The James River in Virginia offers some of the best fishing in the Chesapeake Bay region. The river is also popular for kayaking, sailing, cruising, skiing, and other watersports.

Upper James River

Located in Botetourt County, the Upper James River Water Trail provides resources for kayaks, canoes, and other small craft. Access sites along the trail are maintained by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and a number of other organizations.

The upper James River sustains populations of black bass (smallmouth, spotted and largemouth), rock bass, redbreast sunfish, bluegill, channel catfish, flathead catfish, and others.

Smallmouth bass fishing is popular, with anglers finding productive stretches of water along much of the non-tidal river. Fishing for musky is also popular in the James River with the best action usually occurring above Lynchburg.

Tidal James River

The tidal James River and its tributaries support a strong largemouth bass fishery. The river has been the location of several top level bass tournaments. The tidal James River also produces some of best fishing for blue catfish on the East Coast. In the James River, blue catfish feed according to tidal flows, sometimes changing locations when currents reverse direction.

After decades of restoration efforts, the James River once again supports populations of American shad, a species that was once incredibly abundant. Anglers fishing the tidal James River also catch striped bass, white perch, channel catfish, and other fish species.

Related Information

James River Bridge Fishing Pier

Virginia Freshwater Fishing