The first day of fall has officially arrived and there is no better time to get into the outdoors than right now. Hunting season is in and deer hunters are able to climb back into their tree stands as bow season started on Saturday, September 27. And don’t forget about the good fishing in the fall as the fish go into feeding mode to fatten up for the long winter months.
Last weekend I took a float trip down the New River to take advantage of the great smallmouth bass fishing the river offers. I met Dave and then Sammy at the river just as the sun was coming over the ridgetops. It was a cool 50 degrees and a light fog was hovering over the river. The brisk air had the feel of fall for sure. We pushed off and started down the river and it didn’t take Dave long to find the first fish of the trip with a feisty 12 inch smallie at the end of his line. Things started out a little on the slow side with the cooler temperatures but after about a mile the fish catching picked up. We were floating along when all of a sudden a fish hammered Dave’s swimbait. His rod doubled over and he knew it was a good fish.
As the battle ensued the fish finally rolled under the boat and I got a good look at it. “That’s a real nice fish” I said while reaching for the camera. About that time Sammy made the old mistake of grabbing Dave’s line and as he went to pull the fish in the boat the line snapped. “What pound test line are you using?” Sammy asked Dave. “6 pound but its 2 years old” Dave replied. Sammy said he knew better than to grab the line but we didn’t have a net. He told Dave that he needed new line. All we could do was watch the big bronzeback disappear back to the river depths while giving Sammy heck about breaking it off.
I was struggling with the fly rod as the top water bite wasn’t happening. I managed a few fish but they were more interested in feeding on the plentiful shad swimming all around. It didn’t take me very long to put the fly rod down and join Sammy and Dave in the fish catching action.
The overcast skies always help put more fish in the boat and it definitely helped us out especially Dave as he was reeling them in left and right. We were all catching fish and at one time had a triple with all 3 of us hooked up. Sammy and Dave both grew up fishing the New River and they both agreed that the river is fishing as good as it ever has with a lot of healthy looking smallmouth.
About that time Dave hooked another big fish. “Don’t grab the line” we kept telling Sammy as the fish neared the boat. This time Sammy managed to grab a hold of the big bronzeback and brought it into the boat. It was a fat 19 inch smallie that we estimated to weigh around 4 pounds. “Great fish” I told Dave. I just like to see big fish regardless if I catch them or not.
We continued down the river trying to catch as many fish as we could. It was wonderful as we had the river to ourselves and only saw one other raft and 3 kayaks all day. Of course there were several herons and geese along the way and even a couple of ospreys that were fishing as well. When we reached the takeout and all was said and done we guessed that we easily caught at least 120 fish between the 3 of us.
It was another great day spent on the river in the West Virginia outdoors. The New is truly a top notch river as good as any smallmouth river in the country. We’re blessed to have it here and it’s what helps make this place Almost Heaven. Good luck to all the bowhunters this season!