Fishing

catching a fish
Fishing at the Potomac River Beach

NPS image

What comes to mind when you think about fishing? Patience, relaxation, challenge, and memories are a few words often associated with fishing. You will find all that and a sense of stewardship, conservation, and preservation on this page. We want you to have an enjoyable time during your visit, and for those who come after you to fish. Take some time to explore, learn what the park has to offer and learn your responsibilities before casting a line or flicking a fly into the water.

George Washington Birthplace National Monument allows fishing as a means of providing for public enjoyment, and customary and traditional use, and regulates fishing to ensure that it is managed in a manner that avoids unacceptable impacts to park resources.

Licenses

Visitors fishing within George Washington Birthplace National Monument must follow the fishing license requirements in accordance with the laws and regulations of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Fishing Regulations

  • Unless otherwise provided for, fishing regulations apply to all finfish found in both fresh and saltwater, and mollusks and crustaceans found in saltwater (shellfish).   Other taxa, including amphibians, and freshwater mollusks and crustaceans (e.g. waterdogs, crayfish) are not considered “fish” for the purpose of NPS fishing regulations and are addressed by NPS regulations governing “wildlife” (36CFR2.2).   
  • These fishing regulations apply, regardless of land ownership, on all lands and waters within the park that are under the legislative jurisdiction of the United States. 
  • Fishing shall be in accordance with the laws and regulations of Virginia (36CFR2.3(a)) except as provided below. Where there is a conflict between a state regulation and a federal (NPS) regulation, the state regulation is superseded by the federal regulation.   
  • For state fishing regulations please visit the Virginia Marine Resources Commission website and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.
  • For more information on how NPS fishing regulations work, go to the regulations page on the NPS Fish and Fishing website.

The following are prohibited:

  • Introducing wildlife, fish or plants, including their reproductive bodies, into a park area ecosystem. This includes the discarding and/or dumping of bait and bait buckets.

  • The use or possession of fish, wildlife or plants for ceremonial or religious purposes, except where specifically authorized by Federal statutory law, or treaty rights.

Except as otherwise designated, fishing with a net, spear, or weapon in the salt waters of park areas shall be in accordance with State law.

The following regulations apply only within George Washington Birthplace National Monument:

  • The park shorelines, pedestrian bridge, boardwalks and ponds are closed to fishing with the exception of the Potomac River Beach and Popes Creek designated fishing area, which is adjacent to the Popes Creek Picnic Area.

  • Fishing shall be in accordance with the laws and regulations of Virginia.

  • A Virginia saltwater or Maryland Bay Sport or Potomac River Fisheries fishing license is required to fish at the Potomac River Beach.

  • A Virginia saltwater or freshwater sport fishing license is required to fish from the location designated for such activity, which is adjacent to the Popes Creek Picnic Area.

  • All fishing must comply with State size limits, catch limits, and other restrictions.

Fish Consumption Advisories in National Park Waters

The Environmental Protection Agency, states, territories, and tribes provide advice on fish and shellfish caught in the waters in their jurisdiction to help people make informed decisions about eating fish. Advisories are recommendations to limit your consumption of, or avoid eating entirely, certain species of fish or shellfish from specific bodies of water due to chemical or biological contamination.

Fish is part of a healthy balanced diet, but eating wild fish and shellfish caught in park waters is not risk free. Parks are “islands," but the much larger “ocean” that surrounds them affects the natural resources inside a park. Other aquatic toxins are the result of natural biological processes. Also, chemical contaminants that originate outside of park boundaries can come into parks.

Mercury is an example of a toxin originating outside a park that can find its way into a park. Mercury exists naturally in some rocks, including coal. When power plants burn coal, mercury can travel in the air long distances before falling to the ground, usually in low concentrations. Once on the ground, microorganisms can change this elemental mercury to methyl mercury. This type of mercury can build up in animal tissues, and it can increase in concentration to harmful levels. This high concentration can occur in large predatory fish - those often pursued and eaten by anglers. Studies have shown that fish in some National Park System waters have mercury levels that may be a concern to people who regularly eat fish.

To learn more about this topic, the National Park Service maintains information about Fish Consumption Advisories and Mercury and Toxins in Nature.

Fishing Throughout the National Park Service

We invite you to visit the Fish and Fishing website for more information about fish and fishing in the National Park Service. You will learn about conservation, different fish species, and parks that offer fishing.



Last updated: June 10, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1732 Popes Creek Road
Colonial Beach, VA 22443

Phone:

(804) 224-1732 x227

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