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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Had a chance to hit the South Fork of the New river on Sunday, floated from 7:30am till about 2 in the afternoon. River was beautiful, running normal level and clear. We started near fleetwood and went under US 220 bridge. (5+ river miles) I really have not been impressed with the bass fishing lately in the SF New River. (4th time and diff. section this year) Back in the early 2000's those same sections in that area fished amazing, I've had 50+ fish days on those same floats.(with at least one or two quality bass)

Seems now something has changed, fishing pressure, river pressure, river health?… I'm not sure but the size and amount of smallies appears to be sliding off. We caught 4 smallmouth over 10inch, and few red-eye (+15 suckers). I missed a few bass that thru the bait, but did not see anything of decent size all day. Wondering if other's notice a difference fishing in that area too?

Still impressive how hard a pound and half smallmouth can pull on those first few runs. Makes you get the net ready for no reason, feeling silly… That day most fish wanted the jig and took it on the first or second drop.
 

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If the numbers were still comparable but just small fish, I'd guess that there were poor water conditions during the spawn a couple years in a row and that hurt recruitment for those year classes. River fish aren't as long lived so a couple bad spawns have a greater impact. If overall numbers and size are down I agree with your concern over water quality.
 

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Its seems you can only find 1 or 2 good fish anymore on the New or my experience anyway. I still enjoy getting out and kayaking the New but I feel the food supply chain is possibly off for various reasons too.
 

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Red X Angler
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I too have been fishing that section of river for many, many years. I agree the days of 50 smallies may be behind us but it still is a fine river to fish. I don't believe it is due to fishing pressure. The river is primarily recreational paddlers and not fished hard.

Relative to size, the South Fork has a very low nutrient level and smallie growth is very slow. A 12 inch fish may be 5 years old. But on ultralight tackle they are a blast!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Personally, I have never seen, caught, or heard of a Musky in the south fork. Someone told me that they don't see any/many above Zaloo's Canoes in Jefferson. I've always fished for bass or trout in the south fork and some bass fishing in the New and never seen one. But, I always catch a couple small ones (under 25 inch.) in the French Broad each year bass fishing, usually on a Big Mepps in-line or a big bass jig which surprises me they would hit that bait.
 

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I grew up in Ashe County and later went to ASU. If you're in the camp of fishing pressure you can thank http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Appalachian_State_vs._Michigan_football_game The cat has been out of the bag for awhile now. That school went from a "ouch, that must not have been your first choice" to seeing hundreds of ASU mom/dad stickers around the triangle area. There are still some really nice fish in the river though.
 

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The only big smallies I hear coming from the New are always on the VA side. It seems the label of calling the fish smallies is eventually going to be related to the actual size of the fish instead of them being smallmouth bass. Never caught one over 12inches on the NC side.
 

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Red X Angler
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I know of a 6 pound smallie that came out of the South Fork several years ago. There are some big ones in there but far outnumbered by the little guys. Yes, Virginia has better size and West Virginia is awesome on the New. As for Muskies, they are in the SF downstream (north) of the 221 bridge.
 
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