Moratorium on Possession of River Herring
It is now illegal for any person fishing tidal rivers to have river herring in their possession – this includes blueback herring and alewife. All river herring inadvertently caught by anglers must be immediately released back into the water. In Virginia, regulations regarding the harvest and possession of river herring are set by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. On January 1st, 2012, VMRC enacted a regulation which makes it unlawful to be in possession of river herring while on tidal waters. Anglers with concerns or questions should contact the Virginia Marine Fisheries Commission (VMRC) in Newport News at 1-800-541-4646. Additional information can be found on the VMRC website (http://www.mrc.state.va.us/regulations/fr1260.shtm).
With broad expanses of open marshes, cypress trees along much of its shoreline, and a diversity of fish species to choose from, the Chickahominy River provides the angler with tidal river fishing at its finest.
This river supports a nationally recognized largemouth bass fishery, and in recent years anglers have been reporting excellent bass fishing in the tidal Chickahominy. Generally anglers can expect good numbers of largemouth in the 1 – 3 pound range, with relatively few largemouth weighing over 5 pounds. This fishery is characterized by high angler catches. Of all Virginia tidal rivers, the tidal Chickahominy typically has the highest largemouth catch rates.
Yellow perch, white perch, and black crappie all provide excellent fishing. Yellow perch can be found along the edges of “grass beds”, whereas crappie fishing is best around structure on steep channel drop-offs. Other species available to anglers include: chain pickerel, bowfin, blue catfish and channel catfish. Common carp and long-nose gar are large and plentiful; several anglers who enjoy a good fight have learned to capitalize on these under-utilized species.
Maps & Directions
The Tidal Chickahominy River can be accessed at the following public landings:
- Chickahominy Riverfront Park off Route 5 in James City County
- Chickahominy Wildlife Management Area in Charles City County
- Brickyard Landing West of Toano in James City County
Private (fee) ramps include:
- Rock-a-Hock Campground 804-966-2759
- River’s Rest 804-829-2753
- Riverside Camp #2, 804-966-5536
- Walker’s Dam, accessed through Rock-a-Hock Campground, is located off U.S. Route 60 on Route 649, west of Lanexa
Black crappie numbers vary considerably year-to-year in the tidal Chickahominy. However, anglers have reported good catches of crappie in recent years. While crappie can be caught throughout the year, October – April is the primary season for this tasty species. The size structure of this tidal river crappie population is excellent, with a high proportion of the population greater than or equal to 10 inches.
The two most sought after catfish species in the tidal Chickahominy River, channel cats and blue cats, are not native to the river. Channel catfish likely became established in the river sometime between 1890 and the early 1900’s. Blue catfish were stocked in the tidal James River in the mid-1970’s, and they colonized the tidal Chickahominy following this introduction. Following introduction, blue catfish quickly became the dominant catfish species in the river, replacing channel catfish as the most abundant catfish species. In the spring of 2009, anglers reported catching 11 blue catfish for every 2 channel catfish caught.
Anglers catch of “eating size” 1-3 lb channel catfish by fishing night crawlers or various other cut-bait, while anglers fishing for blue cats typically use fresh bait such as gizzard shad. While trophy blue catfish to 70 pounds do occur in the tidal Chickahominy, anglers should be aware that trophy blue catfish are not as abundant in the tidal Chickahominy as they are in the James.
Generally anglers can expect good numbers of largemouth in the 1-3 pound range, with relatively few largemouth weighing over 5 pounds. This fishery is characterized by high angler catches. Of all Virginia tidal rivers, the tidal Chickahominy typically has the highest largemouth catch rates, and it is a close second to the James in abundance of bass greater than or equal to 15 inches. Angler catch rates were at record highs in the spring of 2009; double what they were in 2005, and much higher than in most Virginia bass lakes. In 2009, 73% of anglers interviewed rated the largemouth fishery as either good or excellent. This fishery should continue to produce high angler catch rates over the next several years.
River Herring (Alewife & Blueback Herring)
The spring herring run has been a tradition for many years at Walkers Dam, unfortunately angler access to the dam is closed at this time – no fishing from the dam. This is because of ongoing repairs, which will take years to complete. Even with closure of the dam, the river herring run continues to draw many anglers each spring from late March through early May. These anglers fish primarily from boats in the area downstream of Walkers Dam. During the peak of the run in April, anglers can land an abundance of these unique fish using bare gold hooks, small spoons, or shad darts. Anglers should be aware that river herring runs have been depleted along the Atlantic coast, and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is considering closing the fishery. While the fishery was open for the spring 2010 season, anglers should check with the Virginia Marine Fisheries Commission (VMRC) in Newport News at 1-800-541-4646 or on the web at: VMRC for current regulations related to this fishery.
- 2012 Tidal River Largemouth Bass Outlook
- 2010 Tidal Chickahominy River Bio Rpt
- 2009 Tidal Chickahominy River Stocking
- 5 per day
- No length limits
- Only 1 Blue Catfish longer than 32 inches per person per day
- Regulations regarding season and limits set for American shad, hickory shad, river herring, and striped bass in the tidal Rappahannock are set by the Virginia Marine Resource Commission (VMRC). For season information contact VMRC in Newport News at 1-800-541-4646 or on the web at:VMRC
For further information please contact:
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
3801 John Tyler Hwy.
Charles City, VA 23030
Phone: (804) 829-6715