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New River Valley Fishing Guide

By Cris Thompson May 18, 2021

With the old lady New River and numerous mountain trout streams crossing the area, the New River Valley is perfect for reeling in “the big one”!  To help you plan your fishing adventure, check out the informative details and links below.

Claytor Lake

Spanning more then 4,500 acres, Claytor Lake has two public boat landings both inside and outside Claytor Lake State Park (I-81 exit 101). In addition to excellent boating and fishing coves, CLSP is an excellent local outdoor destination for picnicking, hiking, and relaxing to the sounds of waves along the shore. Claytor Lake is most known for its black and smallmouth bass. If fishing from dry land is not adventurous enough, try a local boat or pontoon rental at Claytor Lake Water Sports.

Gatewood Reservoir

Owned by the Town of Pulaski, Gatewood is a great destination for fishing, picnicking, and camping. Year-round bank fishing, and although no trailer-launched boat ramp, hand-launched boats and on-site boat rentals are perfect for a memorable day on the water.

New River

Meandering more than 160 miles across southwest Virginia, the New River stretches from Grayson County, through Carroll, Wythe, Pulaski, Montgomery and then Giles before crossing into West Virginia. In these waters, anglers can bait a smorgasbord of fish breeds - small, largemouth and striped bass, catfish, walleye, and crappie are just a few.

Rural Retreat Lake (Wythe)

Spanning more than 90 acres and just outside Wytheville in the town of Rural Retreat, Rural Retreat Lake is a great source for crappie, bluegills, and channel cats reaching as much as 15 lbs! With an adjacent seasonally stocked trout pond, Rural Retreat Lake is another blue water gem tucked away in the hollows of the NRV and Southwest VA.

Glen Alton Pond (Giles Co.)

Designated as a Game and Inland Fisheries Youth-Only Stocked Trout Water and located on Route 635 / Glen Alton Road, youths 15 years of age and under can trout fish here during the youth only period of April 1 thru June 15. With a daily creel limit of 3 trout, this and all other youth-only waters will be stocked 3 times throughout the youth-only season.


What You Need To Know About Accessible Area Fishing and Boating

  • Claytor Lake State Park, Dublin:  Boat access, boat pier, and restrooms
  • New River Austinville Landing, Austinville (Wythe County): Boat access
  • Rural Retreat Lake, Rural Retreat: Fishing Pier
  • Big Stoney Creek, (Giles County): Fishing Platform

Know Before You Go. . .

Fishing for First-Timers

Even if you are a newbie to the rod and reel, Takemefishing.org is a great resource for both young and old to learn everything from how to select and purchase a fishing rod, to tying a fishing knot, to kayak and night fishing. Check out their how-to gallery here.

Fish Bait

Virginia regulations mandate bait limits for fishing. These limits include but are not limited to helgramites, minnows, and legally purchased fish bait.  To ensure your bait choice and quantity meet regulatory compliance, visit details here.

Creel and Length

Even during free fishing days, minimum catch sizes and daily limits are still in effect. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries offers an excellent downloadable flyer which even includes limits specific to most major bodies of water across the state. A great source to save on your phone for reference, you can download it here.

Covid-19 and Virginia State Parks

With State Parks and Campgrounds open as of May 21, several new operational changes and distancing policies are now in effect. For the latest updates on restrictions and closures, please visit VSP’s Covid Update Page.


New River Valley Macaroni Kid is a free resource focused on family events, activities, and resources in the New River Valley area in Southwestern Virginia. We gather local events each week and add useful information about camps, classes, family-friendly businesses, recipes, crafts, giveaways, and more which we deliver each Thursday morning in an e-newsletter to thousands of local parents. Request yours HERE for the inside scoop!


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