The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries maintains a number of public boat ramps. There's no charge to use these ramps. You can pick up a brochures at local marinas or request one by calling 804-367-1000. dgif.virginia.gov
Here are some of the main public ramps:
Gloucester Point. Off Route 1208 in Gloucester Point on the York River
Huntington Park. Near the foot of the James River Bridge in Newport News
Dandy Point. On the Back River in the Fox Hill section of Hampton
Warwick River. At the end of Denbigh Boulevard in Newport News
Messick Point. At the end of Messick Road in Poquoson
Back Creek Park. On Goodwin Neck Road in Dandy
Buckroe Pier reopened in May 2009. It's open 24 hours from April to October and houses rod rentals and a bait shop; it is located at 330 S. Resort Blvd., in Hampton. Admission ranges from $6 to $8. Call 757-727-1486. hampton.gov/buckroe
The best-known local remaining area fishing pier that charges admission is the James River Fishing Pier at Huntington Park in Newport News. Although you don't need a saltwater recreational license, you must pay admission($8.50 for adults; $6.50 for seniors and 12 and younger). It opens April 15. Usual hours are 9 a.m.-11 p.m. daily, 247-0364.
Other piers include Hilton Pier, Denbigh Park, Peterson's Yacht Basin, Monitor-Merrimac Overlook and King-Lincoln Pier, all of which are free. A valid state fishing license is required. York River State Park's pier is open from 8 a.m. until dusk, 566-3036.
Beaverdam. 635 acres. Largemouth bass, channel catfish, black crappie and panfish. Two boat ramps, boat and canoe rentals. Park is open 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. through March; 6 a.m.-8:30 p.m. starting in April. 8687 Roaring Springs Road, Gloucester. 804-693-2107.
Burnt Mills. 610 acres. Largemouth bass and sunfish. At Route 601 and Route 603 in Isle of Wight County. Information: 441-5727.
Chickahominy Lake. An eight-mile-long reservoir that is one of the top fishing spots in the state. Ed Allen's Campground maintains private ramps. Call Eagles Landing at 804-966-9094 or lower Chickahominy Lake at 804-746-2475.
Harwood's Mill. 265 acres. Largemouth bass and channel catfish, sunfish and a few northern pike. Boat rentals on weekends from approximately May through October. Oriana Road in York County. 886-7912 or 888-3333.
Lake Maury (Mariners' Museum Lake). 165 acres, open 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Fishing is for 16 or younger and 65 and older. There's no fishing off the trails. Boat rentals are available; driver's license required to rent. Bank fishing is $5. Largemouth bass (catch-and-release only), northern pike, catfish, crappie, bluegill, perch. 596-2222, ext. 799 or 591-7799.
Lake Prince. 777 acres. One of the Suffolk Lakes. Striped bass, largemouth, shellcrackers (sunfish) and chain pickerel. Route 604 near Suffolk.
Lee Hall. 490 acres. Largemouth bass, chain pickerel, crappie and sunfish are the main catches. There are boat rentals at one end of the reservoir and a fishing pier at the other end. Inside Newport News Park. 886-7912 or 888-3333.
Little Creek. 996 acres. Earning a reputation as a freshwater striped-bass hot spot. Boat ramp and boat rentals, electric motors only. Off Forge Road on Lakeview Road (Route 610) in Toano. Park is open 6 a.m.-7 p.m. on weekends and 7 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays. Park office closes at 5 p.m. 566-1702.
Lake Meade and Lake Cohoon. Both approximately 700 acres. Largemouth bass, chain pickerel, rockfish and panfish. Boat ramp available. Pitchkettle Road in Suffolk.
Sandy Bottom Park. Fishing for catch-and-release largemouth bass allowed from the pier or from boat rentals only. Anyone 16 or older must have a state freshwater license. 825-4657.
Waller Mill. Striped bass, largemouth bass and panfish. Boat ramp and boat rentals. In Williamsburg's Waller Mill Park. 259-3778.