20 Great Economical Adventures

West Virginia: New River Smallmouths

Outdoor Life Online Editor

The New River enters West Virginia full-born and bass-filled near the southern tip of the state. Set in rough mountain country, the New River offers spectacular scenery, challenging water flows and one of the best smallmouth bass fisheries in the East.

While the state lists three exciting canoe day trips down the New River, none of them is for the casual canoeist. Each of the trips contains plenty of Class III water, with a few spots touching on Class IV. To make it easier for bass fishermen, there are a number of outfitters who offer guided fishing trips. Daylong fishing trips range upward from $85 per person, with overnight trips available from several outfitters. The West Virginia Tourism Department (see below) has a list of guide services in the area.

Starting in 2001, the 12-mile reach from the I-64 bridge at Sandstone downstream to the National Park Service's Grandview Sandbar access near Quinnimont will be catch-and-release only for smallmouths.

Information regarding camping and access points, as well as detailed maps of the National Park Service area of the New River Gorge National River, are available from park headquarters. Three-day nonresident fishing licenses cost $5, while annual nonresident licenses are $30. A nonresident trout fishing stamp ($10) is required, as is a nonresident conservation/law enforcement stamp for $10.