Rappahannock River

Rappahannock River, Virginia

The Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers provide excellent smallmouth bass and redbreast sunfish angling above Fredericksburg and tidal influence. Additionally, herring, shad and striped bass run the river each spring and ascend past Fredericksburg now that Embrey Dam has been completely removed. Below the fall line, the Rappahannock has good populations of white perch, largemouth bass, striped bass, black crappie, yellow perch, channel catfish, and blue catfish. Several of these species (e.g., yellow perch and channel catfish) are now being found above the old dam site. The fish community above Fredericksburg is currently in a state of flux and will probably not stabilize for several more years as species of resident and migratory fish establish new territories.

Angling for freshwater species on the tidal Rappahannock is best from the head-of-tide at Fredericksburg downstream to Leedstown. This section of river is characterized by forested shorelines with large river bends cutting through high banks and cliffs, and below Route 301 the river opens up with broad expanses of tidal marsh. Anglers on the tidal Rappahannock can quite easily forget this river is just miles from densely populated sections of northern Virginia and Washington D.C. As a result of its scenic beauty and an abundance of important natural resources, the tidal Rappahannock is home to The Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge, one of four refuges comprising the Eastern Virginia Rivers National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

The tidal Rappahannock offers an array of species for the freshwater angler to enjoy, including blue catfish, largemouth bass, and migratory anadromous species such as American shad, hickory shad, river herring (alewife and blueback herring), and striped bass.