several years at MRC license agents and can continue to be obtained at our license agents. As of Spring 2015, the permit can also obtained by the angler directly via a new online process; once the appropriate information is provided the no-cost permit is issued immediately via email. Note that Tilefish and Grouper Landing Permittees are required to submit a monthly harvest report to the Commission no later than the fifth day of the following month of harvest or fishing; web links to the paper reporting form and the Saltwater Journal online harvest reporting system follow. Note too that there is a one fish possession limit for grouper and a 7 fish possession limit for tilefish; use our saltwater fishing rules page to check on current recreational fishing rules, citation sizes and state records. [Online No-Cost Permit Process | VMRC License Agent Locations | Add Un-Registered Vessel Form | Paper Harvest Reporting Form | SWJ Online Reporting System | Saltwater Fishing Rules | Tilefish-Grouper Regulation]

Saltwater Recreational Hook & Line Fishing Regulations

Recreational Crabbing and Non-Hook and Line Fishing Regulations

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).

Recreational Fishing License

Recreational Saltwater Fishing License Requirements

Get your Saltwater Fishing License Online!

Recreational Saltwater Fishing Licensing Agents

Saltwater License Development Fund Website with Recreational Fishing Information

Other Forms and Regulations

Trophy Striped Bass Online Harvest Report Form

Charter Boat, Commercial Fish Pier or Rental Boat Business in Virginia Tidal Waters

Gill Net Regulations

Spear fishing Restrictions

Fishing Information

Virginia Recreational Assessment Program

VA Saltwater Journal

Saltwater Gamefish Records

Registering for a Trophy Fish Citation

Commission Newsletters

Saltwater Anglers Guide

Artificial Reef Locations

Handling and Releasing Fish

What You Should Do When You Catch a Tagged Fish

Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program

Boat ramps funded by recreational saltwater license funds

Boat ramps funded and managed by the Department of Game & Inland Fisheries

Public Access Fishing Sites



VA Stranding Team Hotline
(757) 385-7575 [Website | What to do about a stranded marine animal?]

Harmful Algal Bloom Hotline
(888) 238-6154 [Website | Map | Virginia Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force ]

Boating Safety

US Coast Guard Boating Safety


Seafood Recipes

National Fisheries Institute

Other Recreational Info

Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournment

Saltwater Recreational Finfish Landings Statistics from NMFS

Tuna Permit and Fishing Information

Virginia Charter Boat Association

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