People fishing at Jones Point Park
People fishing at Jones Point Park.


Interested in fishing opportunities? Want to learn more? The Parkway spans a 25-mile section of the Potomac River, including many excellent fishing spots. People and families have lived along this stretch of the Potomac for nearly 14,000 years, and they’ve been fishing ever since. Whether for recreation, sustenance, or business, many people continue this tradition today.

Now, we focus on protecting this important habitat for wildlife and humans. This river is a complex environment, which means that the rules for recreational fishing are different in different areas. It’s important to remember that many people use and will continue to use this river. All of us are responsible for it. Pack out any trash you bring in and help us to Leave No Trace.

Where can I fish?

Fishing is allowed in most areas of the Potomac. A different license may be required in different parts of each park. Some of the best spots include:

The Parkway’s Superintendent’s Compendium has information on rules in specific areas.

A great heron caught in a net
Great blue heron caught in fishing line at Dyke Marsh. Pack out your gear and trash to prevent this!


What kind of license do I need?

  • Vernon View Drive: Either a Virginia or Maryland license
  • Riverside Park: Either a Virginia or Maryland license
  • Dyke Marsh: When fishing from land a Virginia state fishing license is required. If fishing by boat, either a Maryland or Virginia license is required.
  • Belle Haven: Either a Virginia or Maryland license
  • Jones Point: Fishing under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge requires a Washington DC license. Fishing on the banks around the bridge, lighthouse, and down river requires either a Virginia or Maryland license.
  • Dangerfield Island: Washington, DC license
  • Roaches Run: Virginia license
  • Gravelly Point: Washington, DC license
  • Theodore Roosevelt Island: Washington, DC license

Virginia licenses may be purchased online or in-person at sites listed here:

Maryland licenses may be purchased online or in-person at sites listed here:

DC licenses may be purchased online here:

Information on reciprocal license agreements:

What are the rules?

Please refer to each state/district’s specific freshwater fishing regulations:

Virginia (

Maryland (

Washington, DC (

Do not enter dangerous areas like steep cliffs or slippery rocks to fish. Ask a park ranger for suggestions about safe spots.

Swimming and wading are not allowed in the Potomac. Stay safe and stay on the shore, pier, or your boat.

Do not litter! Carry your trash and gear out with you. Keep the river healthy for us and the fish. Find out how you can help ensure the water stays clean here: (

Live bait or artificial lures may be used. Different species of fish respond better to different types of bait.

See special rules for striped bass fishing here:

A fish.
Golden redhorse – a species found in some areas along the Parkway


What species might I find?

The Potomac River and its tributaries have at least 61 species of fish! Of the listed areas above, Dyke Marsh has the most diversity with 38 species, but you might find a wide variety of species at any park location. Possible finds include species of bass, snakehead, perch, crappie, walleye, shad, herring, minnow, dace, sunfish, darter, catfish, and the American eel. You may also spot shrimp and crayfish. Certain species are restricted to small, sensitive areas. Some are commonly found hiding among trees, brush piles, grasses, or rocky piles.

A full species list may be found here (

Where can I get more information?

For questions relating to Parkway locations, contact Peter McCallum at

For questions related to specific fishing regulations or licensing requirements, please contact state or district offices:



DC: (scroll to the bottom)

Last updated: December 1, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

George Washington Memorial Parkway Headquarters
700 George Washington Memorial Parkway

McLean, VA 22101


703 289-2500

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