Mattaponi River - Fishing Opportunities
Tidal River Blue Catfish
Stocked in 1985, blue catfish have become the dominant catfish species in the river, and provide abundant catches for anglers who target this fast growing species. Growth of blue catfish in the Mattaponi is slowing; this will impact the capacity of these rivers to produce trophy blue catfish. However, rapid growth in the recent past produced good numbers of fish to 50 pounds, with rare angler reports of fish to 80 pounds and above. Many of these fish remain in the river available for anglers to catch. Fishing for blue cats in the Mattaponi is best from Aylett downstream to Clifton.
Catch rates for largemouth bass in this river continue to be substantially lower than in the Pamunkey, James, and Chickahominy. When combined with slow growth, the size and number of largemouth available to anglers is not impressive. With the exception those who are aware of isolated “hot spots”, anglers should expect low catch rates for largemouth in this river. Largemouth are most abundant from just above Aylett downstream to Walkerton, with a fair number of largemouth found downstream to the vicinity of Melrose Landing.
During the open spring season, keeper striped bass are available throughout the river. During the fall season striper fishing is best in the lower river, and typically slacks off later in the season.
Note: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) sets season and size-limits for striped bass in the Mattaponi.
For information on these regulations contact VMRC in Newport News at 1-800-541-4646 or on the web: VMRC
White perch are common throughout the tidal river, and can be caught using plastic grubs, beetle spins, or grass shrimp.
This river supports an early spring (late-February to early March) run of yellow perch. Many anglers focus their efforts between Walkerton and Aylett using plastic grubs or small minnows. Citation-size perch are occasionally caught.
Black crappie, bluegill, chain pickerel, pumpkinseed, and redbreast sunfish, are fairly common in the freshwater tidal section of the river, particularly from Aylett to Melrose Landing.
In the vicinity of West Point, spring runs of croaker are excellent.
Canoe Float Trips
A nice float fishing trip can be made by launching from the primitive canoe landing at Zoar State Forest and taking out at the public ramp at Aylett. Those who float this section will experience a tree-lined meandering stream which lacks strong tidal influence until just upstream of Aylett. Black crappie; blue, channel and white catfish; largemouth bass; redbreast sunfish; and small striped bass provide fishing opportunities for those wishing to float fish this scenic river. During the spring spawning run, hickory shad will “stack up” here – try using shad darts or spoons to catch this hard fighting fish.