Clinch River - Fishing Opportunities
Many gamefish species that have been stocked into other Virginia rivers are native to the Clinch. Among the native gamefish in the river are the smallmouth bass, spotted bass, walleye, and sauger. In fact, the Clinch and its tributaries are the only Virginia waters where sauger are present. Largemouth bass, rock bass, redbreast sunfish, longear sunfish, and bluegill sunfish are available, as well as musky, black crappie and freshwater drum. Anglers who are looking for catfish will find both channel and flathead catfish in good numbers and sizes.
The Clinch River should offer anglers average catch rates for smallmouths in 2005, with a fair number of fish measuring more than 14 inches total length, and a few longer than 17 inches available. Rock bass size and numbers were impressive in recent samples, so they might fill in some of the time between smallmouth bites. Channel catfish are abundant in some slower moving sections of the river, and freshwater drum are collected at most sample sites. Walleye, sauger and musky are present, but in low densities. Anglers targeting these species should wear their “lucky” fishing hat and fish at times and locations that concentrate these otherwise sparsely distributed fishes.
Observant anglers may also notice longnose gar "sunning" near the river's surface and occasionally taking a gulp of air. Strong populations of redhorse suckers and carp are available for anglers with the prowess and inclination to pursue them. These bottom-feeding fish can be caught on small pieces of worm fished on small hooks and light line, especially during the spring months. Redhorse suckers are most visible in the shallow water near the tails of pools. In Scott County, these shoals are the focal points of a unique spring tradition - the sucker shooting season. From April 15 to May 31 enthusiasts climb to platforms built in trees along the river to gain a better view of the river. These shooting platforms are often located at perilous heights, and are easy to spot when floating the river.