Fishing in Washington DC: Licenses and Places to Fish

Things to Know About Fishing in the Nation's Capital

Fishing on the Potomac River

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Looking to go fishing in Washington DC? The waters of the nation’s capital are home to more than 70 species of fish ranging from striped bass to sea lampreys. The District Department of the Environment (DDOE) monitors and manages the fish populations and works to enhance their habitats while providing fishing opportunities for Washington DC residents and visitors. Here is information on licensing, regulations and places to fish in Washington DC.


A fishing license is required for anyone over 16 years of age. Licenses are valid from January 1 to December 31 of the calendar year. As of December 1, 2009, the fees for the license are as follows: Resident $10, Nonresident 14-Day $6.50, 1 Year $13. The DDOE develops and enforces regulations in coordination with the District's Metropolitan Harbor Police and the Capital Park Police.
Apply for a fishing license online

Fishing Regulations

Fishing regulations help to protect DC’s fisheries. Anglers are required to know the laws and regulations where they are fishing. Here are the key things to know:

  • A licensed angler must maintain possession of the license while fishing and shall display the license at all times.
  • A person shall fish only with a rod, hook, and line, not to exceed three lines in number and not having more than two hooks to each line.
  • Regulations limit the size and number of a select fish species that anglers are allowed to keep. The striped bass possession limit is 2 fish per person, 18” minimum with only 1 fish over 28.”
  • Fishing for commercial purposes is prohibited.
  • Limited consumption of fish caught in DC waters is advised. PCBs and other chemical contaminants have continued to be found in certain fish species caught in the Potomac and Anacostia rivers and their tributaries. The practice of catch and release is encouraged.

    Places to Fish within the District of Columbia

    Potomac River - The Potomac runs west of Washington DC and has many tributaries which provide a great opportunity for fishing. Fletchers Boat House, located between Chain and Key Bridges, is renowned as an outstanding fishing and boating area. Fishing gear and licenses are available onsite.
    Anacostia River – There are many opportunities for recreational fishing in the Anacostia Watershed. The DC Department of Health advises that persons do not eat the fish. Anacostia Park has a public boat launch and a marina.

    Additional Resources and Contacts

    DC Fisheries and Wildlife Division
    1200 First Street, NE. Washington, DC 20002
    (202) 535-2260
    Maryland Department of Natural Resources
    Tawes State Office Building B-2
    580 Taylor Avenue Annapolis, Maryland 21401
    (800) 688 FINS
    Virginia Marine Resources Commission
    2600 Washington Avenue Newport News, Virginia 23607
    (757) 247-2200
    Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
    4010 West Broad Street Richmond, Virginia 23230
    (804) 367-1000
    Potomac River Fisheries Commission
    P.O. Box 9 Colonial Beach, Virginia 22443
    (804) 224-7148 or (800) 266-3904
    Fishing is a fun activity for all ages and a great way to spend time with family or friends.

    There are many fishing destinations around the capital region. To learn about some of the best places to fish and regulations, see Fishing in Maryland and Fishing in Virginia

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