James River Resource Page

Information about the James River gathered from the Virginia Games and Inland Fisheries Dept.

Upper James River

From the confluence of the Jackson and Cowpasture Rivers in Alleghany 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 should be good in 2002, with decent numbers of 11-14 inch fish. The numbers of smaller fish may be down a little from the past two years, but should be good enough to provide plenty of action.

Bass fishing will be good throughout the river. Both the mountain sections (upstream from Lynchburg) and the piedmont sections (between Lynchburg and Richmond) should have lots of fish. There is not a lot of difference in the fish populations from one spot to another, it is simply a matter of finding the particular locations where the fish are holding and using whatever bait or lure they might want that day.

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. In the past few years, many large flathead catfish have been caught in the river, although numbers are lower this year. Sunfish numbers have been low over the past several years, but angler reports and Fisheries Division samples indicate that these species are rebounding. Sunfish should be more abundant in 2002, at least compared to the previous five years. 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, and a map showing access points is available from the VDGIF. Small boats (such as john boats) can also be used at some access points. Bank and wade fishing access is also available throughout the river.

From Scottsville throughout the fall line in the City of Richmond, anglers may find fewer bass than on many other sections of the river, but those caught tend to average much larger. An 11-14 inch slot limit regulation is in effect on smallmouth and largemouth bass. Anglers may keep small and large bass but must return all bass that are 11-14 inches in size. A good panfish population, predominately redbreast sunfish, also exists on the James River. Catfish are abundant, especially channel cats, and large flathead catfish can now be found in the fall line of the river in the City of Richmond. Access to the river is good, with many public boat ramps on the river from Scottsville to Richmond. The river is open to the public 24 hours a day.

Lower James River

The tidal James River and its tributaries support a nationally recognized largemouth bass fishery. The tidal James system was the site of previous Bass Master Classics and the FLW Tour Championship is scheduled to occur on the tidal James in September 2003. Upstream from Hopewell, fishing for largemouth is best in old river channels and abandoned gravel pits connected to the main stem. Downstream from Hopewell, largemouth fishing is most productive in larger tributary creeks, the main stem James River having very limited shoreline structure below Hopewell. The creeks between Hopewell and Hog Island provide excellent largemouth habitat, with abundant shoreline structure, such as old pier pilings and downed trees, adjacent to channel drop-offs as well as large expanses of vegetated tidal flats.

James River Maps

GMCO Maps for Virginia waters Probably the best available fishing map.

Navionics Nautical Charts and GPS Software Excellent Navigational charts as well as having chips available for use in GPS plotters.

James River Articles

Virginia Game and Fish Magazine James River Articles

Boat Launches

Upper James River Boat Launches

For the Upper James (above the fall line in Richmond) the Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries website has good maps that show the locations of all boat landings and ramps.  You can click the link below to get to that page
Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries Upper James Launch maps

Lower James River Boat Launches

For the Lower James boat launches are listed below:

Ancarrow Landing (public)

In Richmond off Route 5

Osbourne Landing (public)

Henrico County, 9680 Osbourne Turnpike

Directions

From 64 take the Laburnum Avenue Exit. You will want to take the Laburnum south exits. On Laburnum Avenue cross over Williamsburg Road, Charles City Road, Darbytown Road and Route 5/New Market Road. Laburnum becomes Burning Tree Road after crossing route 5. Take to the end and make a left on Osborne Turnpike. Go 3.5 miles and the entrance is on the right.

From 95 take exit 67 Rt. 895 towards the airport. Go over the bridge and through the toll plaza then take the first exit for Laburnum Avenue. Take the first left turn off the exit ramp. This will lead you to Burning Tree Road. Take to the end and make a left on Osborne Turnpike. Go 3.5 miles and the entrance is on the right.

From 295 take exit 22 Route 5 towards Williamsburg. Go to 2nd or third right turn Kingsland Road and make the right. Follow for several mile. Kingsland will run into Osbourne Turnpike and boat ramp will be right there on the left.

Dutch Gap (public)

Chesterfield County

Directions

From I-95 north or south, use Exit 61A, East on Rt. 10 to first stoplight, North on Rt. 732 to Rt. 615, Right on Rt. 615 follow signs to boat launch.

From 295 take the route 10 exit towards Chester. Go until just before you get to Rt. 95. Take a Right turn on Rt. 732 Stage Road and follow signs to the boat launch.

Deep Bottom (public)

Henrico County

Directions

From 95 take exit 67 Rt. 895 towards the airport. Go over the bridge and through the toll plaza then take the first exit for Laburnum Avenue. Go to the first traffic light and make a right on Route 5 towards Williamsburg. Take route 5 past where 295 crosses it then take the 2nd or third right turn for Kingsland Road then take your first left for Deep Bottom Road. Follow this to the boat launch.

From 295 take exit 22 Route 5 towards Williamsburg. Go to 2nd or third right turn Kingsland Road and make the right then take your first left for Deep Bottom Road. Follow this to the boat launch.

Hopewell City Marina (public with fees)

Hopewell City

Directions

From 95 use Exit 61A, East on Rt. 10. Follow Rt. 10 all the way to Hopewell. You will cross a long bridge over the Appomattox River. Immediately after crossing the bridge take the right turn exit. Follow to bottom of the hill and make a left and then the ramp is located on your right.

From 295 take the route 10 exit towards Hopewell. Follow Rt. 10 all the way to Hopewell. You will cross a long bridge over the Appomattox River. Immediately after crossing the bridge take the right turn exit. Follow to bottom of the hill and make a left and then the ramp is located on your right.

Jordan Point (fee ramp)

Hopewell

Directions

From 95 use Exit 61A, From 295 use exit 15, then go East on Rt. 10. Follow Rt. 10 all the way to Hopewell. Go through town and then follow signs for Rt. 156 to Benjamin Harrison Bridge. Jordan Point is located just before you get to the bridge.

Chickahominy Waterfront Park (fee ramp)

Directions

From 95 take exit 67 Rt. 895 towards the airport. Go over the bridge and through the toll plaza then take the first exit for Laburnum Avenue. Go to the first traffic light and make a right on Route 5 towards Williamsburg. You will be on Route 5 for some distance (at least 15 – 20 miles). You will then cross a long bridge that goes over the Chickahominy River. Immediately after crossing the bridge make the first left turn into Chickahominy Waterfront Park.

From 295 take exit 22 Route 5 towards Williamsburg. You will be on Route 5 for some distance (at least 15 – 20 miles). You will then cross a long bridge that goes over the Chickahominy River. Immediately after crossing the bridge make the first left turn into Chickahominy Waterfront Park.

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