Virginia.gov

James River - Upper & Middle

Shenandoah, Cowpasture, and James River fish kills update

From the confluence of the Jackson and Cowpasture Rivers in Botetourt County, downstream to Richmond, the James River offers a wide range of angling opportunities and settings. Smallmouth bass are the dominant game species, but spotted and largemouth bass can also be caught.

Smallmouth bass fishing will be good throughout the river. Both the mountain sections (upstream from Lynchburg) and the piedmont sections (between Lynchburg and Richmond) generally provide good fishing. There is not a lot of difference in the fish populations from one spot to another; it is simply a matter of finding the particular locations where the fish are holding and using whatever bait or lure they might want that day.

Other species are also plentiful in the James River, including channel catfish, flathead catfish, and various sunfish species (redbreast, bluegill, and rock bass). Flathead catfish appear to be more numerous upstream from Lynchburg, and channel catfish are more numerous below Lynchburg. Muskies are also annually stocked in the James. These fish are scarce, but some very large fish can be caught. Most of the muskies are found upstream from Lynchburg.

Overall, the James River offers an excellent fishing opportunity for whatever you might want. Canoeing is the best way to access the river, maps and narration for float trips are found under Maps & Access. Small boats (such as john boats) can also be used at most access points. Bank and wade fishing access is also available throughout the river.