REGULATIONS
Vol. 37 Iss. 7 - November 23, 2020

TITLE 4. CONSERVATION AND NATURAL RESOURCES
DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE RESOURCES
Chapter 320
Final Regulation

REGISTRAR'S NOTICE: The Department of Wildlife Resources is claiming an exemption from the Administrative Process Act pursuant to § 2.2-4002 A 3 of the Code of Virginia when promulgating regulations regarding the management of wildlife.

Title of Regulation: 4VAC15-320. Fish: Fishing Generally (amending 4VAC15-320-25, 4VAC15-320-60, 4VAC15-320-100).

Statutory Authority: §§ 29.1-103, 29.1-501, and 29.1-502 of the Code of Virginia.

Effective Date: January 1, 2021.

Agency Contact: Aaron Proctor, Regulations Coordinator, Department of Wildlife Resources, 7870 Villa Park Drive, Suite 400, Henrico, VA 23228, telephone (804) 367-8341 or email aaron.proctor@dwr.virginia.gov.

Summary:

The amendments (i) adjust creel and length limits for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, Alabama bass, white bass, saugeye, yellow perch, and blue catfish; (ii) prohibit the stocking of spotted bass in private waters; (iii) remove the prohibition of mechanical paddle wheel boats on department-owned or department-controlled waters; and (iv) require a boat ramp special use permit and immediate live release of fish taken at the capture site following certification during a fishing tournament.

4VAC15-320-25. Creel and length limits.

The creel limits (including live possession) and the length limits for the various species of fish shall be as follows, unless otherwise excepted by posted rules at department-owned or department-controlled waters (see 4VAC15-320-100 D).

Type of fish

Subtype or location

Creel and length limits

Geographic exceptions

Creel or length limits for exceptions

largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass

5 per day in the aggregate (combined)

No statewide length limits

Lakes

Briery Creek Lake

No largemouth or smallmouth bass 16 to 24 inches; only 1 largemouth or smallmouth bass per day in the aggregate longer than 24 inches

Buggs Island (Kerr)

Only 2 of 5 largemouth or smallmouth bass in the aggregate less than 14 inches

Claytor Lake

No smallmouth bass less than 14 inches; 15 spotted bass per day

Flannagan Reservoir

No smallmouth bass less than 15 inches

No largemouth bass less than 12 inches

Lake Gaston

Only 2 of 5 largemouth or smallmouth bass in the aggregate less than 14 inches

Leesville Reservoir

Only 2 of 5 largemouth or smallmouth bass in the aggregate less than 14 inches

Lake Moomaw

No largemouth or smallmouth bass less than 12 inches

Philpott Reservoir

No largemouth or smallmouth bass less than 12 inches

Quantico Marine Base waters

No largemouth or smallmouth bass 12 to 15 inches

Smith Mountain Lake and its tributaries below Niagara Dam

Only 2 of 5 largemouth or smallmouth bass in the aggregate less than 14 inches

Rivers

Clinch River – within the boundaries of Scott, Wise, Russell, or Tazewell Counties

No largemouth or smallmouth bass less than 20 inches; only 1 largemouth or smallmouth bass in the aggregate per day longer than 20 inches

Levisa Fork River – within the boundaries Buchanan County

No largemouth or smallmouth bass less than 20 inches; only 1 largemouth or smallmouth bass in the aggregate per day longer than 20 inches

Dan River and tributaries downstream from the Union Street Dam, Danville

Only 2 of 5 largemouth or smallmouth bass less than 14 inches

James River – Confluence of the Jackson and Cowpasture rivers (Botetourt County) downstream to the 14th Street Bridge in Richmond

No largemouth or smallmouth bass 14 to 22 inches; only 1 largemouth or smallmouth bass in the aggregate per day longer than 22 inches

New River – Fields Dam (Grayson County) downstream to the VA - WV state line and its tributaries Little River downstream from Little River Dam in Montgomery County, Big Walker Creek from the Norfolk Southern Railroad Bridge downstream to the New River, and Wolf Creek from the Narrows Dam downstream to the New River in Giles County (This does not include Claytor Lake, which is delineated as: The upper end of the island at Allisonia downstream to the dam)

No largemouth or smallmouth bass 14 to 22 inches; only 1 largemouth or smallmouth bass in the aggregate per day longer than 22 inches

North Fork Holston River - Rt. 91 bridge upstream of Saltville, VA downstream to the VA - TN state line

No largemouth or smallmouth bass less than 20 inches; only 1 largemouth or smallmouth bass in the aggregate per day longer than 20 inches

North Fork Shenandoah River – Rt. 42 bridge, Rockingham County downstream to the confluence with S. Fork Shenandoah at Front Royal

No bass 11 to 14 inches

Potomac River - Virginia tidal tributaries above Rt. 301 bridge

No largemouth or smallmouth bass less than 15 inches from March 1 through June 15

Roanoke (Staunton) River - and its tributaries below Difficult Creek, Charlotte County

Only 2 of 5 largemouth or smallmouth bass in the aggregate less than 14 inches

Shenandoah River –

Confluence of South Fork and North Fork Rivers, Front Royal, downstream, to the Warren Dam, near Front Royal

No bass 11 to 14 inches

Base of Warren Dam, near Front Royal downstream to Rt. 17/50 bridge

No bass 14 to 20 inches; only 1 per day longer than 20 inches

Rt. 17/50 bridge downstream to VA - WV state line

No bass 11 to 14 inches

South Fork Shenandoah River -

Shenandoah River, South Fork Shenandoah River, North Fork Shenandoah River Confluence of North and South rivers, below Port Republic, downstream to Shenandoah Dam, near Town of Shenandoah

No largemouth or smallmouth bass 11 to 14 inches

Base of Shenandoah Dam, near Town of Shenandoah, downstream to Luray Dam, near Luray

No bass 14 to 20 inches; only 1 per day longer than 20 inches

Base of Luray Dam, near Luray, downstream to the confluence with North Fork of Shenandoah, Front Royal

No bass 11 to 14 inches

Staunton River -

Leesville Dam (Campbell County) downstream to the mouth of Difficult Creek, Charlotte County

No largemouth or smallmouth bass less than 20 inches; only 1 largemouth or smallmouth bass in the aggregate per day longer than 20 inches

Alabama bass, spotted bass

No statewide daily limit

No statewide length limit

striped bass

landlocked striped bass and landlocked striped bass - white bass hybrids

4 per day in the aggregate

No fish less than 20 inches

Buggs Island (Kerr) Reservoir, including the Staunton River to Leesville Dam and the Dan River to Union Street Dam (Danville)

October 1 - May 31: 2 per day in the aggregate; no striped bass or hybrid striped bass less than 20 inches

June 1 - September 30: 4 per day in the aggregate; no length limit

Claytor Lake and its tributaries

September 16 – June 30: 2 per day in the aggregate; no striped bass or hybrid bass less than 20 inches

July 1 – September 15: 4 per day in the aggregate;
no length limit

Smith Mountain Lake and its tributaries, including the Roanoke River upstream to Niagara Dam

2 per day in the aggregate

November 1 - May 31: No striped bass 30 to 40 inches

June 1 - October 31: No length limit

Lake Gaston

4 per day in the aggregate

October 1 - May 31: No striped bass or hybrid striped bass less than 20 inches

June 1 - September 30: No length limit

anadromous (coastal) striped bass above the fall line in all coastal rivers of the Chesapeake Bay

Creel and length limits shall be set by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission for recreational fishing in tidal waters

anadromous (coastal) in the Meherrin, Nottoway, Blackwater (Chowan Drainage), North Landing and Northwest Rivers and their tributaries plus Back Bay

2 per day

No striped bass less than 18 inches

white bass

5 per day

No statewide length limits

Buggs Island (Kerr) Reservoir, including the Staunton River to Leesville Dam and the Dan River to Union Street Dam (Danville)

10 per day; no white bass less than 14 inches

Lake Gaston

10 per day; no white bass less than 14 inches

walleye, saugeye

5 per day in the aggregate

No walleye or saugeye less than 18 inches

New River upstream of Buck Dam in Carroll County

No walleye less than 20 inches

Claytor Lake and the New River upstream of Claytor Lake Dam to Buck Dam in Carroll County

February 1 - May 31: 2 walleye per day; no walleye 19 to 28 inches

June 1 - January 31: 5 walleye per day; no walleye less than 20 inches

sauger

2 per day

No statewide length limits

yellow perch

No statewide daily limit

No statewide length limits

Lake Moomaw

10 per day

Below the fall line in all coastal rivers of the Chesapeake Bay

No yellow perch less than 9 inches; no daily limit

chain pickerel

5 per day

No statewide length limits

Gaston and Buggs Island (Kerr) Reservoirs

No daily limit

northern pike

2 per day

No pike less than 20 inches

muskellunge

2 per day

No muskellunge less than 30 inches

New River - Fields Dam (Grayson County) downstream to Claytor Dam, including Claytor Lake

1 per day; no muskellunge less than 42 inches

New River - Claytor Dam downstream to the VA - WV state line

1 per day

June 1 - last day of February: No muskellunge 40 to 48 inches

March 1 - May 31: No muskellunge less than 48 inches

bluegill (bream) and other sunfish excluding crappie, rock bass (redeye) and Roanoke bass

50 per day in the aggregate

No statewide length limits

Gaston and Buggs Island (Kerr) Reservoirs and that portion of the New River from the VA - NC state line downstream to the confluence of the New and Little Rivers in Grayson County

No daily limit

crappie (black or white)

25 per day in the aggregate

No statewide length limits

Lake Gaston and that portion of the New River from the VA - NC state line downstream to the confluence of the New and Little Rivers in Grayson County

No daily limit

Buggs Island (Kerr) Reservoir

No crappie less than 9 inches

Briery Creek and Sandy River Reservoirs

No crappie less than 9 inches

Flannagan and South Holston Reservoirs

No crappie less than 10 inches

rock bass (redeye)

25 per day; in the aggregate with Roanoke bass

No statewide length limits

Gaston and Buggs Island (Kerr) Reservoirs and that portion of the New River from the VA - NC state line downstream to the confluence of the New and Little Rivers in Grayson County

No daily limit

Nottoway, Meherrin, Blackwater (Franklin County), Falling, and Smith Rivers and their tributaries

5 per day in the aggregate with Roanoke bass;

no rock bass less than 8 inches

Roanoke bass

25 per day in the aggregate with rock bass

No statewide length limits

Nottoway, Meherrin, Blackwater (Franklin County), Falling, and Smith Rivers and their tributaries

5 per day in the aggregate with rock bass;

no Roanoke bass less than 8 inches

trout

See 4VAC15-330. Fish: Trout Fishing.

catfish

channel, white, and flathead catfish

20 per day;

No length limits

All rivers below the fall line

No daily limit

blue catfish

20 per day;

No statewide length limits

Lake Gaston

No daily limit, except only 1 blue catfish per day longer than 32 inches

Kerr Reservoir

20 per day, except only 1 blue catfish per day longer than 32 inches

James River and its tributaries below the fall line, Rappahannock River and its tributaries below the fall line, and York River and its tributaries (including the Pamunkey River and Mattaponi River) below the fall line

No daily limit, except only 1 blue catfish per day longer than 32 inches

All rivers below the fall line other than the James River and its tributaries, Rappahannock River and its tributaries, and the York River and its tributaries

No daily limit

yellow, brown, and black bullheads

No daily limit;
No length limits

hickory shad

Above and below the fall line in all coastal rivers of the Chesapeake Bay

Creel and length limits shall be the same as those set by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission in tidal rivers

Meherrin River below Emporia Dam Nottoway River, Blackwater River (Chowan Drainage), North Landing and Northwest Rivers, and their tributaries plus Back Bay

10 per day

No length limits

American shad

No possession

anadromous (coastal) alewife and blueback herring

Above and below the fall line in all coastal rivers of the Chesapeake Bay

Creel and length limits shall be the same as those set by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission for these species in tidal rivers

Meherrin River, Nottoway River, Blackwater River (Chowan Drainage), North Landing and Northwest Rivers, and their tributaries plus Back Bay

No possession

red drum

Back Bay and tributaries including Lake Tecumseh and the North Landing River and its tributaries

1 per day

No drum less than 18 inches or greater than 27 inches

spotted sea trout (speckled trout)

Back Bay and tributaries including Lake Tecumseh and the North Landing River and its tributaries

4 per day

No sea trout less than 14 inches

grey trout (weakfish)

Back Bay and tributaries including Lake Tecumseh and North Landing River and its tributaries

1 per day

No grey trout less than 12 inches

southern flounder

Back Bay and tributaries including Lake Tecumseh and the North Landing River and its tributaries

6 per day

No flounder less than 15 inches

northern snakehead

Anglers may possess snakeheads taken from Virginia waters if they immediately kill the fish and notify the headquarters or a regional office of the department; notification may be made by telephoning (804) 367-2925

No statewide daily limit

No statewide length limits

longnose gar

5 per day

No statewide length limits

bowfin

5 per day

No statewide length limits

American eel

25 per day

No eel less than 9 inches

Back Bay and North Landing River

No possession limit for those individuals possessing a permit obtained under 4VAC15-340-80

other native or naturalized nongame fish

See 4VAC15-360-10. Fish: Aquatic Invertebrates, Amphibians, Reptiles, and Nongame Fish. Taking aquatic invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, and nongame fish for private use.

endangered or threatened fish

See 4VAC15-20-130. Definitions and Miscellaneous: In General. Endangered and threatened species; adoption of federal list; additional species enumerated.

nonnative (exotic) fish

See 4VAC15-30-40. Definitions and Miscellaneous: Importation, Possession, Sale, Etc., of Animals. Importation requirements, possession and sale of nonnative (exotic) animals.

4VAC15-320-60. Approval required to stock fish into inland waters.

It shall be unlawful to stock any species of fish into any inland waters of the Commonwealth, without first obtaining written approval to do so from the department. Nothing in this section shall be construed as restricting the use of native and naturalized species of fish in privately-owned ponds and lakes, except spotted bass, blue catfish, and their hybrids may not be stocked.

4VAC15-320-100. Department-owned or department-controlled lakes, ponds, streams, boat access sites, or hatcheries.

A. Motors and boats. Unless otherwise posted at each recognized entrance to any department-owned or department-controlled lake, pond, or stream, the use of boats propelled by a gasoline motors, motor or sail or mechanically operated recreational paddle wheel is prohibited. Department employees and other government agency officials may use gasoline motors in the performance of official duties.

B. Method of fishing. Taking any fish at any department-owned or department-controlled lake, pond, or stream by any means other than by use of one or more attended poles with hook and line attached is prohibited unless otherwise posted in which case cast nets (subject to 4VAC15-360-10 B) may be used for collecting nongame fish for use as bait.

C. Hours for fishing. Fishing is permitted 24 hours a day unless otherwise posted at each recognized entrance to any department-owned or department-controlled lake, pond, stream, or boat access site.

D. Seasons; hours and methods of fishing; size and creel limits; hunting and trapping. The open seasons for (i) fishing, as well as fishing hours, methods of taking fish, and the size, possession, and creel limits, and (ii) hunting and trapping for department-owned or department-controlled lakes, ponds, streams or boat access sites shall conform to the regulations of the board unless otherwise excepted by posted rules by the director or his designee. Such posted rules shall be displayed at each lake, pond, stream, or boat access site, in which case the posted rules shall be in effect. Failure to comply with posted rules concerning seasons, hours, methods of taking, bag limits, and size, possession, and creel limits shall constitute a violation of this regulation.

E. Other uses. Camping overnight or building fires (except in developed and designated areas), swimming, or wading in department-owned or department-controlled lakes, ponds, or streams (except by anglers, hunters and trappers actively engaged in fishing, hunting, or trapping), is prohibited. All other uses shall conform to the regulations of the board unless excepted by posted rules.

F. Fishing tournaments, etc. It shall be unlawful A boat ramp special use permit is required to organize, conduct, supervise, or solicit entries for fishing tournaments, rodeos, or other fishing events on lakes, ponds, or streams owned by the department, for which prizes are offered, awarded, or accepted based on size or numbers of fish caught, either in money or other valuable considerations. This chapter will not prohibit events approved by the department that are intended to promote youth fishing or provide instruction, provided no prizes, as defined above, are awarded and no participation fees are charged. Any fish captured and entered for scoring or consideration during a permitted fishing tournament, rodeo, or other fishing event on lakes, ponds, or streams owned by the department must be immediately released at the capture site. A boat ramp special use permit is not required for tournaments, rodeos, or other fishing events that occur on a statewide or nationwide basis and that do not have a designated meeting or gathering location.

VA.R. Doc. No. R21-5909; Filed October 28, 2020