Free fishing in VA this weekend: No license required

By Matt Butner - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Fishing without a license can get you into trouble in Virginia-unless you're doing it this Friday through Sunday, June 4-6. It's a "free fishing weekend" statewide, and it applies to just about any body of water in the commonwealth.

Some people go fishing to catch fish. Not Olindo Webber, who took to the James River at Great Shiplock Park Friday morning.

"I could be out here all day and if I don't catch anything, I'm fine," said Webber. "Just the water, the peace out here- just waiting on the fish."

Officials with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries want everyone to find the joy in fishing this weekend. That's why they're waiving the license requirement Friday through Sunday.

"It allows people to get outside and reconnect with the actual natural environment," said Gary Martel, the department's head of fisheries.

The hope is that three days of unlicensed fishing will lead to more licensed fishing throughout the rest of the year. License fees make up a large part of Game and Inland Fisheries' budget- allowing the department to continue a wide range of conservation programs.

"The fisheries management that's done, the fished that are stocked, the law enforcement that's critical to enforcing the regulations and laws, all of the environmental work that we come in on," said Martel, listing some of those programs.

Not to mention, it's illegal to fish without a license.

"(It's) no different than any other type of enforcement ticket, be it a traffic violation or whatever," Martel said.

Olindo Webber says he won't get caught without his license- but he was pleasantly surprised to find out that he doesn't need it this weekend.

"Me and my buddies may go ahead and take us a trip right quick," said Webber.

The free fishing weekend covers all waterways in Virginia, both fresh and salt. The only exceptions are designated trout streams, found mostly in the western part of the state.

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