The New River is a fabled smallmouth bass fishery and we verified that it deserves that reputation. Unless you have your own raft and are experienced on the river, the best way to experience the new is with a guide.
Since we intended to fish rather than just float, we contracted with Mountain State Anglers – a guide service I highly recommend. Shawn was our guide and he met our expectations of being an expert boat handler and bass guide. We hit the river around 11 AM with the intention to float late into the day and catch the evening fishing time.
After meeting up with Shawn at a motel north of Beckley, we drove down a bumpy road to the put in point. As you can see from the picture below, this is a popular river – you will not experience a remote fishing adventure here! But, the good news is that the floaters float past fairly quickly and they keep to the center of the river to maximize their thrill on the current. We mainly worked the banks on our float, so we did not feel like they detracted from our experience at all.
To maximize the benefit of going with a guide, I always tell them to assume I know very little. That way, you get a good quick review of the techniques that are productive on that particular stretch of water and additional coaching on the way down. My fishcraft can always use comment and I appreciate any advice I can get – particularily from an expert.
The New is broad and appeared to be fairly deep. We floated down with Shawn working hard to maintain position over the good spots, but the river eventually sweeps you on. To be effective, you have to target ahead of the boat and quickly work the lure back. We used a mixture of plastics, spinnerbaits and a crankbait or two.
Mountain State provided a great lunch that we enjoyed at around 3 PM and it gave us plenty of energy for the remainder of the trip. We caught fish the entire way down and finally pulled up at the take out around 8 PM – with plenty of daylight remaining on this great summer day.
Portion of the New we floated down. Since this was a guided trip, I cannot comment on the portions of the river that were the most productive as this would impact the guide’s livelihood.
Bottom Line: If you fish for smallmouth, you need to fish the New at least once. We would love to go back and hit this again.
You can reach Mountain State at 800.545.7238. A full day trip for two runs $350 (2006 price).
Don’t be put off by what you see at the put in point – all these people will be swept downstream
Chris with an 18 inch bronzeback. All fish were released. Guides have told me that if they know the client will release all the fish caught, they will take them to better locations.
Typical view down the New. Note that there are no other boats in sight – they really do get swept away.
There were a few small rapids that were fun to bounce through.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore