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Explore the Wild by Fishing at these Five Richmond-Area WMAs

By James Moffitt

Photos by Meghan Marchetti/DWR

Fishing Virginia’s incredible Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) is a unique way to Explore the Wild on our public lands while honing your skills as an angler, boat captain, paddler, and more. I have personally really enjoyed using Virginia’s WMAs as places to learn how to better utilize my equipment while catching new species and exploring new water systems.

From low-pressure boat ramps that are great for learning how to launch your boat to uncovering ways to create kayak or canoe access, fishing our WMAs has made me a more confident angler. You can find WMAs and other destinations on the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources’ (DWR’s) Explore the Wild online tool. Below is a top-five list of some the best WMAs around Richmond to fish:

Amelia WMA

Lake Amelia at the Amelia WMA in Amelia County is a great fishing opportunity just minutes from Richmond. With a robust largemouth bass and panfish population, this is an awesome spot for new anglers or individuals learning new techniques. The boat ramp is also easily accessible and makes launching a johnboat, kayak, or canoe simple and quick.

The lake is also loaded with structure that holds bass very well. There are shore-fishing opportunities where bluegill can be caught in numbers. The popular fishing pier was recently rebuilt and offers a lot of opportunity. The calm waters and ample fishing area make it perfect for novice paddlers as well.

A photo of a large, aluminum pier structure at the edge of a lake.

The popular fishing pier at the Amelia WMA was recently rebuilt. Photo by Ed Carr/DWR

Powhatan WMA

Similar to Amelia, Powhatan WMA is minutes from Richmond and holds a ton of fish. There are several options for launching watercraft and the WMA offers a dock to fish from as well, allowing anglers more opportunities for deeper water.

A man standing at the bow of a johnboat, holding a fishing rod and looking into the water.

Powhatan WMA offers a number of great fishing opportunities.

The lake holds structure and lily pads, and the early morning summer frog fishing is top notch. Again, the waters of the lake are typically very calm, and the wide boat ramp make it perfect for novice anglers and paddlers.

Chickahominy WMA

Chickahominy WMA could be considered an angler’s dream. With several blue lines, bank access, and access to the Chickahominy River, it boasts plenty of options for fishing from the shore, by boat, or by kayak or canoe.

The warmwater fishing in both the Chickahominy River and the creeks within the WMA is strong year-round, providing anglers with lots of opportunities.

A photo of a man at the edge of a pond, casting a rod and reel into the water.

Chickahominy WMA’s creeks, pond, and river access provide a wide variety of fishing options.

Robert W. Duncan WMA

Robert W. Duncan WMA is a great fishery if you’re willing to break a sweat. The Mattaponi River passes through the WMA, supporting many warm-water fish. As well, the WMA holds a couple of small ponds that can be bank-fished or accessed by canoe or kayak if you’re willing to walk the paddlecraft in.

A photo of a calm river flowing between trees.

Anglers can choose between the Mattaponi River and two large ponds at the Bob Duncan WMA.

The bank fishing options are somewhat limited, but the access to the Mattaponi River makes visiting this WMA worthwhile.

Rapidan WMA

Rapidan WMA can be a trout fishing goldmine. With access to the Rapidan River, Conway River, and South River, there are tons of options for great access to healthy trout populations. It should be noted however that the Middle River Tract requires four-wheel drive to access.

A photo of a man pointing into the fast-flowing river as a boy stands with rod and reel.

The Rapidan WMA is renowned for its trout-fishing possibilities.

There are several deep pools and lots of places that allow for significant walk-and-wade adventures. With brook and brown trout fishing options, it’s easy to want to spend days on end exploring the different tracts. Read more about the Rapidan WMA and surrounding public lands in the Virginia Wildlife magazine article The Rapidan Runs Through It.

Click here for our visitor's guide to DWR properties for all the info you need to make sure your adventure is a successful one.
  • May 6, 2024