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Rappahannock River - Fredericksburg VA

Rappahannock River is a shore accessible fresh water dive site, located at 6600 River Rd. Route 618, Fredericksburg, VA 22407. This dive site has an average rating of 3.00 out of 5 from 2 scuba divers. The maximum depth is 11-15ft/3-5m. The average visibility is 5-10ft/2-3m.

This dive site description is of the river environment found around the Motts Run Boat Launch area in Fredericksburg, VA., though it also describes the general underwater territory found throughout the river.
There are many submerged trees with exposed roots, broken-off branches, large and small boulders and rocks that provide shelter and protection for a variety of freshwater fish species like smallmouth bass, redbreast sunfish, herring, shad, white and yellow perch, channel and blue catfish, freshwater eel, and painted turtles.
Just the other day I saw what must’ve been a 2.5’ striped bass hovering over a large hole beneath a huge tree trunk laying on its side. Some of its roots extended to just above the surface. The bass bolted when I was within a foot of it. At the same location, I came within touching distance of a large channel catfish that moved closer to take a look at me.
Though much of the river is 3’ to 5’ deep, there are pockets that range between 7’ and 13’. The large tree trunk I saw was in 8’ of water.
There are strong currents in many places, and kayakers, canoers, and rafters often find white-watering opportunities as they navigate down the river. The currents also provide great workout opportunities if you are willing and able to challenge them. On certain days I’ve had to "crawl" along the bottom against the current, almost like climbing the side of a mountain. By the time I got back to shore I was totally worn out.
Make sure to use a diver-down float to let others know you are in the area, particularly in high traffic places. Fishing is also allowed, so be ready to encounter monofilament line.
Visibility varies greatly depending on the weather and human traffic.
If you like treasure hunting, get a good metal detector and have at it. You can find civil war bullets and relics, and maybe some jewelry.
Scuba diving in rivers is very challenging on many levels, and surprising things can be found in them. Getting wet in the Rappahannock will be no different.

Dive Site Map

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Barnabysdad - 6/01/2019 6:40 PM
I started from the entry point that’s mentioned in the picture. Dive on 6/1/19 at 1430.

Use a diver down flag or safety sausage (I did the former, but will do the latter next time). It’s shallow and there are a LOT of kayaks and canoes around. While the current wasn’t ripping... if you pop-up to get your bearings without a surface marker (it’s only ~4-5’ deep at most spots), you could get brained by a human powered a boat.

The water was relatively low, so the spot that I found 7’ at would likely be ~10’ during rainy season.The visibility averaged ~5-10’, though some spots dropped below that. There were a bunch of kids in the water maybe 100 yards upstream, so I doubt that did the visibility any favors.

Not a lot of critters today. I crossed over to the opposite bank and skirted the downed trees. I only saw one smallmouth bass, but it was a good sized fish. He/she hung around to see what I was up to for a few seconds. See if you can spot the fish (center of the image and towards the top). This gives you an idea of the average visibility. The fish was about 5 so away.

Wear gloves. Even if it "looks" calm from the shore, there’s still some current once you get out there. Heading downstream is a "drift" dive, while grabbing the occasional rock or branch to slow you down. Getting back upstream will likely involve pulling yourself along the bottom from rock to rock. Either that or completely exhausting yourself by kicking against the current. I opted to go with the crawl along the bottom option, which I think was the way to go.
Airworks - 6/02/2019 7:25 AM
Hey, I’m glad to see someone else is willing to take the river challenge. Diving there very early in the morning is usually the best time if good to excellent visibility is desired. Good luck as you continue your adventure!
Airworks - 2/16/2019 8:08 AM
Rating Added: 3
Good spots to get wet when the itch needs to be scratched
Airworks - 7/21/2018 8:05 AM
I did a "dark" dive this morning in 10’ to 13’ of water, about 300 yards from the boat launching area, and in sight of the Clore Brothers Outfitters store on River Road.
Got to the site at 5 a.m., and was in the water by 5:15. The current was light, so getting back to the shore ingress point was easier than usual.
Saw many bass and bluegill, a large channel catfish, a painted turtle, and a small freshwater eel. The underwater environment reminds me of the Fredericksburg quarry I’ve dove in many times.
The really cool thing about diving in the river is that it’s FREE and accessible anytime I have the itch to get wet! It provides a great workout, and there’s lots to see and explore.
Like having my very own private dive spot.