Open Comment Period Begins 6/11 for DWR Aquatic Wildlife, Recreational Fishing and Boating Regulations

By DWR

Photos by Meghan Marchetti/DWR

Fishing regulations play an important part in managing Virginia’s natural resources. These regulations ensure that our fisheries are managed sustainably and that there are fish available to catch. Regulations are not recommended or implemented without careful thought – all regulatory proposals are informed by the data that our biologists collect, information from our angler surveys, and perhaps most importantly, comment from the general public.

In January, we solicited information during our scoping period about what issues were of concern to our anglers. We utilized this information, as well as our own internal data, to develop regulatory proposals that were presented to the Board of Wildlife Resources in May, which approved them to go to public comment for 45 days. These comments will be reviewed in August and considered when the Board votes to adopt these regulations – which would then go into effect on January 1st, 2023. Public comment will be open from June 11 to July 26.

All comments that are received are reviewed and considered by the staff of the Aquatic Wildlife Resources Division and are presented to the Board. Your input is critical – it helps us to understand what impacts a regulation may have on your fishing experiences. This input is extremely useful, and often we receive very little input on our fishing regulations.

During this comment period, the Board is proposing regulations that focus on a few items that may be of interest to you. As a brief summary, these are the regulations being put forth:

  • Reduce the limit on gar and bowfin from 5 to 1 from April 15 to June 30
  • Require retention of any fish harvested with bow and arrow
  • Add a section of the North Fork Moormans River as catch-and-release only for trout
  • Change striped bass regulations in Kerr Reservoir to only allow harvest of fish between 20″-26″ from October 1 to May 31 (retain two-fish limit)
  • Extend 2 walleye and 19″-28″ protected slot from Buck Dam to Fries Dam in New River
  • Reduce possession limit of crayfish from 50 to 20, only allow crayfish to be used for bait where captured, and do not allow collection of crayfish in the Big Sandy drainage
  • No longer allow collection of minnows and chubs from the wild for sale (private use and collection still allowed)
  • Require vessel, trailer and equipment to be cleaned of aquatic vegetation after removal from water, and require bilge plug to be opened upon removal from water
  • Require that limblines be removed completely from the water, the shoreline, and tree limbs when not in use

Additionally, there have been administrative changes to the life jacket and fire extinguisher regulations and the “move over” law when vessels are operating in close proximity to law enforcement or emergency vessels while their emergency lights are energized.

These proposals can be viewed in greater detail at http://dwr.virginia.gov/regulations

You can submit comments via that link, or via mail at:

Department of Wildlife Resources
Attn: Fisheries Division – Board Proposals 2022
P.O. Box 90778
Henrico, VA 23228-0778

  • June 8, 2022