Fishing In Norfolk, Virginia

By Adam Young, Our US Harbors Fishing Expert

Norfolk, Virginia is a fantastic destination for anglers, offering a diverse range of fishing opportunities for both land-based and boat fishing. 

With its prime location on the Chesapeake Bay and the surrounding rivers and tributaries, Norfolk provides ample fishing options for both freshwater and saltwater species. 

About The Region

The Chesapeake Bay, one of the largest estuaries in the United States, is a prime location for boat fishing with abundant species such as spotted seatrout, flounder, striped bass, and bluefish.

Not only does Chesapeake bay support a robust commercial and recreational fishing and boating industry, but it’s also home to the largest naval base in the United States. This makes for some pretty cool backdrops!

The Elizabeth River (the largest in the region), flows through Norfolk and is known for red drum, speckled trout, croaker, and spot fishing. Local anglers use jigs, popping corks and live bait along bridges and other structures. 

Countless backwater creeks and tributaries are accessible by small boats, kayaks, or canoes and provide hidden gems for targeting black drum, flounder, and redfish. Be sure to pay attention to the tides in this area, as they can vary greatly. 

And if you want to sample some of Virginia’s freshwater fishing opportunities, Norfolk also has several lakes which offer freshwater fishing opportunities and a more tranquil setting.

Common Types of Fish to Catch In Norfolk 

Norfolk offers a wide variety of fish species that are commonly targeted by anglers. Some of the most popular fish to catch in the region include:

Striped Bass:  Striped bass are highly sought after in Norfolk and are known for their powerful fights and delicious taste. They can be found in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, especially during the spring and fall seasons. 

Live eels are the preferred bait, and look for schooling fish on the surface or use your fish finder to find them suspended ambushing bait.

Flounder: Flounder are another popular species in Norfolk, known for their unique appearance and excellent table fare. They can be caught in the rivers and estuaries of the Chesapeake Bay, as well as inshore areas along the coast. If you can find mud minnows from the local bait shops, you’re in luck!

Bluefish: Bluefish are known for their aggressive nature and fast-paced action. They are commonly found in the Chesapeake Bay and the nearby coastal waters of Norfolk, especially during the warmer months. Flashy and bright colored surface lures are best for bluefish

Redfish: Red drum, also known as redfish, are prized for their size, strength and table fare. They can be found in the rivers, estuaries, and backwaters of Norfolk, and are known for their tailing behavior, making them a favorite target for sight fishing.

Croaker: Croaker are a common species in Norfolk, especially in the warmer months. They are usually caught in the rivers and tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay and are known for their distinctive croaking sound. Smaller croakers are excellent bait for big black drum!

Spot: Spot are another popular species in Norfolk, known for their abundance and willingness to bite. They can be caught in the rivers and estuaries of the Chesapeake Bay, and are often used as bait for other species.

Fishing from Land 

Norfolk offers numerous options for fishing from land, including piers, bridges, and shoreline areas. Some of the popular spots for land-based fishing in Norfolk include:

Ocean View Fishing Pier: Located in Ocean View Beach, this pier offers a prime spot for fishing in the Chesapeake Bay. It is equipped with lights, benches, and a cleaning station, making it a convenient option for anglers.

James River Fishing Pier: Situated on the James River, this pier provides opportunities to catch a variety of species, including striped bass, flounder, and croaker. It also has picnic areas and amenities for anglers.

Shoreline Fishing: Norfolk has many shoreline areas along the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries where anglers can cast their lines. Take a drive along the region, and you’re likely to find hidden pull offs, trails and access points away from the crowds and not on the maps!

Fishing from a Boat

Norfolk provides excellent opportunities for fishing from a boat, with access to the Chesapeake Bay, Elizabeth River, and many other rivers, tributaries, and creeks. Some of the popular options for boat fishing in Norfolk include:

Chesapeake Bay: The Chesapeake Bay is the heart of Norfolk and the surrounding area. It’s a prime location for boat fishing, offering a wide range of species to target. Anglers can explore the bay for striped bass, flounder, bluefish, and countless other species using various fishing techniques such as trolling, casting, and bottom fishing. 

Elizabeth River: The Elizabeth River, which flows through Norfolk, is known for its diverse fishing opportunities. Head up river, and you’re likely to encounter more brackish and freshwater species like mullet, catfish, and largemouth bass. Fish the mouths and bays, and you’re more likely to encounter popular saltwater species like spanish mackerel, whiting, and spotted seatrout. 

Backwater Creeks and Tributaries: Feeding into the Elizabeth river are numerous feeder creeks for you to explore. Check out New Mill Creek, Deep Creek, Goose creek for skinny water, oyster bars and tailing redfish. 

In addition to the rivers and bays, Norfolk also has several lakes that offer fishing opportunities. Lake Whitehurst, Lake Smith, and Lake Lawson are popular options for freshwater fishing, with species such as largemouth bass, bluegill, and giant catfish available to anglers.

Tips and Regulations

When fishing in Norfolk, it’s important to be aware of local fishing regulations and guidelines. Here are some tips and regulations to keep in mind:

Fishing Licenses: Anglers aged 16 and older are required to have a valid Virginia saltwater or freshwater fishing license, depending on the type of fishing they plan to do. Licenses can be obtained from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources website or from authorized vendors.

Seasons, catch limits and and closures: Some fish species in Norfolk have specific seasons and closures to protect their populations during spawning periods. Make sure to check the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources website for the most up to date information. 

Final Thoughts

Fishing in Norfolk, Virginia offers a wide range of opportunities for anglers, from land-based fishing on piers and shorelines to boat fishing in the Chesapeake Bay, rivers, and its many tributaries.

Plus, there aren’t too many places in the world where you can fish within sight of aircraft carriers and battleships. Enjoy the views and good luck!

About Adam Young, Our US Harbor Fishing Expert

Adam grew up on the east coast of Florida, fishing and boating in the world famous Indian River Lagoon. He’s a full time fishing content creator and freelance writer, with a broad range of angling experience from the bonefish flats of the Bahamas to the halibut grounds of Kachemak Bay, Alaska.