Updated: September 2021
If the trout aren’t biting, we’ll give you an out. Fishing is all about location, location, location. Here are the spots in NoVA where, whether through calm waters or a well-stocked supply (it’s only kind of cheating!) you might have better luck.
This 350-acre reservoir is operated by the Loudoun Water Authority. It’s stocked with fish that visitors ages 16 and up are free to try to catch. 42400 Mt. Hope Rd., Ashburn
The park’s 218-acre lake is stocked regularly with walleye, muskellunge, and channel catfish, and is especially popular for its rich supply of largemouth bass. A 5.25-mile trail of fishing shoreline surrounds the lake, and four fishing bulkheads are also available. 7315 Ox Rd., Fairfax Station
Fountainhead Regional Park’s 250-foot pier and 100-foot floating dock offer plenty of space for casting, and the 2,000-acre park also lies within the no-wake zone of the Occoquan Reservoir, which keeps the waters particularly calm and fisher-friendly. 10875 Hampton Rd., Fairfax Station
The lake at Franklin Park, at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a kid-friendly spot for catch-and-release fishing. Friday Fishing classes are a popular feature at this park. 17501 Franklin Park Dr., Purcellville
A 77-acre lake constructed in 1953 as public fishing grounds, Lake Brittle supports a substantial warm-water fish community and is stocked annually with walleye. The park is open 24 hours a day, and rental boats and fishing supplies are available on site. Warrenton
The 91-acre Lake Curtis lies at the edge of Curtis Memorial Park. Bass and bluegill are abundant in Lake Curtis, and they can be fished from the lake’s extensive coastline and several bulkhead piers. Hartwood
Inside the 476-acre park lies its 18-acre namesake, which is especially popular for its healthy stock of catfish and crappie. Fishing Fun, a course for kids on basic fishing techniques, is also offered on Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. 1400 Lake Fairfax Dr., Reston
Just south of Fort Belvoir, this park on the Mason Neck Peninsula features a large number of species making their way through Pohick Bay from the Potomac River. Visitors are allowed to fish from the shore and docks. 6501 Pohick Bay Dr., Lorton
The relatively calm and rocky waters of Riverbend Park provide attractive terrain for many types of gamefish, including smallmouth bass, sunfish, and channel catfish. Riverbend Park promotes fishing culture very heavily and even provides fishing-themed birthday parties and guided workshops for guests. 8700 Potomac Hills St., Great Falls
Little Bull Run Stream runs into this 23-acre lake, carrying largemouth bass and bluegill in with it. Bank fishing is allowed throughout the lake. // Haymarket
Fishing Rules in Northern Virginia
Ten legal tips for NoVA’s freshwater fishers to keep in mind. A full list is available at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.
• Fishing anywhere in Virginia requires a license, which is valid for one year after purchase.
• Access to these parks is generally free for in-jurisdiction visitors. Visitors from other counties may have to pay a fee.
• Some fish (including any species of herring) are illegal to catch in Virginia.
• Most gamefish can be legally caught throughout the year, but there are some exceptions—trout are only allowed to be fished at certain points of the year, for instance. Additionally, pay attention to what species are non-game fish and thus illegal to catch.
• Daily limits on how many fish anglers are allowed to possess at once are strictly enforced.
• Take care while releasing fish back into the water. Do so promptly, and be careful to keep your fingers out of the fish’s eyes and gills.
• No scuba-diving equipment allowed while fishing.
• Endangered and threatened species must be left unharmed.
• You must have permission to tag fish for personal information.
• Additional restrictions are applied in department-run bodies of water. For example, it is forbidden to use a motorboat or to remove fish from the water by any means other than traditional fishing poles.