Crabbing is one of the most popular activities at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Crabbing is permitted in designated areas in Swan Cove and along Beach Road, as well as from the boardwalks near the entrance gates.
Blue crabs make a tasty meal, and catching these feisty creatures only requires a few tools: a crab line, a net, and a bucket for your catch. Don’t forget bait! Chicken necks are a good choice – the smellier, the better! When crabbing, remember to observe state limits on size and quantity. Each person is allowed one bushel of hard crabs per day.
Crabbing sizes and limits are enforced by refuge law enforcement. Please visit this site to ensure you know the regulations: http://www.mrc.virginia.gov/regulations/regindex.shtm
Fishing is an enjoyable activity at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors can choose to fish in designated areas of Toms Cove and Swan Cove or from the beach, outside of life-guarded areas. State regulations must be observed. Visitors may fish after hours by procuring an overnight fishing permit from the Toms Cove Visitor Center.
Anglers age 16 and older must possess a valid Virginia Saltwater Fishing or Potomac River Fisheries Sport Fishing license http://www.mrc.state.va.us/regulations/recfishh&l_licensing.shtm.
Anglers who are exempt from licensing and holders of out of state reciprocal licenses must register (free) with the Virginia Fisherman Identification Program (FIP) http://www.mrc.state.va.us/FIP/
Fishing regulations are enforced by refuge law enforcement. Please visit this site to ensure you know the regulations: http://www.mrc.virginia.gov/regulations/regindex.shtm
Clamming is an activity that can be enjoyed by all ages at Toms Cove. All you need are a bucket or basket and a clam rake. Look for the tell-tale “key hole” in the mud, or just pick a spot and start digging. There are several different types of clams that can be found in the waters around the refuge, including hard-shell clams (also known as “quahogs”), soft-shell clams, and razor clams, which have a long and narrow shell.
Visitors may take a maximum of 250 clams in one day. There are also multiple commercial and private clam beds in the waters around Chincoteague and Assateague Islands. These areas are prohibited for recreational clamming. Resale of clams taken from the refuge is prohibited.
Clamming regulations are enforced by refuge law enforcement. Please visit this site to ensure you know the regulations: http://www.mrc.virginia.gov/regulations/regindex.shtm
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Over the past 200-300 years, these modern-day descendants of domestic horses have adapted to the hardships of living near the ocean. Prior to the refuge's establishment in 1943, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company purchased the ponies and continues ownership to this day. The Firemen are allowed to graze up to 150 ponies on refuge land through a Special Use Permit from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.