By James Moffitt
Photos by James Moffitt
Making time to fish can be hard and sometimes the best option is to get out before or after work for a few hours. This guide breaks down some of the best fishing spots around Richmond to help you make an informed decision and spend more time with a rod in your hand. Check out DWR’s FishLocalVA information for more great local spots!
Joseph Bryan Park
Located in Lakeside just north of the city, Bryan Park offers a variety of fishing opportunities with a mixture of larger lakes and smaller streams. The park is intersected throughout by canals and has three main bodies of water. Most of the lakes have a variety of cover, lily pads, and open water.
The sunfish population in Bryan Park is of special note as it is extremely robust. You’ll have a hard time wetting a hook and not finding two or three bluegills chasing after it. The park also hosts a decent population of largemouth bass and a small population of catfish.
From a casting perspective, you can fish with traditional spinning tackle in most spots. During the summer months, it’s best to wear long pants, as you will be challenged to push through brush and briar to get to some spots.
If you prefer to fly fish, be prepared to fight snags in the brush and keep a watchful eye overhead and on your backcast. It’s definitely doable and well worth the reward as the bluegill here will swallow a standard cork popper without hesitation.
It is important as well to be mindful of others in this park when fishing. It is a popular spot for cyclists, bird watchers, and walkers, and has a disc golf course running through the majority of it. Keep your head on a swivel when casting and keep one ear open for disc golfers yelling “Fore!”
Roughly 15 minutes from downtown Richmond, Dorey Park is a large, single-lake park off of Darbytown Road. It hosts a large fishing pier and a smaller dock near the parking lot.
The lake is accessible all the way around, but is surrounded by a popular walking path that is used often by cyclists, dogs, and walkers. The lake also has several fish attractants in place and man-made structures marked by signage in the water. It’s a popular spot with several locals willing to share advice.
On a good day be prepared to catch catfish, sunfish, largemouth bass, stocked trout, and chain pickerel. During the trout stocking season, the lake can be especially crowded, but also incredibly rewarding.
It’s a great spot for year-round fishing and the water is easily accessible, making it perfect for young children, mobility-impaired individuals, and other people with accessibility considerations.
Because of the wide-open area around the lake, it can be easily fished with either traditional spinning tackle or fly fishing tackle all the way around. Successful anglers are often seen using poppers, rooster tails, and slip bobbers with worms or marshmallows.
Deep Run Park
This park is excellent for the beginning angler and anyone looking to spend some time learning how to unlock a body of water and catch fish consistently. Comprised of two lakes, Deep Run offers a fishery loaded with lily pad beds, sunken structures, fallen trees, man-made fish attractants, and plenty of accessibility.
The lakes host a number of species including sunfish, largemouth bass, and catfish. Similar to Bryan Park, however, the lake has a thriving sunfish populations, and anglers will have to work to bring the bass in.
Both lakes have fishing docks that hang out into the lake as well as ground access at several points. The adventurous angler will easily find a spot off the beaten path from which to cast.
Both lakes are rimmed with paved walking trails that can be extremely busy during peak times. So, while it is possible to both fly fish and use spinning gear, spinning gear is recommended mostly due to the volume of walkers, cyclists, and dogs consistently present on the trail.
Popular baits include rooster tails, poppers, jigs, and plastic worms rigged as either Texas rigs or wacky rigs.
Positioned in the heart of Byrd Park in central Richmond, Swan Lake is a large, 13-acre lake with ample urban fishing opportunities. It contains both man-made and natural structures and is host to a healthy population of largemouth bass along with accompanying sunfish and catfish.
The lake is deepest in the center and curves up to several flats to create changes in contour that attract fish. It can become quite scummy and grassy in the warm months, however, making it challenging to fish consistently.
The lake also hosts a large variety of waterfowl including ducks and geese and has a resident pigeon population. There are accessible bathrooms nearby and minimal tree cover or brush around the whole lake, making it fairly accessible.
It can be easily fished with either traditional or spinning gear, but the surrounding walkways are especially busy on beautiful days and on weekends.
Most traditional bass lures will work well here; experimentation is the key to successful fishing. Don’t be afraid to work the matted muck sections with a frog lure or try sending a shallow crankbait far out into the center of the lake.
Three Lakes Park
Located in nearby Chamberlayne right off I-95, Three Lakes Park is a short drive to some excellent fishing. Although made up of three individual lakes, only two allow fishing. The first is 7 acres and the second is 5 acres.
Both are roughly 6 to 8 feet deep in the center and offer a mix of natural cover in the form of downed trees and grass as well as man-made cover. There is a mixture of fishing piers and natural peninsulas as well as hiking trails from which to cast.
The lakes host a healthy mixture of largemouth bass, catfish, and panfish, as well as the occasional grass carp. Due to the layout of the park, however, fly fishing opportunities are extremely limited. Anglers are best served using traditional tackle.
Pedestrian and other traffic can be heavy at times, but due to the clever layout of the trails around the park it’s possible to fish easily from a number of spots without being crowded.
Traditional bass tackle will work exceptionally well and panfish beds can be seen right up against the shoreline during the warm months.