James River - Lower
The tidal James River and its tributaries support a nationally recognized largemouth bass fishery. The tidal James was the site of previous Bass Master Classics and the 2003 FLW Tour Championship.
This tidal river system provides the best fishing for blue catfish in the state, and anglers from around the country have recently begun to travel to Virginia to fish for the abundant large blue catfish found here. During the 2000 - 2003 timeframe over 3600 citations (angler trophy awards) were issued to anglers who landed their trophy blue catfish on the tidal James. Hundreds of 30 to 60 pound blue catfish are pulled from the tidal James each year. During the winter of 2004 - 2005 several fish over 70 pounds were caught by anglers, and a river record 83 pound fish was landed.
In recent years, striped bass (rockfish) fishing has been excellent in the tidal James River, partially as a result of restoration efforts by VDGIF and other state and federal agencies. During the spring season, fishing for stripers near the fall-line can provide exciting action, particularly using top water lures. During the fall season striper fishing on the James is generally best downstream of the I-295 Bridge. In addition, stripers may also be found in many of the larger tidal tributary creeks during this season. Though late in the fall season the best locations for striper fishing are usually further downstream below the freshwater-saltwater license line, at the "mothball fleet", the James River Bridge, and the Monitor-Merrimac Bridge-Tunnel.
A restoration program for American shad was initiated in 1992, and as of 2005 approximately 50 million shad fry had been stocked in the James and Pamunkey in an attempt to restore this species to its former abundance. Stocked fish have already returned to the James as adults to spawn, and each year since 1999 shad have passed through the newly constructed fish ladder at Bosher's Dam in increasing numbers. Spring shad fishing has returned to the fall line of the James, and anglers congregate here by the hundreds when the shad are running. The shad run typically peaking from mid April to early May.