Clinch River - Fishing Opportunities

Smallmouth Bass River Fishing Forecast

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 will provide good fishing in 2013. Most smallmouth bass collected during 2012 electrofishing samples were less than 14", but some larger fish are available. About 9% of adult smallmouth bass exceeded 14", 2% exceeded 17" and less than 1% exceeded 20". Rock bass and redbreast sunfish size and numbers are good, so they might fill in some of the time between smallmouth bites. Walleye fishing is improving, as the walleye population continues to be enhanced through stocking. Walleye collected in the 2012 samples ranged from 17-21". Late winter and early spring are the best times to target walleye. The Clinch has a wide range of species and makes for a great day out.

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.