Fishing Lakes Near DC and More Kid-Friendly Places to Go Fishing

Fishing is a great way to bond with the family in nature. Photo courtesy of Montgomery Parks in Maryland
Fishing is a great way to bond with the family in nature. Photo courtesy of Montgomery Parks in Maryland

Fishing is a fun way for families to spend time together outdoors, and there is no shortage of kid-friendly fishing lakes near DC. There are also plenty of other places to go fishing near DC along the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, in parks, and more. There are so many fishing spots, in fact, that it was tough narrowing this list down to the ones you'll see below.

Grab your fishing poles, hooks, and tackle boxes and head to one of these 12 fishing lakes near DC and other family-friendly places to go fishing. These fishing spots in DC, Maryland, and Virginia are some of the top places for families to try their hand at snagging a big one.

For more outdoor family fun, check out our Outdoor Activities Guide for DC Kids


Fletcher's Cove is a perfect fishing spot for families. Photo courtesy of Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

Places to Go Fishing in DC with Kids

Everyone ages 16-64 needs a fishing license to fish anywhere in Washington, DC, including along the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. A fishing license can be purchased online. Please note that the DC government discourages eating fish from the Anacostia or Potomac rivers, including tributaries like Rock Creek. Catch-and-release is highly encouraged.

1. Fletcher's Cove

Fletcher's Cove is located in the DC part of Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park. Fishing, hiking, and history await! Families can walk along the trails and fish in the canal or in the wider area of the Potomac River called Fletcher's Cove. Rent kayaks, rowboats, canoes, and even stand-up paddleboards at Fletcher's Boathouse, which has been a fishing destination since the 1850s. If you're in need of some fishing tips, gear, or snacks, visit the Tackle Shack. The Abner Cloud House, built in 1801 in the Federal style of architecture, is open to the public monthly. Fishing folk may hook rockfish, bass, or catfish.

2. Kingman + Heritage Islands

The Kingman + Heritage Islands were created over 100 years ago as a result of dredging on the Anacostia River. Today, they are a State Conservation Area, a Critical Wildlife Area, and an opportunity for great fishing! Fishing is allowed in all areas of the park in accordance with DC laws. Come see freshwater wetlands, wildflower meadows, and tidal swamp forests as well as over 100 different species of birds, mammals, and other wildlife. Biking, boating, hiking, wildlife photography, bird-watching, and picnicking are other popular activities here.

3. Anacostia Park

Anacostia Park is another popular place to go fishing along the Anacostia River. Families can fish from the shore or use the boat ramp for public water access and find bass, catfish, perch, and carp. Two miles of access to the river, a 3.5-mile paved walking and biking trail, playgrounds, tennis and basketball courts, and ample space for a picnic make this a top outdoor destination in DC. There's also plenty of parking and restrooms.

4. East Potomac Park/Hains Point

This 395-acre park has golf and mini golf courses, a playground, and picnic areas. Plus, it's surrounded by water, making it the perfect spot for—you guessed it—fishing! The paved walking trail that encircles this peninsula on the Potomac River is a great spot to cast a line. The park is fun for families given its scenic views and cool location right near Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Related: 10 Parks with Beaches near DC for a Day Trip with Kids

 
Many of the best fishing lakes near DC are in Maryland. Photo courtesy of Montgomery Parks 

Kid-Friendly Fishing Lakes in Maryland

Fishing opportunities are abundant in Maryland, but make sure to purchase a fishing license online. Anyone ages 16 and over needs a fishing license.

5. Clopper Lake at Seneca Creek State Park — Gaithersburg

A beautiful spot within a 30-minute drive from DC, Clopper Lake is located inside Seneca Creek State Park. At 6,300 acres, this park has hiking and mountain-biking trails, a disc golf course, a playground, a nature play space, and picnic areas close to kids' play structures. The park also contains 14 scenic miles of Seneca Creek. Families can launch a kayak or canoe from the boat launch at 90-acre Clopper Lake or fish from shore for largemouth bass, tiger muskie, bluegill, or crappie.

6. Cunningham Falls State Park —Thurmont

If you're willing to take a lengthier drive, Cunningham Falls State Park is a great choice for either lake fishing or fly fishing. This state park is located between the Catoctin Mountains, making for a picturesque day trip that's great for families. At Hunting Creek Lake, kids can swim or play on the sandy shore. Families can fish from shore, from a boat, or from the pier located next to the boat launch. Catch trout, bass, bluegills, sunfish, crappie, and catfish here. Big Hunting Creek along MD Route 77 and Little Hunting Creek are for trout artificial fly fishing only. You'll also find hiking trails, a beautiful waterfall, and campsites.

7. Little Seneca Lake at Black Hill Regional Park — Boyds

This Montgomery County gem is great for fishing and other fun in nature. Amenities include a public boat launch and boat rentals, a large playground, a dog park, picnic shelters, and paved and natural hiking trails. To fish the 505-acre Little Seneca Lake, you can rent a kayak, canoe, or rowboat or bring your own. Fishing is also allowed from the shoreline. Common fish caught here include largemouth bass, catfish, bluegill, crappie, and tiger muskie. Kids will also enjoy nature exhibits at the visitor center and even a water trail to tour the lake on a canoe or kayak.

8. Lake Artemesia Natural Area — College Park

In Prince George's County, Lake Artemesia Natural Area is a great place to go fishing. This 38-acre lake includes a handicapped-accessible fishing pier and aquatic butterfly gardens. More than two miles of hiking and biking trails surround the lake. It's also a popular area for bird-watching on the Luther Goldman Birding Trail. Bridges, viewing platforms, and docks spread throughout the lake will have the kids right up close for fishing and experiencing nature.

Related: Where to Go Paddleboarding, Canoeing, or Kayaking Near DC


What will your family catch on your next fishing adventure? Photo courtesy of Fairfax County Park Authority

Places to Go Fishing in Virginia with Kids

There are many beautiful places to fish in Virginia, but make sure to purchase a Virginia fishing license online before you go. Any person ages 16 and over must have a fishing license.

9. Burke Lake Park — Fairfax Station

When it comes to fishing lakes near DC, Burke Lake Park in Fairfax County is one of the best ones for families. Its 218-acre lake boasts 5.25 miles of fishing shoreline, four fishing bulkheads, a new fishing pier, and a boat launch. Burke Lake is ranked high in Virginia for its largemouth bass population, but you might also catch walleye, muskie, catfish, black crappie, perch, sunfish, and bluegill. There are also lots of other fun things to do with kids, including a train ride, a carousel, mini golf, disc golf, a driving range, a 4.7-mile hiking trail around the lake, and multiple playgrounds.

10. Riverbend Park — Great Falls

For another fishing spot along the Potomac, try Riverbend Park. Fish from the shore or rent a boat at the boat ramp. Riverbend Park has kayaks, double kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards for rent. You might catch smallmouth bass among the river rocks. Sunfish are also abundant here and are a good fish for beginners and kids. Riverbend Park has over 10 miles of picturesque hiking trails and a visitor center.

11. Franklin Park — Purcellville

Franklin Park in Loudoun County has a stocked fishing lake for catch-and-release with largemouth bass and bluegill. There are fishing piers located on both sides of the lake. With views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Franklin Park also has lots of other recreational opportunities. Tennis courts, volleyball courts, disc golf, playgrounds, and an outdoor pool and sprayground are some of the many things to do here.

12. Prince William Forest Park — Triangle

A bit further out but definitely worth the drive, Prince William Forest Park has 18 miles of streams and two impoundments on Quantico Creek that are open for public fishing. There are also two small catch-and-release lakes near the cabins that are only reachable by foot. This 15,000-acre woodland is home to numerous species of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and more. With 37 miles of hiking trails, 100 cabins and four campgrounds, biking trails, and playgrounds, your family is sure to enjoy a fishing adventure here.

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