Nelson County offers many fishing opportunities along its rivers, lakes and streams, among them being the Tye River, the James River and the Rockfish River. (Virginia Fish and Wildlife Licensing required.) Visit the Department of Wildlife Resources for fishing rules & regulations.


The Tye River is a 35.4-mile-long tributary of the James River in central Virginia originating on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Nelson County, and is fed by the Piney and Buffalo rivers. It joins with the James River near Norwood, in Nelson County, VA. The Tye River is home to dozens of species of fish and other aquatic life, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and bluegill. Browns, rainbows and brooks can be taken on a fly by the studious angler.

The Tye River is also stocked with catchable-sized trout periodically by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources from October through May. (See the Trout Stocking Plan and Schedule) Virginia Fishing License required. Trout license also required between October 1 and June 15.

Public Access points to the Tye River include along Route 56 bridges, from the bridge on Cub Creek Rd. off Rt. 56… however be aware that permission may be needed from private property owners for nearby car parking.


JAMES RIVER (Upper & Middle)

From the confluence of the Jackson and Cowpasture Rivers in Botetourt County, downstream to Richmond, the James River offers a wide range of angling opportunities and settings. Smallmouth bass are the dominant game species, but spotted and largemouth bass can also be caught. Smallmouth bass fishing can be good throughout the river.

Both the mountain sections (upstream from Lynchburg) and the piedmont sections (between Lynchburg and Richmond) generally provide good fishing. Other species are also plentiful in the James River, including channel catfish, flathead catfish, and various sunfish species (redbreast, bluegill, and rock bass). Flathead catfish appear to be more numerous upstream from Lynchburg, and channel catfish are more numerous below Lynchburg. Muskies are also annually stocked in the James. These fish are scarce, but some very large fish can be caught. Most of the muskies are found upstream from Lynchburg.

Overall, the James River offers an excellent fishing opportunity for whatever you might want. Canoeing is the best way to access the river. Small boats (such as john boats) can also be used at most access points. Bank and wade fishing access is also available throughout the river. Virginia Fishing License(s) are required.

JAMES RIVER (WMA) – Wildlife Management Area

The area fronts one of the better stretches of the James River for fishing. Anglers land smallmouth bass, various sunfishes and channel catfish. This section of the river is popular for float fishing. A one-acre pond provides a variety of sunfish for those — perhaps with young anglers — not interested in fishing the river. The ramp access makes the area an excellent “put in” or “take out” point for James River canoeists. For fishermen, a number of trout stocked streams are nearby, west of the management area in Nelson County. A boat launching ramp provides year-round access to the James River.

The area is located approximately 15 miles south-east of Lovingston in the southeastern portion of Nelson County, near the community of Wingina. Access is from State Route 56, between Lovingston and Buckingham Court House, on Route 626 travel easterly following road signs.

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources requires an Access Permit for visitors to department-owned Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and public fishing lakes effective January 1, 2012, who are age 17 and older, unless they possess a valid Virginia hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping license, or a current Virginia boat registration.


One of Virginia’s newest state parks, James River State Park has 1,500 acres with three ponds for fishing: Branch Pond, Green Hill Pond and Taylor Pond in addition to freshwater fishing on the James River. Where fishing is permitted, valid Virginia fishing licenses are required. Specific licenses are required for saltwater and trout-water fishing. Please call the park in advance for specifics.

James River State Park | Virginia State Parks
751 Park Road, Gladstone, VA 24553
Camping, Cabins, Boat Access, Hiking Trails, Fishing

James River: Nelson County Access Points

  • Midway Concrete Ramp (In James River WMA off Rt. 743; Northeast of Wingina)
  • Wingina Concrete Ramp (Rt. 56, South of Wingina)
  • James River State Park Boat Ramp and also a Canoe/Livery Landing

BENT CREEK TO WINGINA: Distance: 12.4 miles
Camping, Cabins, Boat Access, Hiking Trails, Fishing

The concrete ramp at Bent Creek is best suited for canoes or small boats and is located just upstream from the Route 60 bridge. At James River State Park, you’ll find a boat ramp (Dixon Landing) and a canoe landing. A boat ramp (Dixon Landing) and a canoe landing is available at James River State Park. At Wingina, a concrete ramp is present at the Rt. 56 bridge. However, trailer-launched boats can only be u sed during high flows, due to a steep dropoff at the end of the ramp. Typically, this float is a series of long, shallow pools interspersed with short, easy riffles. Smallmouth bass and redbreast sunfish will provide most of the fishing through here.

WINGINA TO JAMES RIVER WMA (Wildlife Management Area) Distance: 2.2 miles
Wingina provides a ramp for small boats/canoes, and a good concrete boat ramp is present at the James River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) (follow the signs from Rt. 626). This is a short and shallow float. During low flow periods, the river gets quite shallow through this section. The best fishing action comes courtesy of smallmouth bass and redbreast sunfish.

The Rockfish River (South) is stocked with catchable-sized trout periodically by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources from October through May. (See the Trout Stocking Plan for their stocking schedule at The Rockfish is an excellent smallmouth stream and also holds bluegills, perch and fallfish. It can be accessed at several points from U.S. 29 south and along Route 602. Virginia Fishing License required. Trout license also required between October 1 and June 15.


Little Piney River is a stream located at the junction of Rt. 666 and Woodson, at the southern part of Nelson County near Lowesville, VA. Fishermen will find a variety of fish including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and bluegill here. Be sure to check with Department of Wildlife Resources  to ensure the stream is open to the public, and that you have the necessary fishing license.


The Rockfish River (South) is stocked with catchable-sized trout periodically by the Department of Wildlife Resources from October through May. See the TROUT STOCKING SCHEDULE for their stocking plan. Virginia Fishing License required. Trout license also required between October 1 and June 15.

Access Points: put-in by the bridge on Route 6 and take-out at the Nelson County Wayside on Rt. 29.

Additional Fishing Locations

Other Ponds & Lakes

Visit for fishing rules and regulations for access and fishing in these ponds and lake areas. Permission may need to be obtained from private property owners in advance.

Baldwin Pond (Waynesboro East)
Davis Pond (Shipman area)
Fish Pond (Lake) (Howardsville area)
Hamilton Lake (Lovingston area)

Ramsay Knox Pond (Howardsville area)
Saunders Pond (Arrington area)
Stevens Lake (Arrington area)

Wintergreen Resort Fishing

Nestled in 11,000 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains, WINTERGREEN RESORT is in close proximity to some of the best fly fishing Virginia has to offer. Wintergreen’s Fly Fishing services are designed to accommodate the inexperienced to the expert angler. Wintergreen’s Orvis-Endorsed instructors have the perfect classroom setting at Lake Monocan to introduce students to the art of Fly Fishing, or anglers can experience the thrill of fishing for trout in the mountains or smallmouth bass on the legendary James River with a knowledgeable and friendly guide. Due to limited availability, please call well in advance for bookings.

Wintergreen offers half and full day Fly Fishing Classes. Fly-casting instruction is based on The Orvis Progressive Method to Fly Casting and inexperienced to expert casters are welcome. All instruction includes the use of Orvis fly rods and equipment, and all classes are held at the facilities at Lake Monocan and on the private ponds in Stoney Creek.

Mossy Creek Fly Fishing

For more information regarding scheduling and rates, call 434-325-8180 or visit |

Virginia Fishing Licenses & Access Permits

License Fees, Information and Requirements

The quickest and easiest way to obtain a fishing or hunting license or access permit is to PURCHASE IT ONLINE! Just select the license(s) you want, pay with your VISA™ or MasterCard™, and you’re on your way. You print your licenses after you pay, so there’s no waiting!

Convenient Ways to Buy Your Licenses & Access Permits

  • Online
  • Telephone: call 1-866-721-6911 (available Monday – Friday, 8 AM – 5 PM, except holidays)
  • In person: choose from hundreds of license agents located around the Commonwealth. Licenses are also sold by some clerks of the Circuit Court. (see Nelson locations below)

Customer Service
Need assistance with your license purchase? Contact customer service by phone at 1-866-721-6911 or by email. Customer service is available Monday – Friday, 8 AM – 5 PM, except holidays

Nelson County Fishing License Locations

  • Shady’s Place 15819 Thomas Nelson Hwy. Lovingston, VA 22949 434-263-5024
  • Sunny Mountain Store 10761 Thomas Nelson Hwy. Lovingston, VA 22949 434-263-4080

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