The Shenandoah Valley is known as one of the top destinations for anglers. Between the warm waters of the Shenandoah River and the cold waterways in and around the Shenandoah National Park, a wide variety of fish call the area home. Whether you’re looking for some excitement or a “reel” challenge, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know before you go fishing in the Shenandoah Valley.
When you’re ready to start planning the rest of your adventure in Virginia, access our Natural Bridge Vacation Guide! This free resource has everything you need to plan an unforgettable trip to the mountains from the best restaurants to nearby attractions.
The Ultimate Adventure Guide to Fishing in the Shenandoah Valley
What Kind of Fish Can I Catch?
Because the Shenandoah Valley is home to both warm and cold waters, there are countless fish species in the region’s waterways. The Shenandoah River is divided into the South Fork and the North Fork. Deep and still, the South Fork offers one of the best smallmouth bass rivers. The fish put up quite a fight making that section of the river a favorite for people who love to fly fish. The North Fork and the South Fork of the Shenandoah start in Rockingham County, flow north, and combine at Front Royal. This area is known for its largemouth bass, sunfish, and crappie. North of Front Royal, you’ll find the main stem of the Shenandoah River where you’ll find channel catfish and muskellunge.
Trade-in the river fishing for the cold water streams within the Shenandoah National Park. Brook trout, the state fish of Virginia, call the hundreds of miles of waterways in the region home. Because the water is clear, the trout see you coming. This makes for a challenge of outsmarting the fish. Anglers love the opportunity really test their skills.
Where Are the Best Spots to Fish?
There are several access points along the Shenandoah River. If you’re fishing the South Fork, we recommend taking a canoe or kayak. You can rent one from Shenandoah River Adventures. There are more than a dozen boat ramps and launching areas that the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources lists with fishing tips and directions. For Front Royal and the Main Steam of the river, there are several places to put in and fish. More than 70 streams running through the Shenandoah National Park contain native brook trout. If you can get to a stream, it’s pretty much fair game for fishing, but there are some park rules you’ll want to look into first.
Do I Need a License?
Anyone 16-year-olds or older must have a valid Virginia State fishing license. You can purchase one on the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources website. We also recommend reviewing the state’s regulations to ensure you aren’t unintentionally breaking any rules.
Natural Bridge Hotel is the perfect home base for your fishing adventure in the Shenandoah Valley! Start by reserving our Picnic at Natural Bridge Package. This special vacation package includes overnight accommodations for two or the family (up to two adults and two children), breakfast in the morning, picnic lunch to go in a backpack cooler that is yours to keep, and tickets to the Natural Bridge State Park and the Caverns at Natural Bridge. Use the picnic when you go fishing and enjoy a couple of extra adventures at the park and caverns! There are tons of other great outdoor activities like hiking and biking to enjoy as well!
Then, come back to Natural Bridge Hotel to rest and relax. We offer comfortable Main Inn Rooms, Premium Second-Floor Balcony Rooms, Guest Rooms on Cottage Hill, and Veranda Rooms. With more than 150 rooms to choose from, you’re sure to find one that suits your needs!