The Nottoway is a scenic river, with a minimum of development that provides good fishing for a variety of species. It begins in Nottoway County and forms the Chowan River in North Carolina at its confluence with the Blackwater River. It has a diverse fishery, ranging from bass (both large and smallmouth) and catfish to shad and herring. Panfishes include bluegill, redbreast and redear sunfish, Roanoke bass, yellow perch, and black crappie. The Nottoway produces some trophy fish, primarily redear sunfish; this population appears to be expanding. Bowfin and gar are common in the lower section.
Fishing for shad and herring can be excellent in March, April, and May, as they run up from the Chowan. Dip-netting for shad and herring is popular in the river. The Roanoke bass (more commonly known to locals as "rock bass" or redeye") is a species of special concern in Virginia. Only a few rivers have them, but the Nottoway has quite a few and they run fairly large in size. They are generally found upriver in the summer and down river in the winter. A few smallmouth bass are found throughout the river, with more fish found upstream. The Southampton County portion has most of the big redear sunfish. A few large walleye are caught in the river each year as well.
Public boat ramps are located at Carey's Bridge, Peter's Bridge, Hercules Landing, and Route 258 near Riverdale. Water levels fluctuate naturally according to seasons, so anglers should scout the river and plan ahead. Canoes can be launched at several bridge crossings. Bank fishing access is limited to a few bridge crossings, state boat ramps, and canoe access areas. No permits are necessary. You can wade much of the river upstream of Courtland in summer when the river is low.