The Roanoke River is home to a range of fauna including the Roanoke logperch (Percina rex), a federally and state endangered species native to the Roanoke River. The largest populations inhabit the upper Roanoke River from the City of Roanoke into the lower reaches of its main forks. The Upper Roanoke River watershed is also home to numerous species of birds and water fowl, wildlife, and game fish.
Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail Sites
The Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail is a driving trail that provides travelers opportunities to view a wide variety of wildlife. The Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, established and maintained by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), is the first statewide wildlife trail of its kind in the United States. The Roanoke River provides access to the following Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail sites which are part of the Mountain Trail.
Roanoke Valley Loop Sites
Star City Loop Sites
- MSC05: Virginia’s Explore Park
- MSC08: Roanoke Water Pollution Control Plant
- MSC09: Tinker Creek Greenway
- MSC10: Wasena Park and the Roanoke River Greenway
- MSC11: Rivers Edge Sports Complex
See the Roanoke River Blueway Interactive Map for Birding and Wildlife site locations.
The Upper Roanoke River provides some great fishing opportunities for a variety of species. Float fishing, wade fishing, and bank fishing are both popular options depending upon the section of river. Smallmouth and largemouth bass, redeye, bluegill, catfish and trout are some of the species caught. The river has the characteristics of a freestone mountain stream from Elliston down through the City of Roanoke. From the Fall through Spring there are ample opportunities for trout fishing as sections of the river are part of the VDGIF’s trout stocking program (see the Roanoke River Blueway Interactive Map designated stocked trout reaches). The sections around Green Hill Park and Colorado Street are delayed harvest, providing opportunities for some great trout fishing well after the stocking has occurred. Smallmouth bass can also be found throughout this stretch and this fishery is undervalued in that regard. Kayaks and wade fishing are the best ways to access the river between Salem, Roanoke and Vinton. Below Niagara Dam is the Roanoke River Gorge, a short 3 mile stretch of great smallmouth water accessible from Explore Park. Largemouth bass and a variety of other species can be caught here as fish can run out of Smith Mountain Lake into this section of river. As the river becomes more lake-like, catfish, striped bass, and others also become more common. Small motorized boats are a great way to fish this section of river as it comes into the lake. A valid Virginia freshwater fishing license is required to fish in the Upper Roanoke River. Additionally, a fish in designated stocked trout waters license is required for sections of the upper Roanoke River (in addition to the freshwater license).
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) Freshwater Fishing Information
Designated Stocked Trout Waters (Catchable Trout Stocking Program)
Trout Stocking Schedule (DGIF)
Fish Virginia First Program
Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Fish Consumption Advisories
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
4010 West Broad Street
Trout Unlimited – Roanoke Chapter
P.O. Box 11725
Roanoke, VA 24022
Float Fisherman of Virginia (Roanoke Valley Chapter)
P.O. Box 1750
Roanoke, VA 24008